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Rangefinders Contax vs Leica vs Bessa



Hi Folks,

I have a dilemma as to which rangefinder system I want to go to - and was hoping somebody has the experience to guide me. In short, should I go for the G2, or a Leica or a Bessa?

I've used a Leica M3 - and hated it. However, I have a Minilux and I love it - but it only has a fixed lens.

I've got a Bessa L - with a 25mm - and the quality is excellent. I'm not sure whether to upgrade it to the Bessa R and buy a few more lenses or go down the G2 route.

I suffer from poor eyesight and I like the external viewfinders on the Bessas - and the issue of focusing is important - how do people with glasses find working with the G2?

I'm looking for a system that I can use when I travel with - I already have an SLR system (Nikon) and a Medium Format system (Contax 645) - so I want something quicker than either of these and more protable.

Any ideas and opinions would be much appreciated!!



Hi Saras,

I've used too some Leica M2 & M6. Why do you hate the M3 ? So it is. With the G2 you will have a superb system to travel light (I carry in a small kaki bag my G2 + G1 with 21, 35, 90 and a couple of filters. All are very ligth)
I'm very satisfied with the eye-correction of the viewfinder.
Have a try, the prices of the market today even a G1 would be a good start in the system,

All my best,



Hi Nicolas,

For your info., the reason I struggled with the M3 was the weight (compared to say a Bessa) and I found it difficult to handle - I guess it was just one of those things.

Good to know that the G2 is light - that is what I'm after!!

Thanks, Saras


Saras -

I wear glasses and have a G2 -- the viewfinder is a little squinty, and I find I have to move my eye around at times to see the whole frame or the display... it is comforting to know that if I ever get into taking my glasses off I can use the diopter adjustment, but I haven't gotten around to doing that yet (3 years into G2 use) so I wonder if I'll ever do so (I'll probably get contacts first). The G2 isn't terribly lighter than an M3, it's got a solid, dense feeling (not the rock-like feel of an M3, but still..). Having said that, I can walk all day with a shoulder bag on with my G2, 21, 45, 90 combo and not complain about the weight (which I could never do with my SLR kit). If you've got the SLR/medium format angles covered, the G2 is a nice piece of travel kit. It's not the best for glasses wearers, though. Personally, if I had already jumped into the Bessa range, I might grab a 35/1.7 and the 75mm lens and be done with it on the rangefinder side of things. Not sure if the L has an integrated finder, but I'd upgrade to an R or R2 if it didn't (unless, like you, I had a preference for external finders, I guess). Good luck with the quest -- never been a better time to get a good deal on a G2, though -- even new.


Hi Saras

For me it's more or less the same situation. I own a nikon-system, a Hasselblad-system and a Contax G2 with 21/28/45/90 und TLA200. This system is so fine, it hjelped my to forget the dreams for a leica. Important for me: The flash synchronizing with 1/200. I think it's a bit old fashion to produce cameras with 1/50 flash synchro. I often use the fill in flash. The G2 works fine with the TLA200 for this issue.

You can see, i tend to say you GO FOR A G2!!!! The only weakness: You have to read the manual carefully.

Hans Villars, Switzerland


Well-Known Member
I can give you another perspective. I have owned a Nikon FM2, a Minilux, and recently purchased the G2 with 28/45/90 lenses specifically to tour Europe for two months. If you go with the G2 and keep only a few lenses/film/and a flash, I would highly recommend getting the nylon camera bag that goes with the system. It is just as large as necessary and you can switch lenses with ease. I looked high and low for a bag before getting this one. Second, I wear glasses and in bright light it is difficult to see the information (focusing distance and exposure) inside the viewfinder. I plan to see if I can add a rubber eyepiece to the outside. Last, it took me a while to get used to checking all the dials on the outside of the camera as I kept the camera in whatever bag was convenient and it would tend to change settings while in the bag and I was backpacking around. After a while, it became second nature to make sure it was on autofocus for ex&le before I shot. I shot 45 rolls of film on the trip and I can say that it is a rock solid camera and produces high quality slides. I also liked taking the Minilux with me because I could keep it in my pocket when not wanting to tote around a camera. Cheers, Scott


I just came back from swiss and austria. G2+21+45+90mm is the most used camera (I also bought EOS 1N with 70-200mm lens). I am wearing glass and there is not a big issue. However, most of the time I will mount 21mm and use the external view finder. Auto focus is one of the big big merit if you would like to be a lazy man as I do. Trust this camera and my camera has run through 300+ rolls of film and worked from temp sub zero to 40c.


The G2 is easier to handle than a Leica M (and I would guess a Bessa R). Auto focus and auto exposure, bracketing, fast motor (4fps), up to 1/6000, flash sync at 1/200...
Unless you want the experience of a manual focus, manual exposure rangefinder, or the faster lenses from Leica and Cosina, the G2 is a better choice.


Well-Known Member
You point out my biggest wish for the G2, an available light lens. I had a 50mm/1.2 lens on my FM2 and would love a fast lens for the G2. The 45mm/2 isn't fast enough for lowlight handheld situations in my opinion.


