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Contax NX vs Contax Aria G2


Active Member
As I mentioned in another thread, I'm considering buying an Aria. But the Kyocera website says there is a promo on NX that would get me a brand new NX and Lens for $699.

It's hard to choose between autofocus and manual focus. I have handled an Aria, and it felt very comfortable in my hands. I was in the camera store, taking shots with a 35-70 zoom. It was nice enough. Then I asked the guy to mount a 50mm prime on it, and.. WOW! It was as if the VF came alive.. things just snapped into focus, and that's when I began to really want the camera.

I never looked an an NX, or any Contax autofocus SLR. How do they compare with the Aria in terms of weight, eye relief, and general feel? How does the SLR autofocus compare to the G2? (BTW, for the shooting I do, the G2 works fine, so that's my yardstick).

To get a feel for AF SLR, I've been shooting with a friend's Canon EOS. When focusing, it feels less sure than my G2. It seems to fail to lock focus more often than the G2. Also, when it fails to lock, it takes a long time to fail, whereas the G2 seems to know immediately that there's a problem. OTOH, if the G2 thinks it has achieved focus, there's no way to check.. you just have to trust it. If the EOS makes a mistake, you can see it in the VF, and correct it before taking the pic. That's about the only reason I can think of to go with AF/SLR, and it's not much of a reason.

Also, (with NX) how does manual focus assist work? Is there a focus ring on the AF lenses?

Thanks, and sorry for jumbling up these questions. I guess I'm trying to figure out what I really want. I don't need any more cameras.. I probably should never have gone into the store and picked up the Aria in the first place.



I don't have an Aria, but I have an NX, a G2 and the older Contax MF 167MT. I can tell you my personal experience.

If you like handling the Aria very much, don't go for the NX before holding one. It is quite big, and 95g heavier than the Aria (20%). The AF lenses are big. The selection of primes is limited. The batteries die quickly (you can download the .pdf manual from Kyocera's website to read the ugly details).

However: the 28-80 is excellent (endless discussion comparing it to the 24-85, sure, whatever) and the current price of the combo is $649 from the big stores in NYC (and 629 from a Contax dealer on eBay).

Regarding AF, I have used the G2 and the NX side by side (the VS 70-300 on the NX and the Biogon 21 mm on the G2) and I find the AF indistinguishable. People say Canon AF is significantly better, but I have no experience.

There is a focus ring on the AF lenses, but in the case of the 28-80 you have to flip a switch on the lens between autofocus, manual focus and macro. Some of the other lenses are AF/MF hybrids all the time, without switch flipping.

A big advantage of the MF C/Y is that 2nd hand lenses are affordable. I have never read anything bad about the Aria (except some complaints about the matrix metering, that I echoed regarding the NX's).

I think the main reason to choose the NX (besides the tempting offer) is if you prefer AF (now that the AX is not in production) and want to get into the N system, which is "officialy" the future of Contax. If you like zoom lenses, the 17-35 does not exist in C/Y, and the other two (24-85 and 70-300) are cheaper (if bought new) than the older manual equivalent lenses.That was my reason in 2002.

Good luck with your choice!



My opinion is based on my experience with G1, N1, and NX. For Y/C, I have used ST but not Aria. For other AF cameras, I've used Minoltas.

First of all, the AF performance of N cameras (N1 and NX) are fine for most occassions that may call for AF. It also has everything a MF camera would want, and the feel of N lenses is superb, both its focus ring and apeture ring. The only potential issue with NX is that it has a fixed matte screen and has no spilt. But it is bright enough that I have had no problem doing MF with it, provided that the viewfinder is correctly diopter adjusted.

NX's MF assist is a bright red light in the central focus area that comes on when you have achieved focus, just as the camera would show when it achieves focus using AF.

I personally think NX is a better camera than Aria in terms of features and ergonomics, but it's just one man's highly biased opinion.
Especially handy when you use fill flash a lot like myself.

My final piece of advice is that, if you don't think you need another camera, you probably don't.


Hi Neil,

As they might say in the South, that's a whole passel of questions you've got there!

I more or less backed into investing in the N system, getting an N1 and the Makro Sonnar instead of adding the 100mm Makro Planar to my C/Y system (camera+lens for little more than what just the other lens cost given the rebates at the time). In short, it was the lens and not the auto focus system that snagged me. I added the 70-200 VS as a second lens.

