This Old Camera: The mighty little Contax T2 (Update)

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Updated below.

Being smitten with the Contax G Boys I wanted more, but less. More of that Contax/Zeiss goodness, but in a smaller package. Decided on the T range. Ruled out the Contax T since it was MF only and the flash was not built in (Personal preference. Don’t come at me T fans.). Went for the Contax T2. Why not the Contax T3? Because I did not see a great gain for the extra cost and I was not as enamored with the aesthetics as the T2 (Again. Personal preference. Don’t come at me T3 fans.). Plus neither has a slidey door thing that I have already lost minutes potentially wearing out.

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Google the camera and plenty of great websites will tell you the backstory and also gripe about how overpriced it is. In a logical sense, it is. But this is film photography in a digital age. A ridiculous conceit at its start. This model gained attention in recent years after being featured on the Tonight Show with one of the late night Jimmys by a rhymes with Carb-dash-ian so the prices picked up after that. Ian Wong does a great review which highlights this.

Don’t watch TV much so I found out about this newfound fame after I had already made my decision. I got my copy bargain grade from KEH.com.

It provides all the wonderfulness of the Gs while being very small, having fantastic AF and AE, very well done manual overrides, and doing quite well with the built-in flash. The only thing that I found lacking was that the top shutter speed was less at 1/500s as compared to the other two. Combined with no ability to use ND filters that meant no access to mid-day bokeh. No big really. Once I saw what this camera can do that concern melted away for me. So nearly as capable, but in a smaller and lighter package. Mission accomplished.

Update:

A few years on this camera has remained a consistently great performer. Not only that it accompanied me at a most emotional time when I traveled home to NY to pay my respects to my beloved Grandmother. It was one of three cameras that traveled with me. But this was the one used most. As expected it performed flawlessly and captured some of my favorite photos over that difficult week.

Contax T2

Contax T2

Contax T2

Contax T2

Contax T2

With its combination of stellar image quality, small size, consistency, and features this little camera sits atop all others.

I had recently developed a wandering eye. Ended up only reminding me how good the T2 was after a recent dance with another fixed lens high-end film camera, the Konica Hexar AF.

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I was admittedly impressed after a test roll. So much so that I sought out my own copy. Unfortunately as outlined here that camera had issues and it went back. In that post I compared it to the Contax G1 because, in my opinion, it could not compete with the T2. Why is that? Welp…

Sharpness and Contrast

Say what you will there is no hype here. This camera creates fantastic images. The Hexar is very good. But the T2 is better.

Contax T2 w/ Fuji Acros 100

Contax T2

Built-In Flash

Not only is the Hexar already a larger camera but flash requires an external unit. I much prefer a built-in unit. And unlike most film cameras I have, it includes red-eye reduction double flash. It is great for fill flash outside in full sun.

Contax T2

It is great used inside in low light conditions.

Contax T2

Manual Controls

More accessible manual overrides. Simple focus dial with marking and an in viewfinder focus confirmation.

Contax T2

Half-press focus and recompose works flawlessly. Aperture can be manually set on the lens.

Contax T2

While shutter speeds cannot be selected directly you can control exposure by half-press lock or by using the exposure compensation dial.

Contax T2

Far more straightforward than the Hexar.

Colors

I will let the images speak for themselves.

Contax T2 w/ Fuji Provia 100F

Contax T2 - Portra 400

Impeccable Metering

It just cannot be tripped up even in challenging conditions.

Contax T2 w/ Fuji Provia 100F

Contax T2 w/ Fuji Provia 100F

Build

Titanium bricklette beats very nice plastic and some metal.

Hexar Rebuttal

It is not all bad for the Hexar. It does have a brighter aperture at f/2. While the viewfinder lacks shutter speed or focus confirmation indicators it does have a larger viewfinder with dynamic parallax correction.

But otherwise, it is the Contax T2 all day long.

Here is an ongoing gallery.

Happy shooting.

-ELW

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