Contax 139Q Review
Ah. The Contax 139Q Manual Focus SLR. Where to start?
I guess by addressing the "It's Not A Real Contax!" claim. To that- I say fuck off. In all fairness though, if you're going to dismiss an extremely capable camera based on the fact it's technically a Yashica, and therefore isn't apart of the 2 Cool 4 School Hypetax Club, then you probably don't actually know a lot past the esteemed T2 craze and have no idea what the 139Q actually is. Which is totally fine, until I stumbled upon this red-leathered gem on Ebay I had no idea either.
Essentially it's just a much smaller, much lighter version of the 1975 Contax RTS camera. A definite recommendation if you're looking to upgrade from a point & shoot to an aperture-priority SLR without breaking the bank or over-complicating things. It has a clean, simple body with no bulky grippers or overly fancy (and useless) features. Many of the features are combined together, to prevent overcrowding on such a petite frame; such as the shutter release button/ ASA(ISO) dial & the rewind crank / shutter speed dial. The 139Q has a bright, clear viewfinder (easily on par with my Nikon FE2) along with an electronic display of the internal light-meter readings. (Yes! It has a fully functional light-meter too!) Along with a shutter speed range of 1/1000th to 1, including a "Bulb" mode and a flash sync of 1/100th. Ideally something I'd like that flash sync a bit quicker, maybe 1/250th, and a slightly higher max shutter but it does the job better than most. Other positives are: the multiple exposure options, exposure compensation, a TTL flash mount (hot shoe), depth of field preview button, self timer & a tripod mount - but the big winner here is the variety of glass available.
Realistically, most photographers are more concerned about the lens than the body. So, regardless of the 139Q's streamlined aesthetic, it's a big winner due to the C/Y lens mount meaning that not only do all Contax / Yashica lens fit (including the very affordable, yet highly respected ML range) - but so do the world renowned range of Zeiss T* lenses. Zeiss even released a 45 f2.8 pancake lens along side the 139Q for optimal, and extremely compact, pairing.
Saying all of this- the 139Q is older than the hot surf dad down at the beach club, so a bit of TLC won't go amiss. I've had issues with my particular body, first the batteries had corroded inside the chamber and then the shutter wouldn't fire. A quick cotton swab to the battery chamber, and a not-as-quick repair on the shutter's contact plate sorted me right out. (If you have any questions on the shutter repair feel free to get in touch!).
I've just blasted through a roll of some bulk-loaded Kentmere 400- so as soon I get to developing that I'll have the results up alongside my thoughts on the film stock.