Some Contax G2 love By Ibraar Hussain

Some Contax G2 love

By Ibraar Hussain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hi Steve, Brandon and stevehuffphoto.com lovers!

Thought I’d reignite the site with some Contax G love.

The G2 has been written about many many times, here and elsewhere so should need no introduction, but with the Leica fetish around I think it’s high time the G2 reared it’s head again encouraging people to try it out and spoil the Leica party!
It was and still is the most advanced RF camera with lightning fast AF (some people find the AF on the 90 Sonnar a bit hit n miss though – no such problems here!).

I am surprised no one has copied it yet, and I am very surprised that Kyocera Japan who own the rights to the Contax name and the G2 haven’t released a Dighital G which would, judging by the Fuji X100 love and the other retro styled cameras, especially of the RF style, would be a huge hit!

The G2 is a proper RF, not a wannabe – and is almost near perfect, my only complaint is the relatively smallish (yet bright ) VF – I say relatively, as on it’s own it is large and bright enough, but compared to a Leica  it isn’t, and no reason why Kyocera couldn’t have made the G2 VF the same size as the huge and bright one of their Contax T2!

Now Kyocera, please make a Digital G and revive this masterpiece!

I’ve had mine for 10 years now and I would never choose anything else of any type over it!

Here’s a selection of B&W photos taken with fast Film – Ilford ~Delta 3200, Fuji Neopan 1600 and Kodak Tmax 3200 with the Contax G2, of a street style – My street style which I suppose isn’t very refined and which includes some street portraits and cityscapes in Constantinople when it snowed.
All pretty high key, contrasty – not to every one’s taste.

All shots taken with a Contax G2 45mm Planar, 21mm Biogon and BW Yellow Filter.

See some of Ibraar’s other posts HERE. 

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75 thoughts on “Some Contax G2 love By Ibraar Hussain

  1. Another thing I think needs to be addressed is this ‘point n shoot’ label when applied to cameras.

    Generally it’s no big deal if used correctly, point n shoot implies picking up, composing and triggering the shutter with no creative manual or semi control in between.

    A typical point n shoot will be something which sets both the aperture and shutter speed on fully programme or automatic. Typically used to describe cameras such as the olympus mju or contax T2 or Canon IXUS or any easy shot or cyber shot or any other compact or automated camera .

    The term is also used in a negative fashion to denigrate a cameras reputation or ability especially by certain camera snobs.
    They use the term to imply that the canera is somehow inferior or not worthy or not at the standards held by serious users enthusiasts or professionals thus dismissing the camera.

    Some folk describe the Contax G2 as ‘just a point n shoot’. Ok, so if that’s ‘just a point n shoot’ because it had AF, this means a Canon 5d is ‘just a point n shoot’, a Nikon d3 is ‘just a point n shoot’, and a rolleiflex Hy6 is ‘just a point n shoot’. The fact is that the Contax G2 is not a point and shoot, as it cannot be used fully automated and the Aperture had to be set, and only a user with a certain amount of knowledge and skill can use this, a complete beginner will not know anything about what aperture to set, this makes it less of a ‘point n shoot’ than a nikon d3 which can be used fully automated.

    Too much snobbery, I think some guys love the image, a manual focus rangefinder makes them ‘feel’ all important and serious and probably make them feel as if they’re heirs to HCB and co. Somewhat like people who buy and wear a Rolex sub with a NATO strap think they’re James Bond .

    Any counter arguments ? Would be interesting .

  2. Ronin, you’re making me laugh. It’s amusing that if I manually turn a knob instead of allowing electronics to do it, it’s a Rangefinder, but if the electronics triangulate the Rangefinder, it’s no longer a Rangefinder.

    I think you don’t know what it actually means by Rangefinder when referring to a Camera.

  3. My G2 suited me better than any camera I’ve ever owned. I enjoyed using it and loved the results that I got. I keep looking for something that gives me the same pleasure. Haven’t found it yet. I keep considering Fuji but worry about the sensor. Currently use a GX7 in my attempt to chase the form factor I used to love.

