"How would you compare the Minilux Zoom to the Contax TVS III in terms of lens quality, handling, etc?"
I wrote some comments about the TVS III in the Contax Forum (
My experience with both cameras are the following:
Handling is better with the Contax TVS III. The viewfinder is by far easier to see through for composing the image and you get real information in the viewfinder, not only a red and a green light.
The TVS III is also smaller then the Minilux. lighter and looks IMO better. But this is a personal taste. The design of the Minilux and Minilux Zoom is as sexy as my toaster. It is just a shoe box.
From the handling perspective, the most important point is the inflexibility of the Minilux Zoom to change aperture etc. This is downgrading the Minilux Zoom to a simple "have fun" camera with a very good lens. But for this it is too expensive. For serious shooting you need the option to change settings. And a better viewfinder for composing.
Lenses of the TVS III and Minilux Zoom are very similar. The Leica is 0.5 steps underexposing by default. This is by purpose for slides. If you do the same correction with the TVS III, it is very hard to see any differences.
The Leica goes from 35-70, which is easier to design and has therefore less vignetting at 35mm then the TVS III. The Contax goes from 30-60 in a smaller body, which makes it more difficult to design. Therefore at 30mm strong Vignetting. But if there is no more space to step back, a 30mm with vignetting is better then no picture at all.
Vignetting also depends on the film you are using. With Fuji Velvia you will see more Vignetting then with Sensia 100 or 400.
TVS III has less lens flare then the Minilux Zoom.
I personally prefer the TVS III, because I can decide about manual corrections and the better viewfinder. Outfit is also a point, but this is not objective.
Wait a few months, I am pretty sure thet Leica will come out with some new models soon. They have to respond to the Contax T3 to avoid falling sales numbers.
My dream would be a mixture of T3 and Minilux with an excellent standard lens of 45 or 50/2.0, manually to use/aperture priority, flash adapter like the T3, costum functions like the T3, filter adapters like the T3, size maximum like the TVS III, viewfinder like the T3 or TVS III. etc.