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Gear Reviews: 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


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, it is “throw-at-the-dog-and-the-dog-will-die” heavy.


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 versus the XA which slides open easily and unobtrusively.


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


Here are some pictures of beautiful people:



Review contributed by Ray Toei
Email Raytoei

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