Recent findings on analog compact cameras

Although cultivating a certain fascination for analog compact cameras and the look of Kodak Portra film I found these amazing little machines not too useful for street photography. They simply lack the speed I am used to working with my Leica rangefinder. I continued using them nonetheless, I felt there’s something about them I couldn’t really put my finger on. Until I fetched the last few rolls from my local photo lab. There are some rather useful portraits on these rolls I think and I will tell you the stories behind the pictures here, which leads to insights on what I can put these cameras in good use for.


Hans – Berlin, Germany, 2014


I met Hans Malm attending a workshop with Alex Webb earlier this year in Stockholm. When I asked him online for a copy of his latest book I gladly accepted the personal delivery option – meeting for a coffee when he was in town for the European Photo Month in Berlin. We had an inspiring chat, showed each other some recent work & I saw a scene evolving. I could have grabbed for my M9, but pulled the Contax T3 from my jacket’s pocket to capture the moment above. Then we continued the conversation.


Christian – Hamburg, Germany, 2014

Walking through Hamburg’s St. Georg district after the Open Show Hamburg photo event, I was looking for a nightly street scene to evolve in this quarter I hardly ever visit. That didn’t happen, instead I was rather surprised to meet Christian there, a fellow hanseatic web worker. When having a chat the energy of him versus the background felt rather right. So I waved the little T3 around, asked for a quick portrait session and Christian agreed to invest the 30 seconds. Three kodak moments later we continued to chat and then our ways departed again into the night.

Rin – Berlin, Germany, 2014

Having lunch or conversations in general with me can be a little challenging since I tend to get distracted from time to time by photographic opportunities. In this case I saw details in the background that just had to be used for a portrait. Again, my M9 was with me here but the T3 felt to be less disturbing in a way if that makes any sense.

I’d sum it’s magic up like this: the analog compact is just a little less intrusive than the Leica I use. I agree with you, this is a bit of a decadent argument – a camera that is even less intrusive than a Leica body with an old Summicron 35 attached. But this is the explanation I have for the little Contax being such a great companion when it comes to portraying my peers. The smaller form factor and the fact that you can’t show the picture immediately. The conversation does not get interrupted by either an intimidating big camera or showing the pictures right away. The real reason isn’t too important I guess, I really enjoy the personal portraits and the way this camera genre helps me achieving them.

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