SMALL, LIGHT, AND OHO!
The CONTAX G2 is one of the best rangefinder cameras ever built.
KYOCERA launched this camera in the 90's as competition to Leica's M6.
Well preserved specimens are hard to get in Europe. This one I bought in Japan, on eBay. About the price, and how to buy camera equipment in Japan without unnecessary risks via EBAY, here more information.
Even experts in LEICA matters are not afraid to put the Japanese-made CONTAX G2 and its lenses on par with the German manufacturer.
Ken Rockwell, expert and LEICA fan, writes on his website that the CONTAX G2 is in many ways better than the LEICA M6.
KEH, one of the largest camera rental companies in the USA, goes even further and states in the video uploaded here (see below) that there are quite a few who even put Carl Zeiss lenses above Leica lenses. Anyway, let's just say that the two are at eye level.
The experts from "Analog Insights" in Munich also have a lot of good things to say about the G2.
THE WEAKNESSES . . .
There is still a company in Germany that can service and repair the CONTAX G2: The specialists from FFS + TRITEC GmbH. But since 2014 they also don't get spare parts from KYOCERA anymore and can't repair every damage.
- Focus (AF + MF)
The G2 has an autofocus that works flawlessly and reliably with well isolated objects. But when it comes to objects that merge with their surroundings - such as people in a crowd - the G2 reaches its limits.
And manual focus is not much help then, the focus in the rangefinder is inaccurate and the wheel on the front of the camera is not easy to operate.
But with the 28mm and 45mm lenses the auto focus works quite well, only with the 90mm lens many shots get out of focus. Since the 45mm is the best lens, this is no problem for me.
This wedding photographer also knows about the focus problems (only in the special situations described above) - even if he is otherwise more than enthusiastic about the G2:
PURCHASE AT EBAY,
IMPORT FROM JAPAN
Cameras are consistently better preserved in Japan than in the rest of the world. The Japanese obviously handle their cameras very carefully.
It's hard to believe that this camera is over 25 years old.
This camera with three lenses and UV filters cost € 1,900 on EBAY. In addition to that, there is about 25% for transport, customs and import sales tax, here about another € 500.
Total costs € 2.400.
This included the camera, the exceptionally good ZEISS PLANAR 45mm f2, as well as the BIOGON's 28mm f2.8 and 90mm f2.8, and then filters and UV-protective lenses, and an additional front cover, all three lenses have the same diameter.
How to buy such a camera equipment via EBAY without taking unnecessary risks can be read here.
COMPARED TO THE LEICA M6
The LEICA M6 camera alone would cost as much as the whole set of CONTAX G2 in the same condition. In addition to this, there would be a 50mm SUMMICRON-M f2, and two SUMMARIT lenses with f2.8 in 28mm and 90mm, as well as the UV filters.
These three lenses would cost € 4.000 - € 5.000, plus € 500 for the filters, total price would be about € 7.500.
The LEICA is therefore three times as expensive . . .
This is how the camera got here
Neither in Europe nor in the USA did I find a CONTAX G2 set in this condition on EBAY. It's like a gift to be able to buy photographic equipment that is more than 25 years old, in such good condition, and at such a price.
To search for used camera equipment in Japan, don't go to www.ebay.de, but to www.ebay.com.
When buying, however, it is essential to follow these guidelines.
Shortly after writing this article, I inserted the first film to try out the camera and sent in the first roll for developing.
But I only got as far as picture no. 7 - after that the camera didn't do anything any more.
Since the video from ANALOG INSIGHTS (see above) talks about the fact that there are no spare parts and no service for this camera anymore, I thought that this would be an expensive purchase. Pure bodies, without lens, are traded on eBay for about US$ 1.000.
But then I searched in GOOGLE for service providers who might be able to fix this - and I found them: The company FFS + TRITEC is specialized in CONTAX G cameras, among other things, and after renewing the gearbox for the film transport and a CLA I have now got the camera back.
With € 341.50 for the repair I got off with a black eye, a third of what a camera housing would have cost on eBay. And now I have a camera that has been thoroughly checked, lubricated and cleaned - now I will hopefully enjoy it for a long time to come.
THE RIGHT FLASH
The camera set included lenses, caps and the UV filters, but there was one thing missing: the flash.
I got this CONTAX TLA 2000 on eBay, from a Japanese dealer. The condition, including the leather case, is top again! Not a scratch, nothing - like new!
CONTAX TLA 2000
On the left, you can see that the flash can be adjusted with a slider to the focal lengths of the four lenses built for this camera: 28, 35, 45 and 90mm.
Next to it there is a table for ISO 100 and ISO 400 films to indicate at which aperture and at which distance one can still expect sufficient light.
Simply clever . . .