Contax N1

35mm AF film SLR camera

Production details

Production details
Announced:September 2000
Production type:Mass production
System: Contax N (2000)


Imaging plane
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Contax N [48mm]
Imaging plane:36 × 24mm film
Model:Electronically controlled
Speeds:32 - 1/8000 + B
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL)
Exposure modes:Programmed Auto
Aperture-priority Auto
Shutter-priority Auto
Physical characteristics

Manufacturer description #1

Cologne/Oberkochen. A total of 11 new products for both analog and digital photography and videography are being shown by Carl Zeiss at Photokina, the world's largest photographic exhibition, to be held in Cologne, Germany from September 19 – 25, 2000.

Quite a stir has already been caused by the new Contax N1 35mm SLR camera system, an autofocus camera system with ultra-modern features which can be operated spontaneously and intuitively. A unique benefit offered by Contax is that automatic focusing and the possibility of manual focusing are both available to the photographer at the same time without any need to switch between the two. For the launch of this totally new system, Carl Zeiss is offering a set of four autofocus lenses, including two zoom lenses and one macro-lens. Carl Zeiss will be introducing two further autofocus lenses for the Contax N 1 System in the near future.

The lens line for the Contax N1

With its focal length range of 24 mm - 85 mm, the Vario-Sonnar T* f/3.5-4.5 lens offers excellent image quality for all applications from the extremely wide angle to the traditional portrait focal length. To achieve this goal, the lens contains two single aspheric lens elements and two elements made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion.

The 70-300mm Vario-Sonnar T* f/4.0-5.6 lens provides the photographer with an all-round telezoom lens with a macrofunction (scale of reproduction of 1:4). This lens also features single lens elements made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion for crisp contours in the photo without color fringes.

As a classic standard lens, the 50mm Planar T* f/1.4 lens is simply a must. It provides photos which very closely approximate the visual impression obtained by the human eye. Extreme detail definition and high speed are the outstanding features of this lens. It consists of a total of 7 single elements and displays the symmetrical construction characteristic of Zeiss Planar lenses.

The field of application of the 100mm Makro-Planar T* f/2.8 – also a high-performance portrait and documentation lens – extends from infinity to the ratio 1:1. Preselection of the focusing range (0.37 m - 1 m / 1m - infinity) drastically reduces the focusing time, allowing very fast work. The 100mm Makro-Planar T* f/2.8 lens will most certainly become a preferred optical tool of demanding photographers of nature and small animals.

Manufacturer description #2

35mm Auto-focus SLR that incorporates several 'World's First' features.

The Contax N1 incorporates 5-Point Wide Array Diagonal Focus System and Fine Focus ABC (Auto Bracketing Control) - technologies not found in any other camera system.

5-Point Wide Array Diagonal Focus System enables the user to select the best focusing point for the shot.

When composing a shot the main subject is often either near the center of the frame or along diagonals drawn between the four corners. To allow for this the camera is fitted with a focusing system that measures the distance from the lens to these five vital points. It can operate in two ways - Manual Select and Auto Select. In Manual Select mode you override the system to select one out of the five focusing points. In Auto Select you pre-select the camera focus area to All, Upper, Lower, Left or Right and the camera does the rest.

Fine Focus ABC (Auto Bracketing Control) allows the user to make minute adjustments by shifting the focusing point in three auto stages.

Professional fashion, portrait and nature photographers often make photos of the same composition, slightly altering the focusing point each time, to obtain ideal focus point. Using Fine Focus ABC in the manual mode, a series of pictures can automatically be made with the focusing point moved to several slightly different positions, normally not observed through the viewfinder.

The Contax N1 also introduces a Dual Focus Mechanism as an extension to the existing manual focus 35mm system. The new mechanism enables users to focus on the subject in a split second by switching between manual and autofocus modes. In AF mode, you simply turn the focusing ring, and the camera switches automatically from focus lock to manual focusing condition, enabling fine manual adjustments. In MF mode, you can switch to AF mode instantly by pressing the focus button. Using this focus mechanism it is possible to make delicate adjustments to the selected focus or, when photographing subjects that are unsuitable for AF, you can change the focus at will without the need to operate complicated switches. In both cases you can concentrate on composing the shot as the controls are positioned in such a way that they can be operated immediately, without the need to take the eye away from the viewfinder.

Another World's first is an optional FE-1 Liquid Crystal Display viewfinder (available Spring 2001) that attaches to the camera's eyepiece so you can preview composition and exposure. The brightness of the 1.5 inch square viewfinder's screen responds to changes made to the exposure, so you can make a visual check of the likely effects of exposure adjustments. The 330,000pixel CCD display screen switches between colour or black & white modes so even monochrome photographers can check the approximate appearance of the eventual photograph. The LCD Viewfinder is fitted with a shutter release and a cable so it can be used and positioned at a considerable distance from the camera, making it possible to do remote photography while checking the image on the screen.

The N1 is fitted with a focal-plane shutter with a maximum speed of 1/8000 second and a maximum flash sync speed of 1/250 second. To enhance the range of artistic effects achievable with the N1 we have also increased the range of adjustable aperture settings.

