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Mid-eighties point and shoot. A Porsche Design Group and Contax collaboration.
Submitted by tomD a Expert
Date Reviewed: April 2, 2009
Strengths: small size means you will be carrying it. Excellent optics and simple operation. Focal length gives good non-critical depth of field. Quiet and inobtrusive. good battery life. Clamshell design is quick to activate.
Weaknesses: the flash is not powerful but synchs well. Highest shutter speed still not high enough. film loading requires a sit down place you can take your time at.
excellent exposure and sharp images thanks to a clever shutter release button on a tiny camera and good exposure compensation yeilding transparencies that are easy to scan. Prints from negatives go to 16 x 24 no problem at all with Fuji Provia transparencies.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $600.00
Purchased At: the Camera Store
Type of photography: Fine Art
Submitted by Jack Barbera a Expert
Date Reviewed: March 7, 2009
Strengths: 1. Compact
3. Reliable Outcomes
4. Almost no Battery Consumption
5. Unsurpassed Lense
6. 10 out of 10 in Overall Quality.
7. Withstood test of Time
Weaknesses: Only one: Film loading is tricky, but after 2 or 3 rolls, not so bad.
I fell in love with the LOOK of the camera, then I fell in love with the FEEL of the camera. The FUNCTIONALITY of the camera can be debated forever, but the photo quality cannot be equaled from similar or cameras of more exceptional consrtuction and legend. The digital world took over, but not MY world. I love the CONTAX T and will treasure it forever.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $700.00
Purchased At: Auctioneer
Similar Products Used: Minox 35
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by deframj a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: February 14, 2007
Strengths: Superb lens
Brilliant viewfinder / rangefinder
Sleek compact Porsche design
Accurate built in light meter
Weaknesses: Slightly heavier than many other compact 35mm cameras, although quality is often accompanied by weight. (The Minox 35s are smaller and much lighter but almost all of the ones I have are plaqued with shutter problems.) The "drawbridge" lens design is a bit annoying. (Incidently, the Minox 35s have this too!)
The Contax T is the next logical step to the Rollei 35 SE. It is like the Rollei except that it has a rangefinder and an even more refined design, if possible. The Porsche designed Titanium camera is the at the top of its class for a compact 35mm camera. The metering system indicates the shutter speeds used and not just red and green lights. The picture quality is nothing less than stunning. This camera will give my Leica M3 a run for the money. Unlike the M3 it is smaller, lighter and has a built in meter. However, it does not have interchangeable lenses (nor it should) and the rangefinder does not have the long baseline that the Leica has. My only gripe, and this is really nit picking, is the fold down lens cover. Granted, this is an old, classic concept and it is really a good way to protect the lens and front part of the viewfinder, but it is a bit disconcerting when the drawbridge is open. I always feel like it may bang into something when I'm carrying the camera in the open position. The viewfinder on the Contax T is exceptionally clear and bright. And oh yes, the camera a bit heavier and larger than the Rollei. Again, this is nit picking, but I don't want to take anything away from the Rollei cameras. The Rollei has a distinct look and feel all its own. In fact, although I own a Contax T, I still would like to get a Rollei 35 SE.
The other thing I really like about the "T" is that, unlike the later Contax T2, T3, Tvs and G series, it is a true manual focusing rangefinder.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $350.00
Purchased At: eBay
Similar Products Used: Rollei 35, LED, B
Minox 35 EL, PL, ML, AL, Touring
Olympus XA, XA2
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by Brett S a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: June 14, 2006
Hyperfocal indicators on lens.
Weaknesses: Dim RF patch.
Be very careful when loading film.
No AE lock!
Short effective baselength makes focusing hard.
I'll be leaving today to go on a week long vacation to Utah. For the past week, I've been debating whether I should take my Leica M3, Leica CL, Canonet QL17 GIII, or Contax IIa. But then I remembered the Contax T that is always stowed in the glove compartment of my car, and the decision was made.
I'll be shooting slide film, and while the Canonet and CL both have fairly accurate meters, the Contax T always gives me the best results. The lens is among the best I own (Summicrons and Zeiss all around) with tack sharp images and never any funky bokeh.
To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the fold-down front. I appreciate how it protects the lens, but the camera seems to be more noticeable to people when it's opened up. It also makes it slightly awkward to carry in the open position. And even tho the frame counter is on top of the camera, it won't turn on unless you open the front cover.
