Contax T2: The world’s most fashionable camera?
The Contax T2 has become so trendy that arch film-fan Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter gets over 50 requests a week from enthusiasts around the world who are determined to go retro in this digital age. As a result, and because these cameras are now almost as rare as rocking horse manure, Bellamy is no longer offering to find them for customers.
A couple of years ago, after reading some similar hype, I asked Bellamy to find me a T2. I got the reply that I think all his 50-a-week hopefuls receive. Nothing doing, sorry.
So just what is it about the T2 that grabs all the attention? Hong Kong-based Ian Wong of Digital Darkroom produced this video on what he calls “the world’s most fashionable camera.” Be that as it may, Ian makes a strong case as you can see.
Compact fixed-lens film cameras such as those from, among others, Contax, Olympus, Yashica, Konica and Rollei were incredibly popular in their day. The digital era has fought back with newcomers, especially the Fuji X100/s/t/f and the Leica X1/2, not to mention the marvellous Leica Q. The Q, of course, shares one thing with the 35mm compact film cameras of the 20th century that the other contenders can't match — they are all full-frame, even the Olympus ZA, another firm favourite of modern collections.
Ian put together his list of the ten best 35mm compacts in this article for DigitalRev. The Context T2 comes eighth, just behing the Olympus XA, and the Yashica T2-5 models. He took affordability into account, sensibly, and that’s probably why the Ricoh, which sells for upwards of £500 (if you can find) is not top of the pile.
There’s just something that appeals about owning a compact, high-performance camera with one focal length (usually either 28mm or 35mm), whether it be one of these film masterpieces or a later digital “replacement”. For some, though, film is where it is at, and Bellamy Hunt in Japan is in the forefront in supplying the world’s film enthusiasts.
Bellamy Hunt, incidentally, is hoping to make a new premium compact and there are whispers that it will be an analog/digital hybrid. I’ll be reporting more on his project when I get the details. But the merest mention is enough to whet the appetite
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