Friday Film II: Contax TVS III plus Rollei Retro 80s and Rollei CR200

Friday Film II: Contax TVS III plus Rollei Retro 80s and Rollei CR200

by Ibraar Hussain

The Contax TVS III was one of the last Film camera’s to be released by Kyocera/Contax before the demise of this legendary iconic brand, and was a beautifully made, wonderful looking compact boutique camera in the design mould of the first generation Contax T.


TVS stands for T* vario-Sonnar and as the name suggests, this has the Carl Zeiss T* Vario-Sonnar lens. It is the third incarnation of the TVS and in my opinion the invest and most relevant today.

What’s so relevant about a compact 35mm camera with out exposure lock, or a filter thread, or a fast lens in this day and age of 36 Mega Pixel Full Frame camera’s?

A lot!

In my opinion and in my experience, the amount of mega Pixels and resolution plays no part in making a satisfactory photograph (according to the photographers own standards and preference). I for one have never made a print (on canvas or paper) larger than 24 inches across and 35mm, even a Half Frame Olympus Pen F negative is more than large enough for this. Sharpness is important according to what I want to portray, and I prefer colour/tone, depth, contrast and delicacy.

For me Photography is all about ME. My idea’s, my mind, my likings – it is a very selfish endeavour and others either like what I see or detest it – it doesn’t matter to me, as I make mine own image as the eye of the beholder is also the eye of the creator and both are mine. Enough philosophising bullshit and on to the camera.

The Contax TVS III is made of metal, it feels solid, in a matt stealthy black, with a feeling of precision, mechanical and electronic excellence. made in Japan, and featuring Carl Zeiss T* glass which adds beautiful contrast and depth to the images.

Flip the dial knob and the outer flap opens like a drawbridge, revealing the lens with its red markings. it opens with a satisfying whirr and snick – not blindingly fast though, so don’t expect to be able to turn on and shoot in one fell move like Clint Eastwood drawing a Colt – for that you’ll need the Contax T2 or T3 which have faster glass, are blindingly fast to operate and have big bright viewfinders.

Anyway, what I love about this camera, and why I’ve kept it whereas I’ve sold or given away my Contax T2 and all my other gear (leaving me with the TVS III, Contax G2 and Rolleiflex 6008i) is because it is just so damn beautiful to hold and look at, because it looks so cool, attracts so much attention even with it being so small, and a joy to own, and for these reasons it is a pleasure to use and produces satisfying results.

It has limited creative control, no filter thread, is slow, no ISO changing capability, and the View Finder is Contax G2 sized – not tiny, but not big like the T2/T3, and lens is slow at top end and not the fastest at wide. Focussing is accurate and quick enough, metering is spot on, VF is bright and the lens very sharp, contrasty and is adequately fast at the wide-angle (30mm) to give gentle shallow depth.

I don’t shoot much, and when I do it’s usually a roll of Film – slowly, and the Contax TVS III I shoot always at the ~30mm wide angle setting which gives me greatest versatility with the aperture to control depth of field.

I, in the past year have shot two rolls of Film with the Contax TVS III. (Another roll is half shot and in the Camera waiting for some more Autumnal Fall colours to appear – Agfa Ultra 50) Both Films produces by Rollei in the Agfa Gevaert factory in Belgium.

Rollei CR200 and Rollei Retro 80s.

Both are Agfa emulsions re-released on a plastic PET base rather than a traditional base. This gives them a different look and feel to the originals.

I don’t know what the original Rollei retro 80s was, but Rollei CR200 is Agfa RSX II 200 on a PET base.

Agfa RSX II was a lovely warm 200 speed Slide Film, moderate grain, with a very warm tone and colour cast but retaining warm but excellent skin tones.

Rollei CR200 is a very warm film, with a warm colour cast, warmer skin tones and is very grainy!

In use, it is NOT Agfa RSX II 200. The Agfa is a superior Film in general use, but the CR200 has it’s own beauty – so I discovered, if used right! It is not a general purpose Film, and should be used for the effect it can give. it is also tricky to cut and mount (because of the base) and it is not Scanner friendly (projected it is much cleaner and nicer).

But I like it!

The photographs here are grainier than usual, as the Contax TVS III has one major flaw – you cannot set ISO, it only adjust ISO for DX coded Film, and for non-DX coded Film it defaults to ISO 100. So the CR200 was unfortunately shot nat ISO 100 then developed at ISO 200 (as silly me forgot to tell the Lab).

The Top series of Photographs are shot at 100 developed at 200 Contax TVS III shots.

Compare to the bottom 4 shots which are shot and developed at ISO 200 on my Yashica 230 AF camera.

The CR200@200 looks smoother by far.

Llansteffan Caste, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Contax TVS III Rollei CR200 @ ISO 100 Developed @ ISO 200


Llansteffan Caste, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Contax TVS III Rollei CR200 @ ISO 100 Developed @ ISO 200


Llansteffan Caste, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Contax TVS III Rollei CR200 @ ISO 100 Developed @ ISO 200


Llansteffan Caste, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Contax TVS III Rollei CR200 @ ISO 100 Developed @ ISO 200


Caerleon Wales, Contax TVS III Rollei CR200 @ ISO 100 Developed @ ISO 200


Caerleon Wales, Contax TVS III Rollei CR200 @ ISO 100 Developed @ ISO 200


Epping Forest, Essex. Autumn 2012, Yashica 230 AF Rollei CR200 @ ISO 200.


Epping Forest, Essex. Autumn 2012, Yashica 230 AF Rollei CR200 @ ISO 200.


Epping Forest, Essex. Autumn 2012, Yashica 230 AF Rollei CR200 @ ISO 200.


