Contax Aria

35mm MF film SLR camera

Specification

Production details
Announced:1998
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
Shutter
Type:Focal-plane
Model:Electronically controlled
Speeds:16 - 1/4000 + B
Exposure
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL)
Exposure modes:Programmed Auto
Aperture-priority Auto
Shutter-priority Auto
Manual
Physical characteristics
Weight:460g
Dimensions:137x92.5x53.5mm

Manufacturer description #1

Somerset, NJ—Contax introduces the Aria, a new Single Lens Reflex camera, and the Carl Zeiss T* Vario-Sonnar 28-70 f3.5-4.5 Zoom lens. These two products combine to offer a very small and lightweight camera system that retains the high quality and precision for which both companies are famous. This quality is maintained by integrating metal components within the light path with engineered plastics in other camera body areas.

The Contax Aria is a three frames per second, integrated motor drive, SLR that weighs in at only 16.2 ounces. “Even though the Aria is small and very lightweight, all of the features and quality that combine to produce a Contax are included.” said Contax North America President, Bill Heuer. The Aria is a camera that is equally at home on wilderness expeditions or at family gatherings. This fully-featured, durable SLR provides advanced photographic capabilities designed for the discriminating, active photographer.

Beginning photographers will enjoy the ease of use of the Aria. Exposure control has never been easier. Evaluative Metering, has been added to the Aria, joining the traditional center-weighted average and spot metering systems. The Evaluative Metering system divides the scene into five independent segments that are metered and weighted individually by the on-board computer to bias the overall exposure. This system virtually eliminates the need for exposure compensation.

Enhanced flash control is available on the Aria when coupled with the TLA360 Flash. Extra control means the TLA360 can control fill flash ratios directly. Other standard Contax features such as Custom Functions, Automatic Bracketing Control (A.B.C.), AE Lock, Depth of Field Preview and Long Eye-point are all standard on the Aria.

An optional D-9 Data Back provides multi-function capabilities along with the unique Contax head-end printing function. This data back can print exposure information at the head-end or in between the frames, or dating information between the frames.

The new Carl Zeiss T* Vario-Sonnar 28-70 f3.5-4.5 Zoom lens weighs in at only 325 grams (11.4 ounces). This low weight is achieved by using lightweight outer coverings while maintaining all-metal structural components. It is an MM mount design composed of 9 lens elements in 8 groups. Angle of view extends from 35 degrees 12 minutes to 77 degrees 12 minutes. The new Vario-Sonnar incorporates a Macro mode that provides magnifications up to 1:3 or 1/3 life size. The new Carl Zeiss T* Vario-Sonnar 28-70, with its T* coating, will provide outstanding color, resolution, contrast and distortion control.

Manufacturer description #2

Type: 35mm focal plane shutter AE SLR camera

Frame Size: 24 x 36mm

Lens Mount: Contax/Yashica MM Mount

Shutter: Vertical-travel focal plane shutter

Shutter Speed: AV (Aperture Preferred) & P (Program): 16 - 1/4000. TV setting (Shutter Speed Preferred): 4 - 1/4000. Manual: B, X (1/125), 4 - 1/4000

Flash Sync.: X setting (1/125 or slower), direct X setting sync.-terminal provided

Self-timer: Electronic type with 10-sec. delay

Shutter Release: Electronic release with special release socket

Exposure Control Modes: 1. Aperture Preferred AE (Av). 2. Shutter Speed Preferred AE (Tv). 3. Program AE (P). 4. Manual Exposure (M). 5. TTL Auto Flash. 6. Manual Flash.

Metering System: Selectable: TTL evaluative, center-weighted, or spot

Metering Range (ISO 100, f/1.4): EV2-20 (evaluative/center-weighted/spot metering)

Film Speed Setting: Automatic for DX-coded film (ISO: 25-5000). Manual setting (ISO: 6 - 6400)

AE Lock: EV at image plane stored in memory

Exposure Compensation: +2EV to -2EV (in 1/3 EV steps)

ABC System: Exposure range: +/-0.5EV to +/-1.0EV (set with ABC lever)

Coupled Flash System: TTL direct flash control

Flash Coupling: Automatic shutter speed adjustment when Contax flash unit reaches full charge

Flash Auto-set: Available for Contax flash units with auto-set function

Second-curtain Sync.: Available for Contax flash units with second-curtain sync.

Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level pentaprism (long eye-point): 95% field-of-view, 0.82x magnification (with 50mm standard lens at infinity)

Dioptric Adjustment: By FL type eyepiece lenses (8 types) optionally available

Focusing Screen: FU-4 (horizontal split microprism; supplied); also FU type interchangeable screens (4 types) optionally available

Finder Display: Shutter speed, aperture, metering mark, exposure warning mark, exposure meter, ABC display, manual exposure mark, exposure compensation display, exposure counter, flash ready

External LCD Panel: Exposure counter, film speed, self-timer count, LT exposure (Bulb) count, battery warning, self-timer mark, continuous-exposure mark, single-frame mark, multi-exposure mark, ABC display

Film Loading: Auto loading, automatic film advance to frame "01"

Film Advance: Automatic film advance using internal motor

Film Rewind: Automatic film rewind using internal motor (auto return, auto stop) with mid-roll option

Drive Modes: Single-frame, continuous exposure, self-timer, multi-exposure

Film Advance Speed: Max. 3 frames per second in continuous ("C") mode (with fresh battery at room temperature)

Exposure Counter: Automatic resetting, additive type; visible in external LCD panel & inside viewfinder

Accessory Shoe: Direct X contact (coupled w/ TLA flash)

Camera Back Cover: Opened with camera back release knob; features film check window; detachable

Power Source: 3V lithium batteries (CR2) x 2; sufficient for taking 90 rolls of 24-exposure film under normal conditions

Battery Check: Automatic checking system with LCD status display

Other Features: Depth-of-field preview button

***

Compact design

One reason why the SLR cameras has until now been mainly favored by professionals and enthusiasts is its large size. So we went back to the drawing board with the goal of creating a camera that would be small and light enough for anyone to use. It could thus be carried and handled easily, allowing the photographer to concentrate on composition. It was a tough challenge, but we succeeded, as demonstrated by the beautifully compact design of the new Aria.

Clear, bright field of view

You can quickly sense how easy this camera is to use just by peeking into the viewfinder, which is as bright as you would expect of a Contax. With its 95% field of view and a magnification ratio of 0.82, manual focusing is supremely easy. You can frame your shots with complete freedom to capture your subject "just so". It's an exhilarating experience.

Evaluative metering - for the first time in a Contax SLR

We wanted everyone, veteran and novice alike, to be able to enjoy the full benefit of the Carl Zeiss T* lenses, so we chose evaluative metering - the first time it has appeared on a Contax SLR. The Aria has been programmed with extensive data regarding different lighting conditions so that it can determine the optimum settings for any situation. The distribution of light on and around the subject is carefully measured by the camera, enabling its internal microprocessor to select the correct exposure.

Imagine you are taking a picture of someone with backlighting. No problem. The metering system gives priority to the darker areas, thus ensuring that the subject's face is clearly visible. It mimics what your own eyes do in such a situation. As a result you can look forward to natural-looking pictures in extreme lighting conditions - the dazzling sunlight of midsummer, the strong reflections off snow, or artificial lighting indoors. And at any time you can instantly switch to alternative systems: the center-weighted metering found on most SLRs, or spot metering which is often used for creative work. The Aria gives you the opportunity to experiment with different styles of photography.

Informative viewfinder display

Displayed inside the viewfinder are such data as aperture, shutter speed, and exposure counter. When evaluative metering is active, the exposure meter shows the difference between the values calculated by evaluative metering and center-weighted metering. Since you can track exposure data in real time, this is useful for polishing your camera skills.

Customizable function

Our philosophy is that each Area should be as unique as its owner. We have thus provided customizable functions so you can tailor certain settings to suit your own tastes and needs. Operating your Aria will become second nature. And taking photographs will become that much more enjoyable.

  1. AE lock method
  2. ABC (3-stage exposure compensation) order
  3. Film left over when rewinding
  4. Film rewinding method
  5. Film loading method

Advanced flash techniques

If you are interested in expanding the sphere of your creativity, simply equip the Aria with one of our optional TLA Auto Flash units. The TLA360, for example, offers such sophisticated techniques as second-curtain sync. for capturing fast-moving subjects, and bounce flash for softer lighting effects.

D-9 Data Back (multifunction)

The optional D-9 Data Back allows you not only to record the date and time but also a variety of other important data - exposure compensation setting, shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, etc. You can choose between two recording methods: summary or summary plus inter-frame. With this data recorded on your films, organizing your photo collection becomes much easier. But it also helps you to improve, as you can compare photos and determine which setting produce the best results. Also available is an interval exposure function that is handy if you want to set up the camera for unattended photography.

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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

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),

where:

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

Mount

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.

Speed

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.

Weight

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.

Filters

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

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.