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  1. #1

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    contax g2 or bessa r3a?

    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. #2

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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. #3
    Andrew Sowerby's Avatar
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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. #4
    Lee L's Avatar
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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. #5
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    What do you photograph ? That will make the choice.

    [I]Don

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

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Sowerby
    It's interesting that you've narrowed your choices down to two quite dissimilar cameras.
    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!
    Tom Hoskinson
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  7. #7

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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.
    Official Photo.net Villain
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  8. #8
    bjorke's Avatar
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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.

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KBPhotoRantPhotoPermitAPUG flickr Robot

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by bjorke
    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.
    Sounds like you've been talking to my wife...
    Tom Hoskinson
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  10. #10
    tbm
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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.

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