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You did not state your specific problem but I have owned both the ST and the Aria. Both are fine 35mm cameras. I recently sold my ST and kept the Aria. My final decision came down to weight. I own a 645 therefore, I had no need for another heavy body. The Aria fills in nicely the gap between my Yashica T4 Contax T2 and 645 (that's just the contax portion of my gear). My only disatisfation with the ST was the loud shutter noise it makes. Could wake the dead : ) just kidding, but it is loud. I find the Aria to be a fantastic light weight street camera. The Aria does not balance as well with heavy, long German lenses as the ST so I try to restrict the Aria to light weight lenses or German made 50mm 1.4 or 85 1.4 but 85 is pushing it. The Aria combined with a light weight lens works best.
Personally, I would not take the Aria into extremely harsh/demanding environments as I do not beleive it as suitable as the ST. But that is just my opinion. For extremely harsh conditions I use a different brand all together. However, since this is a contax discusion I will go no further except to mention that although I would not risk using the Aria in extremely harsh climates I am fairly certain that with proper precautions the Aria would at least survive, although a bit more worse for wear. The ST is, in my opinion, more suitable for demanding environments. I hope this helped.
(I will probably post this in the durability thread as well.)
Recent experience that may be relevant: During a recent cross-country ski outing my Aria fell out of my parka pocket, and I didn't notice for about 5 minutes (it's so light!). I found it lying in the snow, with the shutter release corner buried and the rest of the camera sticking out. I brushed off the snow and got it inside about 10 minutes later. Although the snow was quite wet, I naively didn't think five minutes was enough time to do any damage...and when I turned it on after a little bit of time to dry off, it quickly ran through three frames without having pressed the release (I had it on C). I stopped it by turning back off. This happened each time I turned it on for another 24 hours. By then it had tried out and turning it on only turned it on. Clearly some snow had melted and gotten into the release circuit where it was shorting something or completing a circuit. Clearly there is no seal there. Whether the ST has one, I don't know, but I was frankly shocked at the apparent fragility of the Aria, which I otherwise love, in this case.
heh (now I see,I putm my question in wrong topic -contax RXII). S happens
Thanks a lot, for your opinions. I've heard, about sound of ST's shutter (like John Deere's farmer tractors). I'ts no poroblem. Generally, I prefer heavier bodys but mayby it's time to try another category. The thing, which I'm afraid a lot is "fragility" of the Aria body's, especially electronics parts (My 139Q is pretty old and not so complicated- but absolutelly unfailing). I come from Poland - there's no contax serice as good as in States or Western Europe. So, do you think, is the aria more damaged than ST or another contax bodies ?
you come from Poland and you are afraid about Contax service in Poland in case of Aria failure. When I purchased my Aria in November last year, our Kyocera agent informed me, that in case of Aria failure he does not send the body to Japan for service, but rather tranfer it to Austria to the regional Contax repair service (he said, it's very good) by car. So, in case of any failure, you can use this sevice insead of sending Aria to Japan or USA, maybe you can even do the same like our Kyocera agent. (I came from Czech Republic).
PS: Aria is great small camera, I hope I will also have some chance to hold RX/RXII.
PPS: AFAIK this Contax service in Austia should be in Wien, but its better to check this somewhere...
you wrote: ``Aria has a light plastic body.''. FYI: before my Aria purchase last year I was also afraid about various such comments on the inet forums/contaxinfo.com, but when Aria first arived, I've found my mistake (of afraid), since the body itself is very solid and it weights nearly as my old Zenit 11/12XP whole metals russian cameras. I would recommend you to read Dirk's review of this camera.
I have had 139q and 159mm, (and 137ma, 167mt, RTS RTS2 and s2b), and now I have an Aria, and the Aria in my opinion the most versatile of them all. As far as robustness, I have no concern with my recommandation of this body. Its light, easy to use and works smooth in all conditions.
I think its very Contax in the way it works.
It might have a problem with the heaviest of lenses, but I have used it with 80-200 with no problems, you just carry the lens with your left hand and the camera with the right.
I can recommend the danish repairman as trusty, orderly and cheap.
I like the Aria so much that I have two of them. It is my primary travel kit. The only niggle I have about the Aria is that the black finish is easily marred. I am extremely careful with equipment, yet I've had to use touch-up paint on both bodies to cover small areas where the finish has simply rubbed off or come off from casual contact with something or other. I sure wish the Aria came in a chrome (real chrome plating) version.
in my opinion the ST is one of the best cameras ever built by Contax. It is a rock-solid camera which was designed for professional use, while the Aria can be regarded as an amateur-camera. Compared to the Aria or the RX/RXII an ST offers top shutter speed to 1/6000 second and flash sync at 1/200 second, a ceramic pressure plate and the possibility to attach the battery holder p-7, which allows the use of AA-size batteries and which has a second shutter release for vertical control shooting. Nowadays you can get a used ST at quite a low price and much cheaper than a new Aria, so I think it is a much better choice, unless you are looking for a very light camera.
