The Contax T2: The Best, Most Expensive Point-and-Shoot Film Camera Ever Made?

The Contax T2 was a luxury compact rangefinder released in 1991, combing excellent image quality and controls that have since made it a desirable option for film aficionados. Contax no longer exists and T2s now sell for thousands of dollars. Why do they cost so much and are they worth the investment?

Jason Kummerfeldt of grainydays is the proud owner of a Contax T2 but this video explains why he only takes it out to shoot on very special occasions, despite the camera’s intended purpose as an everyday compact.

The T2 was always a popular choice but, as Kummerfeldt discusses, it received a massive spike in popularity when Kendall Jenner pulled one out to photograph Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show in February 2017 (full video here). Rather than being snapped up solely by film photography enthusiasts, the T2 suddenly became the choice of aspiring social media influencers. Prices certainly haven’t been helped when the likes of Chris Hemsworth tells his 45 million followers on Instagram that digital is dead, he only shoots on film, and his camera of choice is — you guessed it — the Contax T2.

Sadly, Contax as a brand disappeared in 2005 and spare parts for the T2 are not that easy to find. And expect to spend some money: a replacement back door will cost you $75.

Do you have a Contax T2? Are you clinging onto it in the hope that Taylor Swift one day takes a snap of Stephen Colbert and gives it another huge boost in price? Let us know in the comments below.

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Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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I will now avoid this camera, just because it is popular.

Why would you buy it anyway? Just because some actors (not photographers) or some US starlet thinks this is it? Another hype about nothing, fueled by the greed for attention.

By Contax’s standard, the T2 is average, and nothing aspiring. Contax T3 and Contax G2 are more “boutique” than the T2.

This isn't a rangefinder any more than an SLR is a rangefinder. I can understand zillenials who never had film cameras doing this because they don't know any better, but, Andy, you knew of point and shoots growing up.

NO, it's not a rangefinder in the traditional sense and has no viewfinder focus aids. OTOH the original Contax T is a rangefinder the T2 & T3 are AF cameras - this is why REAL PHOTOGRAPHERS probably use the T ;-)

I have one. Bought it before the hype. As much as I like it I would not pay today's prices. I did like it for trips, but the world is on fire and all. I use my G1 more than the T2 and use both of those less than my far less valuable 137 MA Quartz.

Owned a Yashica T4, which had a great Zeiss lens but was fully auto only and was the poor man's T2. Later, a Contax G1 and then G2 were my EDCs. The 21mm lens was astoundingly sharp.

Always fancied the Contax T3 as the perfect Point & Shoot camera. Still kicking myself for not buying a black T3 in mint condition for $750 back in 2010.
Having just looked on E-bay I'm astounded at what people are selling them for nowadays. Same for the T2. Used to be like 300 bucks for one of those from the second hand stores in Hong Kong or Tokyo.

I've been shooting with one of these since the late 90's (on my second one-first stolen). I have to admit, it sat idle for a good portion of that time until I rediscovered my love of film shooting. Today I use it exclusively for B+W shooting and mostly don't carry it unless I see a good B+W opportunity coming up. The most frustrating thing for me is the hit-or-miss autofocus. Probably user error, but I've missed quite a few shots pointing directly at my friends at close range only to get the sharpest tree leaves you've ever seen in the distance, while my friend's faces are blurred. I need to try the manual focus option more, especially for those candid shots. Definitely a love-hate relationship, but occasionally it will behave a reward you with an epic result.

I had a Yashica T4 I bought in the '90s. There were several high-end point-and-shoots at the time - the Contax discussed here, along with the Leica Minilux and the Nikon 28 and 35ti. I wanted the Minilux, but I could afford the T4.

This was pre-internet, so I ordered it from an ad from Wall Street Camera in the back pages of a photo magazine - special sale for $100! I clipped the order form and mailed it to New York along with a check. A couple weeks later, the camera arrived and I used the hell out of it for some years.

Apparently the T4 was one of the first of these to become a "cult" camera, because I guess Terry Richardson used one. I sold it a few months ago for $550. It was a decent camera, but $550?