  4. One question, I’ve been wanting to try the G2 but was a little bit concerned with the AF speed. I wanted to get some quick snapshots wide open – something difficult to achieve with manual focus so I really want to know how fast these little lenses can focus. Thanks!

    1. The G2 is super fast at AF almost instant and that’s including wide open where it really shines
      I have had mine for 10 years and haven’t missed a shot and that includes parties and street photos and Travel abroad . The 45 28 21 are flawless but some people have problems with the 90 wide open in locking correct focus – it’s a problem I haven’t had

      Hope that helps

  5. Just wanted to thank EVERYONE for the positive comments, I’d have liked to comment individually but I’m lazy and useless! But, thanks again.

    The Film was developed in ID11 and scanned on a flatbed Epson 4990.
    Selenium toned in Photoshop using a Pantone filter (I forget which).

    The G2 is a Rangefinder, don’t let anyone lie and say otherwise!
    Ultimately, whether it uses a Rangefinder (two windows) to focus, or uses another method is all by the by, it is a dream to use, and has some of the most fantastic lenses.

    Fast Film is a good thing to use for some graphic effect, all enjoyable.

    Thanks again!

  6. Very fascinating results with that super-fast film. I’ll try ii in my Ikonetta and my Leica IIIf. I enjoyed revisiting Istanbul, too. Thanks.

  7. “The G2 is a proper RF, not a wannabe”

    No, the G2 does not have a rangefinder. It is an autofocus camera.

    I’ve had many different 35mm brands, but the G2 lenses took the best color photographs of any of them, without exception (just as the Leicas did the finest monochrome).

    Sadly, I dumped the Contax G’s, and do not regret it, for two main reasons:
    1) I could never tell for sure what was being focused on. Keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best once you get your prints.
    2) Very slow operation. The G1 was painful, the G2 slightly better (but with a larger body). Even so. Too often I’d try to capture a shot of the kiddies doing something, only to have the camera put on a pot of coffee and drink it before snapping the shutter. For this type of camera- smallish, smart, fine lenses- a delay like that was intolerable.

    I know, in the digital age we are more conditioned to deal with slow operation. Not in the film days- for all the pain and mechanical actions, when you tripped that shutter you captured what you saw instantaneously.

    1. Hi mate, thanks.

      Firstly, I’d like to debunk this gross error and fallacy that the Contax G is NOT a RF. It IS an RF camera.
      http://www.contaxcameras.co.uk/gseries/g2/g2overview.html

      It has been listed as such, it uses a Rangefinder to determine focus but does this Automatically.
      A RF doesn’t necessarily mean having to manual turn a knob or dial to align two images in a Viewfinder. The G2 is the most advanced RF so far, it is super fast and Focus is dead on. To determine whether it has locked on correctly, use the distance scale in the Viewfinder.

      To think that this is slow is laughable, it is super fast, it is lightning fast, and if you think a traditional MF RF is faster then no point discussing, as it cannot ever be.

      The G2 is fast, accurate, and a joy to use, some RF snobs may turn their noses up at the AF and call it a ‘point n shoot’, but that’s just silly.

      1. First, thanks for the comments.

        I spoke of my experience with the camera; that of others may differ.
        Because a light lit up in the viewfinder doesn’t mean the subject I intended to focus on was in focus. SOMETHING may have been in focus, something the camera chose but not the photographer.

        After having used Leica rangefinders and various SLRs- cameras that when you trip the shutter take the picture RIGHT NOW. I found the delay in the G series anything but instantaneous. I just lost too many fleeting expressions and moments between the time shutter was pressed and photo taken.

        I don’t bring up these facts lightly. As I said, the best color photo rendering I’ve ever seen in 35mm; lens sharpness second to none; a beautiful and well balanced body, and it fit very well to hand. I WANTED to like this camera, I was highly motivated to.

