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Contax TVSD vs S50


Well-Known Member
I was inspired by Marc's recent street shooting experiment with the Leica M, TVSD and Canon G5. I had a bit of spare time today and did a similar comparison. I had taken a tripod and shot some flower pictures with both the TVSD and S50. ISO speed was set at 80 and 50 for TVSD and S50 respectively. Both were shot with aperture priority setting and at similar f/stops. Neither flash nor exposure compensation was activated. White balance was set to auto for both cameras.

The only adjustment I did in Photoshop was some level, contrast and color adjustments before resizing. There are four comparisons altogether and I deliberately hid which pictures were taken by what cameras. Let's have some fun and try identify the relationship and I would be very interested in hearing your comments on the picture qualities. Which of each comparison do you think is the winner? The pictures are posted at
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Once I have gathered enough feedbacks I will release the results. Have fun!



> Thank you Ken for the interesting comparison.

Let me throw in my 2 cents.

My preference :

A2 > A1 B1> B2 C1> C2 D2> D1

The B2 was taken with the S50 'cause i cheated and saw the TVSD in the background. : ) I doubt anyone will buy 2 TVSD!!

My guess therefore are A1, B1, C1, D2 are taken with the TVSD for they have a similar tone and more 3D looking (except A1).

But i prefer A2 over A1 though!

Thanks again



Well-Known Member
Good observation, Bryan! B2 was in fact shot with the S50.

I wouldn't give out any more information than that yet... Let's see who will be the first one getting all four right.



Active Member
Hi Ken, and sorry not to have answered sooner.

I've been hoping Dirk would do me a courtesy, and I am still wating for that, but you have gone to a lot of trouble here, as well as shown a result which feels interesting.

I would say, Contax TVSD took A2, B1, C1, D2. The more I looked at the photos, the more some differences seem consistent - and perhaps bring understanding of some choices which I think were good on the part of the TVSD designers.

The TVSD is more 'contrasty' in processing, but I think the difference is deeper than tonal character. I think a very important difference for the eye is actually in distinctness of colors. Look at the way the shoes on the floor in the background of A1 and A2 differ, in how clearly you can see them in A2 which I think is TVSD.

Part of the issue in this color clarity I think is that the Canon processing seems to pick up dominant hues in the picture, and then put them into other areas. I think this is something other than a white balance error. Look at the blues picked up into upper left of A1 or C2 (though this may be tricky on window colors). Or compare the white marble wall or again the colors of the shoes and floor on the other side of A1-A2 - again A2 looks much cleaner - on this side of the picture it is avoiding a pink cast instead of blue. Only you can say if it is truer - but I guess it is also.

One more place I think the color trueness works is in that basket holding the flowers in A1-A2. The differentiation of the colors in the TVS version make it seem more 'alive' and real, at least to me. You can take some of the pink out of the local white balance on the S50, but then the basket doesn't look better.

I feel the end result is that TVSD pictures have more clarity due to these clean colors, at the enlargement size for prints (I've been test printing 8x10). The eye is drawn to the variety they show, and sees the fresh picture. I haven't been able to achieve the effect in Photoshop for S50, even though it does show finer detail resolution which in turn can almost never be seen in this size of prints. I think the reason is that this 'stirring' of colors has occurred, and can't be separated back out. I'm guessing it's a combination of that Zeiss T* lens, and the processing both that TVSD avoids it.

Anyway, I think by now that you have made a very good choice in that camera, for when not carrying around a DSLR. I am thinking about what to do ;). Thanks again for continuing to give us ex&les to understand what it offers.

Regards, Narrbl - the name I intended to sign up with, and wish only to appear here


Well-Known Member
Thanks for everybody's inputs. I guess you are all right, A2, B1, C1 & D2 are taken by the TVSD. It is one hell of a tiny little camera and despite its high price, I would agree with other Contax supporters that it is worth every cent.

I have invited some experienced photog friends to participate in this blind test and only one person preferred the S50 shots to TVSD, and he is an absolutely Canon guy, owns the 1Ds which replaced his old 1D, 1V, G2, G3, etc. All in all, although its focusing speed and uploading time are not like its competitor, if one is used to careful composition and is patient enough to think through each of his shots, I think TVSD would be a worthwhile substitute for a much bulkier slr to capture stunning pictures.