Contax T2

Contax T2 Review – Just a device? – by Adam Laws

Camera – Noun: A device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals.

Is that all a camera is? A device? A tool for capturing images? Where does the Contax T2 fit in this analysis?

What’s your all-time top five film cameras? Would you use superfluous adjectives or elaborate metaphors to describe each one on the list? Or would the word “device” be sufficient in all five examples? I appreciate this type of thinking can get very deep depending on your viewpoint. I don’t want to get all philosophical on you. Especially in the absence of a good rum, or at the very least a hot tea with a few biscuits on the side (my biscuit preference is Hobnobs if you were wondering).

Eighteen months ago I ventured across this marvellous website you’re now reading trying to find information on the mythical beast that is, the Contax T3. I had, rather naively, never considered compact film cameras as being of a sufficient quality to use on a daily basis. Especially for professional work. I tended to associate them to my childhood and the memory of getting back poorly exposed blurry images. Normally with one of my grubby child fingers partially covering the lens.

After chatting with Hamish via email, and subsequently submitting some non-compact camera reviews I took the plunge and purchased a Contax T2. Yes a T2. Have you seen the price T3s go for? I purchased a gold 60 year anniversary edition Contax T2. Unused, sealed and in a rather fancy mahogany box. I put a small mark in the gold paint the first week of shooting with it.

I’ve had the Contax T2 over a year now.  It’s constantly in my bag and I use for personal images and as a secondary camera for the majority of my photoshoots. I’m not going to write a review on the camera. Hamish has done a very good job of that already. The T2, It’s very good, it has a couple of minor niggles, but what camera doesn’t? Did I say it’s very good? Well it is, very good.

Would I sell the Contax T2? No. Do I love it? Not really. It wouldn’t make my top five cameras I’ve owned. It’s hard to say anything apart from it’s very good and I’ve said that four times now. Sadly that’s why it doesn’t make the list. This specific camera is “a device” in a very similar way I find the camera on my phone “a device”. The images are excellent but I’m not excited about the image making process, nor does the camera compel me to venture out and shoot.  Maybe it’s just too easy to use.  I know that may sound silly but I like the process of shooting film. It really does slow you down. If I can rattle of a roll of film in a couple of minutes without thinking about it then I might as well be shooting digital. Well maybe not but you get the idea. As a device, as a tool the T2 (wait for it) is very good, and that dear reader is what sparked my quandary as I’m normally more emotive about cameras. I can talk to you for hours about some of the delights/monsters I’ve owned, but in this instance a very capable device/tool will suffice.

Portrait of young woman photographed with Contax T2

Portrait of woman standing in field photographed with Contax T2

Portrait of man wearing sunglasses photographed with Contax T2

Man holding baby in mirror photographed with Contax T2

Seashore photographed with Contax T2

Portrait of woman wearing glasses photographed with Contax T2

In review, I have come to a conclusion: the more automated a camera is, the less I personally enjoy the overall shooting experience. Even when shooting with a technically very good camera. In very much in the same way I prefer manual gearboxes in cars to automatics. As a secondary camera, you couldn’t ask for more, but as a primary device I personally require a camera with more manual interaction than the Contax T2. I appreciate this view may not be shared by the majority of community but it is something I have come to appreciate, like a good manual focus lens and a film advance lever.

The gracious models include: Emma Holt, Hannah Hornblow, Victoria Lindsay Coutts, Elizabeth Fletcher, Charlotte Roffey, Lucy Jackson, Madie White, and Lisa Minichiello.

All the links to the various models, agencies, and MUAs can be found on my Instagram account including my latest work: Or alternatively my website:

You can read Hamish’s review of the Contax T2 here

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8 thoughts on “Contax T2 Review – Just a device? – by Adam Laws”

  1. Hi Adam, I understand that the Contax T2 is a very good camera though you didn’t stress it enough to my taste. But the 12 inches behind the Contax are not bad either! Great photos!

    I can conceive that a film camera that is too easy to use, too ‘perfect’ can become a simple device for taking pictures, like any iPhone or digital rig. The main point in shooting film is making our lives as miserable as possible, it seems. We go to all matter of lengths to use a complicated process, a process full of limits… and we like it!

    Thanks for this interesting read!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Frank. I concur with you totally. I think it somewhat like fishing – it’s great to have a wonderful image/fish to bring home with yourself, yet the real fun is in challenge in capturing it in the first place. The memories and emotions of how it was taken is to me is just as important as the image/fish capturing process.

  2. Thanks Adam for your thoughts on this device. I think you summed up really well the soul-less nature of p&s cameras. I tried out a T2 a few years ago but didn’t love it. For pocket sized cameras, I’ll never replace the Rollei 35se, which shares the same lens design as the T2. It is fiddly to use but I love it.

    1. Thanks Jeremy. I’ve recently been looking at Rollei’s so I’m glad to hear you hold them in high regard. Hopefully one of santa’s Elves has read my Xmas list.

  3. I couldn´t agree more with you. I´m constantly buying & selling cameras so I´ve to go through the pain&joy of testing the cameras I buy before I sell them. I usually buy compact cameras because they´re less problematic and easy to swap. I really enjoy compact cameras when I want to shoot street photography (humans beings decisive moments) but after half a roll a definitely lack the endorphin moments of focussing, aperture thinking, film fast forwing, the amazing shutter CLACK…). So if I want to have a pleasure photographic morning I take my Konica T3 or my Mamiya 645 with b&w film and some compact camera with color film, so I have two versions of an interesting picture. Then all my photographic needs are covered.

  4. The T2 is a BRILLIANT compact camera. I prefer it to my TC1 mostly. What more are you supposed to expect from a point and shoot other than pointing and shooting!

  5. Pingback: 5 Frames with a Leica Summarit 35mm f/2.4 lens - by Adam Laws - 35mmc

  6. Arthur Gottschalk

    Reminds me of my old Contax TVS, one of the best cameras I ever owned. Used it exclusively on a trip to India and Sri Lanka some years ago. Worked to perfection and gave me truly great pictures, much like some of the ones here, which are truly beautiful. Unfortunately it eventually gave up the ghost.

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