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139Q very Sweet

V

vdipiet

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, in the midst of the digital onslaught and threats that film will soon go the way of the DoDo bird, I have purchased a Contax 139Q for $139.00. It shows a lot of brassing but the leather is intact and it thus far runs like a top -- very smooth. The mirror slap is quieter than my S2. This is one sweet little machine.
 

blumesan

Well-Known Member
Vincent,
Right on. The 139Q is one of the most undervalued cameras in the entire Contax line. They were very well built, run forever if cared for properly, and have practically every feature one could want (except perhaps for mirror lock-up). I believe they were the first model to incorporate OTF metering with Contax TLA flash.

I bought one on e-bay about 2 years ago, complete with a motor drive and a 135mm lens (not CZ) for $119. I bought it as a backup to my Aria, and to tell the truth, I prefer using the 139Q, especially in situations where I don't need the added sophistication of the Aria.

Suggest you check the light seals and mirror bumper as they may well need replacement (an easy do-it-yourself project). And if in need for a new leatherette cover, that too is easy and inexpensive (see e-bay).

Given the ridiculously low asking prices for 139's it does make one wonder if film is really on the way out. Nevertheless, with all the miles on my odometer I think film will still be here long after I'm gone.

Wish you much joy with your "new" Contax.

Cheers,
Mike.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Yes, the 139 is a lovely camera. I wish I had never parted with mine. I had the motorised model too -137MA? but always preferred the 139 and much prefered it to the 167MT I then bought (which incidentally went expensively wrong).
John
 

alexw

Member
It was a 139 that got me into the Contax system. My uncle bought it a lot of years ago and when he died he passed it on to my dad, and when he died I got it (not very lucky, was it?) I used it for a while but the strap caught on a table and it didn't bounce too well. Because of where I got it I decided to keep it and I bought a used 167MT to replace it. A few years later I took the 139 out to have a look and for whatever reason it had fixed itself, worked first time and has been as good as gold since, having had the light seals replaced. A superb little camera.
 
V

vdipiet

Hello men, I really like this camera! It is a nice little package. I once owned the 167mt, but for some reason I never felt comfortable holding it. By the way, I find that the mirror slap on the 139 seems to be better d&ed than on my S2. Not that I am complaining about the S2, it is also a great camera.
 

king

Member
Hi all,

I too, in the mist of the digital wave, have decide to buy a manual focus Contax. I am sure this question has been asked before, so please excuse the request; but your responses would be most helpful.

Could you compare the Aria, RX, and RX II for me. What are the strengthens and weaknesses of each camera. I am mostly a street photographer with some landscape. So speed and noise are key factors.

Kind regards,

Jim
 
V

vdipiet

Hi James, I never owned the RXII and only saw it once. However, I have read about it. I do own and use the RX and Aria. THe RXII, as far as I can tell, is exactly like the RX only it doesn't have the Digital focus indicator. Instead it has a viewfinder that is 20% brighter than the RX. They weigh about the same 28oz. Comparing the RX with the Aria: The RX is larger and heavier than the Aria 16oz and it balances better with the larger Zeiss lenses such as the 35-135 VS Zoom etc. THe RX is all metal construction while the Aria is a hybred of Policarbon(plastic) and metal. Both are great cameras. The RX fits very well in my hand and is very well balanced. The Aria has a brighter viewfinder than the RX. My RX started out as being quieter than the Aria but I think age has had the Aria overtake the RX in this department. The Aria automatically self winds at the end of the roll while you have to press a button and turn a lever to set off the rewind on the RX. The Aria has Spot, center and matrix metering -- the RX has spot and center only. The aria doesn't balance so well with large hefty lenses. I too use these cameras for street photography and I find that in New York City, with all the street noises both cameras are pretty quiet. I use for street the 35 2.8 mm and either the 50 1.4 or 50 1.7 and sometimes the 45 2.8 mm. People are less intimedated when one uses small lenses. If I had to choose between these to magnificent cameras I would be hard put to do so. For a long while I was using the RX exclusively but due to very warm and humid summers in the NYC I bought the Aria for the weight reduction. Both of these cameras exhude quality. Both have now been discontinued but the Aria was the more recently produced camera and parts for it will be around for a few years longer. I purchased both of my cameras (I should say all of my cameras) used. These are some comparisons and I likely have overlooked some others. Good luck in choosing -- really you can't go wrong with either one.
 

mohican

Well-Known Member
James,

Contax Aria is one lean, mean, picture-taking machine
Aria is my one and only body right now and I'm looking for a backup Aria or S2. Or RX II if I can get it at a very good price. For street shooting I think Aria is suited best - it's compact, lightweight, non-intimidating. Closest best thing to Leica M.

I really like the viewfinder - it's big and bright. Makes focusing even in bad lighting conditions relatively easy. The LED readout however is done and placed badly - it's not so easy to see at all times.

Flash is a weakest link (but it is so in practically every Contax camera). It can sync only at 1/125sec which means you will almost always get some ambient light into the picture. It's not so bad if you actually want to do that anyway. It's bad if you really wanted to shoot at 1/200 or faster to eliminate all ambient light.

Operation is very straightforward. Built-in meter is about as accurate as it gets with SLR cameras. If you need better accuracy, you need handheld meter.

