Creature from the Blog Lagoon 1: Like a Leica

Several years ago, I owned an interesting camera - a Konica Hexar. The original model that I had came with a really nice permanently-attached 35mm lens and a super-quiet film advance mode that would be hard to hear from even a couple of feet away. Almost a Leica.

Fast forward to 2019.

Something reminded me of one of my favorite photographers, Sebastião Salgado, a master of modern black and white photojournalism. That was enough to prompt me to get back into black and white photography - on film. (EDIT: I forgot to mention why I was interested in using film. I like the hands-on aspect, the feeling of actual craftsmanship. Digital photography is such a boon for day-to-day photography, but for me it lacks that last connection, the one of working with my hands. If I were a sculptor, but then again no,* or a painter it’d be the same feeling.)

By that time, Hexars were commanding a premium price, so I did some digging around and learned about the Contax G1 cameras. (There are also G2s, but for my needs they weren’t worth the extra money.) The G1s were ultimately a better deal so I bought a couple along with the commonly-used 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses. Almost Leicas.

They’re not perfect; they were designed primarily to be used as autofocus cameras, so the manual focusing is a bit cumbersome at best. I really haven’t got anything to complain about though. I picked up the two bodies and three lenses for about the same price I’d pay for an older Leica and one lens. And these lenses are nice. In fact, the Zeiss Planar 45mm f/2.0 lens is said to be one of the best ever made:

“The Carl Zeiss Contax G Mount Planar 45mm F/2 prime lens is, without bluster, amazing.”

“The lens was unanimously heralded as a marvel by the photographic press; a miraculously sharp lens comfortably in the conversation for best resolving power of any standard lens ever brought to market.”

I’m not the kind of person that’s obsessed with camera equipment, but I do have to say that incredible engineering brings a tear to my eye. I’m sobbing as I type this.

I have everything I need to set up a darkroom - except for the time. “Someday,” he said. In the meantime I shoot on color for later scanning when I have a chance to use these.

*Apologies to Bernie Taupin and Elton John for hijacking lyrics in Your Song.

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