The Contax T2 is the most expensive point-and-shoot camera you can buy. But why? How did this film camera become the most fashionable point-and-shoot camera today?
Finding the right camera is without a doubt one of the biggest priorities of every photographer. But if we talk about the Contax T2 we are talking about a device that’s not for everyone.
This camera falls into the luxury category and although it was released in 1990 this high-end camera is still worth considering today.
Spoiler alert: the price is not friendly at all!
In this Contax T2 review, I’m going to look at why this is the best point-and-shoot camera in the market today.
Well, let’s get started….
A Brief History of the Contax T2
Many people consider the Contax T2 the King (or Queen?) of point-and-shoot cameras.
Since its launch, the target was high-end consumers. And that hasn’t changed today, despite the development of modern cameras. In fact, it still suits professional photographers and serious amateurs.
Even though the Contax brand is not producing cameras, how is the Contax T2 still so popular? Is it only because we’ve seen it in the hands of supermodels and influencers?
Well, in part yes. But the T2 is also a magnificent camera, with great glass and handy features.
Contax cameras were some of the best 35mm in the world since the 1930s. Thanks to the emphasis on the lens quality.
Zeiss lenses and excellent materials made the Contax T line a huge success. Compact, and built with quality in mind, many photographers love the Contax. Besides, full manual controls make this compact camera stand-out.
Contax T2 Review
But is this compact point-and-shoot worth the cost?
It depends. Let’s talk see its specs first.
This brilliant device comes packed with handy features and outstanding quality. There aren’t many negatives about it. As a result, it’s one of the most sought-after compact cameras in the market today
Here are some of the features and specifications:
Carl Zeiss Lens
Let’s start with the most outstanding feature of the Contax T2.
Its fantastic lens.
- Lens: Carl Zeiss T* multi-coated Sonnar
- Aperture: f/2.8-16
- Focal Length: 38mm
- Lens Build: 5 elements in 4 groups
Thinking of a lens this powerful in such a small camera is incredible. The lens renders fantastic results. Sometimes it can also match the quality of more powerful cameras.
Thanks to this state-of-the-art optic, you can take amazing shots in almost any condition. Considering also that this type of lens was the type of glass you could find on professional SLRs back in the day.
A Note on Aperture
It’s worth noting that the camera uses an f/2.8 aperture only when shooting in program mode.
What this means is that you can only force the widest aperture of f/4. And you can also choose manual values of f/5.6 – f/8 – f/11 – f/16.
If you choose f/2.8, the camera will decide what aperture to use. It will select f/2.8 only in low light conditions.
But even at other f-numbers it captures images with astonishing clarity and definition nonetheless.
Contax T2 Build Quality
The Contax T2 build quality is astonishing. It’s rock solid. Made of titanium, hence Contax T-series. It feels great to handle even though a bit bulky.
The solid construction makes it capable of withstanding intense shock.
Suppose your work involves constant movement and on-the-road assignments. In that case, you can be sure that it will endure any occupational hazards you might expose it to.
The T2 comes in four colors: black, black titanium, silver, and gold.
Despite the titanium build, it is compact enough to fit in a small pouch or backpack. This makes it a great companion to bring along with you for outdoor shoots in remote locations.
The lens is close to the handgrip. For this reason, the bulky design makes it a bit hard to handle, so you’ll have to get used to it.
The grip is unusual if you fancy more ergonomic solutions. But many people have reported that after a while, shooting with it becomes second nature.
The Contax T2 comes with impressive autofocus (AF). It also features manual focus (MF) settings that allow you to focus on your subjects with ease. You can change the focus settings through the handy dial on top of the camera. The same dial is used to turn the camera on and off.
Both AF and MF features range from 0.7 m to infinity. As a result, you can capture far-off subjects without breaking a sweat.
The infinity setting is also handy to photograph through things. If you shoot through the glass, you might end up focusing on the foreground.
But with the infinity option available, you can avoid messing up your photo.
On the top left of the camera, you can find the exposure compensation dial. It’s easy to use and super helpful. Especially considering you are using a point-and-shoot camera.
The exposure compensation range is +/-2. Most often it’s best to use it between +0.5 and +1 to get a good exposure. There’s a small window that displays the exposure compensation. You will also see the value in the viewfinder.