Aria won't balance too well with heavy lenses. I have 6 lenses and I consider these to be on the heavy side when used with Aria:
Planar 85mm f/1.4
Sonnar 135mm f/2.8
Distagon 35mm f/1.4

However, I rarely use the Sonnar, so that doesn't bother me. When I use Planar 85mm f/1.4, I mostly do portraits and that sort of thing, so that doesn't bother me again, because I hold my camera in such a way that my left hand supports the lens+camera and my right one operates the meter, shutter and exposure compensation. When I use Distagon 35mm f/1.4, I'm usually doing some landscape photography and use tripod, so that doesn't bother me. When I do street photography with Distagon, I do the same thing as with Planar, so again it doesn't bother me. To sum it up - weight balance is an issue, but only if it bothers you


Most of my pictures are taken with Planar 50mm f/1.4 and with Aria it creates a perfectly balanced package.

It seems that slightly less than 30,000 Contax Arias were made and I think it's more than RX.

One thing I sure would have loved to have on this camera is half-stop shutter speed increments in manual mode. But that would probably make it much more expensive.
 
S

spluff

Hi James,

I would concur with both Vincent and Mike above; they have highlighted the strenghts and weaknesses very well. Just one thing on the RX, because it is larger, I have found that I can hold it steadier than the Aria. Thus, at lower light levels, I tend to have less problems with camera shake.

When I go travelling, I actually take both of these. I couldn't choose between them - they actually do complement each other very well. Depending on your budget you could get both of these on ebay at very reasonable prices now.

Best of luck,

Cheers, Saras
 

wang

Well-Known Member
I use my Aria for photography with flash or tripod. Aria does not do well on its own as it causes considerable vibration when the mirror hits the roof of the chamber. RX has a much lighter mirror and it performs a lot better hand held.
The vibrations created by the mirror of these cameras could be reduced by using better d&ening devices. I change the sponge at the roof of the mirror chamber to small pieces of silicone rubber. I use the transparent one with one sticky and one non-sticky surface. This rubber is used for the treatment of scars. I cut the rubber into small cubes,about 3mmx3mmx3mm. The sticky side will stick the rubber to the roof of the chamber and the non-sticky side is for the contact of the mirror.Altogether I uses two cubes for each camera. Changing the sponge to silicone rubber alone reduces mirror vibration. The rubber provides better d&ening effect than the sponge which is actually quite rigid. This method can be applied to all cameras including N.
I also reduce the weight of the mirror flap in my Aria by ...
 

blumesan

Well-Known Member
Hi Wang,
I am very interested in your comment about replacing the mirror bumper foam with silicone rubber. This surprises me because the silicone rubber I am familiar with is much denser than open cell foam. I have replaced the mirror bumpers on a couple of cameras with the foam strips that come with light seal kits (such as available on e-bay). This foam is very soft and readily compressible. Where did you find this silicone rubber that you are using?

Also you left us hanging with your final sentence about reducing the weight of the mirror flap. Details please.

Thanks,
Mike
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Let me explain the use of silicone rubber in reducing the vibration created by the impact of the mirror flap. The transparent rubber I use is called Cica-care manufactured by Smith and Nephew at Hull in England. If you remove the white plastic sheet with red imprints,you could stick this sheet on scar. It effectively reduces the redness and the size of the scar. It is available pharmacies in Hong Kong and UK. Since it is so common to treat scar in this way,this kind of products could be easily obtained at drug stores in other countries. It is a large sheet and you could cut it to whatever size you like. It has two surfaces with one sticky and non-sticky side. The sticky side is uncovered when you remove the plastic white sheet.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
You could cut this sheet into small cubes with 6 surfaces. It will have 5 sticky sides and one non-sticky side,this is because the surfaces created by cutting are sticky too. You can stick it to the roof of the mirror chamber as in the diagram. The non-sticky surface is responsilbe for the contact to the mirror.The body showed is an RX. Photo taken by 50mm 2.5 Canon lens on a 10D at f4 1:1 magnification. Apart from the cropping factor of the camera body, the image is not cropped.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Here is another image of the rubber cube from Makro-Planar 100 2.8 on a 10D f4 magnification 1:1. Again the image is not cropped.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
This time the RX is put on B-mode with the mirror flap lifted up on its own when the button is pressed. You can see the collapse of the silicone cube,it absords considerable energy from the impact of the mirror flaps. The problem of the sponge provided by the manufacturer is that it does not collapse enough to receive the impact.You can see this in your own camera/cameras.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Two cubes of silicone can last for rolls of film. I have tried the silicone with longer lengths,but the absorption of impact is not as good as the length I showed on the photos.
The use of silicone in the way I showed in the photos reduces vibrations more effectively than the sponge provided by the manufacturers. I have been using the B mode to test this and the mirror impact is less noisy and creats less vibrations. The length of silicone use is also an important determinant of the impact absorption.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Thanks Wang for that explanation together with the excellent graphic photographs illustrating the procedure. I may give it a go.
John
 

blumesan

Well-Known Member
Yes, thank you Wang for the explanation and the very good illustrations. I can't wait to hear about reducing weight of mirror.
Mike.
 
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