I had an opportunity to own and use Contax S2 together with 3 lenses (Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.7 C/Y, Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 85mm F2.8 C/Y and Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm F2.8 C/Y) for more than half a year. At first I thought to write a full review of this camera, but it’s so spartan, that even a full review can be covered with a 5 frames post. So here we go:
What triggered me to get this camera is a unique set of features that make it the ultimate purist film shutter weapon. Let me explain.
- It has only manual shooting mode.
- It has only spot metering
- It has mechanical shutter with ability to reach 1/4000s shutter speed
Besides those controls it has an on/off switch, double exposure lever, DOF preview button, ISO selection wheel, self times and… and that’s all. So, when you’re in the mood for total control and don’t want to be distracted by any unnecessary automation, the Contax S2 is a machine to go. Let’s dig a bit deeper and look into the positive factors of shooting the Contax S2:
- A lack of any additional features is liberating. It’s you, your knowledge and the scene.
- The Contax S2 is very well built, feels solid and reassuring.
- The control wheel, film cooking lever, film rewind are all well placed and operate with satisfying precision.
- Viewfinder is big, focusing is convenient and the eye relief is OK for prescription glass wearers.
- The max shutter speed of 1/4000th is a relief for us shallow DOF aficionados.
- Spot metering lets you precisely and selectively meter the scene, but you have to know what you are doing.
And now my personal subjective shortcoming:
- I don’t like the meter reading in viewfinder. Shutter speeds are listed in the finder, the preset shutter speed blinks and the correct shutter speed lights. I somehow find this system a bit counterintuitive
- I like Pentax lenses better than CZ – CZ lenses are bit less compact and to me are more “clinical”, where Pentax (for example 31mm f1.8, 50mm f1.7 “F” version and 77mm f1.8) draw pictures with more character.
And that is it. Thanks for reading, enjoy the photos:
More shots with Contax S2 you can find in my website: www.beautifulgrain.com
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