AF camera for handheld portraits: Contax G1/G2 vs Nikon F100

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by msbarnes, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

    Jul 23, 2011
    Multi Format
    I'm looking for an autofocus camera for handheld portraits. I'm debating between the Contax G1/G2 and Nikon F100.

    I have limited experience with autofocus cameras so I'm not so sure on what I really need/want. All advice is welcome.

    Here is a list of my priorities and an idea of my shooting style:
    -I shoot available light but I also have interest in getting into off camera strobes.
    -I want a strong 45mm/50mm, then 35mm & 85mm/90mm but no strong interest in anything shorter or longer.
    -I intend on using AF primarily/exclusively so lack of manual focusing abilities isn't a big deal.
    -Noise, weight, and size is not a big deal but I prefer quieter, smaller, and lighter.

    I have not held any of these cameras but this is my thinking:
    -Available light: Contax
    -Quality of lenses for my desired focal lengths: Contax (this ofcourse depends on my very debatable and not my interest to discuss so heavily in this thread)
    -Viewfinder: Nikon.
    -Autofocus: Nikon.
    -Size/Weight/Noise: Contax

    My questions:
    1. How does the AF compare? I haven't looked so much into the specifications but I believe Nikon has multiple focus points and AF modes. How about the Contax, just one AF mode/point? Does the Contax have any sort off viewfinder confirmation?

    2 How does the build quality compare? I hear that Nikon is more plastic and the Contax is titanium. I'm not so against plastic cameras but I don't like cheap-feeling ones. I have a Nikon D70 and I think the build is not-so-bad, would I expect the F100 to be comparable?

    3. Anyone comment on using an AF RF vs an AF SLR? Or have experience with both these cameras?

    I'm split between the two. The Contax seems to be situated in an odd position: it's not rangefinder enough for Leicaphiles and it is not SLR enough for Nikonians.

    My feeling is to go with Nikon mostly for the superior viewfinder/autofocus but I can go either way, I think.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2012
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Central Flor
    Multi Format
    I can only talk about F-100 which I have 3 of.... (yes, I like them)

    You can switch the focus point from single point to dynamic selection to closest point. I have mine locked in single point, center focus point. Other than cases where subject is wearing glasses, I have no problem getting an accurate and sharp focus on the dominant eye. (or any other point I might choose) You can always manually override it if you need to.

    If you compare F-100 to a brick, of course it has too much plastic.... In digital realm, F-100 is comparable to D200 and D300. D70 is one step below. It's quite durable provided you aren't going to use it as a self-defense weapon.

    All those points you raised, does it really matter for taking portraits? Portrait is my favorite subject and I never had issues of any kind.
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    May 24, 2005
    Washington DC
    Multi Format
    Well, the Contax is a thing of beauty to behold and to have in your hands. I've shot a lot of film through my G2 and been very happy with it. If you are interested in autofocus performance, the G2 is the Contax to get. The G1 had a more primitive autofocus system which could fail to obtain focus in low contrast or low light situations. The G2 is much faster and more accurate in all lighting, and if you have to revert to manual focus, it's much easier to do via the front thumbwheel. And the lenses are second-to-none. If you're doing portraits, then the two lenses you would want, the 45 and the 90, are two of the more reasonably priced lenses in the kit and so adding them would not be a financial burden relative to comparable Nikon glass.
  4. The F100 is one heck of a good camera. I gave mine to my brother as he was doing a lot of wedding photography and needed a second body, but it is an easy camera to use if you know Nikon stuff. The N80 is actually quite a nice little brother to the F100 and can be bought for next to nothing these days. I shoot one all the time and love its compact size and great feature set.

    Lenswise, the 105mm VR is excellent for portrait.

    The trick with AF cameras in general is knowing which AF point you want to use and where it is located in the viewfinder relative to the scene.