        Lastly, if this is a rangefinder camera, simply because it used a focusing mechanism to “find range,” then by the same definition any camera anywhere is a rangefinder camera, self-serving statements by Contax/Yashica/Kyocera notwithstanding. A ground glass focusing view camera, an optical rangefinder, an auto focus smartphone, a fresnel screened SLR, all “find range” and allow focusing accordingly. Seriously, there is nothing wrong with autofocus, but for Contax to claim an auto focus camera is secretly a rangefinder is embarassing.

        Keep on shooting the G2, my friend, it is one heck of a fine camera otherwise, my selling it was done very reluctantly!

        1. Hi mate
          As Mike says, as contax say as Kyocera says as every single reviewer website and magazine says and as wiki says and what the mechanics of it say it IS a range finder – a real one as it uses the same two windows and method as a traditional one albeit electronically rather than manually.
          If it wasn’t kyocera would have been sued. So I’d appreciate it if you could retract your incorrect statement , not for my sake, but for others who may have been lead to believe otherwise.

          And the lag time you experience would be because the shutter speed is very long and slow eg in doors in low light with film that isn’t fast enough or with no flash – as normally at hand held shutter speeds it’s instantaneous and faster than most – it has a 4fps motor drive too and that’s hardly slow . It is probably the fastest camera of its kind.

          Anyway no offence Intended man, And I do appreciate a good discussion

          1. It is absolutely a rangefinder because it still uses an optical rangefinding system based on trigonometry and two windows with a set base length — just like any Leica rangefinder. This is entirely unlike the recent digital Fujis which are in no way rangefinders, but AF cameras dressed up to look somewhat like a rangefinder camera.

    2. But it is a rangefinder! Just because it doesn’t have a split image focusing aid, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a rangefinder! It uses two af sensors, spaced horizontally from each other that estimate the distance of the subject from the camera using triangulation, just like in a split image RF. The only difference being electronic vs. optical mechanisms to reach the end goal.

      Regardless, those are done damn fine images, Ibraar!! Your photography never ceases to amaze me, and the system used is mostly irrelevant when the photographer is that talented!

      1. I seem to remember Leica M users being amused by the seemingly desperate insistence of some Contax G users that this autofocus camera was really really somehow a rangefinder camera, despite not having a rangefinder.

        Really, what’s the point? It was a fine enough machine in its own right.

        1. Ronin,

          I suppose it begs the question of exactly what is a range finder, and what is its purpose? The answer to the second part of my question is easy: a device to establish the distance of a subject. The Contax G range finders are electronic, but unlike auto-focusing film slr and digital cameras which use contrast or phase detection, they do use two range sensors to triangulate the distance. So, technically, they are range finders.

          Before electronics, optical coincidence meters, whether coupled to the lens or independent little units, were the natural way to range find. Or were they? Were they the ONLY means? No, actually every lens is a range finder providing it has a distance scale accurately calibrated and its projected image can be viewed. This principle was adopted in the Kuhn Flexameter, an example of which I have. It is a little known device that was invented in the 1930’s. You can see it here:

          https://www.cameraquest.com/kuhn.htm

  8. Truly great photos Ibraar. Personally I love Delta 3200 exposed at 1000 ISO. I develop it in Agfa Rodinal, yes Rodinal 1:50 for 10 minutes. Off course the corn are visible, but they are small and very sharp.

  9. The eyes on that little girl really knock my socks off.

    I have just finished reading Orhan Pamuk’s “Istanbul” and those photos took me right back to the book. Pamuk says the city is black and white.

    Your photos illustrate his words.

  10. Nice shots, especially the portraits. I have a G2 with the 45, 28 and 90 mm lenses, bought new many years ago. Sadly it has seen little used since I went digital shortly thereafter. It did not help that the local pro lab closed down several years ago and film is harder to get now.

    I agree with you, we need a digital body G2. Last time I used it, it felt very odd not being able to check whether the shot was good or not like one can do with digital. It’s not just instant gratification but also the ability to check and adjust your settings that also makes digital more convenient. It is a pity not to be able to use those beautiful lenses in digital. Adapters for the Fuji mount are only a partial solution as one loses AF and the APC sensor does not fully uses the lens.

