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A Super short Review of the Contax T Rangefinder
Old 08-04-2012   #1
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A Super short Review of the Contax T Rangefinder

A Super short Review of the Contax T Rangefinder

The Contax T is the first of the premium compact
T series cameras from Contax/Kyocera.

First introduced in 1984, the Contax T is a true
rangefinder unlike the subsequent models (T2, T3 and TvS)
where were more of a premium Point & Shoot cameras.

This camera isn't very well known now because it is quite rare,
but in the hey-days it was used by celebrated photographers
HCB and Costa Manos.

Here is a picture of famous fashion photographer Mario Testino using
a well-used black Contax T. Next to him is Mariah Carey.
My silver contaxt T is in the foreground with the attached flash.




Comparison with the other Compact RFs

I find the Contax T fascinating, it is as-if the designers
took the best bits from the other great compacts and crammed it
into this camera with enhancements:

* RF patch is diamond-shaped (Yashica-GSN/Minolta Hi-matic)

* Form factor is similar to the Minox 35, Rollei 35, Olympus XA

* Flash Attachment is similar to the XA but unlike the Oly A11 flash
which is underpowered with a GN of 10, the Contax T flash T14 has a
GN of 14m (2xAA batteries vs 1 for the XA)

* Aperture Priority similar to the Minox and XA

* The Cover flips like the Minox 35.

* Film advance lever like the Minox but is a single-stroke lever unlike the double
found on the Minox.

* Film loading like the Rollei 35

* The ISO reaches a max of 1000 versus the 800 for the XA, Minox

(to be contined...)
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Old 08-04-2012   #2
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Using the Contax T

Well, this thing is small but heavy. How heavy ? I think if i loop
the Camera strap around my neck, I risk slapping myself into unconsciousness
from the Contax T if I attempt to run.

But just like the XA is a bit too light, and the Rollei 35 is a bit too heavy,
the heaviness of the Contax T is offset by the nicely done thumb grip on the camera,
the risk of the camera slipping is quite small.

A more irritating issue is the camera cover, it is a bit unnatural to walk around for street
photography with the cover flipped opened unlike the XA which slides open easily and
unobstrusely.

However, I complain too much. This Sonnar 38/f2.8 camera is a beautiful camera
and it takes beautiful pictues, even if my Contax T RF patch is a bit mis-aligned at f2.8.

Here are some pictures of beautiful people:










All captured on the Contax-T mostly at f2.8. Film is the self-rolled Ilford XP-2.

Fin. Thanks for viewing.

raytoei
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Old 08-04-2012   #3
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Yes Raytoei, the Contax T is a beautiful all-metal camera with decent exposure control. I'd add that it has a super quiet shutter, and without the flash, is quite a compact camera for its day. I bought one in 1984, and used it for many years until I dropped it. Bought 2 more in in the late 1990s. I have both the chrome and black models, which are sadly shelf-queens these days. BTW, Dante Stella has a great review on the Contax T on his site.
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Old 08-04-2012   #4
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Now, this is my kind of review. Short, sweet, to the point, and with as much emphasis on pictures as text. I like it - well done
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Old 08-04-2012   #5
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nice description. i love mine as it is truly pocketable, but has a wonderful lens. i read cartier-bresson was a huge fan.
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Old 08-04-2012   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbelyell View Post
nice description. i love mine as it is truly pocketable, but has a wonderful lens. i read cartier-bresson was a huge fan.
+1

My all time favorite pocket rf camera...

Gary
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Old 08-04-2012   #7
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The Contax T is my "special occasion" pocket 35.

Chris
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Old 08-04-2012   #8
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Loved my Ts, I had a black and silver one. The only thing I didn't like was the film loading, PITA.

Great camera.
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Old 08-04-2012   #9
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I love using the T2. It is "95% as good" as the older T.
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Old 08-04-2012   #10
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Would you today buy a T over a later model?
The market value of a T can vary a lot.
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Old 08-04-2012   #11
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Quote:
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Would you today buy a T over a later model?
The market value of a T can vary a lot.
Dear Raid,
Absolutely! The T is all manual -- ok, aperture preferred, but you can do exposure compensation. The RF is "real", and focus is manual. It size (w/o the detachable flash) is about a pack of cigarettes.
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Old 08-04-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
Would you today buy a T over a later model?
The market value of a T can vary a lot.
In a heartbeat, if i were to do it over again now. I have two of them as well.. One black and the other is chrome. Every once in awhile I am tempted to buy a third one.

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Old 08-04-2012   #13
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Here is a picture of famous fashion photographer Mario Testino using a well-used black Contax T.
Rather looks to be a black TVS III.

I have owned two Contax T cameras, both got a defective CPU eventually, making them totally useless and unrepairable.