I've not handled the NX, but the N1 seems twice the size of the Aria in my hands--it's a BIG camera. Fortunately it's well designed and comfortable, but carrying and shooting it is a completely different experience (although many control locations will be familiar to all Contax users). AF with the M-S 100 seems slower than the G2, and hunts more when shooting very close, but of course the G's minimum focus distance of .5m has an easier task. The 5-point system is brilliant in its own way, and vastly more flexible than the G's single focus spot (you don't have to lock focus and recompose when your subject is off-center).

As you point out, you have no easy way of knowing if the G has a bad focus lock, while an SLR shows you at all times. I've learned to work with the G's quirks, and find the lens quality too good to pass up. I use the G for all my WA shooting.

All N lenses have focus rings, most have A/M switches that disengage the motor and free up the focus action. Focus is fast with the N 70-200, but fairly slow with the M-S which doesn't have an ultrasonic motor. Manual focus is fast and easy with the zoom, less so with the macro. The N's viewfinder is very bright; I'd love to see it with the 85 1.4. Eye relief seems good, which is important given all the viewfinder data displated.

The Aria is an easy camera to use for anyone with C/Y system experience. I think of it as a cousin to the 139Q with about ten times the number of features. You can pick it up and use it w/o reading the manual, something that's not possible with the N1. On the Aria, I prefer the grid focusing screen to the standard split image one.

There's no theme I can find in my response here. If I were forced to choose ONE Contax system, it would be the G. I simply love using it and seeing the results. But tele and macro work require an SLR, so the choice becomes C/Y or N system. If, like me, you already have C/Y gear, it's tough to jump ship, but the combination of the N1 and Makro Sonnar is a great one, and doesn't overlap with my other gear. I still use the C/Y gear as well.

So many choices, so little time.



Note to Neil Baylis...If you decide to go for the NX then you might want to check out Tristate in NY (
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) where I bought an NX + Zeiss N 28-80 combination for $599+tax (none if you're outside NY) in Nov '03. I love the NX by the way, controls are really well-laid out and intuitive and Zeiss optics excellent of course. Good luck which ever way you go! Yuske


Active Member
> Thanks Rick, and everyone else for your informative replies. Rick, you compared the Aria to a 139Q. I've never seen one of those either, but note that KEH has them listed at god prices. I don't really need the power winder of the Aria, so for me the choice between these two would come down to: 1) VF Clarity / eye relief. 2) How it feels in the hand. 3) accuracy of the meter -- Aria has a more sophisticated meter.

Taylor - of course, you're right about not needing any of these. It's not about need or practicality at all. I just like using different cameras. I'm a lowly amateur who likes to experiment and take pictures for my photoblog. I have a bunch of equipment that no longer gets used at all, including lenses for cameras I don't even own any more. I might as well sell this stuff and replace it with some other stuff of interest. The total amount of stuff must remain constant, you see ;-)

Re: NX. I just finished some more shooting with my friend's Canon EOS. I'm going to return it to him today. It was an interesting experiment, and it seems to be a nice enough camera. For me though, it's too big, and too plasticky. It also seems too complicated, with all kinds of modes and controls that do more than one thing. If I owned this camera, I would probably leave it set on P all the time. Normally, I would use Aperture priority, but this camera has no aperture ring - you have to adjust it by turning a knob on the front, like the G2 focus knob. Anyway, I don't think AF/SLR is for me.. too big and complicated and non-intuitive. So now I'm thinking Aria, or 139Q. If I went for any model later than 139Q, it would be the Aria.

How are these 139Qs holding up these days? Anyone have experience with 139Q and Aria? Is the 139 easily repairable?

Thanks again for everyone's help.



Hi Neil,

Just before you move away from the AF route, may I ask what type of photography you are into?

I have both the Aria and the NX, but I use them for different things. If you asked me which was the better handling, I would say the Aria. However, if you asked me between the Aria and the N1, then I couldn't say as they both provide different sensations!!

I use the NX because I tend to use the fill-in flash a lot - and I find it faster to use because of the auto focus. However, I use the Aria when I'm travelling - and I, personally, have never come across a better camera for that (having used Nikons, Voightlanders and Leica). Also, do you use glasses - I find it marginally easier to view through the NX when wearing my glasses.

The issue of aperture rings on the body as opposed to on the lenses really bugs me, but the N lenses do have aperture rings!!

If I had to choose one, I would go for the Aria as I have never found a better handling manual camera, whereas the NX is pretty much like most AF cameras. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

Cheers, Saras


Well-Known Member
Dear Neil,
I had a 139Q years ago and it was an excellent camera. I traded it when I mistakenly sold all my Contax gear to go medium format and then misssed it so much that I had to build it all up again...
At that time, years ago however, Kyocera told me that they could not repair a problem with the flash - I cannot remember exactly what it was - as there were no longer the parts to do it. Presumably the position would be worse now.


