A Tribute to a Broken Film Camera

I’ll admit it — I’m a 35mm point-and-shoot junkie. I have a collection of electronic cameras that many film photographers would call "ticking time bombs". The reason for this is that many cameras made 20+ years ago were never intended to be used for this long. 

So why do I keep buying them? Because they are so damn sexy. The only cameras that have failed on me so far have been relatively cheap buys, so how would I feel if one of my favorite premium cameras stopped working?

This is exactly the scenario that just happened to Bon Adriel and their Contax TVS. In this video, Bon tells us about the Contax TVS, why they love it, and the problem with old electronics in film cameras. 

First released 1994, the Contax TVS was the first iteration in a line of premium zoom lens cameras from Kyocera. The TVS combines many of the features of the more expensive Contax T2 with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 28-56mm zoom lens. 

Adriel tells us that the TVS was their most-used camera in 2021 — and perhaps this was the problem. With so much use, the TVS developed an issue with its lens shutter flex cable. Sadly, this is a very common problem with the Contax T line. 

This video was of particular interest to me as I’ve just bought the Contax TVSii. I really love the chilled atmospheric vibe of this video, which was paired perfectly with Adriel’s musings. The video showcases the stunning images Bon captured with the Contax TVS on a variety of film emulsions including Kodak Color Plus, Lomography Colour Negative 100, Lomography 800, and Cinestill 50D. 

So will Adriel buy another TVS to replace this one? You’ll have to watch the video to find out. 

Matt Murray's picture

Matt Murray is a travel, portrait and stock photographer from Brisbane, Australia.

Matt is an avid film photographer and hosts an analogue photography podcast 'Matt Loves Cameras' featuring reviews of classic film and instant cameras.

Matt also hosts a new photography YouTube channel Matt Loves Cameras.

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Ooo you should totally get it out and load it up with film!

used contax TVsii still sells for about 500 euro!!

Yes I think that's how much my TVSii was!

Mine was a used Nikon 35Ti. It didn't last long but what a great camera.
The display dial interface was gorgeous. It is now a paperweight.

Oh no, I'm sorry to hear that Mike. I was considering getting either the 35Ti or the 28Ti. It seems no camera model is immune from potentially bricking :(

Despite shooting film actively in a number of cameras and formats since about 2010, I have always avoided film point & shoots, for a number of reasons. Mostly because it's hard to find good ones with manual controls and respectable optics without overpaying by a shocking amount these days.

Recently I decided to dip my toe in and picked up a Pentax Espio AF Zoom with a 28-70 lens. The camera is so automatic that I can't even tell it not to use the flash if it deems it necessary, nor can I override the DX code for film speed (although I may try manually "hacking" the DX code). It was overpriced but not horribly expensive, and I ran a roll of Delta 400 through just to decide, basically, if I was going to keep it or sell it. I souped the roll last night and looked at it through a loupe today and was pleasantly surprised. There might even be a keeper or two on the roll.

Now I keep catching myself looking at Olympus XAs on eBay...

If someone pulled apart a Contax T2 and reverse engineered the circuit board so they could CAD up, fabricate, and populate a replacement, they could easily make thousands of dollars flipping broken ones and repairing ones that are in use.