Contax T2 Built-in Flash
The compact camera comes equipped with a flash range of 0.7- 3m. This allows you to take great shots in low-light conditions as well as in total darkness.
It defaults to flash off and there’s no auto-flash. Then there are two flash settings. The double flash and single flash to reduce red-eye.
If you like night photography, you will find the flash pretty powerful.
The electronic viewfinder, while not perfect, is quite advanced for a camera of this age. It features excellent live metering that goes into sleep mode after a while to save some energy.
You can wake it up by pressing the shutter release halfway. The frame lines can be hard to see in very bright situations.
The Contax T2 compact camera also comes with an electronic self-timer. With a 10-second delay, it allows you to time your shots quicker when taking photographs.
For greater control and freedom when shooting you can also cancel the self-timer.
The auto-loading film capabilities make the process of setting up easy and stress-free.
After loading the film, the auto-loading synchronizes by default to the first frame. This feature saves you time and making the process of shooting more enjoyable.
Some of the other technical specifications of the Contax T2 compact camera include:
- Shutter Speed: 8 – 1/500s
- Metering Range: EV 3- 17 (ISO100)
- Battery: 1*3 V Lithium battery
- Average weight: 295g
- Dimensions: 119 * 66 * 33mm
- Negative size: 24 * 36mm
The battery on the Contax T2 lasts forever which is convenient. In fact you wouldn’t carry extra batteries for the type of use that this camera has.
But the fact that it uses CR123 batteries is great since they’re not hard to find in case you want to change it.
How did the Contax T2 become so Famous?
This camera was for professional photographers. It was for a growing market looking for high quality and a portable device.
Photographers used it for different photography genres. Fashion photography, street photography, portrait, and photojournalism. They all needed something that could meet their working demands on the move.
The renewed interest in film photography over the past few years has boosted the fame of this camera. With many celebrities and professionals showing a preference for it over modern devices.
Thanks to the re-emergence of this classic film camera, its price has increased.
Photographers now see the Contax T2 as a combination of quality and performance. And let’s not forget the luxury and fashionable aspects.
In 2017 the supermodel Kendall Jenner took a Jimmy Fallon photo during The Tonight Show. She used a Contax T2. Watch the short video here.
Among celebrities and social media influencers, it has become a trend. With many professionals vouching for it in their reviews.
Celebrities and Famous Photographers Using the Contax T2
This well-crafted compact camera is now the quintessential device for trendy people.
Other than Kendall Jenner let’s see some of the big names using it.
Actor Chris Hemsworth posted on Instagram a photo captured with a Contax T2. With his brother Liam, he says he’s “gone full hipster and only shoot on film now”.
The British fashion designer stated he bought it from eBay.
Erdem Moralioglu uses it to capture the behind-the-scenes of his shows and his travels.
American-Japanese model Kiko Mizuhara posted several selfies on Instagram holding the Contax T2.
Among others, W Magazine, Vogue, and GQ also featured the Contax T2.
But this camera is not an exclusive must-have gadget for wealthy celebrities only. In fact, many photography enthusiasts and collectors have bought it too.
Some notable names in the photography industry use it too:
- Juergen Teller
- Annie Leibovitz
- Sofia Coppola
Contax T2 Price and Where to Buy It
Even today, it is still regarded as one of the most expensive compact film cameras in the market. After Kendall Jenner showed it on TV, the price went to the moon.
If you could get it for around $250 on eBay, things are now quite different. Yet, if the price doesn’t scare you, you can’t find a second hand Contax T2 on Amazon or eBay for around $900 and up.
Contax T2 Video Review
Some Photos Captured With The Contax T2
Should You Get a Contax T2?
Short answer. No.
Long answer and conclusion.
Compact film cameras are back. They have evolved since they were first introduced in the market many years ago. But the Contax T2 still remains one of the best compact cameras in the world.
With the crazy price, it depends on your budget. If you are a beginner photographer, I would recommend looking for something else.
But, remember that this classic camera is getting rare.
The Contax T2 rights belong to Zeiss, and at the moment, these cameras are not in production.
If you are looking for a high-performance and trendy device, the Contax T2 is worth having in your arsenal.
Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments below!
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.