Contax S2 35mm SLRs

Contax S2 35mm SLRs 

DESCRIPTION

The first totally manual Contax with a mechanical shutter. A spot meter is standard and allows creative freedom for the deliberate photographer. Titanium is employed in construction of the camera body for durability and rough use under adverse conditions.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 16  
[Apr 08, 2017]
richard hale
Intermediate

Strength:

Simplicity, All mechanical, Lovely quality feel, Zeiss glass

Weakness:

Metering, Cost, plastic take up spool.

I wanted one of these ever since they were introduced in the 90's. Never could afford one and settled for 2nd hand FM2n at the time. finally got one today at (relatively) bargain price with no marks except where its been mounted on a tripod and in perfect working order. I paid £310, they usually go for much more! I've been using a combination of well used RTS, 139 and Yashica FX3 with my Zeiss 50mm f1.7, and never been completely satisfied with any of these bodies for various reasons. The S2 sorts that problem out! I'll be selling the RTS and 139 to help cover the cost of the new purchase.
The body is light but feels tough. All the controls are beautifully finished. Shutter release and wind on are smooth. Only niggles regarding bodywork are the plastic take up spool inside and the film window. I would have preferred no window (plastic and requires extra light sealing) and instead a slot to mount film box tops in as a reminder and a proper metal spool at the price these were sold for new. No big deal though.
My major criticism is the metering system. Its fussy and awkward. I don't mind the spot meter but the flashing lights are irritating. The shutter speed you have set constantly flashes whilst the recommended speed stays stable. When you have the correct shutter speed set it still flashes. To top it all the slightest change in your framing will usually show another recommended shutter speed. You can end up with up to 3 LEDs on, one of which constantly flashes, in your view finder.
a simple match needle or +/- led system as per Pentax MX would have been so much better. My work around will be to take the batteries out and use sunny 16 and a separate meter. This does not bother me as I will now have a completely pure, uncluttered viewfinder display, but what were the designers thinking of at the time? It would have been enough to put me off buying the camera new at the premium price they went for. When I read the reviews of the camera in the press when it was released none of them mentioned how bad the exposure system was. Another example of press dishonesty to attract advertising I think.
Anyhow, I will keep the camera as the body is as good as its going to get to match the lenses I have, rather than sell it on. It is rather a nice camera body after all. However I could not recommend anyone to buy one as even at the price I paid it is still rather expensive, especially when compared to a Nikon FM2n, Pentax MX or Olympus OM1n. Its even more expensive when compared to Yashicas FX3 and FX3 Super 2000, which although a little plasticy do essentially the same thing for peanuts money.
In summary then the S2 is an indulgence camera. Its lovely to have and to hold. Its beautiful to look at. But its flawed in its basic functionality and too expensive for what it does. By all means treat yourself to one as I have done but remember it is a treat and don't kid yourself that its perfection.
No

Similar Products Used:

Nikon FM2n, Pentax MX, Olympus OM1n

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
[Apr 22, 2012]
Simon
Casual

Strength:

Beautiful and well built, all manual, no gadgetery, can function without batteries, huge viewfinder, well that's ... i forgot : uses Zeiss lenses :)

Weakness:

Hardly findeable nowadays ! Apart that none.

First i have to say that i love Contax cameras. Got the 139, the RX, the RTS, the Aria, the 159MM. i narrowed down to the Aria and RTS. And now i have bought the S2.

I was looking for a very basic camera, in order to have total control over my pictures, and without gadgetery What to say about this camera ? Well it handles great, meters great, i was a bit afraid of only spot meter, but it does the trick. It's well balanced with the 1.4/50 Planar, my prime, and only focal lenght. I've done one test roll and results have come splendid. A definitive keeper !

Customer Service

None so far

Similar Products Used:

Nikon FM2

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 16, 2004]
VincentD
Intermediate

Strength:

Not dependent on batteries to take photographs. Weather doesn't seem to effect it at all. Well made, sturdy, exhudes quality.

Weakness:

None that I can think of.

I wanted to get back to basics in my photography, to slow down and think more about what I am doing. The S2 is just the ticket. It is a very solid 20.2 Oz. beauty. Select shutter, select apeture and you are in business. It takes two button cell batteries to run the exposure meter but the camera can run without any batteries at all. Last weekend I went out with the S2 in 9 Degree F. weather and stayed out for a few hours. I froze, the S2 didn't. It just kept on going, including the battery operated light meter, as if it were any other day. I love all my Contax and Yashica cameras and the S2 is no exception.

Customer Service

Never used.

Similar Products Used:

Yashica FX 3 and FX 3 Super 2000

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 22, 2003]
matsoberg
Intermediate

Strength:

Sturdy, reliable, chrystal clear weiwfinder, very good looking and - mechanical. You do not need a backup!

Weakness:

Maybe a bit expensive.....

