When my girlfriend and I made the decision to visit Japan a year ago, I had just got back into film photography after a long hiatus and I knew I had to find the perfect travel camera for this trip. It turned out to be the Contax TVS.
Since my photography was previously pretty much only about BMX, I never cared too much for pocketable cameras. But, it was during this time I stumbled upon 35mmc.com and I started getting interested in compacts. I started reading a lot of the reviews about P&S cameras on here and came to the conclusion that my camera will need:
- Flash off as a default
- A good lens
- 1/500s or faster shutter speed
- Exposure compensation
- Good Auto Focus
- 35mm or wider lens
I quickly realised that there aren’t too many options that fit my criteria, and even fewer within my budget. I tried all of the obvious choices, the Canon Prima Mini II, Olympus Mju I, XA, XA2. I thought I had found the one when I tried the Konica Big Mini BM-201. I bought two of them, sold one, and then the other one died a week later…
Finding the Contax TVS
Then, through some post on the r/analog subreddit I found out you can set Flash off as a default on the Contax TVS. I realised that fit all my criteria, expect it was a bit out of budget. But, after hunting around ebay, Facebook marketplace etc. daily for a few weeks I finally found a good deal and bought it.
First Impression: It’s not really a ‘compact’ camera, it was almost as big as my Voigtländer Bessa R, it’s just as heavy but it’s got a great feel to it. The mechanical action of turning on the TVS with the lever that extends the lens was very satisfying and I quickly began to love it.
The aperture compensation dial was a bit fiddly to use but it makes the camera very versatile with you being able to set the aperture compensation in ⅓ Stop increments. The viewfinder is bright and zooms to give you a pretty accurate representation of your FOV and it even gave you a shutter speed readout in the viewfinder.
Fast forward to March of this year when we went to mount Fuji during our trip to Japan:
I always wanted to capture Mt. Fuji on Fujichrome Slide film – I felt it would be really cool to have a strip of positives with photos of Mt. Fuji in my archives. But because I’m a cheapskate, I bought 2004 expired Fuji Sensia 400 consumer grade Slide film with me. I had tested a roll before and was happy with the results I got, so I felt it was worth the risk. And although some shots came out very grainy/underexposed I’m very pleased with the results:
I also shot a few different rolls of colour neg film:
Final thoughts on the TVS:
I was very happy with my decision to bring the Contax TVS to Japan. I have since sold it to buy a Leica but it was amazing to have an automatic camera with manual override in my sling bag at all times, even when I didn’t want to bring my Bessa R. With the prices of Contax T2, 35ti etc. rising into Leica territory i think it’s one of the best deals in the compacts market and i can definitely recommend it.
If you liked some of these photos and would like to see more, please check out my instagram @35000000nm (thats 35mm in nanometers..).