An interesting line from Contax, the G series was comprised of two interchangeable-lens autofocus rangefinder cameras introduced in 1994 and 1996, and produced until the end of 2005.
The Contax G series — comprised of G1, introduced in 1994 and G2, introduced 1996 — was a series of interchangeable lens 35mm rangefinder camera sold by Kyocera under the Contax brand to compete with other well-known rangefinders such as the Leica M7, Voigtlander Bessa R, and Konica Hexar RF. For its refined auto exposure, auto loading, auto advance and rewind, TTL metering for both flash and ambient light, superior optics (comparable to Leica lenses), and quiet film advance, the G series, especially the Contax G2, has been considered by some as the world’s most advanced rangefinder camera.
They sported a stylish titanium body, but did not have the traditional Leica M mount that rangefinders usually have. Instead, the G series cameras had the Contax G mount, an electronic autofocus mount. This earned the series criticism for not being a “true” or mechanical rangefinder, having autofocus and electronically linked mechanisms. However, its AF mechanism still has a twin-window system as with older mechanical rangefinders, only in electronic form.
The G series came with a standard 45mm f/2 Planar, and Carl Zeiss also made a 28mm f/2.8 Biogon lens and and a 90mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens for them soon after. Later, a 21 f/2.8 Biogon lens, 16mm f/8 Hologon lens, 35mm f/2 Planar lens, and 35–70mm f/3.5–5.6 Vario-Sonnar lens were also made available. These lenses eventually cemented the G series as noteworthy cameras.
The G2 boasted of improved autofocus performance and faster top shutter speeds of 1/4000 sec (manual mode) and 1/6000 sec in aperture priority mode. Other noticeable improvements include the manual focus wheel placement in front from the top deck, and two auto-focus modes (see Technical Specifications below):
- Type: Electronic 35mm film (24×36mm) rangefinder camera; Electronic autofocus; Motorized advance and rewind
- Lens Mount: Contax G; not compatible with anything else.
- Autofocus: 2 modes for G2 — Continuous mode, where focus constantly adjusts as the camera is moved; and Single mode, a safety mode where focusing is achieved when focus button is pressed or the shutter release is half-pressed
- Shutter: Focal plane, multi-blade vertical metal
- Auto: 16s – 1/6,000 sec.
- Manual settings: 4s – 1/4,000 and bulb.
- Bulb: Counts-up seconds on frame counter LCD. Counts up to 59 and resets to count up again. This is almost useless because that LCD is unlit
- Bracketed Manual: The bracketing function can call up a range from 8s – 1/6,000 as it needs to.
- *Maximum shutter speed with flash (sync speed): 1/200 marked, 1/180 actual.
- Flash: PC flash sync terminal.
- Shutter Release: Remote release only with electronic Cable Switch L, not with standard cable releases.
- Self-Timer: 10 second self-timer.
- Metering: Lower center-weighted TTL
- Range: Rated: LV 1~19 (f/2 lens); Rated LV 3~19 with 16mm lens (f/8) and external meter port.
- Frame Rate: 4 FPS (CH) or 2 FPS (CL).
- Power: Two CR2 3V Lithium
- Size: 5.5 × 3.2 × 1.8 inches (139 × 80 × 45mm) WHD
- Weight: 21.360 oz. (605.5g) measured with batteries and 36-exposure film, but no lens, strap or caps