A Review of the Contax G1

Few camera brands have ever been able to achieve the same reputation that Contax film cameras managed to achieve during the height of film. A large part of that reputation came from the Contax G1. 

In this video, Kyle McDougall does a review of the formidable Contax G1. Debuting the 1990s, near the height and end of the film reign, the Contax G1 and its little brother, the Contax G2, were nearly the size of a point and shoot 35mm camera but capable of utilizing interchangeable lenses. The best part you ask? The lens offerings were Zeiss glass and had quite the reputation for making some beautiful images. 

In my opinion, the real question for the Contax G1 or G2 or any other Contax autofocus film camera, is whether it's worth the price tag. It's definitely the most affordable option of the bunch, the G1 currently demands more than $500 but can easily go for more than $600. Given the heavy use of electronics, these cameras are basically irreparable should there be an issue that compromises the accuracy of the camera's meter. Still, if I were presented with one of these cameras and a lens I would like, at a decent price, I may well pick one up for a carrying around camera. 

Do you have any experience with the Contax G1 or G2? What did you like/not like about it? 

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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I'm happy with my G1 Green label that I got for $100 four years ago. Are they *really* going for $600 now???

I had two G2 kits, each with 3 outstanding Zeiss lenses. One silver and one gold. They were marvelous contraptions, rather like Leicas with (kinda) autofocus! The downsides were that the lenses were proprietary and could be very cranky to attach. Battery life could be iffy in cold weather. And their focus and winding motors were LOUD!

I was sad to sell my G2 kits a few years ago. But I’m finished with film. Time to let others enjoy them while they still can. And I think I actually made profits on each kit! So win-win for me.

I love the Contax SLRs and their Zeiss lenses, but I just didn’t click with the G1 I bought a couple of years back - the parallax correctional viewfinder is a greatly idea th theory but really takes a lot of getting used to when it changes as you change focus distance.

kc portland. I had a g1 and a full complement of lenses, then got a g2 body. Zeiss lenses were wonderful, they really had a "Zeiss" look. G2 much improved to my mind. But lenses only went to 90 mm. So I went back to top level canon zooms. If I were shooting film I would try to reassemble a G2 kit. Great stuff.