contax g2 or bessa r3a?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by clayer, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. clayer

    clayer Member

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    i'm new to rangefinders but it looks like, at this point, i'm trying to decide between these two models. Any help/feedback/views would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Bruce Appel

    Bruce Appel Member

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    I have never handled the bessa, but have used a number of manual 35mm rangefinders over the years. A couple years ago I bought a G2, and I can give you my opinion for what it is worth. Keep in mind that up until getting the G2 I have never used, or owned, any auto-anything type camera. The newest and most automatic type machine I had was a 25yr old pentax k1000. I guess I have always been something of a luddite. The G2 was a huge change and big leap of faith. The G2 is one hell of a camera. The lenses are as good, or better than anything out there. The camera itself is superbly well built. Even for someone who has never used auto focus, auto exposure, auto wind type cameras, the operation is very intuitive, and is much faster in operation than anything I was ever able to do with a manual 35mm rangefinder. The meter is great, the auto focus works perfectly as long as I do my job. I was really worried about the thing being loud, but have not found this to be the case, despite what people write about it. I have had no trouble with the auto focus that others have written about.I have not kept track of prices, but when I got mine, there were a bunch of rebates going on and I got the body, 28,45,90mm lenses for about the same , or less, as I would have had to pay for a Leica M with maybe one lens.
    My only concern about the camera is that if the batteries die, it is a paper weight.So when traveling, I carry extra batteries.These are simply great cameras, about as good as it gets.
     
  3. Andrew Sowerby

    Andrew Sowerby Member

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    It's interesting that you've narrowed your choices down to two quite dissimilar cameras.

    Do you want autofocus or manual focus? Do you want a modern feature-laden camera or something simpler? Do you want to be limited to Contax G series lenses or would you prefer to have your choice of the many M mount lenses out there (and the many many screw-mount lenses that you could use with an adaptor)? Of the two, I'd be inclined to go with the Bessa, but I don't know what your preferences are.
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I'd agree with Andrew's take on the pros and cons. The cameras are different enough that you'd probably have a preference for one. I find the R3A with trigger winder to be fast, and given my mindset, I prefer the more manual operation. One other thing I'd say you should consider is the finder. The Bessa is 1:1, so you can use it with both eyes open and see the finder frame floating in space. I love that, but you might not care.

    I've never handled a G2, already had several lenses on hand to fit the R3A mount, and really wanted a 1:1 finder, so it was a no-brainer for me to pick the R3A, and I'm not disappointed. The only drawback I've heard is that the rangefinder goes out vertically with a good bump. Like the G2, the R3A is dead without a battery, so I carry extras, and usually an extra body that needs no batteries.

    See if you can get your hands on both. Not easy, but probably worth some effort if you can do it. I suspect it would become clear pretty quickly which suits you.

    Lee
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    What do you photograph ? That will make the choice.

    Don

    "This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last."[?I]
     
  6. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    That was my immediate reaction, as well. I have a Contax G2 - autofocus, autoexposure, autoloading. Love it!

    I also have a Bessa T - manual everything. Love it too!

    BTW,the Bessa will not accept every Leica Thread Mount lens (or M mount either) due to the potential of shutter curtain damage - be careful!
     
  7. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I just got an R3A.

    The damn thing is VERY easy to use. They have improved on the old R2 a LOT.

    First off, you can get it with a 1:1 viewfinder. Great of glasses wearers and you can even shoot with both eyes OPEN (no more squinty eye). It is also freakin' BRIGHT. The only down side is the 35mm frame lines have been replaced by 40mm. So if you need a 35mm lens, go with R2A the .7 of the same camera.

    Now, the 3A is a bit more automated than the old R2. It actually NEEDS two SR44 batteries to work, as it has an electronic shutter. The R2 could work sans any batteries.

    Then again, unless you are adverse to carrying around an extra 1.5 ounces in batteries just in case, no biggy.

    The 3A is a bit quieter on the shutter front. And the shutters are QUIET. Not M3 quiet, but definately quieter than say an N80 or...well...any SLR.

    The handling is just...well....PERFECT.

    Seriously.

    The exposure lock is in the PERFECT place. The heft and feel are just great. Better than many SLRs. Winding is easy and fast. The body is solid, and semes much improved on the R2. The shutter speed dial is easy to use and has a nice little lock feature that keeps you in or out of aperture priority mode. Plus it has a nice 4 stop exposure compensation guide built into the dial so you can under and over REALLY easily.

    And it has aperture priority mode. Which, in my opinion, is pretty much the ONLY automation you should use (unless you are in sports photography or some such thing). Since 99% of the pictures I take are more aperture dependant, this is a really nice feature.

    The LEDs in the finder are also well done and easy to use. Plus, it is a nice way to know if you left the damn lens cap on. The bugaboo of RF cameras.

    Lenswise, you can get some nice Voigtlander glass from Steve Gandy at Camera Quest (great customer service and prices) at excellent prices. Sure, it ain't legendary Leica glass, but it is still great. I have the Nocton 50mm 1.5 and it is a sweet lens. Even has half stops! So you could get a body and a lens for under $1,000. All new.

    And of course you can take most Leica glass. Yes, there are some that you can't use. But IIR they are just a handful. And you can ask Steve Gandy what works and what doesn't. I used to have a list somewhere. It was VERY short.
     
  8. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Either way, you will have a moment of buyer's remorse, followed by ongoing feelings that your tribe is the better of the two, while perceiving the other tribe as mere wannabe-poseurs or wishful-thinking cash wasters.
     
