10 Alternatives to the Contax T2 Film Camera - $100 to $1,000

The Contax T2 is one of those cameras that has skyrocketed in price due to its recent popularity in media and partly from influential celebrities. It has long been understood as a great compact film camera within the film community itself, but lately it has become more known to those who aren’t necessarily ‘in the club’.

Yes the Contax T2 is great, excellent in fact, but these days I cannot definitively say if it is being sought after due to its merits or its cool-factor. Take a look at the price trends of the Contax T2 from when it was released in 1990 up to today.

CONTAX T2 Price Trends 1990-2018

Approximations Based on Data from Popular Photography Magazine, WestLicht Photographica Auction, Collectiblend, eBay, & Forum Listings

Perhaps you’ve considered buying it yourself but can’t afford it, don’t trust it, or feel it’s too mainstream for your style. Let’s take a look at some other film cameras that are comparable alternatives to the Contax T2.

Some of them are cheaper and some more expensive, of course if your budget is guiding your next purchase you can take a look at the cheaper alternatives to the Contax T2. I will order them roughly by lowest to highest current selling price.

Now there are two ways to look at what it means for a camera to be an alternative to the Contax T2. One way is looking at cameras with the same lens that will give you similarly looking images, and the other way to look at cameras with equivalent features and specs.

Since I believe most photographers find a camera that fits their style, rather than fitting their style to a given camera - we will take a look at the latter option. So here are 15 film camera alternatives to the Contax T2 in that match or exceed it in terms of basic specs and features.

Specifically we will be looking at cameras that meet the following criteria as they are they key features of the Contax T2.

  • 35mm Electronic Compact Camera

  • High Quality Optics

  • Autofocus

  • Prime (non-zooming) Lens, 35 to 40mm

  • Maximum Aperture of f2.8 or More

  • Having Some Production During or After the 1990s


Yashica T3

Image by  Ohsocult

Image by Ohsocult

Yashica T3 Price: $100 - $300

The Yashica T3 film camera barely makes this list as it started production in 1988 and on a few years into the 90’s. I wanted to include it because there aren’t many affordable alternatives to the Contax T2. More popular are the excellent Yashica T4 and Yashica T5 which I did not include on this list as they do not match or beat the lens specs of Contax T2 with their maximum apertures of f3.5 . Though that difference is rarely noticeable and they too make a nice alternative to the Contax T2.

The Yashica T3 will be your most budget friendly alternative, though the aesthetics of the design take a little getting used to. It kind of reminds me of a more geometric-looking little brother to the Konica AiBORG - which resembles a Koi fish blowing a big juicy kiss. The Yashica T3 makes for the cheapest alternative to the Contax T2, and the second largest (but not the heaviest) on this list.

Yashica T3 Specs

  • Carl Zeiss Tessar T* 35mm f/2.8 lens, 4 elements in 4 groups. Fastest lens in the T series.

  • Programmed electronic shutter (1/630 - 1 sec) with electromagnetic release.

  • Programmed electronic autoexposure system with SPD sensor. EV3-17 coupling range at ISO 100.

  • Automatic ISO setting with DX film (ISO 64 - 1600). Speed is set to ISO 100 for non-DX film.

  • 16-zone autofocus from 0.5m to infinity, with focus lock feature on trigger half-press. No infinity lock.

  • Digital display on top of camera features lens barrier open mark, exposure counter (up to 39 frames), autofocus mark, battery level indicator, self-timer mark, flash status and mode, long exposure warning.

  • Film autoloading, automatic film advance and automatic rewind. Mid-roll rewind possible via manual button.

  • Built-in flash with 0.6s recharge time at normal temperature. Features multiple modes: automatic fire in low light, forced fire, forced suppression. Flash range is 0.5-3m at ISO 100.

  • Lens has a glass barrier and protection slider, that also acts as switch for low-power mode.

  • Water resistant (JIS Class 4 - splashproof), with O-ring protecting the film door.

  • Right-angle viewing scope at the top with 67% field of view.

