Contax T2: Portraits with pushed Tri-X 400

Since becoming a film photography enthusiast, I have always lamented the fact that I was unable to bring a camera with me for the more candid parts of my life.

I would be lying if I said that I was missing endless decisive moments on my daily underground commute, or when I popped up the road for some avocados (millennial), but the nagging feeling of “what if?” remained in the back of my mind, even as I stood crushed against armpits and backpacks on the tube.

This is what first led me to point and shoot film cameras.

The appeal of great image quality in a pocket-sized film camera was irresistible. Finally, I could get those candid shots of my fellow unhappy underground commuters! Jokes aside, I was genuinely excited about the world of opportunities which seemingly opened up to me through these small film cameras.

I soon realised that commutes and trips to the shops were innately uninteresting from a photographic point of view, the vast majority of the time anyway. However, it turns out that the Contax T2 that I finally settled on as my point and shoot camera is a more than capable camera for drink-fuelled social gatherings.

My first few attempts at push processing film have been mixed at best. The extended development times this technique requires led to a number of rolls with streaks, dark marks and other blemishes.

However, the stars aligned for this roll of Ilford HP5+, and I was blessed with beautiful monochrome tones, augmented by a gentle grain that oozes old world charm. This, combined with the fast shutter speeds enabled by pushing the film to ISO 1600, and the Contax T2’s legendary 5-element Zeiss T* Sonnar lens, resulted in some of my favourite photos of the year so far.

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For me, the photos above were vindication for my interest in point and shoot film cameras. I hadn’t met many of the people in these photos until that night, and the camera provided an easy icebreaker. More importantly, it was small enough to stick in my pocket and take along with me to the party after work. The “best camera” is the one you have with you, and I simply wouldn’t have had any shots at all if it had been a case of bringing my Leica M4 as opposed to not bringing any camera at all.

I hope you enjoyed the photos and words. I’m planning on putting up a more in-depth post about the Contax T2 soon, as well as a comparison with its little brother the Yashica T4. I also have a Leica M4, Rolleiflex TLR and Pentax 6×7 to write-up, so keep an eye out!

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