  11. Snow in Istanbul and photos in black and white on an auto focus rangefinder! Wow Ibraar you have done it again my friend !

    The G2 always reminds me of the Fuji X Pro so some reason anyway I JUST LOVE FILM but am not sure what film camera I like the most.
    If I could be guaranteed that film would last my lifetime the I would never have switched to digital and would still have my M6
    .
    Every time I see some nice film work I think of my days using film and am determined to get back into the fold.

    Thanks Ibraar

  12. Lovely as always Ib, and a nice twist on shooting there in winter–I think of Istanbul as a hot, dusty place.

    Still love the G2 and its tiny, jewel-like lenses. Use mine not at all but occasionally graft the 45 and 90 to an OM-D, where they do pretty well and certainly look right at home. That 21 remains my favorite of all the G lenses, though.

    Keep up the grand work!

  13. Lovely set of images, as usual.

    Now if only Sony could get the rights to the Contax G, they certainly have the knowledge and wherewithal to produce a digital G with a FF sensor. And then with the existing range of AF G lenses, Leica beware!

    1. But it already exists! It’s called the Sony A7S (..or A7, or A7R..) ..used with a DeoTech (or ‘Techart’) Contax-G-to-Sony-NEX/E-mount AF Adapter MarkII, or ‘Eagle’. (I bought mine for £89 on eBay.)

      Clip any G2 lens (except the super-wide manual 16mm) onto the Techart (..why does this spell-checker keep changing it to “tea cart”?!..) and clip the Teacart (!) onto your E-mount camera ..preferably an A7S, et voilà ..an auto-focus (..but rather slow-ish autofocus..) full-frame camera with Zeiss G2 lenses ..and no vignetting! (You can also use proper manual focus, too, with these G2-lens-to-Sony adaptors.)

      The lenses are comparable with Leica lenses in quality and size, but provide auto-focus in the same tiny size as the manual Leica lenses.

      1. Yes, David.

        It is amazing how third party suppliers support the Sony E system. I use a Viltrox MkII Canon Eos to Nex adaptor on my A7, and it works fine albeit with slow, but accurate AF.

        In the context of the G2, though, I was thinking in terms of a RF body very much along the lines of the original.

  14. “… not to every one’s taste…”
    Well, nothing ever is to everyone’s taste, Ibraar. But it’s surely up to mine! I absolutely love your style. It stays very close to the subject, making the pictures really “talk”.
    Unfortunately, I fear that the dream of a digital G will always remain a dream. BTW, I’d also love a digital hyper compact T, preferrably the first generation, that I had for many years and loved tremendously but was eventually stolen from me. 🙁 It stìll hurts. I loved its design so much more than the T2, being so much more compact when not needing the flash.
    I also praid for a digital Zeis ZM Ikon, which will neither ever happen…
    At least it gives us some stuff to dream about. 🙂

  15. which lab do you use? it’s probably a matter of finding a decent lab? i have undusted my contax g2 lately and been using http://www.thedarkroom.com for processing and scanning, been pleased with the results so far (so far i’ve only tried processing C41 with them, don’t have experience on E6 or BW yet…)

  16. Ibraar, my film brother from another mother.. love the first and last shots with the bleak skies and detailed cityscapes. The cyan tint really works well given the time of year.

    Best regards
    Huss

  17. Great photos as usual. I have a G1 with the 45mm 90mm lens but often disappointed with the quality of scans from the lab. Any tips welcomed. Thanks.

    1. In what way? The 45 is absolutely sharp as a tack even at f2 and the 90 is spot on too so there should be no issue there. The G1 is more prone to focussing issues then the G2 (I have used both extensively) but I’m guessing you’re disappointment is with the quality of the scans and not the actual image?

      1. The 45 has been known as one of The Sharpest 35mm sized lenses ever, one of The best in class – and better than the 28 21 and 90 that’s more than ok!

