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Contax TVS vs. TVSII

Prices for original TVS vary from 290 - 400
Prices for TVS II vary from 350 - 550
Prices for TVS III vary from 450 - 600 (prices may be higher if store tries to unload old stock)

Now above in my opinion is dictated by amount of them available at any given time. Last week I was able to pick up a TVSII for 435 with flash adapter only becasue EBay was overflowed with IIs. Also camera that I bought was described as average quality by the seller when indeed it was in excellent plus. I like II over I just because of the lens cap. I use cameras when climbing and kayaking so it's hard for me hold down to the lens caps. Also J&R in NYC has a stock of refurbished TVS I cameras for some crazy price.

I made up a chart some time ago that tells you the differences between TVS cameras:

Matt wrote: 'I made up a chart some time ago that tells you the differences between TVS cameras'.

Thanks Matt, very informative - and also thanks for the price-info. It seems that all 35 mm equipment is currently price crashing, since more than 90 percent of all cameras sold as new are now digital.

BTW - what exactly do you mean by this statement on the TVS III in your chart: 'new retro design (based on cult camera Contax T) which turned out to be a disaster'.

Can you elaborate a bit further?


Sure. Remember when front part of the original T went down like drawbridge and than lens was extended? It was a lever mechanism that was a signature for the original T which was designed by Porsche. That's the same design that was used on TVS III. It acted as a lens cap/protector and aperture control was also place there. The concept behind it was great but controls were hard to reach since they were very small. Since the drawbridge cover was mechanized and not manual like in original Contax T design it meant that is more prone to damage and breakage. Lens hood and filters couldn’t be applied. Also the on/off switch on the top was hard to operate. I made a mistake of buying this camera after my original TVS broke. I called KEH and had $500 credit since my TVS was still on the warranty. I wanted another TVS or TVSII but they were around $500-$600 range. They also had a like new TVS III for $600. I took it. After few rolls I realized why used TVS III sometimes is less expensive than II. Even Contax reps admit that it was also a failure. Camera never sold well and because of that value of TVS II skyrocketed.
very useful comparison chart!!,
But why is the tvs flash more powerful than the one of the tvs II ? (I am glad it is since I have the Tvs).
I don't miss the lens cap since I use the Lens hood attached all the time, and the camera is in its ever ready case, for adequate protection.
ciao from italy
Matt wrote on TVS III: 'aperture controls were hard to reach since they were very small', 'the drawbridge cover more prone to damage and breakage', 'hood and filters couldn=92t be applied' and 'the on/off = switch on the top was hard to operate'.

Thanks Matt - I will be careful not to repeat your mistake.

It doesn't matter if you get TVS I or II. I'm happy with both. This is a shot I snapped when driving thru Samburu Park in Kenya. I was going to pick up a cook and a guide after morning boat ride and my main gear was locked in the rear of the truck and all I had was TVS. I love this camera. Too bad it broke but I just go a replacment so it's all good. Oh yeah it broke kind of out of my own fault.



The TVSII viewfinder is FAR brighter than that of the TVS. I have a TVSII and it is a terrific camera.

Thanks to Matt and Gary and everyone else for the information you have shared regarding the TVS and the TVSll. I got a TVS to try and will send it back. The pics were great but I found the viewfinder really was too dim. It looks out of focus to me compared to my T3 and G1. Now the G1 is not as bright as the T3 either, but it is more contrasty and still looks good to my eye. I am wondering if the TVSll is more like that. It is next to impossible to get to see one without buying one here in MA.

The G1 might hit ebay soon.

Thanks again

I am looking for a high quality P & S camera, and I am seriously considering a TVS II. I have been trying to find unbiased comparisons of the Contax P & S cameras to others in the same league, but it is difficult. I read several reviews of the TVS III where the user was happy with the camera, but felt there were some elements of the old TVS II that he or she still prefered, such as the manual zoom, the simpler lens protection (no "draw bridge"), and the ability to take a shot quickly. Because I did not know of this web site, and I lacked a knowledgeable resourse, I called the Contax technical service group to discuss the comparison of the TVS II and III. The person there agreed with the points the reviewer had made, but stated I still should consider the TVS III over the TVS II because there were lens improvements that should result in sharper pictures. Is there anyone out there who has used both camers and could testify that this is true?
Also, regarding price . . . my local dealer has a "factory refurbished demonstrator" with complete warranty that he brought in for me from his distributor that I can purchase for $1000. This price seems a little high compared to some comments I have seen on this site, but most of the comments on price are for used ones. Is this the expected price for this camera?

I was given some really good information from this group, read the posts above yours. I picked up a like new TVS II last week for $450 shipped. If you are patient and keep looking you will find something and ebay is a great place to keep your eye on.

Good luck

Joel Stern