Got back to basics again with this camera and I do not regret I got it. Back in the 70´s, I was running around with a Pentax KM and had a great time. As I already were into Zeiss lenses, this was the only choice to go mechanical, exept for the S2b, that´s almost impossible to find. Too bad these two models are discontinued, cause I belive there are lots of people around who´s using Contax gear that wants a fully mechnical body. The thing is that my electronic wonders are mostly collecting dust since I got this one. There´s a special feel to develop a roll of film that you shot witout buzzing and beeping, knowing you did it all by yourself. In fact, the best rolls of film that I shoot, comes out of this basic camera. Kinda brings out the artist in me. I seem to get just too many `no brain` shots with auto this and that.... Not to talk about the rock solid feel of this beauty. I will probably have this piece of art for many years to come.

Customer Service

Not needed yet.

Similar Products Used:

Contax 167 MT, Aria, Leica C3.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 04, 2003]
etienne33
Expert

Strength:

1. Design - beautifully made, gorgeous to handle, small, light at 595grams. 2. 1/4000th manual shutter speed! 3. Not battery-dependent: tiny LR44 batteries for the meter functions make it lighter and easier to carry replacements 4. High quality shutter unit and build 5. Solid titanium top and base plates 6. Minimalist viewfinders with essential information only, on a red vs black background. 7. Centre-weighting is very accurate if used by anyone with basic exposure skills. 8. Mirror lock up is easy to use

Weakness:

1. Does not appeal to the mainstream market; alas, what a loss for those who miss out. 2. Tends to be confused for a Nikon D100, and hence reviewers trash it because of false expectations. 3. Hard to find the S2b in particular; older or more used models may have shutter speed variations.

There are plenty reviews on this camera already, however not much on the S2b which I've just acquired recently. For some reason, the S2/b seems to polarise people dramatically into those who have seen the light, and those who are in the dark about this camera. I tried an S2 in a commercial shop last year, and as soon as the mirror flapped and slapped, and put it down and walked away, and totally ignored the camera. I happened to come across a mint S2b (anodised charcoal titanium) and gave it a second try. The body is amazingly compact and cute (it weighs less than a Leica M6 at 595grams. The absence of a knurled right hand grip also saves space without sacrificing grip (the high quality leather finish) cloaks the titanium body beautifully. The back has a beautiful leather coat, and locks tightly into the main camera body. It is an amazingly ergonomic yet classic camera. The top plate is amazingly minimalist; the aesthetics are particularly pleasing, however if you have hang-ups and deem that every camera should have flashing lights, then this one should be avoided; this is simple and beautiful; the switches all handle with quality and ease. I enjoy the shutter release which is not accident-prone, and hooks up easily to a manual cable release. As a fully manual camera, there is no need for an exposure compensation dial either: in fact, the design of the viewfinder enables the photographer to see how much compensation is applied, by a clever system of a constant versus a flashing light; most modern cameras only tell you if you have exposure compensation on or off in the viewfinder. I have found the film transport system to be totally dependable. The advance lever has a very sturdy ratcheting action (I'd forgotten how enjoyable it is to advance my own film frames!) in one swift movement and retracts to fit parallel with the long axis of the camera body well. This uses CZ lenses too; this may be another factor for those contemplating this camera, however I would still recommend this for those who have not discovered the shrapnel sharp range of lenses. The rewind knob is also functional and safe; I have never cared to check for several rolls of film, and on no occasion have I had multiple exposures. Clearly the film sprockets and the film canister and pressure plate simplicity offer enough safe-guard for all but the most accident prone photographers. The viewfinder is utterly amazing. No flashing porno adverts and belisha beacons through the viewfinder; minimalism at its best; there is only a shutter speed scale in red lights against a black background: this is my preferred viewfinder combination and works perfectly for dim and bright light situations. The viewfinder enables me to concentrate on the image; and taking the batteries out further this experience to the point of renewing my experience of the imaging process. The metering system of the S2b is centre-weighted, which I prefer over a quasi-spot meter. To be fair to the S2, the spot range is around 5mm, which is probably better than most other 'spot' meters on modern cameras. The centre-weighted metering ism y preference because it operates at 2EV lower than the spot-meter, and because I can use it faster, without demanding time for reflection, in candid shots. It is also more intuitive to work with, and to apply exposure compensation through one's own thinking, rather than calculating complex sums in one's mind when trying to use multi-spotting for exposure control. The focussing screen choice may also hamper a spot-meter user - this is not a problem for the S2b, which accepts a flat matt without a central spot beautifully. Pure minimalism! I have to say I disagree with the extreme views of some earlier reviewers who have trashed this camera on their ignorance. Although I am a heavy digital user, I still respect the aesthetics and design of classical cameras, not for themselves, but as a photographer's tool. The S2b is an example of such a tool; if the photographer gets in the way of the camera, well, don't shoot the photographer - look elsewhere. There is a mirror-lock up on this camera, and it is achieved simply by activating the self-timer. As a manual self-timer, I have enjoyed varying the time delay from 3seconds to 10 seconds. As a manual exposure camera, the horrible mistakes of using AE mode, which bungles with a mirrorlock up are avoided. I do not miss the spotmeter, as I use a 1% true spot-meter which is hand-held. The real selling point for me was the camera mirror in this particular example of the S2b; unlike the earlier model (which may have been a worn out example of a used S2), this model I now work with has a beautiful and precise guillotine slicing sound. It is crisp and sharp, and mechanical. It's invigorating to hear, and pleasurable. This contrasts to the worn-out slap of the last S2 I'd tried - clearly age is a factor. The 1/4000th of a second has to be a real clincher too - I've never seen