        You’re getting this 45 planar mixed up with the 45 tessar on the SLR.

  18. The “warmth” of film, its grain, is something special, period. In an era where most people look at the most clean and “perfect” image, seeing these images is heart warming and a pleasure to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Ibraar good for us that Brandon posted your fine work today. Excellent images. I swear I could feel the cold and taste the scents seemingly embedded in the grain of that film. Fine work here.

  20. Nice, consistent portfolio, reflecting a consistent style on your part. Grain! Real film grain. You’ve opted for relatively high ISO film, I assume to get that same grainy b&w look. You got it. I just visited the Genesis exhibit of Salgado in New York City. Spectacular photos, to say the least. But I also saw his last exhibit there all shot with Leica’s and film, printed very large by Kodak. Beautiful grain, to say the least. Each print like a mosaic of dots of all shades of grey from black to white. His recent exhibit was shot with digital cameras, and when printed large . . . well, hardly any grain at all up close, let alone arms length. Still great prints and photos that only he seems able to make. But no gorgeous grain. PS simulated grain just doesn’t match film grain. So, if you like that look, then you’re right to keep using one of the best film cameras and set of lenses ever made.

  21. I love your photos, and when it’s working, the G2 can produce some great images. My problem with the G2, and I owned one for about a year, is that there is no feedback with regard to focus while shooting. With an SLR, one can see the ground glass image come into focus. With a Leica, one can see the rangefinder align. With a digital camera, one can “chimp.” But the G2 is essentially an autofocus point and shoot (not a rangefinder, I disagree strongly with your statement that “The G2 is a proper RF, not a wannabe”) and you won’t know where it chose to focus until you develop the film. I once shot an entire event, and didn’t realize the focus was off until much later. Kyocera did adjust it, and it then stayed on for several months, but I lost confidence in the camera, and could never trust it again. It’s a nice travel camera for amateurs, but lacks the certainty required for professional work. A digital G2 with an EVF? Now you’re talking! Great lenses!

    1. That’s probably the only let down with the G2 but having said that I only miss a maximum of one or two shots a roll (36 exp) with my G2’s which is about the same with my Leica and was the same with my Canon 5D MkII when I shot digital so I don’t worry about it anymore. The G2 performs for me 98% of the time so I can’t expect more than that. Shame we never got to see a G3 which might have been an almost perfect camera 🙂

    2. Thanks man, the G2 IS a Range Finder. It happens to be an Autofocus Rangefinder using two AF systems, all because it lacks two split images one has to manually align using a Viewfinder doesn’t mean it isn’t.
      Don’t debate that faft, it is a fact, otherwise Kyocera and everyone else who advertosed it and lists it as a Rangefinder is lying.

  22. I sold my G2 system years ago along with my Hasselblad. I have regreted it ever since. I have yet to find an equal in film cameras. I will be buying another — soon!

  23. Great photos. Great city. Film looks good.
    I loved my G1, bought it and all the lenses new.
    Kept hoping for a digital version.
    But due the cost of new technology traded it all in for digital.
    I have a Fuji X Pro system now. It is an excellent alternative, a joy to shoot.

  24. For those of us who grew up with 35mm film cameras, there is just something about the images that is often so “right.” Film has its place in the world still. I enjoyed your photos immensely. Thank you.

  25. i REALLY like the g2 (+lenses), but.. it can’t be repaired anymore.. and yes hopefully they will publish a dgital (or film?) g3!

    1. G2’s can still be repaired in Japan until April 2015. I’m sending both of mine off before the cutoff date so hopefully I get several more years out of them 🙂

      1. Thanks for the heads-up, did not know this was occurring. Will have to consider sending mine to ToCAD in the States for a final CLA. Looks like they’ve already stopped servicing the T series and some of the SLRs. E-waste now, I guess.

  26. I held one twice and could only admire the quality feel. At the new price it was well out of my range. The body’s can now be found cheap, but the lenses are still pricey. I like your work.

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