While it offered full automation, including Autofocus and Program AE, the Contax T2 was one of the most readily user-controllable cameras of its era, featuring Aperture Priority AE selection on a dial on the retracting lens body, and manual focus on a thumb dial. Shutter speed and focus lock confirmation is given in the viewfinder. Builty-in only Anti-red eye preflash option Range 0. The Contax T2's closest rival was the Leica Minilux. It is of a similar specification, design philosophy, size and weight.
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My very first impression of handling the camera was definitely a positive one! It actually feels bigger than it is, I was convinced it was bigger than my Fuji Klasse W , but if anything it might even be a touch smaller.
I had read comments online relating to its size and weight that had put me off, but whilst it is on the large side, it is still very much a compact camera…. The positive handling experience was unfortunately soon shattered when I took the first photo and felt the lens move against my middle finger. They are not the only cameras out there with the lens so close to the right hand grip, but the way they have been designed does mean that without initial conscious effort fingers may interact with that lens.
Thankfully I seem to have got over my fat-handed behaviour and now appear to be able to handle the camera better. I suppose like with anything it just takes a little getting used to… But when coming from shooting so regularly the Ricoh GR1 which, ergonomically speaking, is probably king of the compacts, the Contax T2 does feel a little clumsily designed in this regard.
It is also worth pointing out that my frustration with the position of the lens was entirely outweighed almost instantly by the rest of the user experience! The rest of the camera feels like it was designed with considerable thought to what a photographer shooting with a compact like this might actually want or need, and this to my mind carries through to the way it functions too! One of the first things you notice when using the Contax T2 is the viewfinder.
The frame lines are maybe slightly prone to disappearing on a bright background but that is to my eye one of the only flaws of the VF. The feature that really sets the view through the finder apart though is the live metering information! When the camera is switched on, the metering is on, and is constantly updated. It does go to sleep after a little while but a half dab of the shutter release reactivates it. Of course there is little space in a finder of a camera like this so the information is relayed in a space saving way.
My worries were Ill founded, it was winding on fine, it just winds on quickly and nice and quietly. A further click and the focus is fixed to infinity, one more and it is in manual focus. There is probably just over a centimetre of un-clicked travel from the 5 meter to the 0.
The viewfinder displays a digital rangefinder made of a green circle to indicate focus and two red arrows either side that literally tell you which way to move your thumb on the wheel to gain focus. The green light of focus can appear and disappear quite quickly but once you get used to it, you get a feel for it! With the Contax T2 I set it to manual at the 0. Importantly, there is no faffing to get to this setting, no menu system to navigate, just a few clicks of the wheel and you are there.
This simple operation also lends its self perfectly to street or candid shooting. The aperture of the lens can be set manually… I was actually surprised to see that when adjusting the aperture with the wheel around the lens that it is mechanically set. Ie, set the aperture to f8, switch the camera on, set the focus to 5m and you will have everything from around 2.
It takes no time at all to get to grips with doing this without even looking at the camera, you simply click through to manual focus then nudge it back to where the wheel stops at 5m. This is possibly a little hard to imagine without giving it a go, but take my word for it, its very easy.
The camera working like this will certainly win it points if you are coming from shooting an RF. The other great advantage of the manual focus mode on the Contax T2 is the ability to separate the point of focus from the area it meters from. The meter is centre weighted, so you can gather a rough idea of best exposure of a difficult scene by pointing the centre spot at various elements within the desired frame.
I do this with the GR1 too, but each area requires a half press for a reading. With the Contax T2 you can quickly scan the scene and decide what would be the most appropriate speed to use. Due to the live reading you also quickly become familiar with the size of the area the camera meters from! Half pressing will lock the chosen shutter speed but in AF it also of course locks the point of focus. With the camera set to manual focus, you can manually focus on the subject, point the camera at the area in the scene that selects the desired shutter speed, half press to lock exposure, reframe and shoot!
You would be surprised just how quick you can get at this with the Contax T2 with very little practice! So what about the photos it produces? Mostly good then? Well here are a couple of other issues. The aperture selection is a little awkward for anyone with fingers larger than that of a two yeah old child! The camera moves the lens to focus after you press the shutter which does cause some lag, lag which cannot be overcome by manually focusing the lens!
