First Rolls | Contax G1 - 28mm Biogon | Marc Nagainis

I have a theory about hunting for used cameras, wherein the closer you get to that payment sweetspot, the more you will love that camera.  I’m frugal (ask my wife) so most of my purchases will tend to be low cost and high return. For me, it's not the kill, but the thrill of the chase.  I’m also not a collector, I’m a user and I shoot everyday. None of my cameras sit on a shelf and look pretty, although some don't get used anywhere near as much as they should.  I process all my own film at home, and scan to digital with an Epson v550. I have a B&W darkroom in the basement that will someday get the love it deserves. 

The combo of a Contax G1 and the 28mm lens came into my life about 24 months ago.  This particular cam was not at all on my radar, but after reading a number of glowing internet reviews, I was hooked and knew I wanted one.  I bought the body for $110 CDN and the 28mm lens for $390 CDN.  Overall, I think it was a pretty reasonable deal.

The cam was my daily driver for 35mm street work until I was laid off from my job downtown in 2015.  For a year and a half i worked in an area that is not at all conducive to street photography, so my subjects changed, and the camera itself languishes.  I’m back working downtown now, so hopefully it will get some love instead of “woe is me-ing” with that Canonet QL-17 GIII that's in the drawer beside it.  The G1 really deserves better, and I will take it out and show it some love once soon.  

The focus is reasonably quick, quick enough for me anyway.  The camera is quiet enough to be sneaky if I need it to be.  The lens takes beautiful sharp images in all lighting conditions and ergonomically the camera fits my hand well.  It’s heavy for a camera of its size, to me this indicates that quality components were selected for its construction, but its not unwieldy.  I’ve added a Gordy’s wrist strap and a hotshoe mounted thumb rest.  These 2 additions, which I swap around to all of my small collection of rangefinders, has made all the difference. The camera is great for playing tourist on a sunny afternoon in the market or a Sunday Funday.

If you want to invest in an automatic rangefinder style system, you could do far worse than the Contax G1 and lenses.  I hope someday to acquire the 45mm Planar and 90mm Sonar as well as the TLA200 flash, but for now, they are outside of my budget and off my radar.  


Film photographer Marc Nagainis is based in Canada.  You can see more of his work on his website .