When the brand ‘Contax’ comes to mind, first thing many people, including myself, think of is ‘Contax T2’ or the better T3. Contax T2 and T3 are undeniably very good, according to many reviews. As such, they are very difficult to hunt, prices have shot up as well. Before TVS, there’s also many other models such as TV 1 or 2 or 3. Coming from Singapore, which is not really a film photography paradise, it is even harder to find a T2 or T3. So, I will make do with a Contax TVS.
Settings and Auto-focus
Contax TVS is a semi-manual point-and-shoot camera in which you can control the Aperture and the focusing. You have no control of shutter speed. If you don’t fancy manual, you can always put your mode as ‘P’ (Programme) and choose ‘AF’ (Auto-Focusing). However, after a few rolls of film, I find that the AF is not too reliable. I have quite a few pictures totally out of focus. So, you really need to be 100% sure that your focusing indicator shows a ‘dot’ instead of ‘>’ or ‘> <‘. The dot means subject is in focus and the latter means it’s out of focus. As you cannot control the shutter speed, your moving subject is gonna be blurry, especially in a dim environment. But if you are in super sunny weather, the shutter speed will be at least 1/250 and images will be pretty sharp! Overall, this camera is not suitable for street photography but good for other casual photo shooting, such as taking a casual portrait and scenery.
Design and lens
The design of Contax TVS is charming and sides towards minimalism. The body is made of Titanium, hence the ‘T’. On the camera, there are 2 tiny LCD screens, one shows you the number of shots you have taken (which is forever switch on), another one is to show the choice of flash and exposure compensation. On the camera, there are buttons to choose flash mode, timer, and shutter, as well as paranoma mode (beside viewfinder).
Contax TVS has a Vario Sonnar lens with focal length ranging from 28mm to 56mm. At this stage, I don’t really know much about the different lenses, but I do know Sonnar is a very good lens from Carl Zeiss. But what’s with the Vario? I don’t know. Perhaps this is the reason why Contax TVS is not that expensive compared to T2 or T3. Also, I personally find the image from TVS is not as sharp sometimes, especially if the environment is slightly dimmed. That’s the downside when this camera doesn’t allow us to control shutter speed.
To be honest, Contax TVS is not really a good investment to make. Why? The problem of electronic is that they don’t last. Think about it, is your digital point-and-shoot camera you bought 10 years ago still functional? Even if it is, do you realised the image quality is super outdated? And the battery and charger are no longer in the market. Same thing with the Contax TVS. The Kyocera company that manufactured this camera has stopped repairing cameras. And I can assure you that this TVS of mine will stop functioning maybe in the next 10-20 years if I am lucky. Conversely, mechanical camera such as many Nikon/Canon/Pentax SLR can be fixed because they are mechanical. The only part that might malfunction is the meter, but you can always use a light meter app or the Sunny-16 rule.
So, should you buy Contax TVS? I think it depends if you want a long term investment or just want to use it while it lasts. Of course, it’s best if you are so stubborn and insist a T2 or T3 🙂
Lastly, you might want to watch photo-walk my Youtube video with Contax TVS.
Hope you find this article useful in helping you make decision!