Very disappointing and overrated compact 35mm camera, but for its lens. The camera inwards are all plastic ; the film advance mechanism is clumsy (frequent frames overlapping) ; the RF base is so short that it's more of a marketing tip than a useful tool in the field.

The all-mechanical Rollei 35 is a much more serious camera...
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Old 08-04-2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Rather looks to be a black TVS III.

I have owned two Contax T cameras, both got a defective CPU eventually, making them totally useless and unrepairable.

Very disappointing and overrated compact 35mm camera, but for its lens. The camera inwards are all plastic ; the film advance mechanism is clumsy (frequent frames overlapping) ; the RF base is so short that it's more of a marketing tip than a useful tool in the field.

The all-mechanical Rollei 35 is a much more serious camera...
Sorry to hear about your problems. I guess I have been lucky with both of mine.

Bought my first brand new when they first came out and the second one about three years later. So far not a single problem with either of them... Knock on wood

I had the Rollei 35s as well both the Sonnar and Tessar. I liked the Contax much better. They both take great pictures and at end of the day that all that really counts.

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Old 08-04-2012   #15
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The T2 has the same lens as the T. It is a great street camera with its AF for quick shots.
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Old 08-04-2012   #16
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I used to have one of these cameras. Great shooters, much better/more functional/easier to use than the various Minox compacts, and sleeker than the compact Rollei 35s. Mine was ripped off at a youth hostel in Australia. I loved my Rollei 35SE, but the Contax T was way cooler. Lost the 35SE when a 7 foot deep trench collapsed on me while doing field work.
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Old 08-06-2012   #17
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The Contax T is a great street machine: unnoticed, shutter instantaneous and silent. Film loading is at least as easy as my Barnack.
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Old 08-06-2012   #18
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Rico,

you are right, the LTM barnack cameras are quite finicky in terms of film loading. Didn't have any problems with film loading, even with self-rolled film.

raytoei
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Old 11-05-2013   #19
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There's a black one on eBay for 1K.

By which I mean "one kidney."

No, really only $725.

However, an eBay seller in Denmark is selling off his 4 Contax Ts one at a time to shift to AF (aging eyes) with bids starting rather less than the Spare Kidney Black model.
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Old 07-01-2017   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
Would you today buy a T over a later model?
The market value of a T can vary a lot.
Forgive the resurrection of such an old thread but I thought I'd add that of all the contax compacts I have used, the T is the one I have kept. So, I suppose the answer is yes Raid... although a little late.

What I really like about the T, which is rarely mentioned, is that it is an well thought out scale focuser. Which I shoot about 90 percent of the time.
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Old 07-01-2017   #21
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I had my black Contax T serviced and got good results with it,
but I prefer lighter cameras (plastic) for everyday pocket use.

Later I sold it along with my other expensive electronic model film cameras
when I realized they would be unsustainable/unrepairable into the future.

Chris
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Old 07-01-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPlatt View Post
I had my black Contax T serviced and got good results with it,
but I prefer lighter cameras (plastic) for everyday pocket use.

Later I sold it along with my other expensive electronic model film cameras
when I realized they would be unsustainable/unrepairable into the future.

Chris
I was originally worried about the T's reliability and future worth as a working tool. Forgot about it a few years back. Still shoot the T almost daily
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Old 07-01-2017   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPlatt View Post
I had my black Contax T serviced and got good results with it,
but I prefer lighter cameras (plastic) for everyday pocket use.

Later I sold it along with my other expensive electronic model film cameras
when I realized they would be unsustainable/unrepairable into the future.

Chris
I totally get that realization of sustainability or lack thereof. But I've been using with mine along with other small point and shoots, and the lens on the T is exceptional, and I like the design and compactness of the camera.

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Old 07-01-2017   #24
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I decided to "cash out" while it was still working and the value was high. No regrets.

Yes it's got a cracker of a lens. It's compact but fairly heavy even without the flash.
I have a dozen pocket cameras I'm far more likely to carry as they are lighter in weight.

I own Petri Color 35 and Kodak Retina IIa cameras, also too heavy to carry for daily use.

Chris
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Old 07-01-2017   #25
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Where is Ray?
Have not seen him here in months.
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Old 07-01-2017   #26
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Where is Ray?
Have not seen him here in months.
Still shooting many rolls of film as far as I know
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Old 07-01-2017   #27
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I solved the maintenance concern by acquiring three of them. Nothing lasts forever in this mortal coil, but this is a good approximation.
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Old 03-26-2019   #28
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i love my contax T, but recently when i bring it out after keeping it for a long time. there seems to be some issue with the battery life.
I loaded a brand new battery , but seems like the battery got drain off within half a day.



i am hoping someone can tell me that this is something that can be fixed or that i am just missing something obvious.
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