The camera's metering system divides the picture area into five independent sections and measures the light falling on each. You have the option of using matrix, center-weighted or spot metering patterns. It's possible, using matrix in conventional lighting situations or when using back lighting, to take pictures with virtually no further adjustment to the exposure. Center-weighted average metering is best selected for high-speed shots, while Spot metering allows you to make careful adjustments to exposure settings. Exposure modes include aperture-priority, shutter-priority, program and manual plus TTL auto flash.

Flash photographers can take advantage of a Flash Auto-Set Function when attaching the optional TLA360 flash (350). This mode gathers data concerning the speed of the film, the aperture size and the lens focus, and displays them on the reverse of the flash unit, automatically adjusting the angle of the light in response to the lens focus. The balance between flash lighting and natural lighting can be corrected by adjusting the exposure settings on the flash independently of those on the camera body. Using this flash Auto-Set Function, flash lighting can be applied to a wider range of photographic situations and the camera and flash can be operated as a single, integrated system.

Twenty different custom functions can be tailored according to the users' preferences and an optional D-10 Multifunction Data-Back can be attached to record vital exposure information between the film frames.


Contax N1 specifications:

Type: 35mm focal-plane shutter type AF/AE single-lens reflex camera

Image size: 24 x 36mm

Lens mount: Contax N-mount

Shutter type: Vertical-travel focal-plane shutter

Shutter speed: Av, P: 32 seconds-1/8000 second; Tv, M: Shutter dial settings: 4 seconds-1/8000 second; Command dial settings: 32 seconds-1/8000 second; X: 1/125 second; Synchro settings X setting (synchronized at 1/250 second or less). Fitted with direct X setting and synchro terminal

Self-timer: Electronic with 2-10 second delay

Shutter release: Electromagnetic release mechanism fitted with exclusive release socket

Exposure control modes: (1) Aperture priority auto; (2) Shutter priority auto; (3) Program auto (4) Manual exposure (5) TTL auto flash

Metering system: TTL Matrix, Center-Weighted Average; Spot; switching mechanism

Metering range: EV 0-21 (matrix/center-weighed average metering); EV 3-21 (spot metering; based on 3mm diameter area in center of viewfinder)

Film speed coupling range: Auto with DX films from ISO 25 to 5000; ISO 6 to 6400 on manual setting

AE lock: Image brightness memory system

Exposure compensation: +/-2EV (in 1/2 or 1/3 increments)

ABC exposure mechanism: Exposure can be adjusted using the ABC lever

Adjustment range: +/- 0.3, +/- 0.5, +/- 1EV

Flash coupling control: TTL direct flash control

Flash synchronization: Shutter speed is automatically set when the dedicated flash unit is fully charged

Flash auto-set function: Available when used in conjunction with the Contax auto-set flash

Next-shot synchro: Available when used in conjunction with the Contax flash with function

Rangefinder type: TTL phase-difference detection method (5-point diagonal rangefinder)

Fine focus ABC mechanism: Automatic focus adjustment function using focus dial settings

Viewfinder: Fixed pentaprism, eye-level with long eye-point; field of vision 95%; magnification 0.73 (50mm standard lens at infinity and -ID diopter)

Dioptric adjustment: Internal dioptric adjustment mechanism adjustable from - 3D to + 1D; 2 different FM type diopter lenses (optional)

Focusing screen: Normally fitted with a whole-view matte FX-2; interchangeable with other FX-type screens

Viewfinder information: Focus frame, ABC exposure mark, ABC focus mark, film counter; self-timer time; ABC exposure and ABC focus sequence; number of multiple exposures; installed film status; light-meter mark; flash mark; focus display; aperture setting; shutter speed; exposure meter; exposure compensation setting; light-, exposure compensation mark; manual exposure mark

Display panel: Film counter; self-timer time; ABC exposure and ABC focus sequence; number of multiple; installed film status; focus frame selection display; exposure compensation setting (when exposure compensation dial is in the green position); multiple exposure mark; drive mark; battery status mark; aperture setting; shutter speed, film speed; custom functions

Film loading: Auto-loading type; winds automatically to the first frame

Film winding: Automatic winding with built-in motor

Film rewinding: Automatic rewinding with built-in motor (stops automatically when rewinding is complete); film can be rewound before end of film is reached

Drive modes: Single frame; continuous; self-timer (2 seconds, 10 seconds) Film Advance Speed: Maximum speed approximately 3.5 frames per second when in continuous exposure mode (C-mode) (with a new battery, at normal temperatures, measured by the camera's exposure criteria)

Film counter: Number of frames used Automatically shown in viewfinder and on display panel

Accessory shoe: Direct X fitting (with TLA flash-coupling connection)

Battery: One 6 volt lithium battery (2CR5)

Battery check: Automatically shown in display panel

Rolls of film per battery: Approximately 24 rolls (with a new battery, at normal temperatures, measured by the camera's exposure criteria)

Others: Exposure check button; aperture button; supplementary AF lighting

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Table of contents
Instruction manual
Contax N system cameras

Copyright © 2012-2022 Evgenii Artemov. All rights reserved. Translation and/or reproduction of website materials in any form, including the Internet, is prohibited without the express written permission of the website owner.

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.