I first became intrigued by this camera a year or so ago after looking at pictures shot by one of my favorite photographers: Kevin Meredith (a.k.a. Lomokev). I was amazed that these sharp as a tack, color-popping images came from this fairly bulky brick of a point and shoot camera, and not a great big SLR. I thought it looked kind of “90’s” but, never being too worried about how much of a total geek I might look carrying something like this around, I decided that I needed to get one. So I did, at Christmas, via eBay, for about £180.
The Contax T2 is a compact autofocus point and shoot camera released by Kyocera in 1990. It was targeted at professionals who needed a high-end compact to carry around at all times; and well, wealthy amateurs I suppose. It features a superb retracting 5-element Carl Zeiss T* Sonnar f2.8/38m m lens and a set of extremely easy to use controls – all kept nice and safe in a highly corrosion resistant titanium body. The camera also features a built-in flash, self-timer mode, and exposure compensation.
Operating the controls is really quite easy. There is a handy thumb dial on the top of the camera, which turns the power on and provides focusing settings. You can set to AF or scroll to manual focus starting from 0.7m to infinity. As soon as the camera is switched on, the lens pops out from behind its protective cover. Around the lens is the aperture ring, which allows you to select an aperture from f2.8 to f16, or select flash mode.
The viewfinder is clear and precise. The shutter speed is worked out automatically depending on the aperture you have selected. If there is too much light the “500” (top speed) will blink within the viewfinder to warn you to adjust the aperture accordingly. If there is too little light “L.T” will blink within the viewfinder and at this point, the camera will automatically go to bulb mode and the shutter will remain open for as long you press down the shutter.
In Auto Focus mode you must lock the focus by positioning your subject in the center of the frame and pressing the shutter halfway. When the camera has locked focus a green light appears in the viewfinder and you can re-compose your shot before pressing the shutter all the way down. However, you don’t even really need to look in the viewfinder to do this, the focus locks within a second.
If I had to point out any downsides to the camera I guess they would be: it’s size – it’s bordering on bulky at 295 g; There are no multiple exposure options; and finally the top shutter speed is 500th of a second – which can be a pain if you’ve loaded with 400 ISO film and the sun decides to come out. The positives, however, far outweigh these minor downsides.
For me, this camera is the perfect accompaniment to my other lo-fi cameras. Don’t expect to find light leaks or accidental double exposures, because the camera wasn’t designed for anything but exceptional quality. However, you can still get creative and cross process your film, try a massively outdated film or stick some different colored gels over the flash or lens.
All in all, I REALLY love this camera, and always look forward to seeing the results from the lab. These gems are no longer produced, so if you happen to come across one in good working order for anything under £150, I say for goodness sake buy it!