One Day in Melbourne with the Contax TVS Digital

I took out my little Contax TVS Digital, one of my all time favourite cameras for a day of shooting in Melbourne’s CBD and a few sneaky frames on the way to the train. It was a bit wet, rainy and overcast all day so I was only out for a few hours so there was a limited amount of shots possible, but I made it work.

For those of you who don’t know about the little legend that is the Contax TVS Digital, it’s the last of the classic and much sought after Contax T line. It’s an oddball package as a 5 megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera produced by Kyocera under the Contax name in 2002. Off the back of the TVS and TVS II the little digital TVS follows more of the form factor of the Contax T3.

It sports a lovely and sharp Carl Zeiss T* 7.3-21.9mm (35-105mm in 35mm equivalent). Why the odd focal length? It has a tiny, tiny sensor in 2017 terms that is a 1/1.8″ CCD, which is surprisingly good for it’s age. Finally, the camera has a shutter speed range of 8 seconds to 1/2000 seconds and a technically “awful” ISO range of 80 to 400, but I find the results quite pleasing despite the aged hardware.

It does not shoot RAW and will only produce JPGs in a variety of sizes, which I guess was necessary in 2002 due to the tiny storage available – not so much in 2017. It does make for an odd choice for anyone shooting in 2017, but most of us still using the camera will shoot the 5 Megapixel “Fine” JPG files without much hassle. It really is a shame there’s no RAW support but I guess they couldn’t fit a larger buffer into the tiny body in 2002.

As I said before, the results are quite pleasing despite the low megapixel count and the lack of RAW support. I’ve tossed these files into Lightroom and completed some very mild edits, as they’re JPG straight out-of-camera you can’t go mental on the files but you do still have some room to move to get the look you want.

The little TVSd is a great performer as a walk around shooter, it’s crazy small and has some modern features such as manual-zone focus (preset manual focus distance), Auto Focus Lock, neat little LCD displaying total shots left and flash preferences as well as a phenomenal little viewfinder. It’s quite snappy in terms of a photographer’s expectations in 2017, the autofocus is pretty fast and handles itself well. The autofocus itself is fast, where the camera actually lags is in the writing of files to the old as balls Gen 1 SD Card which can take some time. You can pump out 2-4ish files in one go but as the lag starts to get worse it causes the camera to lock up, if you are partial to slowing down and shooting a touch slower the TVSd will work just fine in your hands, I love it.

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