Contax 137 MA Quartz

Believe it or not, this was a junk find. A seller in Japan was selling it for junk as the skin had disintegrated and there was a dent on the bottom. Apart from that, they said it worked fine. So I got it for less than £8 plus postage. Then the fun started. I knew what I wanted to do with it so I ordered the covering material which arrived in a few days. But the camera took well over a month to arrive. A few days after I ordered it there was a massive typhoon in Japan which damaged Kyoto airport, and where was my camera…at Kyoto airport according to the tracking information. And there it stayed. I was just about to give up all hope when new tracking information arrived. But what state would the camera arrive in? Did it get damaged in the typhoon? Well, the package was perfect. Inside was this camera. It came without a lens, but I put one on from another camera to test the viewfinder and operations.

Actually, I almost forgot to take photos before I got stuck in recovering it. These were taken with my phone when it arrived. And the covering? Japanese stamps!!

This is what it looked like once I had finished.

The strap was made in Okinawa and was a gift from a friend when I left Japan. I also put on a lens hood. Even if the camera didn’t work, and I hoped it did, I already loved it.

The camera was produced from 1982 for around 5 years. You can find all the technical details you like on this website. I left the camera on automatic for my test shots, but you do have the options of full manual, aperture, and shutter priority modes. I found the camera very easy to use and quite responsive. It was sturdy without being so heavy that it became uncomfortable. The strap helped with that. The length of the strap meant I could move the position of the camera over my shoulder like a bag.

I put in a roll of Street Candy with the original thin film base. I developed it by adding a leader, in ilfosol3 using the same process times as I would use for Ilford HP5+. I still found it difficult to thread it on the holder though.

I tried the camera around my house as it was raining quite heavily. Once it had died down a bit I went for a walk. Here are my results:

I was really impressed with the camera and film. I spent a little more time post-processing these photos using Snapseed on my iPad. I don’t usually alter film photos in this way, but why not? It is just another form of photography I suppose.

I think this might be the subject for my next zine.

In my film pile, I had a very expired E6 film. I didn’t trust it for anything I cared about so I put it in this camera and wandered around Leeds. I was right about the film, the photos came back in a terrible state. I used Preview to change them to black and white, then increased the contrast. In the end, they came out ok. I just love this camera.


Keep or Sell: This is by far my favourite camera. As I am reducing my collection it has persuaded me to sell nearly all the other SLRs I have and stick with Contax. Yeap, I love it more than my Olympus cameras due to the lenses.  This other reviewer came to the same conclusion.


19 thoughts on “Contax 137 MA Quartz

    1. windswept007 says:

      I have this and the 167, both are great. The glass only enhances the experience. I sold my NX due to the fact the lens only fit that camera, but I am not selling the Yashica/Contax fit SLRs.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. mellonicoley says:

    what a great find! and the Japanese stamps really give it extra character. love the photos you got with it as well


  2. Toby says:

    Must admit over the years I have been tempted by Contax from what I have heard of both cameras and glass. Now I guess I am just afraid I’ll not be able to replace my favourite K-mount glass cost effectively like for like. Principally 20mm f4, 35mm f2 and 85mm f2.
    It’s nice to see the results you got from transparency film. I have a whole world of the stuff in the salad box of my fridge. Just can’t afford development costs at the moment for shooting film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. windswept007 says:

      That was my last expired one that came in a bulk buy of expired. I have one roll of the new ektachrome. But it is expensive and won’t be trying it a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Toby says:

    You mentioned the E6 was in a terrible state when you got it back. Was that the result of colour shift etc due to how long it was expired or down to the processor. How exposed was it?


  4. chinatime771701945 says:

    The stamp covering is so nice! You have any more details on how you did that? Is there a layer of epoxy or something on the stamps, or you just put them on there with some salivas?


    1. Peggy says:

      Ha ha no, the glue came off when I soaked the stamps in water to remove them from the envelope paper. Then just regular stick glue, that way I could reposition them easily. Once I was happy I used a clear varnish to make it stronger and shiny.

      Liked by 1 person

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