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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

USA visit with Contax G1

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

In 1995 I paid my very first visit to the USA armed with a recently acquired Contax G1 camera and a couple of lenses. My film stock was Fujichrome RD slide film which I believe was 100 ISO.

rangefinder film camera
Contax G1 camera

The G1 was a beautiful rangefinder film camera. I wish I had kept it, but sadly I didn't! Over my lifetime I have owned so many cameras. I write about some of the in my blog post

This was my first experience of using a rangefinder style of camera. It had a few quirks but was a lovely compact size. It had a beautiful sleek design with a titanium coating. I believe it was the first rangefinder with autofocus. There was also an automatic film advance and rewind. Plus it had TTL light metering along with flash metering too. I didn’t keep it for long and believe I probably sold it to fund an early digital model. They were quite expensive in the early days of digital. Should have kept it. The lenses were mint too and now I have a 35mm film scanner I could shoot and scan. Oh well maybe I will pick one up again someday.

It has taken a while getting to grips with the scanner. You may see some off colour scans but I am learning as I go and I am really enjoying it. Seeing old transparencies and negatives coming to life again. It's truly magical. There is still something about film and the analogue process ....

My itinerary to the US included New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Las Vegas, with only a couple of days in each location. Two things that immediately hit me as I wandered around New York was the tremendous height of the buildings and the width of the sidewalks or pavements as we call them In England. Plus of course the sheer number of people on the sidewalk as I ventured out from my hotel on the first morning.

I spent a lot of time gazing skyward in amazement as I wandered along in this incredible city. I remember there also appeared to be film crews on nearly every block and I passed several in Central Park too.

Film Crew at work

The next few images were converted from the original transparencies which were shot in colour.

I was fascinated by the yellow taxis everywhere I looked. I can't find the original of the image immediately below. I expect I will come across it at some point. It was shot from the Empire State building and as you see from the article, I painstakingly converted the image to monochrome and then re coloured the taxis.

Moving on to Chicago I was struck by the difference compared to New York. The buildings were still high but everything seemed more spaced out and less claustrophobic. As I left my hotel the first sound I heard was the voice of Tom Jones who was performing a concert in the park opposite!

There were other people performing too but I have no idea what this was about. The Police seemed a lot friendlier too.

We were actually in San Francisco on July 4th. So in the evening there were fireworks to celebrate the birth of American Independence. When it had finished you could hear the sirens of the fire engines as they rushed to put out fires all over the city. Many of the buildings are of wooden construction and I was told that fires were a common occurrence on this date every year.

Then finally onto the madness of Las Vegas... another shock to the system on my first visit!

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