I bought the Contax G1 recently. The Minolty X700 too but as I wrote in the first challenge blog article: The X700 was the first (serious) camera I used and the one I used longer than any other camera (may be except for the Hasselblad 500CM).
The challenge between the two cameras is also a challenge between the two systems: SLR vs Rangefinder and that is something I am curious about too: Can one see a quality diffenence between Point and Shoot, Rangefinder, SLR and Medium Format? And/or what other differences are there?
The first big difference is the price. The Minolta in this setting cost me 78,10 EUR, the Contax cost me 418,00 (both prices do not include shipping) – more than five times as much. This leads to a general interesting question: is there a direct connection between the money you spend on gear and what you get out of it?
An other point is usability. I definetly prefer a winder on a camera. Speed is one reason for it but personaly I also like to hold more in my hand than the naked body. The speed was pretty equal between the two but although the X700 is more chunky this way, I prefered the Minolta for exactly that reason.
While the Minolta works with manual focus only, the Contax can do both auto focus and manual focusing. The autofocus worked quickly for about 85% of the shots I took. In one case it took really long and the rest was acceptable. Manual focusing with the Minolta was easy and the big advantage is that you can see exactly what you focused on. But the average shot takes a bit longer than with the G1´s autofocusing.
I do a lot of street photography and try to shoot as fast and discrete as possible. Something the Contax is more suitable for in my opinion. But for all other scenarios the Minolta´s manual focusing works better and more reliable than the Contax.
The viewfinders are fine on both cameras. I almost always shoot in aperture priority and check the speed in the viewfinder at least every 2-3 shots if the light conditions don´t change noticable. The Minolta and the Contax both show speed, under/over exposure and the contax shows the distance to the object(s) in focus. Some of the shots I took in bright sunlight and I somethimes had difficulties to see the displayed speed on both cameras. But overall both viewfinders are fine.
Both cameras have stronger and weaker points. While usability is a personal thing, result wise the overal quality from these two is not that far apart. The Contax photos offer more middle tones on the grey scale but it shows less details in dark/shady areas, what the Minolta does. The Contax photos are slightly warmer than the photos of the Minolta. Which is something I like.
I would say that I slightly prefer the photos shot with the G1. But if that justifies to pay five times as much for the Contax is something everybody will have to answer for her- or himself.
Camera 1: Minolta X700
Type: SLR (film)
Lense: Konica Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 50 mm F/1,7
Price I payed for body: 22,60 EUR (plus 4,70 EUR shipping)
Price I payed for the lense: 40,50 EUR (plus 4,99 EUR shipping)
Price I payed for the winder: 15,00 EUR (plus 5,50 EUR shipping)
Past wins: 1
Camera 2: Contax G1
Type: Rangefinder (film)
Lense: Carl Zeiss Planar T* 45 mm 2.0
Price I payed for body: 111,00 EUR (plus 4,70 EUR shipping)
Price I payed for the lense: 307,00 EUR (plus 5,50 EUR shipping)
Past wins: 0
Film: Agfa APX 100
Aperture: 5,6 - 11