5 frames with a Contax T – By Gavin Maxwell

I think I’ve found my perfect 35mm camera! Pocket-sized, fantastic quality, and a joy to use: the Contax T. In fact it’s so good I bought it twice! I had a silver one, but in a moment of madness I sold it. I should have known better. I have many fine cameras, from Rolleiflex to Leica, but I regretted selling the tiny T so much I bought a black one shortly after – it was advertised with a fault so it was dirt cheap, but I think it had just suffered from a lack of use: it’s fine!

The little gem has a fixed Zeiss Sonnar 38mm f2.8 lens that extends elegantly from the body when in use, manual focus with true rangefinder focusing, a depth of field scale on the lens barrel, aperture priority, an exposure compensation button for bright backgrounds, and even a manual film speed setting dial which can be used to deliberately over-ride exposure too.

I like the focal length – it works for landscape and portrait shots, so I feel no need for anything else. The T is unobtrusive, inoffensive, quick, and quiet: I pre-set the focus using the depth of field scale, then a tiny ‘tic’ is the only thing that betrays its presence. The manual film advance keeps the noise down too.

It gobbles up Tri-X and Xp2, and I’ve been thrilled by the results. I have a tiny add-on flash for it too, I haven’t used it yet but maybe that’s something to play with in the future. The T is quite rare now but does occasionally appear for sale…it’s definitely worth looking out for one!

Storm approaching, Sugarloaf mountain, Rio. One of the first photos I took with the T. I was told crime can be a problem in Rio, so I wanted something discreet – the tiny T was perfect!

Lady in a favela slum, Rio. The T’s exposure compensation button opened the exposure by a stop and a half, perfect for dealing with the tricky lighting.

Tightrope walker, London. The T is fast: I preset the focus, and reading the depth of field scale I knew I would be able to catch this brief moment.

Big bubble, Barcelona. 2.8 isn’t the fastest aperture so I couldn’t use a fast enough shutter speed here, but I think this shot might have lost some of its magic if it was tack sharp! I must try the tiny add-on flash one day though…

Gannet, Devon coast. The tide was rising so I knew this touching tableau would shortly vanish. I’d left my larger ‘main’ camera back in the car, but the T was in my pocket – and the best camera is always the one you are carrying!


My website: www.gcmaxwell.com
Instagram: @gavinmaxwellphotography
Facebook: gavinmaxwellphotography

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8 thoughts on “5 frames with a Contax T – By Gavin Maxwell”

  1. I bought it thrice over! Love the thing to bits, you’d never guess the size of the camera from looking at the pictures alone 🙂

      1. It keeps getting longer! I’ve pitted it against my T2 and now I’m going to have it fight to the death with my Tiara 😛

  2. I’ve heard people having rangefinder misalignment with these. Nonetheless the black Contax T has been on my list for a very long time. Just haven’t stumbled upon a deal yet. Great pictures, love the lady one.

  3. It is a great camera. Another thing that makes it an attractive model is that it seems to be an old Contax camera that can still be pretty much repaired and serviced. Mark Hama, Atlanta, GA USA was able to return mine to a like-new performance level last year. I suppose that is the reward for avoiding such ridiculous conveniences as auto-focus, wind, and re-wind. 🙂

  4. Love the little trap door. I didn’t know these were r/f coupled; thought they were just a nice, zone focused camera. Nice work.
    I can see how this camera could be liberating & just plain fun as you travel.

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