The Contax T3 was released in 2001 as the follow up to the still popular T2. The T3 kept the Sonnar 2.8 lens (now a 35mm vs a 38mm) but cut the size by about 1/3. The T3 was and remains an uber-premium compact.
At release the list price was about US$1,000 and today you can expect to pay that much or more for a clean one. If you want a black limited T3, call your financial advisor first and be ready to mortgage the farm. Seems like a lot of fuss over a pocket camera. Is it all that?
It was easy to find love letters to this camera online. Normally as I read about a new camera, I find lots of technical information, history and some mixed reviews. With the T3, technical information and history is harder to find. This may be due to the fact that Contax is no longer making cameras and the T3 was targeted at the high end and still out of the budget of most prudent buyers. You could literally buy every Minox 35 model for the price of one T3. What you do find is questions about is it worth the cost and lists of best compact cameras with the T3 at or near the top. I did not find a lot of pushback on the T3 being an amazing compact camera.
There seems to be a resurgence of premium compact camera fans that are driving up the cost of the quality models. Influential sites like Japan Camera Hunter comes to mind with some recent discussion that seem to be adding fuel to the demand. That plus the fact that they are all getting older, electronics dependent and mostly not serviceable make for an interesting dilemma.
If you have read much of this blog you know I love my Minox 35s. I love the small format and the always have one with you size. The T3 is not a Minox 35, it is on an entirely new level. Really the only thing it share with the Minox is size.
I wish I could write something that would slow down the frenzy but I can't. It is all that. Quality construction, great glass, simple usage and a great size. It reminded me of the Leica Minilux but smaller, quiet, and better looking. So more like what the Minilux should have been.
So like most people the only issue I have is the cost. Given the value, I worry about it more than I should. I want it with me all the time but feel like it should be keep it in a dry box inside a bank safe. So if you have one or can justify the price, enjoy this amazing to shot compact wonder. It is not the only option in the category, but it may be the best. Best I have found so far. I will be keeping mine and selling lots of the other compact I have. The T3 is now my top pick compact.
Lens: Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2.8 35mm
Film: FujiColor 100