Contax 137 MA Quartz

35mm MF film SLR camera


Production details
System: Contax/Yashica (1975)
Imaging plane
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Contax/Yashica [45.5mm]
Imaging plane:36 × 24mm film
Model:Electronically controlled
Speeds:11 - 1/1000 + B
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL)
Exposure modes:Aperture-priority Auto
Physical characteristics

Manufacturer description #1

Type: 35 mm direct drive SLR featuring electronically controlled AUTO/manual exposure, focal plane shutter.

Image size: 24 x 36 mm.

Lens mount: Contax/Yashica large-diameter bayonet mount.

Standard lenses: Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50 mm f/1.7, Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50 mm f/1.4

Shutter: Quartz-timed electronically controlled horizontal travel type cloth focal-plane shutter.

Shutter speeds: AUTO mode.... 1/1000 to 11 sec. Manual mode.... 13 settings of 1/1000 to 1 sec., "B" and "X" (1/60 sec.).

Synch Terminals: X Contact (synch speed 1/60 sec.), and direct X contact.

Self-Timer: Quartz-timed electronic self-timer with 10 sec. delay. LED flashes during operation, accelerating 2 sec. before shutter release. Can be cancelled during countdown.

Shutter Release: Real Time Electromagnetic Release System; auxiliary remote release via "Release Socket" (electronic accessory connection).

Exposure Control: Through-the-lens (TTL) center-weighted metering at full aperture using SPD (Silicon Photo Diode) cell. EV range from EV 0 (f/1.4 at 2 sec.) to 18 (f/16 at 1/1000 sec.) at ASA/ISO 100 with f/1.4 lens. ASA/ISO range from 12 to 3200. Exposure metering system: Coupled to main switch circuit in switching on and off (lights up and then automatically switches off in ten seconds when the release button is slightly pressed or when the shutter is released).

Exposure Compensation: +2 EV ~ -2 EV via exposure compensation dial (click stops at every 1/2 EV; can be set for in-between-click stops).

AE Lock: Operated via main switch (locks in memory-oriented shutter speed).

Auto Flash Control: Direct TTL metering automatically coupling with Contax TLA Auto Flash system via an SPD sensor. Synch speed: Shutter speed automatically set to 1/60 sec. upon completion of recycling.

Viewfinder: Silver-coated, fixed eye-level pentaprism type with horizontal split-image/microprism focusing screen; field shows 95% of the picture area; 0.86 X magnification (with 50 mm lens).

Viewfinder display: Shutter speed indicated by 15 indicator LED's; over- and under-exposure indications; Green LED flash ready/after-flash signal mark; aperture scale; exposure counter; exposure compensation warning LED. Shutter speed LED' flash to indicate AE Lock operation.

Film advance: Fully automatic with Real Time Direct Drive using the camera's micro-motor.

Exposure modes: Single or continuous exposure selected by exposure mode selector; continuous exposures up to 3 frames per second.

Exposure counter: One on the camera body and one in the viewfinder, count increasing order, automatic resetting type.

Accessory Shoe: Direct X contact, and accepts TLA Auto Flash system units.

Camera back: Opens by lifting film rewind knob; with film feed indicator and memo holder. (Camera back removable)

Main lamp: Indicates normal camera operation when power is turned on. Lights green for battery checking. Flashes red when self-timer is used.

Power source: Four 1.5 V size AA dry batteries or four 1.2 V size AA nickel-cadmium batteries.

Number of rolls on one set of batteries: About 50 rolls with alkaine dry batteries; about 20 rolls with manganese dry batteries; about 30 rolls with nickel-cadmium batteries (assuming all 36-exposure rolls, room temperature, continuous exposure mode).

Power supply check: Combined with the main lamp. The main lamp lights up green when the batteries are in good condition.

Miscellaneous: With depth of field preview button and data back LED.


The 137 MA Quartz is a high quality precision-made automatic single-lens reflex camera with auto and manual modes incorporating a fully integrated "Micromotor Drive System" that controls the film winding and the camera's operation system with a single micromotor.

Its electronic brain unit, incorporating a high precision quartz crystal, provides ultra accurate digital controlled regulation of the camera's motor drive mechanism, metering system, viewfinder information system and the automatic electronic flash control functions, etc.

