film advanced

thoughts & research into film shooting and processing.

$5 vs $1400 Point and Shoot-Out

Last week I was exploring Wanhua, the old part of Taipei and found a whole lot of street peddlers. One of them was selling this camera, at the bargain price of $200 NTD (About $5US). I bought two AA batteries to test it, it worked, was clean and so I promptly purchased it.

This camera has my favorite kind of operation- point and shoot with a bright flash and f2.8 35mm lens. Everything about this camera is fast- the pop up flash charges in 2 seconds and kicks like a mule, the film drive is continuous and the f2.8 lens means you can shoot in all but the most difficult light. And as one of the cheapest camera’s I have ever bought, it contrasted nicely to Anna’s top of the range Contax T3 (estimated value $1400AUD) in terms of features. It had the same focal length and f stop, so I wanted to see just how the two compared against each other.

I will first post all the comparison images below as full size, and if you want to, you can play a guessing game below:


I will release the results at the bottom of the page in a few weeks when I get some completed quizzes, or find out if I can get updated responses shared through embedding the spreadsheet.

There are also these images that I took which make it pretty obvious which camera they were taken with as you can see the subject holding the ‘opposite camera in their hand, (yeah I only thought of doing this after taking the pictures:

Before I get into discussing these results, I have a disclaimer: this a ballpark comparison, not a scientific test. I didn’t use the same film in both cameras. My Minolta was loaded with Lomography 400 and the Contax had Fuji Color 200 in it. They are however, both consumer grade films, so the difference between them would be minimal, especially since they were both in their use by date and had been refrigerated since purchase. This was mostly about the lens sharpness- the thing that Zeiss lenses are famous for; we are not really looking at the way the colour is rendered or in grain detail.

And judging from that criteria the Contax looks better, but not THAT much better. Perhaps under a higher resolution scan the difference in sharpness might be more apparent, but for my purposes, the Minolta is more than serviceable for large prints. Also, and this might be blasphemous to say, but in just using the cameras I much prefer the Minolta. It’s simpler to use, with a flash that you pop up when you want it and push it down when you don’t - the Contax seems to have a mind of it’s own when it comes to firing the automatic flash. The Contax’s focusing is far slower and also, if I dropped the Minolta on the road (which I already have once) it isn’t a total disaster if it doesn’t survive the fall.

I am planning a follow up comparison with the same film soon when my schedule clears up, and plan on updating this test with a more accurate comparison.  

James Cater