"Is the 139 easily repairable?"

I have a 139 which I inherited. It is about 20 years old. Four years ago I caught the strap on a shop counter and it landed on a concrete floor and stopped working with the mirror jammed half way. As it had been my father's I didn't throw it out. Late last year I took it out of the old camera bag and the mirror had returned to its rightful place. I took it for repair which cost me 39 GBP (including seal replacement and leatherette re-covering) and it's as good as new. I have other bodies (RTS and 167MT) but I have small hands and this one is still my favourite.

The short answer then is that I have had no bother at all in getting the 139 repaired economically.


Active Member
> Saras,

I'm currently doing a photoblog, and take pictures mainly on weekends. I never use flash, and never use any lens longer than 135. My widest is currently 28, though I may go a little wider in the future. My favorite is the 35 on the G2. My photoblog is at
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, if you want to see actual photos. In the past I did different, more formal photography, including a lot of B&W work on a tripod. I sold my Hasselblad and Nikon gear, and bought a G2 and a Minolta CLE and some lenses. I enjoy these cameras much more. I also use a Spotmatic, an Olympus XA2, and an Ikonta. In the past, I also had a Leica M2, which was very nice.

I do wear glasses, but set my G2 so that I can use it without my glasses. I would do the same with the Aria.. I think it has adjustable diopter as well. None of my other cameras have diopter adjustment, so I wear glasses with them. I use the CLE with a 28mm, and it has a beautiful, clear VF. Of course the G2 VF is a little small, but I still like it.

When I go out to photograph, I take one camera, one lens, and one roll of film. This way I find I spend more time taking pictures, and less time messing with equipment. Of course, if I travel, I take more gear, but usually I'm photographing within 10 miles of home.

Thanks for the advice, I'm definitely leaning towards the Aria. I have to go to the store and play with it some more.



Hi Neil,

Just one word of warning - when you go to the store, take your credit card with you, because you will be really tempted once you hold that Aria :)

Good luck.

Rgds, Saras

PS I love the colours you have managed to capture in the pictures on your photoblog!!


Well-Known Member
Hi Neil,

> I would do the same with the Aria.. I think it has adjustable > diopter as well.

The Aria does not, though you could, depending on your prescription, get a diopter for it.




Well-Known Member
Hi Saras,

> I use the NX because I tend to use the fill-in flash a lot

Does the fill flash on the NX work differently than it would on the Aria? I use fill flash on the Aria quite a bit...




Hi Austin,

I guess the Aria would work roughly the same, only I usually don't use an "external" flash with the Aria - for me it is a matter of the physical balance of the camera with the flash; when I'm covering parties, or taking candids of friends, the NX is great for providing a little bit of light when I want it.

When I do use an Aria, I use a small Metz 20BC6 - which is not dedicated - I've found my bigger Metz guns a bit awkward to handle with the Aria.

I would have to say though, and you've probably experienced this, you get excellent results with an external dedicated flash with proper TTL functionality.

Just personal preference I guess - although, working with flash is something I'm looking to master over the next few months!!

Cheers, Saras


Well-Known Member
I just picked up a 139Q. It's a sweet little camera. As to the repairability of these cameras I think it depends on what type of repair is needed. On the Kyocera website the 139 is listed with this disclaimer: "Limited parts supply may affect our ability to repair these units." The 167MT is the oldest SLR they list that does not have this warning.

The eye relief on the 139Q is pretty good. I do wear flexible glasses that allow me to get my eye close in to the eyepiece. The eye relief on the Aria and 167 is a little better but not by leaps and bounds.


For me the Aria and the NX are both ergonomic, light, and fun to use, bright viewfinders, etc., especially as travel cameras. The Aria with a C/Y 18, 25, 28, 35, or 45mm lens is a great light combination. If you like prime lenses get the Aria-at least for wide angles. Otherwise you'd have to put 645 lenses on the NX to get wide angle primes. For me the NX has a little better ergonomics and control placement. I like the front and rear control wheels, and although you have to go through a menu, its really easy to use. Others on this forum have missed having the Aria's "analog" controls. The Aria has the option of a true data back while the NX only has a "date" back. Aria would be better for manual focusing. This is a tough choice. Do you need AF? I don't. But I also have faith that Contax will (eventually) produce more DSLRs, and I assume that they will be based on the "N" mount. So I also bought into the N mount. However, you cant get wide angle primes, fast 35 mm focal length lenses, perspective control lenses, etc. in the N mount currently, but these are available in C/Y mount.