There are many advantages to the G2, EXCEPT in these conditions:

Low light - Leica has faster lenses Focus accuracy in certain conditions. Try focusing behind a waterfall to shoot two people kissing with an autofocus system sometime - it ain't fun. Lens flexibility. There are longer and wider lenses available for Leica. Reliability. There isn't a whole lot of dead that's going to happen with an MP or M6, or even an M7. Besides the occasional CLA those cameras are gonna last pretty much forever.

I really like my G1, but I'd love to have a Leica M - I just can't afford it.


Active Member
I've been going through a similar process, and was in fact on the verge of buying a Bessa. I ended up buying a Minolta CLE and a Contax G2. I chose the CLE over the Bessa because it is much quieter, and also smaller. I use it with the 40mm lens. I wear glasses, and find the CLE easy to focus. To me it's very much like using an M6, except it's smaller and lighter. I can see the 40mm frameline without having to move my head around to peer at the edges of the image. I must point out that when I use my glasses, the image in the VF is not clear, but I can easily see the rangefinder patch and can achieve critical focus easily.

I use the CLE when I need to be more quiet and unobtrusive. I use the G2 when I need to be very fast. This is the fastest camera I have ever used. It makes more noise than the CLE (or an M6) but not as much as the Bessa. The big advantage though, is the excellent autofocus and auto exposure.

I used to own an M2, but sold it. I thought it was a great camera, and wish I hadn't sold it. If you are thinking of manual focus, I would recommend you check out the Minolta CLE. You can see lots of info about it at if you are interested.

Neil Baylis
a long discussion about a long debated question... and since I own an M6, a bessa R, a G2 and even a bessaR2c and a robot royal... All systems have qualities ... G2 + lenses is perfect with flash and the lenses are the sharpest, but the autofocus is to my taste obtrusive... and noisy... also the zoom viewfinder is not as large as needed (I like to see a little more around my composition...) ... M6 + voigtlander lenses (why pay for leitz if you don't see the difference) is perfect for silence, composition... and it induces you to think and fell before shooting...(same applies for minolta cle of course)... it's perfect for available light and composition shooting (you are never fooled by the autofocus) ... Bessa R ... is the pleasant way to use old lenses... sometimes a lot more fun than new ones... ... Bessa R2C allows me to use my old contaxs lenses and the much beloved (the best portrait lens ever...) sonnar 85/2 other alternatives... ... for parties (flash system with G40) and easy wildlife shooting (with B300 extender) I use an old olympus IS 3000 ... for macro and architecture (wide angle and shift)... my om3 (grid ground glass) works perfect too...

So I would like a G2 with a manual superposition range finder... a silent motor... a multispot lightmeter... and a larger viewfinder with a frame...

Other pleasant cameras to use... rolleiflex ("bow before you shoot"), robot... or even exakta... but as the olympus om4 ad said "think before you shoot..."


I own a Nikon F100; a Leica M6 and R8 and 2 G2 bodies with a variety of = lens except the pricey ultra wide. Recently I purchased a Bessa R 2 , = and a number of lens as they are such good value. I must say that the only problem I have with the G2 which feels and = operates beautifully is the size of the external viewfinder. It is = clearly far too small. Luckily, I am able to use the diopter. So far as = feel is concerned, most important to the M6 devotees, the G2 is is a = class of its own as are its lens ( compared to Leica )are outstanding = value for money. However, I have been delighted with the Bessa R2,the body is cheap,is = more functional than an M6, M7 etc and has a host of leading edge lens = at outstanding value. In your case, the viewfinder is far larger than than the G2 and if you = need it, you can purchase a range of diopter for about US$18.00 or a = little more; it also accepts Leica M and Hexar rangefinder lens with the = $39.00 adapter. The Bessa R2 and its lens range is certainly worth a look as some its = features squarely meet your needs. Hope this is of assistance, Robert Cudlipp Melbourne Australia


I am realy diaspointet about the G equipment I got new for around US$4000.
Problems wit outo focus !?
Some lenses you cant exchange from the G2 to G1 and lenses focus different when using with 2 cameras.
Gues there was no standard adjusment in the production.
Batteryconsumption is not cheap.
Lenscap faling apart, glue is not holding toghether.
Framecounter is bleeding!?
Cheap material gets corroded from sweat from your hand, bolts, screws,battery compartment.
Data Back magnet of the controllpanel door is faling out.
Tiny finder.
No DOF marks on lenses or display.
Customer service was not very helpful.
New buyer get resale value like for recycling glas from emty beer bottles.

If you look around you can get a realy cheap Contax G1 & G2 equipment, sometimes over 50% less than Contax RR price new and much cheaper used.

This cameraeqipment i did buy new was never worth the Price i did pay for. And Contax customer service never did inform G1 user when problems with AF exists and lenses wantet to be exchanged from a G2 you need to get lenses and camera adapted.