  • Camera dimensions: T3 128(W)x67.5(H)x52(D)mm

    Camera weight empty: T3 275g

 

Konica Big Mini F

Photo by Bellamy of  Japan Camera Hunter

Photo by Bellamy of Japan Camera Hunter

Konica Big Mini F Price: $250 - $300

The Konica Big Mini F is a compact 35mm camera released in 1997 and fits in the “Big Mini” line, it was an update to the popular BM 301. The upgrades in included a new maximum aperture lens at f2.8 improved from f/3.5 and an additional 1/100th fast maximum shutter speed at 1/450th of a second. It’s one of the cheapest alternatives to the Contax T2 but not so easy to find. You can always check out more camera in the Big Mini line with a maximum aperture of f3.5 as there are many good performers there.

Konica Big Mini F Specs

  • Konica Lens 35mm f/2.8

  • 3 element 4 group lens

  • Shutter Speed: 1/450-4sec

  • Focusing Type: Active AF

  • Minimum focusing: 35cm

  • Exposure control: Shutter priority AE

  • Exposure compensation +/-1.5EV

  • ASA 25-3200

  • Size: 115x63x34.5, 180g

 

Olympus µ [mju:] II

Image by  Ohsocult

Image by Ohsocult

Olympus mju II Price: $200 - $250

The Olympus µ [mju] II has had a life that closely resembles that of the Contax T2. With a burst of newfound fame in the last few years this excellent performing compact demands prices much higher than ever before. It looks and feels cheap, and it used to be, but now it just looks cheap and costs as much as a quality SLR that can last you 30 years. Pictures are very nice though - but be prepared you might get labeled a hipster the second you pull this film camera out of your pocket. Then again let’s see who’s laughing when your the only one able to shoot in the rain with this all-weather sealed body.

Olympus µ [mju] II Specs

  • Lens: 35mm, f/2.8, focusing from 0.35m-infinity. (4 elements in 4 groups).

  • Active multi-beam autofocus with focus lock.

  • Film format: 35mm DX-coded film, ISO 50-3200.

  • Automatic exposure range of EV 1-17, f/2.8, 4s -f/11, 1/1000s. Spot metering available.

  • Autowind and rewind.

  • Integrated color-balanced flash. Recharges in 3.5 seconds, working range 4.1m at ISO 100.

  • Flash modes: Auto, red-eye reduction, suppressed, forced/fill-in, night scene (slow synch up to 4 seconds).

  • LCD with battery check and frame counter.

  • Time/date stamp (Quartzdate model only).

  • Weatherproof (resistant to splashes).

  • Dimensions: 108x59x35mm.

  • Weight: 135g (without battery).

 

Rollei AFM 35

Photo by Cameraville

Photo by Cameraville

Rollei AFM 35 Price: $300 - $600

The Rollei AFM 35 is a fully automatic 35mm premium compact film camera with a 38mm Rollei S-Apogon HFT f/2.6 lens, which Rollei says makes for "brilliant for slides and color print". The Rollei AFM 35 and the Rollei 35 RF are white-labeled cameras, an ongoing trend in the film camera industry and still today in the digital era.

The Rollei AFM 35 is a rebranded version of Fuji KLASSE which you will find later on this list. A wonderful Contax T2 alternative though the prices are beginning to creep up to the Contax T2 in recent years.

More Cameraville articles tagged Rollei AFM 35

Rollei AFM 35 Specs

  • Fully automatic 35mm compact camera with 38 mm Rollei S-Apogon HFT lens f/ 2.6

  • Programmed electronic shutter with speeds from 1/2 s to 1/1000 s plus B with automatically timed exposures from 1 s to 60 s

  • Passive autofocus system with focus lock

  • Focusing from 0.4 m to infinity, manual focusing in 10 increments

  • Automatic film-speed setting by DX code from ISO 50 - 3200

  • Exposure modes: Programmed AE, aperture priority AE, automatic bracketing (AEB) ±0.5 and ±1.0 EV Backlight compensation +2 EV

