The ultimate Contax T2 write-up

Alright – “the ultimate Contax T2 write-up”? Not quite! Almost everything  has been said about this camera already and I can just give you my opinion on it.

I know that the Contax T2 is a very sought-after camera for many analog enthusiasts so I’d like to share my personal thoughts on it which might or might not help you decide if this camera suits you or not. Of course there are many great articles around about this camera but maybe you’ll get an additional perspective from my first impressions here.

First off

I really don’t consider myself a gear head but from time to time I like to try out a different camera just to get a comparison and to evaluate possibilities. On the other hand I like to get used to a camera as much as possible so I tend to use one model exclusively for a longer period of time, thus getting to know all its pros and cons over time.

I got the camera from Japan off eBay for around 600USD in great condition with minor wear. Technically it is in a perfect condition. Japan Camera hunter does not get Contax T2s for us any more (I contacted him about a T2) so eBay or some Facebook groups are probably the best sources nowadays.

After taking the camera out several times it feels very reliable, everything just works. The finder is bright and clear and you get all the necessary information you need: it will show you if the autofocus has a hit, you can see the frame lines and the exposure time.

The autofocus is crazy fast but you have to consider that the camera only measures the distance to your subject when you half-press the shutter button and focuses the lens only after you press the shutter button completely which might cause some kind of lag.

The Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/38 T* lens is amazingly sharp and I’m quite happy with the results on Ilford’s HP5+ and Kodak’s Ultramax 400. Vignetting does not seem to be a problem and distortion is at a minimum.

Pros

  • the T2 is really very well-built and makes a solid impression
  • the built-in “Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/38 T*” lens does a great job considering its size, it is pretty sharp and at 38mm it is very versatile
  • the T2 does have a very accurate autofocus but you can easily switch to  manual focus by turning the on/off dial a bit further
  • the cam has a built-in flash which you can turn on at two different levels if you need it; by default flash is off though, which is nice because you do not always have to think of turning the flash off after turning the camera on

Downsides

  • f/2.8 is not available for manual mode, whenever you select f/2.8 this also enables P-mode  but then the camera choses whichever aperture it finds suitable while I believe it has a preference to use f/2.8 if possible
  • it is possible to push/pull film but only via exposure compensation (under-/overexposure by one or two stops) because usually the DX code on the film canister is used; you can of course also modify the DX coding but that’s not a great way in my opinion; also turning the exposure compensation dial is something you might easily forget to turn back when you switch films again
  • if you use non-coded film canisters the T2 will assume ISO 100
  • the autofocus is terribly off from time to time
  • the camera is rather compact and it is a lot heavier than it looks, it will fit in a jacket’s pocket but you can’t really fit it into any normal pocket
  • the T2’s titanium body gets very cold at low temperatures which makes it hard to shoot during winter time while at the same time it is hard to handle with gloves on, because the shutter button is hard to feel without looking

So far this is just a summary of my first impressions here – hopefully I’ll write more when I have more to say about it.

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