I was driving back to my home in a suburb of north Ft. Worth, Texas when I spotted a monster. I’ve never had the opportunity to be this close to such a creature but I didn’t want to let this opportunity get past me. I was returning from a failed photo hunt at sunrise in Dallas, Texas. The weather was so overcast the skyline was barely visible but I managed to get a shot off of a beaver swimming by me. I was packing a big gun, a Noblex Pro 6/150U. After taking a few token shots I decided I was just wasting ammo so I packed up and headed back home.
I’ve seen Monsters of this kind in other peoples photos as well as shows on TV about this kind of thing. One of the most famous of these Monsters is known as Big Foot. I saw this as a chance at my fifteen minutes of fame.
Now as I proceeded to exit off the highway and drive back around to the location of the sighting I was already thinking about how I wanted to photograph this Monster. I pulled my van into a parking lot and gathered up my nerve and equipment. I’m rarely a one lens type shooter but I just felt that the Zeiss Biogon 21/2.8 with the Contax G2 was the undeniable choice for this scene. This camera came into my possession in 2008 when a close photographer friend generously gifted it to me! He had gone totally digital and didn’t have the heart to let this beauty go so he passed it into my hands with the proviso that any time he wanted it back I would have to turn it over. It’s now been fourteen years and thankfully he has not yet asked me to return it.
As I snuck stealthily up to the behemoth I took a look through the hot shoe add on viewfinder for this lens. The view through this finder is bright and gives a fairly accurate view of what the lens is seeing so it enables critical crop type shots. I’m a shoot for crop type photographer so this is important to me.
I can’t say that I nailed it photographically or compositionally but I do like several of my images and the sharpness of this lens plays a definite role. This brings me to one of the many great features on this camera, back button focus. Using the back button to pre-focus means I’m not going to accidentally fire off a frame and it also allows me to pick a specific focus point and then recompose to my desired crop. The light was pretty soft and consistent for these photos but there are times when I want to shoot into the sun for a backlit effect and that’s when another of this camera’s useful features, exposure lock, comes into play. My confidence to have no fear of the backlit situation can be totally attributed to this G2 and a Zeiss lens combination. Some of my all-time favorite shots are now ones with backlighting.
Since this is a 5 frames post I’m not going to give a detailed review of this camera but I can say with all sincerity it has one of the finest feature sets of any camera I’ve ever shot with. My Canon F1-n Olympic edition that I have owned and shot with since 1984 is still the camera that feels like an extension of my body but this camera lens combination gives me the confidence to know I’m getting the best possible rendition of whatever scene I’m aiming at, even a Monster.
Here are my 5 frames of that Monster… truck.
Tip: Smeared myself in axle grease to mask my scent.
Thanks for reading and may you experience good light and fine grain.
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14 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Contax G2, Zeiss Biogon 2.8 / 21 and Portra 160 – Images of a Monster – By Bill Brown — by William Brown”
Those AF Contaxes are gorgeous – lovely to be able to use wides with a compact 135 body and you have used the 21 very well.
I find my G1 both lovely and frustrating – often it decides not to find focus and won’t let me shoot and occasionally it gives a blank frame – sort of like a slightly bolshie but beautiful prima-donna. I have the 28 and the 90.
Do you get the blank frame problem? I’ve heard of other G users reporting blank frames (something to do with a magnet and a solenoid in the shutter mechanism?) but I was unsure if it affected the G2 as much as the G1…
Yes Bob. No other camera I carry get’s the comments this one does. I am proud to tag along into places that don’t always seem appropriate for a camera of this pedigree. The focus issue is one that I have mostly overcome although just recently I encountered a subject that the camera didn’t want to lock onto. Thankfully not another monster. I too have the 90 and it is so tack sharp I try to find subjects appropriate for that range.
Concerning the blank frames I have not encountered that issue with this body but I know someone who has a G2 that is basically dead in the water because of this problem.
I will enjoy our time together as long as it lasts. Thanks for reading and your kind comments.
Something the person with the ‘dead in the water’ might try is setting the camera to continuous shooting and exercising the shutter with the back open before loading a film – I still get the occasional blank, but fewer since I’ve included this as part of my film loading technique.
Thanks for this tip Bob. I will certainly pass it on. This is one reason I like the film community. So readily info is passed to those in need.
The camera is certainly silent or you’d waked the monster 😉
You’re right Martin. I know some who think it a little too noisy but having shot in many diverse situations the noise has never been an issue. I think many bystanders don’t take any notice of it because of it’s diminutive size and an old guy in a cowboy hat isn’t much of a threatening presence.
I trust you published this article under a pseudonym, otherwise your photographer friend might decide that they really want that G2 back 😉
You know Alasdair the photographer friend who gifted this kit to me has no interest in ever going back to film. He is a professional portrait photographer and his main system was completely Hasselblad.The G2 was his travel camera. He is now fully digital with the Fuji GFX 100 and has no desire to go back. He teases me occasionally about wanting this camera back but it would just sit on a shelf as a memory of his past adventures. So, no pseudonym needed.
Thanks for taking the time to read my somewhat off- kilter 5 frames story. Don’t want things to be too formal all the time.
You’re lucky you got out of there with your life! I’ve only seen them on TV, but they are wiley creatures. Good choice of film & camera.
I don’t usually put myself in dangerous situations but this opportunity seemed like my best chance at this subject matter. I count myself fortunate. I’m not one for events these beasts frequent so I went for it. Not being as young as I used to be I give myself more room and time if I need to exit a situation quickly. Thanks for the good advice.
I’ve got a small G kit and can never pull the trigger to sell it. You must be stealthy to get so close to your subject! The first class glass shows in your shots. I’ve got a G1 and G2 and my 28 lives on the G1 as they seem to get along well together. Some of my lenses from other systems are hit/miss on digital but the G lenses that I have (28/45/90) are all consistent in the new world.
Craig, The photographer friend who gifted this kit to me has purchased an adapter ring for Fuji and we have done some test shots. The results look promising. I know the 45 & 90 are considered to be the best of the bunch but the 21 can hold it’s own quite nicely. I think the reason I like the wide view is because it definitely is an altered reality without being abstract or distorted. Being able to get close to a subject and remove all the surrounding clutter is nice sometimes.
Thanks for reading and commenting. This camera kit can be put on a pedestal at times so I wanted to show it has a place in everyday moments.
Fantastic, it’s so rural Texas! Next you need to photograph it doing battle with another monster or possibly a mud pit.
I’m afraid this is as close as I’ll ever get to one of these monsters. If I get into a mud pit it will be with my Canon F1-n. The G2 is my Golden child and I’m a protective parent. We don’t do much living on the wild side! This is my everyday carry around camera and I wanted to show how it can be used to record commonplace everyday scenes.
Thanks for commenting. I wasn’t for sure how my story would be received but you get it. If I can’t have fun with this camera then what’s the point.