Manufacturer description #2

The extraordinary capabilities of the Contax 137 MA Quartz make it one of the most innovative and exciting single-lens reflex cameras ever created. Designed as an integral part of the famed Contax Real Time System of photography, the 137 MA Quartz incorporates high level professional features that allow its use in even the most sophisticated circumstances, and at the same time is so simple to operate that even beginning photographers will find their abilities enhanced.

Three important new features characterize the 137 MA Quartz, and differentiate if from the Contax 137 MD Quartz:

Manual Exposure Controls backing up the aperture-preferred auto exposure system;

Faster Real Time Direct Drive at a maximum continuous rate of three frames-per-second;

Clutch Drsengagement System for the film rewind crank, to make film winding and rewinding smoother and more stable. The development goal of the 137 MA Quartz was to further improve the basic Real Time Direct Drive concept, in which a single, fully integrated micro-motor controlled by Quartz pulses directly drives all camera operations: mirror, aperture, shutter and film advance. At the same time, the full range of manual shutter speeds was incorporated into the camera, in order to provide the professional or advanced amateur photographer with more control over exposure factors.

Real Time Direct Drive was improved by increasing the firing rate to three frames-per-second, equal to that of many motor drive systems offered with other cameras. Yet, the Contax 137 MA Quartz remains exceptionally quiet and vibration-free - an important factor in its extreme durability and reliability. The clutch disengagement system used in the 137 MA Quartz is the same as that proven so reliable in the Contax RTS and RTS II Quartz cameras. By disengaging the film rewind and wind gearing completely, this system vastly improves the smoothness and reliability of the overall film movement, contributing to a reduction in friction that in turn increases the durability of the camera's moving parts.

And, of course, these improvements in the 137 MA Quartz are backed up by the famed precision of the Quartz Crystal Element that regulates shutter speeds and time-related operations of the camera to a degree of accuracy unprecedented in photography, and by the accuracy and sensitivity of a micro-processing exposure calculation system based and SPD (Silicon Photo Diode) metering.


Real Time Direct Drive at 3fps - The Real Time Direct Drive concept, first introduced in the Contax 137 MD Quartz and now improved in the 137 MA Quartz, is revolutionary in its approach. A single, fully-integrated micro-motor directly operates the shutter, mirror, aperture and film advance mechanisms. This reduces moving parts and simplifies overall operation, thus resulting in less noise and vibration, more reliability and durability.

Even at a maximum firing rate of three frames-per-second, the Contax 137 MA Quartz remains quieter 'on the job' than standard 35mm SLR cameras, and no larger in size, despite the complex micro-motor and drive systems built into the body.

Dual AE/Manual Exposure Control Systems - The 137 MA Quartz allows the photographer to select either aperture-preferred AE exposure control or full MANUAL exposure control. In both modes, exposure data is provided by a sophisticated C-MOS LSI microchip that offers digital exposure values for increased accuracy. In AE mode the camera signals approximate shutter speed through the Viewfinder LED Display; in Manual mode, the photographer employs this display as a guide to setting accurate exposure factors. AE mode shutter speeds range from LT (11 sec.) to 1/1000 sec. Manual mode speeds can be set from one to 1/1000 sec., plus Bulb and X-synch (1/60).

Quartz Timing Controls - A Quartz Crystal Element generating 32,768 pulses each second completely regulates shutter speeds and all other time-related functions of the 137 MA Quartz for total timing accuracy and consistency. Shutter speeds are Quartz-timed in both AE and Manual exposure modes, for more accurate and consistent exposure results. And, Quartz control also remains in effect for the timing of aperture, mirror and film advance operations, as well, no matter how the camera is used, or what accessory equipment is attached. The Quartz control system makes the Contax 137 MA Quartz one of the world's most accurate, consistent and reliable SLRs.

Twin SPD Metering Cells - Silicon Photo Diode (SPD) cells are the most accurate and sensitive means of determining proper exposure values. They react instantaneously to even the slightest variance in ambient lighting. The Contax 137 MA Quartz employs two SPD cells, one metering ambient light exposures in a center-weighted pattern and relaying that information to the Central Processing Unit that provides digital exposure information. The second SPD cell is located so as to meter electronic flash output directly from the film plane for total automated flash exposure control with the Contax TLA Auto Electronic Flash System.

