Experience & Review: Contax T2

When Theo told me he’d been in touch with Brian, and that he was down to let us shoot with his T2, I was pretty excited. Actually, I was really excited (Like, no work today, the office is on fire excited). This camera is obviously incredibly popular. It’s always been known as a great camera, and since being flaunted by this guy, or that girl, on the TV, the prices have hit the roof. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, whether this pretty little grey box was truly worth upwards of 700 pounds. So, I met Brian at his place, on the nicest day of the year so far, and took the camera for a little test drive around the block.

The Contax T2 was released in 1990 and was always destined for use by the professional market. It is essentially a shiny, semi-automatic titanium box, with a highly regarded 38mm F2.8 T* Sonnar, that oozes that ‘German’ aesthetic. In fact, I was actually pretty surprised to find out that the T2 was made in conjunction with Kyocera, meaning that it was actually made 9,000Km away from the nearest pair of lederhosen. The lens is made up of 5 elements, placed in 4 groups and coated with a healthy dose of T* goodness. I read more than a few reviews singing the praises of this piece of glass, and in my opinion, these praises are mostly accurate.

The T2 reads DX code from 25-5000 (which if you know how to hack, means you can push to infinity and beyond). Its shutter runs from 8s – 1/500, and the user selected aperture from f2.8-16. Manual focus is operated by a wheel, that I think is positioned pretty well, and this lets you set the distance in increments from 0.7 – ∞, lighting a green dot, showing you that focus is achieved (this could have been a great feature, it ain’t). The flash is pretty well balanced and has the option to reduce red-eye. But, with no accessory hot-shoe, only the built-in flash can be used, and this has a recycle time of 3.5s. Something I was unaware of when filming this video, is that the T2 can be placed into P-mode by selecting f2.8. I was so stoked to use the camera, that I misheard Brian. Basically, the lens can only shoot wide open in this mode, the brain of the T2 will decide for itself when the situation suits it. Essentially, it selects its own best method for creating an exposure, and it believes it is much smarter than you are – this means that It cannot be forced to shoot wide open.

In summation, I enjoyed shooting the T2, it feels great in the hand, has a relatively clear and informative viewfinder, and for an automatic camera is pretty damn quiet. The autofocus seems accurate and reliable, and I’m pretty happy that it can turn out some likable images from a day of random snapping. My main gripe with this camera is the shutter lag. This made it difficult to capture motion and rendered the manual/scale focus method pointless. I guess this camera is a beautiful thing to look at, a simple thing to use and it makes great images. But, Is it worth the price tag? In my opinion, no (Unless, like Brian, you bought yours 4+ years ago). Personally, I can’t see myself spending half a month’s salary on something that could (potentially) become a paperweight at any point.

Experience & Review:

Contax T2 + Fuji C200

*China Camera Style is dedicated to giving an honest, open review of all the cameras that are currently sat on your eBay watch list, or in your Taobao cart right now. Each camera is loaded with a roll of Fujifilm c200, rain or shine. It is always shot in one day, by the same nerd. It’s taken to the same lab, scanned with the same scanner and posted onto the site, as is received (via. Email).

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