Similar Products Used:

Nikon FM2/3, Olympus OM10/20/Ti, Yashica FX3, Practica MTL50, Pentax LX, virtually all the Contax C/Y bodies from 159 onwards

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 27, 2003]
Jason
Professional

Strength:

Solid build. Excellent ergonomics. Outstanding results in the hands of knowledgeable people.

Weakness:

Hey, it's a fully manual camera. Not really a weakness, but it is not for everyone. Know who you are as well as your own personal photographic limitations.

An out standing manual camera. Those who criticize it are simply lacking in the knowledge of basic photography know-how. Here is a fine manual camera that uses outstanding Zeiss lenses, how can anyone find fault with it. Those who criticize should read a book on basic photo knowledge or take a course. It is absurd to read some of these reviews by people who blame a particular camera or even worse, an entire camera system, for their own inadequacy. Anyone giving this camera less than 4 stars, shame on you, but keep shopping, you will find the idiot proof system that will fit your level of photo knowledge.

Customer Service

Not needed as of yet.

Similar Products Used:

Leica M6

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[May 19, 2002]
Dirk
Intermediate

Strength:

Size and less weight then a Leica M6!; lovely design, purely manual; very good "retro" feeling. 1/4000 shutter speed; spot metering (in S2)

Weakness:

no spot metering in S2b, no centre weighted metering in S2

Lovely camera, it is sad that it is discontinued. I used to have spot metering model. would have been better to have 2 different metering systems in one body. I was never bothered, with the fact that you can not see the aperture in the viewfinder. You can not do that with a Leica M6 neither and nobody is complaining there. Look for more infos at: www.contaxinfo.com. This is the ultimate source for every Contax user. For every Contax-system!

Similar Products Used:

almost all Contax cameras

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jul 02, 2000]
Greg Reid
Expert
Model Reviewed: S2 Camera Body

Strength:

No Battery Needed.
Sturdy and can withstand elements.
Compact.

Weakness:

LOUD Mirror Slap.
No Mirror Lock Up.
Expensive.

Not for everyone. Great for landscape photography where you need a tough durable camera that is light weight and can work without batteries.

Similar Products Used:

Contax AX
Contax RTS II
Contax 167 MT
Canon Elan
Minolta X-700

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
[Apr 20, 2000]
Sarawoot Chittratanawat
Expert
Model Reviewed: S2 Camera Body

Strength:

No battery requirement. Compact size. Take Carl Zeiss (the most important). PseudoMLU

Weakness:

Expensive, loud shutter, flimy touch, only spot metering

Very expensive camera. The size is great. Performance is ok, like any manual camera. The shutter is VERY loud. Be careful.

Customer Service

don't know.

Similar Products Used:

Contax AX, Contax RX, Contax ST, Contax Aria, Contax RTS III
Nikon F5, Nikon F100, Nikon N70, Nikon N90, Nikon FM2N,

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
[Nov 01, 2000]
Jonas Sam
Intermediate

Strength:

all mechanical
well built
beautifully designed
Zeiss lenses
viewfinder has good magnification, clear and sharp
Sturdy and great in hand
SPOT meter is brilliant

Weakness:

LOUD!

This camera is now discontinued but readily available on the net and in Shutterbug for well under a grand. So the complaints of it being too expensive don't really matter any more. Buying a superbly made mechanical camera for six hundred is a good buy. But only get it if you love cameras. As a day to day tool it is limited. You really do have to work slowly - same as the Leica M cameras (though this does not have that camera's finesse) and it has a loud mirror slap. For me, it's a special camera. I bought it as a collector's piece. In that regard, I think it's fantastic and ow it should be judged. Contax builds superb machines - and this is one of their nicest. Simple, elegant and attractive. And you get the benefit of Zeiss. The grey titanium version has center wieghted light meter and no spot. But get the spot. You won't be shooting the local football game with it anyway. Bottom line - it's a nostalgia piece - but find it used and it's worth having.

Customer Service

Good and helpful but less so than they were about five years ago. You could actually talk to a human being back then.

Similar Products Used:

Lecia R7
Nikon F4
Nikon F3
Olympus OM1

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 16  

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