DARKROOM ARTS
JARED ELIZARES

Contax T2

Another off-the-cuff camera review

CONTAX T2

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The Contax brand is known for professional-grade cameras with incredible build quality that are as functional as they are sexy. If you're young and hip, you can probably name a few celebrities who use the Contax T2 and T3 cameras, which likely accounts for the recent (and tremendous) rise in value on the used market. For reference: I bought a T2 in 2011 for about $250. Good luck getting one on eBay in 2018 for less than $600. Despite my previous statement, this is an instance where the camera’s reputation is absolutely deserved and the demand is there for a reason - especially i you want the grey, black, or gold versions. These cameras are relatively compact, superbly built, luxuriously finished, and yield great image quality.

The T2 and T3 are titanium-bodied point and shoot cameras with Zeiss Sonnar lenses and built-in flash. They're closely related to the similar Contax T rangefinder and G series autofocus cameras.  The T2 is an aperture-priority autofocus camera, leaving little room for control - but then again, point and shoots are really meant to be fast and simple. One feature that you can control is depth of field; there's a real aperture ring on the front of the lens like you'd find on most classic film SLRs and rangefinders. This ring also gives you the program autoexposure mode and flash modes.

The T2 is primarily an autofocus camera, which can be a bit challenging if you're used to using manual focus cameras like I am; it's frustrating to find that the camera has missed your intended focus, which isn't clear in the viewfinder. You are able to use preset zone focus distances using a dial on the top of the camera; estimate the depth of field for your working aperture to ensure deep focus. It's a great feature, but not ideal. The T2 also has an exposure compensation dial, which is critical for back-lit scenes and sometimes when using flash.

In general, I love the way the T2 feels. It's a bit on the heavy side, but feels well built for it. Although this is referred to as a "compact" camera, don't expect to fit this in the pocket of your pants. The Ricoh GR1 is significantly slimmer, none are that small when you consider the diameter of a 35mm canister. The rubberized grip on the left side of the T2 feels good in that hand; I'm not sure I'd enjoy using the later T3, which lacks this.

If you're a serious shooter, you may find a Contax SLR or G series (autofocus compact with interchangeable lenses) to be more versatile. For most people, the T2 is a wonderful everyday carry and something that I definitely regret selling. If I ever come across another at a decent price, I'll probably grab it and hold on to it this time.

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