Last Updated on 09/05/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
The Contax T2 has proven itself to be an incredibly popular film camera. So why not bring it back?
In my mind, the film Renaissance is bigger than we’d like to think, but it can be even larger. When speaking to friends who handle sales in the film world, the sales of film itself isn’t necessarily up any more than it was compared to digital. However, the sales of Instax and instant film is really up there. With folks like Kendal Jenner and Chris Helmsworth using the Contax T2, people have been looking to get their hands on it. The prices on eBay skyrocket to $2,000 and even higher in some cases. Indeed, it is a popular film camera highly sought after partially due to its celebrity status. While many of us know that it’s not the camera that takes the picture (it’s the photographer, you dummy) there is certainly appeal about the Contax T2.
The Contax T2 has a 38mm f2.8 lens on the front of it. In practical terms, that honestly isn’t much. The Hexar AF has a 35mm f2. The Fujifilm Natura S has a 24mm f1.9 lens on the front. Part of the Contax’s appeal besides the fact that your favorite celebs are snapping away with it, is the simplicity. You point, shoot, and get great images. It’s a different feeling altogether because instead of obsessing over the photos on your phone or on the back of your camera, you have to wait and be surprised. Sometimes you’re heartbroken and sometimes you can’t stop sharing the images due to your own obsession.
That’s powerful; and that’s genuinely why I think that Zeiss needs to get the plans, and bring back the Contax T2. The Zeiss Ikon film rangefinder was nice, but it was discontinued partially because of lost interest. But the Contax T2 has lots of interest. Zeiss could bring it back, tack on a $1,500 price tag and I’m sure that it would sell brand new. Plus, they’d be able to be fixed. The major problem with a lot of film point and shoots is that, after some time, you end up with nothing more than a very expensive brick. That’s disheartening and pretty unfair; it’s also one of the reasons why I swear only by mechanical cameras with no electronics in them.
Zeiss, who arguably has been experiencing a difficult time in the photo industry according to what they tell me, could find a way to pivot and appeal to these folks again. While they’re a company that likes to focus on high end cameras, measurbation charts that appeal to megapickle cultists, and like to talk about numbers, I can say with all certainty that the appeal wears off after some time. Zeiss lenses do very well on the DXO Mark charts, but why go for them when Sigma does almost as good of a job at a fraction of the price and they now include weather sealing (especially in the case of the Otus lenses?). DSLRs are also going the way of the dinosaurs and Zeiss hasn’t fully found a way to appeal to the mirrorless market except for Sony users. Even then, folks often tend to reach for the more affordable Sony lenses which outperform Zeiss’ own options.
This piece isn’t mean to bad mouth Zeiss; it is a call for them to get with it in the industry. The idea of bringing back an old film camera and charging $1,500 for it is much better than paying over $5,000 for a lens without weather sealing and autofocus.