  • Mid-roll rewind

  • Flash: Red-eye reduction fill flash, OFF, slow sync with red-eye reduction

  • 10s-delay self-timer

  • Slow-sync night-time mode

  • Automatic cut-off (5 minutes after last use)

  • Dimensions (mm/w x h x d) 123 x 63 x 33.5

  • 250 g (without battery)

 

Nikon 35Ti

Photo by Cameraville

Photo by Cameraville

Nikon 35Ti Price: $400 - $600

The Nikon 35 Ti is an advanced compact 35mm point and shoot camera first debuted in 1993. The first thing to mention about the Nikon 35 Ti is its high quality fixed 35mm f2.8 lens and excellent metering. It is an excellent camera to use with slide film since slide film does not over or underexpose well.

After the lens and metering the next feature this camera is known for is its analog dials on the top plate. The 4 analog dials display focus distance, aperture, exposure compensation, and number of pictures taken. All settings remain visible as do the digits on an analog watch, when a setting is set or changed the dial turns to indicate the current setting. Combined with a small light that illuminates the display, the whole interface is reminiscent of the face of an old car radio. The analog dial setting feature is not only cool but feels as practical as a digital or rotary display.

More Cameraville articles tagged Nikon 35Ti

Nikon 35 Ti Specs

  • Lens: Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 lens; 6 elements in 4 groups

  • Focusing distance: 0.4m to infinity

  • Film speed setting: DX-coded ISO 25 to 5000 films automatically set; non DX-coded films, automatically set to ISO 100 regardless of actual ISO rating.

  • Shutter : Programmed electronic shutter (aperture-priority automatic also possible)

  • Shutter speed : 1/500 sec. to 2 sec and long time exposure up to 10 minutes

  • Film operation : Fully automatic loading, advance and rewind; film advances by one frame after each shot; mid-roll rewind button provided; auto rewind at end of film roll.

  • Frame counter : Shown in analog display and LCD panel.

  • Focusing : Autofocus, Infinity Focus and Preset focus provided Infinity Focus locks focus at infinity.

  • Auto exposure range : EV2 to EV17 (at ISO 100).

  • Exposure compensation : Within a range of ±2EV in 1/3 steps.

  • Self-timer : Set by pressing self-timer/illuminator button and turning Command Dial, and activated by depressing shutter release button.

  • Built-in flash : Auto flash for low-light and backlit scenes; Anytime Flash and Flash Cancel can be selected by pressing a single anytime flash/flash OFF button; Red-Eye Reduction switch is provided

  • 5 Data Imprint format functions + 24-hour built-in clock

  • Dimensions : approx. 118 x 66 x 36mm (W X H x D)

  • Weight : approx. 310g (without battery)

 

Fuji KLASSE

Fuji KLASSE Price: $400 - $600

The Fuji KLASSE was released in Japan in 2001 in both champagne and black finishes. That same year it was premiered with under the Rollei name in the United States, known as the Rollei AFM 35, with different markings and engravings. I have personally shot with this camera and it feels sturdy and robust. The aperture change dial at the top right is easy to adjust with your thumb but not too easy that it is moved by accident.

Additionally having a physical wheel with dedicated click stops to adjust focus manually is rare for film cameras in this category and is unique to Fuji as far as I know. I would say this is an equal or better alternative to the Contax T2. The features available on the Fuji KLASSE and Rollei AFM 35 make it a prime choice for street photography. Not to mention 38mm focal length might be the sweetest spot between wide and standard.

Fuji KLASSE Specs

  • Lens: 38mm f2.6 Super EBC Fujinon lens

  • Focus: AF: 0.4m ~ inf., MF mode

  • Finder: field of view: 85%

  • Aperture: dial with Program, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.