Thanks for all opinion.
I'was nearly sure .... aria, but I've red the last post (Georg), and still got problem. It's like a Polish story about donkey, who had two containers: one with a grain, second with a fresh grass. He wasn't able do decide what to eat, so he died beeing hungry. Still waiting for your advices.
For Georg - when I was looking for prices of these two bodies, I haven't noticed big diference between prices of aria and st. Mayby I have to try once again.
I don't have either camera, so this is just for the sake of discussion. My own tendency would be to buy a camera that is currently in production (the Aria), as opposed to one that has been discontinued (the ST).
Depending on where you buy it, a used Aria is much cheaper ($339 vs $616, today, both "Excellent" in one of the premier 2nd-hand dealers in the US-- I don't have any idea what the prices in Europe are). The prices for servicing the cameras (again in America) (according to the Kyocera website) are also different: $175 the ST, $155 the Aria.
Buying without a warranty is always somewhat risky. Considering the excellent reputation of the Aria, I would definitely choose it. And, if one starts talking about accessories, I think the databack for the Aria is excellent, and allows you to record all the technical information of the picture. I would like to have that!
A handy chart comparing Contax cameras can be found at:
I am tending to agree with most people here; the Aria is a fragile camera and not as tough as the other Contax branded bodies. I do not know why this is the case but mine body's shutter speed circuit shorted just after a few months of owning it. I have not had this type of problem with 139Q or RTS II. It is a good camera and it really depends a lot on luck AND how much you will actually be using it. I wouldn't suggest it, if you are a full time photographer pulling perhaps 5-10 rolls per job.
corben_dallas, sorry for making your decision more difficult, but when I read all those contributions in favour of the Aria, I had to give a statement for the ST. I think comparing the Aria to the ST is a little critical, because it means comparing cameras which play in different leagues. Both cameras are excellent, but one of them is made for heavy duty, the other one is not. Before I bought my second hand ST I owned a 167 MT, the Aria's predecessor. I did not like the push button controls of the 167, so I had a look at the Aria. Both of them are entry level cameras (that's the way Contax called it, I think), nevertheless their built quality seems to me better than that of many semi-pro cameras of other manufacturers. I would have bought the Aria, but then I had the opportunity to lay my hands on an ST, and it feels and sounds much better! Maybe the additional strength, built quality and reliability is not necessary for everybody, for me it was and still is very important.
Concerning the Aria's databack: every ST has a databack which can record date and time between the frames. If that is not enough you can get a databack which can imprint text and other data and which you can use for timed exposures.
The ceramic pressure plate serves the same main purposes as the one in the RTS III: precision and durability. This pressure plate can not corrode and can not easily be scratched.
By the way: before I bought the ST I called Contax/Yashica Customer Service in Germany and asked if and how long they could service and repair it. For many, many years, they told me ...
Having said this in favour of the ST I must repeat that both the Aria and the ST are excellent cameras, you will not make a mistake, whatever you decide!
"the Aria is a fragile camera and not as tough as the other Contax branded bodies."
Though you obviously had an issue with your Aria, I still don't believe the Aria a "fragile" camera. I have not heard anyone else claim this. I have had one for years, and would not call it fragile at all. I've also had no problems with it. Does anyone else have any Aria "fragile" related problems? There is an issue I've heard about the matrix meter and that a few people have had an electrical problem (which removing the batteries to reset solves in most cases, as the camera has an Electro Static Discharge protection circuit that needs to be reset)...but neither of those has to do with it being "fragile".
Now, I wouldn't drive nails with it, and I would with my RTS-III...
the databack is called "D-7". It can also be used with the 167 MT.
I like the Boxter very much, but I would prefer the 911 Turbo or Carrera if money did not matter. Maybe we should go on in the Porsche Forum, unfortunately I cannot afford any Porsche at all;-)
Even if you don't use it as a hammer, the number of complaints about the Aria is greater than average, certainly greater than one may expect from such an expensive body. Even if some problems may be fixed (well, for the time being), this in itself makes Aria a potentially unreliable thing.
Those who were not so lucky to own an Aria that works, cannot be expected to sing its praise - or can they?
"the number of complaints about the Aria is greater than average, certainly greater than one may expect from such an expensive body."
What complaints? The only ones I've heard are the matrix metering is "off", which may simply be a use issue, and that some people have tripped the ESD protection circuit, which is clearly stated in the manual that this may happen, and that the solution is to remove and replace the batteries. So, I'm not quite sure what complaints you are referring to. Would you mind stating them?