The Best Camera I Never Knew Part III: The Contax Tix APS Film Camera

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The Contax TiX from 1997. Perhaps the most beautiful Contax point and shoot, but doomed by being born an APS film camera.

I have to admit I’m a big fan of Contax point and shoot film cameras from the 90s. There was just something special about the whole series.

While I stand by what I wrote in earlier articles about the fragility of Contax cameras and their brittle electronics, I loved the concept, the feel, and execution despite the feeling that I could never really rely on them completely.

THE CONTAX Tix

The Contax Tix (pronounced T…i…x as opposed to Tix, I think!) is a high quality point and shoot camera introduced by Kyocera in 1997.

The camera featured a Carl Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 Sonnar T* lens and used the infamous and now defunct APS (Advanced Photo System) film system. The camera was the smallest of the Contax film point and shoots.

The camera has autofocus, a shutter speed range of 15 seconds to 1/1000, and came with a data back for date imprint. It was powered by one 3V CR-2 battery.

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME?

The last two cameras I profiled (Rolleimatic and Rollei A110) didn’t jive with me because they didn’t work. That was NOT the case with the Contax Tix.

A little history…I got my first Contax point and shoot, the original Contax T, in 1997. That was a superb little manual focus rangefinder and I got some wonderful shots from that thing. Basically, after the Contax T, I was hooked on Contax for a while!

I got the Contax Tix some time in the mid 2000’s, mainly as a curiosity and to add to my collection. I did not expect to use it often because even at the time of the introduction of the APS film system in 1996, I was never really interested in that format. Even back then, I wondered why would anyone bother with this over 35mm?

The 35mm format already had its limitations vs medium and larger formats and I felt like APS was a step backwards.

The negatives were smaller and despite the stuff you were able to do with it, ie, the three image formats, 16:9, 3:2, and 3:1 aspect ratios, as well as the quasi-panoramic mode, I wasn’t into it. I just thought they were gimmicks, but even if they were useful to some, I would take the larger negative of the (already relatively small) 35mm standard over APS any day.

So back to the Contax Tix. Yes, the camera worked and worked well. I used it for two or three rolls of snapshots expecting good quality, but most of the shots from this camera looked excellent!

I’m sorry I have no pics to show you now because as mentioned in the last couple of postings, I am without my main working computer and using a 10′ Chromebook. I would still need to scan these prints.

My assessment of the 28mm f/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar on the Tix is this…The lens is excellent, as expected. It is very sharp. Not as bitingly sharp as the lens on the Contax T3, but still sharper than most point and shoots. But my favorite part is that the lens seemed to have more of a classic look, a soft/sharp kind of thing like the 38mm f/2.8 Sonnar on the original T or T2. So, in my opinion, the lens on the Tix was in between that of the T3 and T/T2. That’s almost perfection right there!

So the camera itself was never a problem. The fact that it used APS film was what didn’t jive with me and why I got rid of it.

If looking for one of these, prices have been trending steady for years at a low of $70 to around $150 with an average of around $90. The camera came in silver or black which is a bit more rare.

If I were to seek one out today, I don’t think it would take me too long to find one. And there are apparently places that will still develop APS film if you send the film out to them. But I’m already dealing with enough dead or outdated systems like Polaroids, 127mm, 110mm, etc that I wouldn’t bother with APS film right now.

BOTTOM LINE

The Contax Tix is a beautiful, jewel-like camera. I feel that this camera could’ve been THE best of all the Contax point and shoots, but unfortunately it was and will forever be hindered by the format it was born with, the APS film system, which is probably one of the biggest flops in film history.

Now before any APS film fans get mad at me, I want to say the concept, and indeed the quality of APS film was not bad. If I recall correctly, there were even some APS films that equaled or exceeded its 35mm equivalents in magazine tests.

In many ways APS was “pre-digital” film. It wasn’t designed for ultimate quality, but instead was made for easier development (with machines specifically designed to take APS film, of which one can guess the companies also hoped to make money selling) and promised smaller, lighter cameras. It foresaw almost all that we see in digital point and shoots today!

But APS wasn’t friendly for the home developer. I’m sure someone must have done it, but I haven’t met anyone who actually home developed APS film. You actually had to bring that film into the store as each film cartridge was locked and coded. The main problem for APS film was timing. It was introduced in 1996 right around the time the first wave of digital cameras were coming in.

In only a few short years it was killed by digital, but somehow managed to hang on till 2011 when Fuji and Kodak, the last two APS film manufacturers ceased production of this film forever.

Again, in many ways, APS had some key concepts that made its way into digital such as switchable aspect ratio, smaller cameras and lenses, and of course APS lives on in our memories by the APS-C sensors which is approximately the same size as APS film. This is the lasting legacy of the APS film system I guess.

The Contax Tix was one of those cameras that I loved as a camera. It had a wonderful lens and beautifully small proportions. The Tix is probably at the apex of APS point and shoot cameras. It is no doubt a camera that added to the Camera Legend of Contax/Yashica.

It is a camera which was only held back by the APS format that it was created for and a camera of which I was never able to realize its full potential. The Contax Tix is a superb camera that unfortunately became one of…the best cameras I never knew 🙂

Note: Still waiting for my Mac in repair, but the show must go on! While I have created a workflow with this Chromebook, I have noticed it is becoming painfully slow the more I use it. Thanks to all who continue to visit, I appreciate it, and I continue to write about cameras for you my friends.