  • Meter: CdS element with range of 4 to 16EV (100 ISO)

  • Shooting Mode: Program AE, AE Aperture Priority

  • Shutter: Electronic shutter Program (Program AE, AE aperture priority)

  • Shutter speed: B, 1/2s to 1/290s (at F2.6) to 1/1000s (for F16)

  • Film speed: Auto DX, ISO50 ~ 3200

  • Power: 1x 3v lithium CR2

  • Size: 123 × 63.5 × 37mm

  • Weight: 250g

 

Konica Hexar AF

Photo by  Itsfilmisntit

Photo by Itsfilmisntit

Konica Hexar AF Price: $450 - $650

The Konica Hexar is a large point and shoot film camera with a rangefinder appearance and a very bright f2 35mm fixed lens. First introduced in the US in 1993 it provided the ease of autofocus in a more ‘professional’ looking body. 6 years later in 1999 Konica released the Konica Hexar RF which took the exposure automation of a point and shoot and put it in a Leica-mount rangefinder body.

Konica Hexar AF Specs

  • Lens: Hexar 35mm f2; six groups, seven elements; minimum aperture f22; built-in lens hood

  • Autofocus: infrared active - 105 steps

  • Close focus: 0.6m

  • Shutter: Electromagnetic 30secs - 1/250

  • Light meter: SPD - Centre-weighted (15 degrees) Spot-metering (4 degrees)

  • Sensitivity: EV 0-16 at ISO 100 (centre) EV3-18 (spot)

  • Modes: Programmed AE, aperture priority, metered manual

  • Film speed setting: DX coding or manual (6-6400)

  • Viewfinder: Reverse Galilean with bright lines, automatic parallax and angle of field correction

  • Displays: LCD on top, viewfinder

  • Film transport: Motor (and rewind)

  • Self-timer: Electronic (approx 10 seconds; no thread for a cable release)

  • Other features: focus lock, exposure compensation (1/3 stop increments); silent mode (standard with some variants, programmable with others)

  • Dimensions: Width 137.5mm, height 76.5mm, depth 64.5mm

  • Weight: 495g without battery

 

Leica Minilux

Photo by Bellamy of  Japan Camera Hunter

Photo by Bellamy of Japan Camera Hunter

Leica Minilux Price: $700 - $1000

The Leica Minilux is a highly sought after point and shoot film camera as there are not many fixed lens point and shoot cameras with real Leica optics. Not only is this camera comparable in features to the Contax T2 but also in price. Another interesting feature about this camera as it relates to Leica is its 40mm f2.4 lens, a common focal length for point and shoots and non-interchangeable lens rangefinders but not much for Leica rangefinder or SLR glass. There is only one M-mount Leica lens at a 40mm focal length, the Leica Summicron-C 40mm f2 released in conjunction with the Leica CL and its two variant bodies, the Leitz Minolta CL, and the Minolta CLE.

Though if you’re into Leica glass you may want to invest in an M-mount lens, the 40mm Summicron-C can be found for less than the price of the Leica Minilux and will likely never break. Anyway if you have the money and like the look of the Minilux - go for it!

Leica Minilux Specs

  • Lens: Leica Summarit 1:2.4/40mm, 6 elements. 4 groups

  • Shutter speed range: 1 ~ 1/400 sec. plus bulb mode

  • ASA/ISO range: ISO 25 ~ ISO 5000

  • Exposure Modes: program or aperture priority

  • Exposure Metering: center-weighted

  • EV range: LV 2.5 ~ 16.5

  • Focusing: overrideable active infrared autofocus

  • Continuous Shooting: ½ fps

  • Film advance: fully automatic

  • Frame size: 24×36mm

  • Programs: "Professional"

  • Top LCD monitor: small status display

  • Weight: 124×69×39mm

  • Dimensions: 330g

 

Fuji KLASSE S

Photo by  Rick

Photo by Rick

Fuji KLASSE S Price: $800 - $1000

Six years after the release of the Fuji KLASSE and Rollei AFM 35, Fuji announced the KLASSE S & KLASSE W in 2007. “S” for Standard (38mm) and “W” for Wide (28mm). The Fuji KLASSE S is the most modern camera on this list. In 2012 Fujifilm sent out a press release announcing the discontinuation of the Natura Classica and Klasse W (silver), but mentioned they will continue to produce the Fuji KLASSE S. Today it is unavailable and it is not clear at what point it was discontinued.