I would also prefer a lens that focused closer than 0. There is one odd design feature that seems to be picked up on in other reviews I have read, so is probably worth mentioning. Manual ISO selection is also missing from the feature set. This is definitely a shortcoming, but it can be overcome by recoding film canisters if you are really desperate.
The Contax T2 seems to retain the feeling of simplicity that I enjoy so much in a compact camera yet provide a set of features that combine to make a camera that rarely gets in your way!
I like it so much in fact that I sold the tarnished silver one you see in this review, to buy a very pretty dark grey one from Bellamy of JCH. In short it is definitely a keeper. Like the GR1v if I can ever find a fully functioning one I can see me wanting to use this camera very regularly!
On the subject of the Ricoh GR1v, I suppose I should quickly touch on a comparison… I would say actually that specifically the GR1v and Contax T2 represent two halves of a whole for me. And I do prefer a close focusing 28mm lens to a less close focusing 38mm. More photos I have taken with this camera on flickr. Long term, I found myself not using the Contax T2. I loved it when I first got it, but increasingly found its weight an issue. After some deliberation I decided to sell it and move to the Contax T3.
If you would like to read more about the T3, you can find my thoughts here. Since publishing this article, the value of the Contax T2 has skyrocketed. I would just suggest you read this article first. For more articles on 35mmc about the subject matter discussed here, please click one of the following tag links:.
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Would like to write for 35mmc? Find out how here. Hamish, thanks for the review, gave me more insight into my recently purchased contax T2. I was wondering what you used to scan your film? I have a very basic flatbed scanner canon lide f , results are dissappointing.
I used to think that my photos just arent good enough, but Id like to get a better scanner. Can you recommend anything mid-price-range? Thank you so much, wonderful blog! Hi Vanessa, I tend to send my films off to be processed and scanned. It might continue to cost money, but the results are better than I can get out of any scanner. At the moment I use AG Photo lab — you can see a range of results from them here.
Does that help? Ill definitively look into that, I have a good place where I develop my film now, Im sure they scan too. Thanks again Hamish! I had to use a thick foil-based tape, because even black tape is pretty opaque once a flash unit does its stuff.
Inside I could now properly seal up the flash unit with the foil tape now where did I put it? The flash has gone, and the auto-focus and framelines are back. I have some Cinestill film and shall play around with that over the next week or three. I reckon the extra stop will help. This is brilliant stuff! Makes me want to find myself a beater and try it myself!
Shall write it up, and include a couple of pickies. I shall look forward to reading! Great post and beautiful photos! And do you know of any website besides ebay where I can buy a Contax T2 from a reputable seller? The Yashica is a much more basic camera, with very little in the way of controls. Both have excellent lenses though. And what a camera it is.
The autofocus is snappy, the view finder is big and bright, the […]. Excellent review! I love my T2, takes great photos…it is actually my most used 35mm camera. As I think you mentioned in your T3 review or somewhere , one of the things that sets it apart from cheaper point and shoots is its internal memory and ability to set the flash to off all the time. Is this something that the T2 also does?
As far as I can tell, you have to switch the flash on using the aperture ring which sounds good, but if you set the ring to 2. If you set the aperture to 2. Default is flash off. Hello with my t2 when I scan it in at uni it seems to cut off the edges of the full photo.
Contax T2 – Titanium Zeiss
The Contax T2 is a high end, titanium auto focus point and shoot camera introduced in Pros seen using this beauty include Mario Testino, Annie Liebowitz, and many more. And for good reason. My interest in the Contax T2 originated when I viewed some images from this gem. Formerly, I was not a great fan of any point and shoot cameras, even the Nikon 35Ti, but between those images and experiencing the solid titanium feel,…I was sold. Easy to use intuitive controls just the right size and placement. The Contax T3 is even smaller.
Contax T2 Review – it’s chunky, it’s very expensive, but it’s good!
Contax T2 Camera 311000 User Manual
Contax T2 Instruction Manual