Sunday, September 14, 2008

Contax T2 - It's a compact film camera!

Contax was a camera brand noted for its unique, and sometimes odd, technical innovation and a wide range of Zeiss lenses, noted for their high optical quality. Its latest incarnation was a line of 35 mm, medium format and digital cameras engineered and manufactured by Kyocera, featuring modern optics engineered by Carl Zeiss, which has an outstanding reputation for high quality photographic equipment. On April 12, 2005, Kyocera announced that they would no longer produce Contax cameras.

Contax T-series Compact Cameras Kyocera introduced a series of highly successful T-series compact cameras, offering Zeiss-designed lenses which appealled to photographers desiring above-average picture quality.
Contax T2, a titanium body autofocus compact camera, featured a retracting 5-element Sonnar 38/2.8 lens, made in silver titanium, in black and gold plated finish.

More views of this collectable that I found in my dad's dry-box!

Yes, FILM!

The T2 featured ... Active autofocus
Active AF systems measure distance to the subject independently of the optical system, and subsequently adjust the optical system for correct focus.There are various ways to measure distance, including ultrasonic sound waves and infrared light. In the first case, sound waves are emitted from the camera, and by measuring the delay in their reflection, distance to the subject is calculated. Polaroid cameras including the Spectra and SX-70 were known for successfully applying this system. In the latter case, infrared light is usually used to triangulate the distance to the subject. Compact cameras including the Nikon 35TiQD and 28TiQD, the Canon AF35M, and the Contax T2 and T3, as well as early video cameras, used this system.

Found a nice write up from a user-owner,
After its discontinuation by Kyocera in 2000, the Contax T2 has not been seen on store shelves since -- not even the used camera displays with so many Canons, Minoltas and Nikons of yesteryear. Mine has already suffered some scratches on its titanium finish, and so there's even less reason to sell it.
Literally a jewel box, the T2 is equipped with a pop-out Carl Zeiss T* 38mm f/2.8 Sonnar and a shutter release made of synthetic sapphire. Its minimalist elegance, both in form and function, is bereft of any superficiality. I pack it for a dressy night on the town, or to complement my SLRs when using a long telephoto lens. Notwithstanding its beauty and ease of use, this is not the family's favorite camera. I think I know why.
One common pitfall for every point-and-shoot camera, even this one, is the user's tendency to lose focus on an off-centered subject. It's easy to forget to lock the focus (by holding the trigger halfway down) on the subject at dead center, then recompose. The result is often a blurry smile of your friend standing near a sharply focused tree.
Other shortcomings exist. Although the critically-acclaimed and lower-priced T3 (with a 40% reduced profile, and a slightly wider 35mm lens that is also a f/2.8) is a clear improvement over the T2, both are still limited by their rudimentary center-weighted metering and lack of lens shade, filter threading and hot shoe. (For the TVS series that have zoom lenses, Contax does offer an accessory flash.)
In the end, the proven cachet of the names Contax and Zeiss allows Kyocera to corner the market of luxury pocket cameras, even beating venerable Leica. As of spring 2003, the Contax T line includes models with zooms, APS film format and a digital version with 5.0 megapixels. Of course, a svelte all-metal body and Carl Zeiss T* optics are de rigueur: that's the whole point.

Last I checked on, mint examples are still fetching close to USD$400.


Delano said...

indeed a beautiful camera. Do you still have it and would you consider selling it?

Great blog by the way.

Kind Regards,
Delano Sookha

Julian Si said...

It belongs to my dad, and I doubt he wants to sell his precious! Thanks :-)