Advanced Compact (AF)

Contax T2 – Long Term Impressions – A guest post from Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

I’ve been using the Contax T2 for over a decade as one of my main cameras. This review is focused more on my experiences with the camera and how it’s impacted my work as a photographer so it’s light on technical information. Hopefully the images themselves speak to the camera’s best attributes. The design, controls, and above all the amazing quality of the lens have come through for me time and time again.

If you are looking for a more technical review, please see this post from Hamish

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I received my T2 used as a gift from my older brother. He often frequented pawn shops and yard sales and knowing that I was a photographer, kept an eye out for deals on cameras. He came across a Contax that had a burned out flash but was in otherwise perfect condition so he picked it up at a steep discount and gave it to me as a gift. It’s impossible to overstate how thankful I am to him for finding it for me.

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I primarily shoot urban landscape photography and the T2 is particularly suited to my workflow. My work leads me to explore some pretty rough neighborhoods, normally on foot or on my bicycle. A small 35mm camera that I can slip in my back pocket is perfect for this environment. It allows me to create photographs quickly and inconspicuously without carrying a larger camera. Because of the small size and incredible lens, the T2 can also be a very capable street photography tool, though the shutter is far from silent. It makes the type of sound that would blend into the background noise of a busy subway platform but would draw attention in closer quarters.

"Cart Grave", 2015 by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

The T2 is equipped with a Carl Zeiss 38mm f 2.8 Sonnar lens and it is worth purchasing for that alone. Put simply, the image quality the Contax T2 produces is stunning. From the level of sharpness  that can be achieved to the soft vignette that occasionally appears, it has a character all it’s own. In use, the camera also handles in a way that really sets it apart from other compacts that I have used. Operationally it is deceptively simple and can be used in a fully automatic capacity if desired. But if you dig a bit deeper, the thought and attention to detail put into the layout and controls become readily apparent. The viewfinder is great with bright, accurate framelines that are easy to see under most lighting conditions. Metering is center weighted with an easily accessible exposure compensation dial and the aperture can adjusted using the dial on the lens (or left on the automatic, f 2.8 setting). As far as build quality is concerned, the T2 is literally built like a tank. Although I’ve never dropped it, it has seen a lot of use in the past ten years and still functions the same as the day I got it.

"Bridge to Atwater", 2015 by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin
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Using the T2 over such a long period of time has definitely helped me shape my photographic style by allowing me to work unobtrusively in the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Personally, I’m a big believer in using a single camera/ lens combination for my projects and the T2 is the perfect fit for this approach. Over the years I have produced work with many other cameras (film and digital) that I like, but my best photography continues to be shot with the Contax T2. Perhaps it is simply the correct tool for my style, but I would be hard pressed to recommend another compact film camera.


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7 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    kevin h
    July 22, 2015 at 1:28 am

    nice shots!
    quick question..
    when shooting with your t2(at night with flash) did the flash burn have any effects on your photos?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Kwasi
      July 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      Hello Kevin, unfortunately the flash was nonoperational when the camera came into my possession so I don’t have any experience shooting with it. But I have seen some excellent flash photography done with the T2 so I would imagine it’s worth experimenting with.
      -Kwasi

  • Avatar
    Reply
    joby
    September 23, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Great stuff. It’s my main camera too and I have the flash permanently on! It never burns out and makes photographing people so much better. You should try one with a flash. Mine had a problem with the exposure compensation light being stuck on when I bought it so I got it for £150 which was a bargain. It works perfectly….

  • Reply
    Die dreisten Drei – bu4.eu
    March 19, 2016 at 11:59 am

    […] schreiben, dafür hier ein paar Links: Contax T Review Contax T2 lomography Contax T2 inpirered eye Contax T2 Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin Contax T2 qimago Contax T2 & […]

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    Erik
    August 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I agree with everything you’ve said. The T2 is probably my favourite camera I’ve used, especially when comparing it to other point and shoots. It’s my go-to daily carry, and much like yourself my flash doesn’t work. I’ve found this to be a blessing mostly though, as you don’t have the accidental flash firing which can draw attention. It’s to bad that people have caught on, and sent the price sky rocketing, however I love this camera so much that I’m sure if and when mine dies, I’ll pay the price and buy another.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Francis Plummer
    December 26, 2016 at 1:07 am

    Hey Kwasi, do you know if there’s a way to fix the burned out flash on the T2?
    Im looking at buying one and the flash is burned out, which makes it cheaper, but I would love to get it working as I’d be shooting people mostly.
    Thanks

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin
      December 29, 2016 at 7:07 am

      Hey Francis,

      To be honest I never seriously investigated getting the flash fixed. I very rarely use flash in my work so it wasn’t that important to me. Personally, I would get the camera regardless. The lens is really awesome and excels in natural light. Good luck!

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