The viewfinder is good, but noticeably dimmer than my other rangefinders. Not easy to focus, especially fast. But I'm a bit spoiled by a recently CLA'd Leica M3. And as others have said, the shutter indicator in the viewfinder leaves something to be desired. You only get an approximation of what the shutter is going to do. Usually not a problem, unless you're in the slower range and aren't sure if it's too slow to handhold. But I rarely have a blurry image with mine, and I generally shoot Fuji 160 speed film.
The build quality is excellent. Mine was purchased secondhand and shows a lot of signs of wear. That's fine with me, as it means I don't have to worry about the finish on it. The size is great for someone with small hands. The weight is appropriate for a metal-body camera.
I own other cameras that are easier to use. But I don't own any that take better photos. I doubt I could find another camera of this quality in a similar size. If I ever wanted to sell it, I have standing offers from several friends to take it off my hands for what I paid for it.
Duration Product Used: 2-5 years
Price Paid: $180.00
Purchased At: RFF Forum sale
Similar Products Used: Minox 35PL (slightly smaller, much lighter, but junk camera)
Leica CL (comparable glass, larger, same weight, not as durable)
Canonet QL17 GIII (equally sharp lens, larger, better VF/RF)
Leica M3, Vivitar 35ES, Contax IIa, Yashica GSN, Kiev 4a
Type of photography: People
Submitted by PhotoFrans a Expert from Waddinxveen, The Netherlands
Date Reviewed: July 22, 2002
Strengths: · Beautiful and sharp manual focus 2,8/38 Zeiss Sonnar lens, no dark corners even at full aperture.
· Well built with fine materials and solid feel.
· Spot-on exposures with build in exposure meter even on slides.
· Quality of T14 flash and its symbiosis with the camera.
· Small (without the flash)
· Takes widely available SR/LR44 batteries.
· No time lag as with AF versions.
· Aperture priority, full creative control
· Rangefinder so you won’t have to guess the distance.
· Clear, distortion free viewfinder (real optical glass !)
· very quiet shutter release
· Tripod thread
Weaknesses: · No AE-lock.
· Viewfinder could be brighter.
· exposure meter readout.
· focussing, though better than nothing, often not very fast because of the small base length and not very bright double image spot.
· No hot-shoe or PC outlet.
· No filter thread nor clip-on filters/hood available
· Film loading a bit fiddly.
· Film advance only when ‘door’ is opened
· Sometimes overlap when using 36 rolls.
The Contax T is a very well built camera with a premium quality lens. To me it is a nice mix of some of my favourite pocket cameras. Mine is a black version complete with flash, pouch, instruction manual, gift box and package. It has the looks of a Minox ML but with far superior quality. A rangefinder like Olympus XA, the XA focuses easier though. It has excellent lens quality like the Rollei 35S. You’ll get more (quantity) sharp pictures with the T as with the Minox or Rollei cameras because you won’t forget to focus and focussing (especially nearby) is much more accurate than guessing the distance. Lens quality of the Contax T is even better than Minox and Olympus XA and on par with Rollei 35S and Canonet QL17GIII. The Leica CL that I owned certainly is not better than the ‘T’. This camera, however, has some downsides too. The exposure meter is very accurate (better than Minox) but I don’t like the read-out in the viewfinder. It has a far too low resolution. I would prefer a read-out like the Olympus XA, a needle with indication of all speeds between 1 and 1/500. Even the Minox needle readout of the GT is far better 1/30 to 1/500 at least you can see the values in between. Not so with the ‘T’, in a quick glance you’ll only know for certain that the shutter speed is between 8 s and 1/60 (shows 1/30 LED), somewhere between 1/60 and 1/250 or between 1/125 and over-exposure. Another missed chance is the lack of a PC contact or hot-shoe, however, the T14 flash (mounts on the side like Olympus XA) is an excellent flash that uses the photocell above the lens and works extremely well, MUCH better than the Minox and Olympus flash, no complaints about the T14 itself. The third problem is no filter thread or push-on filters/lens hood as with the Minox 35 range. Of all the pocketsize cameras the Contax T is my favourite, than in order of likeability Rollei 35S, Minox 35GT, Olympus XA, Petri Color 35, Rollei 35 (original German model). When I take bigger rangefinder cameras also in consideration The Canon Canonet QL17GIII, Contax T, Leica CL, Olympus 35RD/RC.
Duration Product Used: 6-10 years
Price Paid: $300.00
Similar Products Used: Minox 35-AL, EL, GT, Kiev 35A, Rollei 35 (German and Singapore version), 35 LED, 35B, 35S, Olympus XA/XA2/RC/SP, Petri Color 35, Petri 7S, Canonet 28, Canonet QL17GIII, Leica CL, Leica IIIC, several Z
Type of photography: Other
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