Viewfinder LED Data Display - Complementing the extraordinarily sophisticated capabilities of the Contax 137 MA Quartz is the camera's outstanding Viewfinder LED Data Display system which indicates not only Shutter Speed and Aperture values, but also such factors as AE / Manual Mode selection, AE Lock use, Exposure Compensation use, TLA Flash status, Over/Under Exposure warnings and Film Supply Indication.

A special frame counter at the left of the viewfinder screen provides the photographer with film supply information.

An optical aperture indication window is located at the top center of the screen.

A special red LED below the Frame Counter lights to indicate when the Exposure Compensation system is in use. Above the Shutter Speed display, a green "arrow" LED lights steadily whenever a TLA Flash unit is attached and ready for use, and flickers as a 'confidence light' after flash shots if exposure was accurate.

Over and Under exposure warnings are indicated by the OVER and B LEDs in the Shutter Speed display.

The Shutter Speed Display itself consists of LED dot indicators which light up to show operative speeds in the AE mode, and flicker to indicate an AE Lock shutter setting. In the Manual mode, one steadily-lit indicator shows the speed 'recommended' by the camera, while another flickering indicator shows the speed actually set. These can be aligned for correct exposure setting by manipulating either the shutter speed dial or lens aperture ring.

Extremely Low Power Consumption - The entire electronics system of the 137 MA Quartz is designed to operate with minimal power consumption. Backing up this energy-saving design is a special auto cut-off system for the Viewfinder Data Display, which cuts off the display after 10 seconds. The display is reactivated simply by putting slight pressure on the Electromagnetic Shutter Release button.

TLA Auto Flash Control - The combination of the 137 MA Quartz and a Contax TLA system flash unit makes electronic flash photography faster, simpler and more accurate than ever before. Through-the-Iens center-weighted metering of flash exposure guarantees perfect lighting results, while the 'Fail-Safe' flash / shutter synchronization system keeps the camera in proper flash or non-flash mode, according to the status of the flash unit.

Simplified Controls - In addition to the Shutter Speed Dial, the 137 MA Quartz is controlled quickly and simply through two additional switches. The Main Switch is a four-position control featuring Off, On, AE Lock and Battery Check selections. The Mode Control Switch selects single-frame (S) or continuous (C) operation of the Real Time Direct Drive system, or can be set at the Self-Timer (S-T) position.

AE Lock Function - The AE Lock function operates to 'freeze' the camera's automated exposure system at the shutter speed then operative. This is a highly convenient function, which can be employed to overcome severe back or side lighting, standardize exposures in the AE mode, insure proper exposure of a small part of the overall scene or obtain X-synch AE shutter speeds slower than the standard 1/60 sec.

Exposure Compensation Function - Moderate side or back lighting is overcome through the use of the Exposure Compensation system of the Contax 137 MA Quartz. This system provides ±2 EV compensation of AE or Manual mode exposure settings, in 0.5 EV increments. It can also be employed as a means of varying TLA flash exposure results, or to achieve various special lighting effects.

Quartz Self-Timer - The 137 MA Quartz features a Quartz-timed, electronically operated Self-Timer that provides a precise 10-second delay. Self-Timer operation is indicated by a flashing red LED on the front of the camera body, and the flashing of the Monitor Lamp LED. These flashes accelerate during the final two seconds before shutter release. At any time, the Self-Timer can be cancelled simply by turning the Mode Selector Switch back to the C or S positions, and it can be reset again.

Electromagnetic Shutter Release - At the heart of the system capabilities of the 137 MA Quartz is the standard Contax Electromagnetic Shutter Release, requiring only a 0.7mm stroke to operate with silken smoothness. This release system is exceptionally effective in reducing camera shake during handheld exposures, but also serves to operate all the many electronic Real Time System accessories that can be employed with the camera, including TLA Auto flash equipment, Off-Camera Control systems and others.

Contax/Yashica Bayonet Lens Mount - The 137 MA Quartz features the standard Contax/Yashica three-claw bayonet lens mount, a rugged system that provides precision alignment of lens and film plane and allows the camera to accept all of the many optical-path 'Real Time' accessories such as the Close-Up/Macro equipment. The exceptional Carl Zeiss T* lens series provides optical superiority, while Yashica-brand ML lenses can also be used.

Film-Run Indicator - A special Film-Run Indicator is built into the back of the Contex 137 MA Quartz, providing mechanical guarantee of proper film operation. The red/white indicator rotates along with film run, letting the photographer visually check that the film is running smoothly during advance or rewind.

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/ on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.