  9. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Sounds like you've been talking to my wife...
     
  10. tbm

    tbm Member

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    One thing I like about the R3A more than my M6 TTL is that the former has a flash sync speed max of 1/125th of a second while the latter has one of only 1/50th of a second, although there is no TTL flash metering via my Metz flashes with the former.
     
  11. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    The pros & cons of these 2 cameras have been extensively discussed by other posters. I'll just add one comment.

    Not knowing what drew you to a choice between these two, I'll suggest that you explore the new Zeiss Ikon & its ZM lenses. If it's the Zeiss lenses that attracted you to the Contax G2, they are now available in M-mount to use on the Bessa R3A, the new Zeiss Ikon, or any other M-mount camera. Early reports indicate that the lenses are at least as good as the Contax G versions - if not better. Information is available at www.zeissikon.com.
     
  12. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I have both of these cameras. They are simply too different to give advice on which you should get. It's just too personal a choice. There is a lot written here and elsewhere on the web to give a sense of the standard pluses and minuses, but you should do your best to handle each, look through the VFs and decide which feels better. I love the G lenses, they are the sharpest, most contrasty lenses I've ever used, especially the 28 and 45. However, the reason I got into Leica mount system in addition was to tap into the much wider range of lenses available both in price (in price ranges, from $20 Jupiter-8 to multi-thousand ASPH 35/2) and in lens characteristics and personality (50 year old LTM lenses w/adapters, Leica m-mounts new and old, classic Canon lenses, newer VC lenses, etc.) which allows me more creative freedom from the limited range of G lenses and their bitting sharpness/contrast. That said I'm selling my R3A only because I bought an MP as AE does not fit my style for my uses of the Leica and Leica-mount lenses. I prefer a "match-needle" type of metering for that. But I am not selling the R3A because of dissatisfaction with its performance or use.

    Email if you are interested in my R3A and want to see photos of it. Its pristine, in box, with original receipt, and only 6 months old. Maybe a dozen rolls have been though it. I'm asking $500 + shipping.
     
  13. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I saw a friend at Photo San Francisco over the weekend. He was toting an M6 and has a DSLR. I asked him if he had given up on his G2...

    "What? No, I would *never* sell my G2"

    :smile:

    Nor would I.
     
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  15. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    Get both of them.
    Play with both of them for 2 or 3 months.
    If you must, sell the one you like least.
     
  16. suzums

    suzums Member

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    I haven't fully read all the other replies on this topic, but I will tell you what I think.

    I personally use the Contax line of lenses.. Carl Zeisses are amazing lenses to work with. The 21 and 28 Biogon are unbelievable sharp, and currently going for at good prices.. new and 2nd hand. Many G series users are desperate to get rid of their system because they are worried that they won't have anywhere to have their camera serviced, but don't worry... the G2 is still servicable for the next 10 years. :smile:
    I would usually choose a system buy its glass. And trust me, you won't go wrong with the G series.
    The AF of the G2 will take a little while to get used to, but once you've gotten the hang of it, the camera is really a charm. Some find the focusing noise a little loud, but I think its slightly quieter than the R3a.

    You won't be disappointed with the G2
     
  17. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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  18. suzums

    suzums Member

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  19. HEADS

    HEADS Member

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    Contax G2

    I bought a Contax G2 with the 45mm and 90mm lens and have been disappointed with this camera. The autofocus is unreliable with somtimes 1/3 of the shots out of focus, i do not recommend this camera.
     
  20. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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  21. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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  22. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    A common complaint for those who have not learned how to use the AF on the Contax G cameras properly. My first few rolls were like that. Now, perhaps one frame per roll is not focused right.

    Patience, grasshopper. Know the way.
     
  23. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I do not own either camera. I have made a litttle use of a G2. I had a lot of experience using a Leica M5.

    I think the choice of which camera to buy will come down to what you photograph and the conditions under which you photograph.

    For reliable focussing in poor light nothing works better than an optical rangefinder. If you know somethinfg will happen at a particular distance and are prefocussed with an optical rangefinder you will have the shortest lag time. It will also be the quietest. In shooting a series of photos the G2 should win hands down due to the motor drive.
    Unless you are using a very heavy tripod or very high shutter speeds either system will provide negatives that are much more limited by your own steadiness than the quality of the lenses available for each system...assuming you do not get stuck with a piece of junk.
     
  24. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Well, after shooting my R3a in the catacombs beneath Paris, I can definately say that an good rangefinder REALLY helps in low light....
     
  25. danielclift

    danielclift Member

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    I have not tried the G2 but generally I find that any dependency on batteries, or auto settings in a camera, really gets in the way of taking pictures for me.

    When I bought into a rangefinder system I started off with a beat up M3, and added most-recent-model, decent-condition, secondhand M lenses as-and-when I could afford them, before later upgrading to an M6 body. If I was starting out now, I would probably do so with a Bessa body like the R3A, and add my lenses in the same incremental way. Whether I decided to upgrade the body later to a Leica body would be less of an issue.

    One thing outside handling characteristics that does strike me about the G2 system is that it has a much more limited choice of lens focal lengths and apertures available, particularly when you take into account all the old M-mount lenses, and and also L-screw lenses (with adaptor) that you would be able to put on the R3A.

    Hope this helps.
     
  26. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Daniel, it has been said before in this thread, the G2 and the Bessa cameras with M mounts and LTM mounts have different strengths and weaknesses.

    I have both. I like them and use them both. However, in terms of robustness and long term reliability, the G2 (and G1) win.