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Contax TVS vs. TVSII

Dear Jeff,

A friend of mine who has been using Contax for 10+ years once told me that TVSII has serious vignetting problems at the wid angle, while TVSIII improved quite a bit. TVSII was better built though.

1000USD for a refurbished model is definitely too high. B&H photo and video now has a bunch of refurbished demo from Contax USA with one year warranty. TVSII is 599 each and TVS III is 579 each. I bought a AX demo from them and it is mint like new with all the original packaging and manuals. I posted this information on a Taiwanese website and many people also ordered from B&H. Two people got ugly ones, however, and B&H is going to exchange a new one with them, crediting the shipping expenses.

Best, Shu-Hsien Sheu

I have a TVSII and it is one terrific camera. Just after I bought it, like the next day, I learned of the TVSIII's coming. So I returned the TVSII to B&H, waited a month, and went back to look at the III. While it's a nice camera, I did not like it in comparison with the II. I didn't like all the stupid buttons, the way the zoom worked, the lack of ability to use filters, and the drawbridge made me nervous. I just thought it would be too suseptible to damage. And lastly, the TVSII, though bigger and heavier, has a real sturdy feel to it. I did not take any pictures with it, but grabbed a new TVSII right away before they disappeared. Haven't regretted it once.

As far as sharpness is concerned, it is possible that "technically" the lens may be sharper. But I personally don't think any variation, if it exists, would be visible. The TVSII lens is so tack sharp, and the color rendition and contrast so terrific, that I dumped my Nikon gear and stuck with the TVSII until the N1 came out. I always carry the II and use if for print film, whereas I shoot slides with the N1 when I go to shoot serious lanscapes. I have gotten beautiful sharp prints up to 11x14 from the TVSII and am sure I could go larger if I wanted to.

I always have a UV filter on it, along with the optional sunshade. I have never had any vignetting problem, although sometimes I take the sunshade off so i can't swear that minor vignetting might not occur with a filter and sunshade wide open at 28mm focal length. But certainly none with only the filter mounted.

Hope this helps.

I found more fall off problem with my TVSIII than with TVSII or I. That's one of the reasons I have the II. As far as Contax rep telling you that TVS III is better than I... What else do you expect them to tell you? They can't push product they don't have and admitting that older model is better than the new one is like admitting to a screw up. I'm not an optics expert but I know that III has fewer elements in the lens and changed focal length. Maybe the 2mm move up from 28mm lens made the whole difference in the world.

I have checked out all three TVS cameras at B&H and I have to admmit that the only thing I liked better about the TVSIII was its more compact size. It would fit in a pocket where the other design would not.

The TVS and TVSII are more substantial cameras with manual zoom and filter capability. You can pick one up and twist the zoom ring and you are ready to shoot, very fast start-up. They are more of a serious tool then the III.

Prices and service are very good at B&H.

Jeff O'B
Thank you, to all of you who gave comments on the comparison of the TVS II vs. the TVS III. I believe now it is a matter for me to perhaps look for a better price.
I am assuming this camera (TVS II) will give me as good or better pictures than the Leica P&S cameras. It appears the Leica Miniluz Zoom is the closest competitor in the marketplace to the TVS II. Ignoring price for a moment, and looking only at camera quality and picture quality, does everyone agree that the TVS II is probably the best in it's class (high end P&S)?

Thanks again,


"...does everyone agree that the TVS II is probably the best in it's class (high end P&S)?"

I do not agree. I have thought about buying a TVS (II or III), but then got a Minilux Zoom, and I am happy with it. This is why I prefer the Minilux Zoom:

- According to "Colorfoto", a German photography magazin, the Minilux Zoom is sharper, about MTF 8, while TVS I/II only are about MTF 7. Indeed the Minilux Zoom's sharpness and contrast is great!

- You will have vignetting with any P&S with wide angle because of the small lenses. The Minilux Zoom starts at 35 mm, there is simply no vignetting.

- A big benefit of the Minilux Zoom is the external flash: You won't have any red eyes with it. The TVS's adapter for an external flash is ugly and not very useful in my opinion.

True, the Minilux Zoom does not have aperture control, but for how many photographs do you need that?


Does the Colorfoto magazine you mentioned have ratings for the Rollei QZ 35W or Rollei QZ 35T. I'm very interesting in knowing how they compare with the TVS II (as well as to the Minilux Zoom).



as both TVS II and Rollei Qz35W user I can tell you that Rollei is a much better camera. It is sharper, has better controls and much nicer meter but it is also 3 times as big as TVS. It just kills the entire idea of P&S, and that's even before you attach the flash. Rollei would be great if it was fitted in small package. QZ is one of those cameras that I love to use more often but I can't due to its size. I'm about to go to Peru and I layed down my equipment trying to choose my cameras and I'm taking my Xpan, plus T3 and Ricoh gr21 and I really would like to take a QZ to give it a real field workout but camera dimensions is what is stopping me.

Does anyone else have any comments regarding P & S cameras that, in their opinion, give better results than the Contax TVS II. Sounds like I hear at least one vote for the Minilux Zoom over the Contax TVS II. Regarding the Rollei . . . size is somewhat important to me. I am O.K. that the TVS II is larger than the TVS III, but I don't want to get too big. A Ricoh has been mentioned before, but I'm not familiar with the size if it. The biggest thing for me remains to be the quality on the prints. Has anyone seem the Contax TVS II, the Leica Minilux Zoom, and any other high end P & S put head to head in an independent third party comparison?

Jeff und Mike,

the colorfoto magazine gives MTF-Data for several p&s cameras in no. 8/97, additional in no. 9/97 and 12/99. For each focal length they measure two MTF-values: the value for open aperture and for aperture open + 2. For the highest focal length they give the value for the open aperture only.

Leica Minilux
40 mm: 8,0 and 9,5

Minolta TC-1
28 mm: 7,5 and 8,6

Leica Mini Zoom (not Minilux Zoom):
35 mm: 7,3 and 8,0
70 mm: 7,9

Contax T2
38 mm: 7,2 and 8,2

Contax TVS (I/II):
28 mm: 7,0 and 7,9
56 mm: 7,6 and 8,1

Ricoh GR1
28 mm: 7,0 and 7,9

Rollei QZ 35W:
28 mm: 6,8 and 7,9
40 mm: 7,0 and 8,0
60 mm: 7,6

Rollei Prego 90:
28 mm: 6,8 and 7,8
about 50 mm: 7,1 and 7,8
90 mm: 6,9

Unfortunately they give no real values for the Minilux Zoom, but tell in another magazin, the MTF-values were nearly on par with the Minolta TC-1 and better than Contax T2 and TVS, so I guess, the Minilux Zoom should be near 7,5 and 8,6 like the Minolta TC-1.

But there is a problem with these values: As the first value always is the value for open aperture, you will have e.g. at the Rollei QZ 35W the first value at f 2.8 and and the second at f 5.6 while at smaller p&s zoom cameras the first value means f 3.5 or higher. So you do not really have a comparison between the same apertures. Another problem: I do not know, if they not only test the sharpness but also the contrast. I had a Rollei Prego 90 before, as given in the test, and it was indeed a pretty sharp camera. But the contrast is better with the Minilux Zoom.

As to the Rollei QZ 35W: I myself guess, it is a very fine camera and have thought seriously about buying it. In one forum I read the Minilux Zoom was even superior. But I would be interested in more details.

And as to the absolutly sharpest camera: I would buy a Minilux (non Zoom), which must be great – it only doesn’t have a zoom.