Epping Forest, Essex. Autumn 2012, Yashica 230 AF Rollei CR200 @ ISO 200.


Rollei Retro 80s

Now Rollei retro 80s is a wonderful Film. It has gorgeous deep blacks, tonal range and highlights. And has a red sensitivity which is enhanced by a Red or yellow Filter.

If you like the Noir-ish look, then you’ll love this.

(For MF 6×6 shots with this film see

I had to shoot and dev at 100 ISO on the Contax TVS III as it is a non-DX coded Film, but I was very pleased with the results.

(Developed in Agfa Rodinal to Max Marinucci’s specifications and thanks to Max Marinucci for help and tips with printing Rollei Retro 80s on multi grade paper – prints beautifully!)

And taken without a Filter, as The Contax TVS III lacks a Filter thread.

ME! Osterley park, taken by The Missus. Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Osterley, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Osterley, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Osterley, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Caerleon, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.



Caerleon, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Caerleon, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Caerleon, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.


Caerleon, Rollei Retro 80s. Contax TVS III. Rodinal.



  1. Ibraar
    Thanks for sharig this with us, Contax made nany lovely cameras I remember my Dad buying the 167 SLR which was a very solid camera with a built in motor drive. Lovely camera.


  2. I a Contax point and shoot. It had a fixed 35mm F2.8 lens. I forgot the model. It took excellent pictures. But the camera was just too small for my hands. I know it had a uv filter and lens shade.

      • Cheers Ib, and thanks for the trip though the Contax time portal. That film is nuts–in a good way!

        The 35/2.8 compact in question is the T3, which performs a bit better (sharp as a tack and great color and contrast) than the TVSIII but lacks the zoom (have one copy of each). The earlier T1 and T2 models have 28mm lenses.

        Just dug them out to double-check my memory and dang, there’s film to finish in both.

        • Rick, the T2 has a 38mm f2.8 lens and the T3 as you mentioned has a 35mm. Both have sharper faster lenses than the TVS, the T3 as you said is sharper – slightly, than the T2.
          I sold my T2 as I found the 38mm focal length neither here nor there, as I prefer a standard length (preferably 45mm) or wide.
          But it was a lovely camera, fast with a huge bright finder one would expect on an SLR

  3. Great once again Ibraar to remind us. I just wonder why the Sony Rx1 is £2400 while the fantastic Contax T2 ( the last film camera I had before going digital – ok I had larger film cameras as well later) was under a quarter of the price and a revamped T2 would have been the ideal square frame digital camera). You also reminded me of the Newport area, Where I did my masters in documentary photography 10 years ago.

    I think it is always important to remember where photography has come from and not to forsake old technology in the rush for non permanent photographs that often are never printed or seen outside the rear screen monitor or computer screen. But, and more important, understanding film photography encourages more care in making images, in understanding light, exposure, colour, and the nuances of types of film (yes my Om-d does that, and the Fuji will almost replicate some of their great film stock). But a challenge in the digital age to have 100% keepers. The head of my photographic school in the 70s would arrive on site (heavy industrial photography) having had electricians there installing his lighting for 2 days, and take two photographs, one to process and the second in reserve to adjust processing by water bath, or push / pull if necessary. (Colour no!). I suppose the equilivant today would be setting up an Alpa and 80mb back, and just taking two images…. Are photographers that confident now?

    • I don’t think confidence plays a part any more – I’ve seen photographers at events clicking away like there’s no tomorrow – knowing that they can then choose their best shot later on.
      This also leads to sloppiness and laziness.
      Also there seems to have been something lost in translation. Film photography and photographers are very different to their Digital kindred. The two have now diverged and are different fields now requiring different abilities and approach. If you approach Film photography, especially with larger formats, as you would Digital – you’ll lose and give up in frustration with the belief that Film photography is rubbish and inferior. The darkroom has become almost like being in a painters studio – so very different from sitting using Aperture or Photoshop – sure the fact that I use this Website and others online means I have to use a Computer and digital methods is more a case of needs must rather than the art or methods.

      • I actually think it would behoove most modern day photographers to learn to shoot digital as if it were film… ( Hey slow down sonny!, you only have 36 exposures for today – don’t waste them…)

  4. Rollei Retro 80S is a fantastic film. Expose at iso 50 and develop with Rollei RLS and it’s almost as fined grained as Techpan – but with much better tonality.

  5. The B&W photos look great. The colour ones look very green, at least on my monitor.

    Best regards

    • Huss quite right the Agfa RSX Rollei CR has a very warm yellow cast or tinge which is more apparent if it’s pushed. I quite like it and use it for creative affect but it’s a matter of taste.

  6. Beautiful pictures and camera – thanks 🙂 What is most strange is that today I received a brand new old stock Contax TVS III from Japan – can’t wait to use it! I have had a T2 and original TVS before but never the this model. Cheers Paul

    • 🙂 Excellent! As I said, the pleasure is more in the way it feels and looks and of owning it and of course the lens and results. As a camera it isn’t Great.

      • True, my first love was and still is my Konica Hexar AF, even that is not perfect with its 1/250 max shutter speed but it still more fun to use than any other camera I have owned and loaded with something like Ektar 100 gives stunning results.

  7. Great photos – lots of nostalgic feeling (for me anyway). I used to work for Yashica in the early 1980’s and I remember when we introduced the Contax T series. It was/is a really fun camera – truly pocketable. Back in those days when Kyocera acquired Yashica they breathed some new life into the Yashica brand and developed (no pun) the Contax marque as well, but it wasn’t to last. It’s really nice to see you having fun with some great cameras !!

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