This Old Camera Part 3: Contax 137 MA Quartz – Photo Update

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My first post about the Contax 137 MA Quartz was a leap of faith.

Faith in the Contax name. This is my fourth (35mm) Contax and each has been rock solid.

Faith in bargain grade. Have purchased many an item bargain grade from KEH and each has been rock solid.

My second post was about the new covering I put on it. Very happy with that.

Ah. Lenses. Purchased the excellent normal Contax Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm <inhales> f/1.7 with the camera.

Then added 2 more lenses. Both are worthy of posts themselves. For their value and stellar image quality.

Portrait. Second up is one of the sister Yashica lenses of the C/Y Contax Yashica shared mount family. The Yashica C/Y 135mm f/2.8. And it is an all metal, hood included piece of wonderfulness. And $72. Sold! I have paid much more for lenses not near as good as this one.

Wide. Third up is a lens so cheap ($34 with caps and bag) I could not resist it even though I had not heard of the brand before (Since then I was schooled that this was a good third party lens back in the day by Dennis at Southeastern Camera.). The Soligor 28mm f/2.5. Pleasantly surprised when this arrived. Stellar build that pictures can not fully convey. Aesthetically I have not seen or owned a better looking or constructed lens. Image performance is strong also.

I am happy to report all of these lenses work perfectly with the camera.

Already covered functionality and other topics in my initial post. Awesome across the board.

So… Photo quality. Stellar regardless of lens, film, or conditions. Metering was spot on. And condition wise there was not a light leak to be found. In a word, it performed flawlessly. Great detail. Great colors. Just all around great. This camera has knocked quite a few cameras in my collection off of their pedestal. Some cameras are already moving on. Oh. Also picked up a TLA 280 TTL flash for $23. To sum up, regardless of price this is one of the best manual focus camera systems I have ever used. Well done Contax.

What makes this amazing to me is that I have paid more for camera bodies alone, that are no better, than I have paid for everything in this system. Let’s recap.

  • Contax 137 MA Quartz: $53
  • Replacement Black Lizard Print Skin: $18
  • Contax Carl Zeiss Planar Zeiss 50mm f/1.7: $133
  • Contax TLA 280 TTL Flash: $23
  • Yashica 135mm f/2.8: $72
  • Soligor 28mm f/2.5: $34

Grand total: $333

For everything. And to recap I have no 35mm camera that feels better in hand, that is built better, that takes better images, or that even looks better… $333 for everything. Again, well done Contax and depreciation.

Here is an ongoing gallery of images taken with this camera.

Happy shooting.


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