The high price Fuji KLASSE S could reflect the fact that it was so recently produced. At nearly 20 years younger than the Contax T2, this might be the only point and shoot film camera on this list that’s still functioning 20 years from now. I would say this is a better alternative to the Contax T2, especially if you are willing to spend the money on the Contax T2 you might want to seriously consider taking a look at the Fuji KLASSE S first.

Fuji KlASSE S Specs

  • Frame size: 24mm × 36mm

  • Lens:38mm f/2.8 Super EBC Fujinon lens

  • Focus: AF: 0.4m ~ inf., MF mode

  • Aperture: dial with Program, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.

  • Shooting Mode: Program AE, AE Aperture Priority

  • Shutter: Electronic shutter Program (Program AE, AE aperture priority)

  • Shutter speed: B, 1/2s to 1/500s (at F2.8) to 1/1000s (for F16)

  • Exposure comp: with front dial ±2.0EV in 0.5EV step increments

  • Film speed: Auto DX, ISO25 ~ 3200 (in 1/3 steps) Manual Set

  • LCD: with backlight

  • Size: 123 × 63.5 × 38.5mm

  • Weight 265g (excluding battery)

 

Leica CM

Photo by Cameraville

Photo by Cameraville

Lecia CM Price: $900 - $1,100

Announced in 1993 the Leica CM is was Leica's first compact camera to be assembled in Germany. Designed by Professor Achim Heine from Berlin the Leica CM includes a leather trim meant to resemble that of the Leica M-mount cameras. With a titanium body and retractable newly designed Summarit lens, it was an expensive camera to begin with and is still today. It will be hard to find one of these for less than 1000 USD. Unfortunately as with some others on this list the Leica CM is prone to spontaneous death view a malfunctioning shutter. While it produces amazing photos, all that I have known with this camera quickly sold it as it was not great in real-world use.

The Leica CM is quite comparable to the Contax T2 with a titanium body and fully retractable lens with lens cover and legendary optics - it makes for a great alternative to the Contax T2 if the T2 isn’t expensive enough for your taste.

Leica CM Specs

  • Lens - Leica Summarit 40 mm f/2.4 (6 elements / 4 groups) with multicoating Distance setting range - 0.7 m 2.3 f < ∞ LED display of focus status in each mode Smallest object field - 566 x 377 mm (reproduction ratio 1:15.7)

  • Autofocus system - Passive phase detection autofocus. AF auxiliary light activates in poor lighting conditions.

  • Exposure system - Programmed automatic exposure control mode, with manual aperture pre-selection, optionally with automatic flash activation.

  • Exposure metering - Center weighted two-zone metering (center /edge) with automatic backlighting detection (for automatic fill-in flash). Metering memory lock.

  • Exposure compensation - +/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV increments. Exposure meter range - see manufacturer's manual.

  • Film speed - DX-coded 25 - 5000, if outside range auto setting reverts to ISO 100.

  • Self timer - 2 or 10 s.

  • Continuous mode - 0.7 fps w/o flash. The picture series function is activated by pressing the shutter release button continuously.

  • Shutter speed - 1 > 1/1000s - B (T function) up to 99s

  • Data imprinting - Integrated dating device for imprinting the day and time or the date on the film.

  • Materials - Titanium with leather side covering.

  • Dimensions (W x H x D) - 116 x 64 x 43 mm / 4.57 x 2.52 x 1.69 in (lens retracted)

  • Weight - 300g / 10.6 oz (without battery)


My Advice:

As much as the cost as of the Contax T2 has risen in the last 4 years you can see that the price is almost appropriate when compared to the price of other cameras offering the same experience. It’s hard to pay $800 for a Contax T2 when you can see it was selling for under $300 in 2012, but as time goes on supply will lessen, demand will rise, and prices will continue to increase. If you want a Contax T2 get one now. If you can survive without it try another film camera from this list, or just pick up any camera and find some good light and a good subject. As long as you have a glass lens and shoot film from it, you can make pictures as good as anybody - it’s just a game of trial and error, and luck and magic.

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