Contax T2

After its discontinuation by Kyocera in 2000, the Contax T2 has not been seen on store shelves since -- not even the used camera displays with so many Canons, Minoltas and Nikons of yesteryear. Mine has already suffered some scratches on its titanium finish, and so there's even less reason to sell it. 

Literally a jewel box, the T2 is equipped with a pop-out Carl Zeiss T* 38mm f/2.8 Sonnar and a shutter release made of synthetic sapphire. Its minimalist elegance, both in form and function, is bereft of any superficiality. I pack it for a dressy night on the town, or  to complement my SLRs when using a long telephoto lens. Notwithstanding its beauty and ease of use, this is not the family's favorite camera. I think I know why.

One common pitfall for every point-and-shoot camera, even this one, is the user's tendency to lose focus on an off-centered subject. It's easy to forget to lock the focus (by holding the trigger halfway down) on the subject at dead center, then recompose. The result is often a blurry smile of your friend standing near a sharply focused tree.

Other shortcomings exist. Although the critically-acclaimed and lower-priced T3 (with a 40% reduced profile, and a slightly wider 35mm lens that is also a f/2.8) is a clear improvement over the T2,  both are  still limited by their rudimentary center-weighted metering and lack of lens shade, filter threading and hot shoe. (For the TVS series that have zoom lenses, Contax does offer an accessory flash.)

In the end, the proven cachet of the names Contax and Zeiss allows Kyocera to corner the market of luxury pocket cameras, even beating venerable Leica. As of spring 2003, the Contax T line includes models with zooms, APS film format and a digital version with 5.0 megapixels. Of course, a svelte all-metal body and Carl Zeiss T* optics are de rigueur: that's the whole point.

   
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