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The First Sony Cybershot Camera…Plus A Look At The Sony RX1R II

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“Cyber Cam” The Sony DSC-F1 from 1996 is an 0.3mp digital stills camera and is considered to be Sony’s first digital Cybershot camera.

Sony has just announced their latest Cybershot camera, the Sony RX1R II.

It’s a premium quality fixed lens camera with 42.4 megapixels and a superb 35mm f/2 Zeiss Sonnar T* lens. Wow. To appreciate how far we’ve come in camera technology, let’s take a quick look at the very first Sony Cybershot camera.

THE VERY FIRST SONY CYBERSHOT CAMERA

Now here’s a camera not many of you today remember, heard about or even knew existed. Web searches are scarce, this is a forgotten camera and probably justifiably so. But it was a first for Sony.

The very first Sony Cybershot camera is the Sony DSC-F1 from 1996. This camera featured a 0.3 (!) mp sensor, a fixed 35mm equivalent f/2 lens, and a 1/3″ sensor that produced VGA quality 640×480 pixels. The camera has a unique swiveling lens. This could’ve been one of the first “selfie” cameras 🙂

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From 1996, the DSC-F1, Sony’s first Cybershot camera.

It does not say “Cybershot” anywhere on this camera, but it has the distinction of being the first “DSC” stills camera from Sony which is why it is considered a Cybershot. Before entering the still camera market, Sony had been known for producing quality video camera for years. It is interesting to note that at the time of its introduction, Sony was so new to this that the lens on the DSC-F1 says “Sony Video Lens.”

I got this camera for ten bucks. I have no samples to show you because it requires a hard to find, old school serial PCI type cable to download the images. The camera also has an IRDA port to transfer images wirelessly. Ahead of its time!

If you wonder what that 0.3mp quality would be like, just imagine an old school web-cam. It’s dreadful. That’s what this camera basically is.

You don’t see them for sale often, but they are not worth much if anything. And I don’t know if it ever will be. But being the first Sony Cybershot camera, the DSC-F1 is indeed a Camera Legend. I love the design and the way it looks, that’s the only reason I got it.

Now let’s go into details about Sony’s latest Cybershot camera…

THE LATEST CYBERSHOT: The Sony RX1R II

Sony has just announced the Sony RX1R II. Major specs from reading the Sony press release are: 42.4 Megapixel full-frame sensor, apparently the same BSI-CMOS sensor as the A7RII, 35mm f/2 Zeiss Sonnar T* lens, retractable XGA OLED viewfinder, faster AF (same system as A7RII) and the world’s first optical variable low-pass filter. You can actually choose whether or not you want the AA filter in front of the sensor and if so, the levels, i.e., off, standard or high. There is of course a lot more to this camera, but you can find all you need to know by checking Sony’s site or searching the internet.

The original Sony RX1 was a high-end point and shoot camera introduced by Sony in 2012. It is a fixed lens camera with a 35mm f/2 Zeiss Sonnar lens and a 24.3 megapixel full-frame sensor.

I must admit, the Sony RX1 was one of those cameras I coveted, but could never get myself to buy. I loved the way it looked, I loved the way it felt, and I loved the files I saw from the camera. However, I couldn’t plunk down $3000 for a fixed lens digital. I didn’t have the cash and even if I did, I just couldn’t do it.

I buy and sell cameras. I’m not rich and I have a family to feed so I have a budget. For me to afford the next camera I get, I have to sell the last camera I got. And with today’s flooded market, that’s not always easy to do. All the cameras I’ve reviewed here, I bought with my own money. I don’t get cameras sent to me for review and I don’t get invited to press events.

My blog is relatively new and I thank each and every one of you who have stopped by, left a comment, or help support it. It’s just the grassroots blog of a guy who, just like you, loves cameras and wants to share what he’s found along the way. There IS a reason for those horrible low-budget selfies 🙂

As mentioned elsewhere on my blog, I would pay for quality but I like cheap. For me to get an RX1, I would have had to sell off a lot of stuff for a digital camera that would depreciate over time. I would rather get a Konica Hexar or Ricoh GR1 and deal with the hassles of developing film, but that’s just me.

That said, I would have to say the files I saw and downloaded from the RX1 were among the most impressive I have seen from a digital camera or any camera for that matter. The camera felt great and the files had a look, depth, and ‘pop’ that you only see when you have a near perfect camera/lens/sensor combo. The RX1 had it. I’m sure the RX1R II will take this to the next level.

Below are images of the RX1R II distributed by Sony, so you may have seen the images on other blogs as well. While the RX1R II is not available in stores yet, I’m sure it’s going to be a HOT seller. People love this stuff man, we all do! 🙂

Anyway, if you want to sign up for notification when the camera is in stock, you can do so HERE.

But if you’re like me, you’d probably go for a used RX1 or RX1R first version which is a deal at $1200-1500 used. For that I would check Amazon and their vast network of dealers. Even if what you find is showing $2700 etc, etc, etc, when you click on it and scroll down, you will find the USED or REFURBiSHED units. That’s where the deals are.

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