I recently found myself the reluctant owner of a Contax 139 Quartz 35mm SLR, a camera about which I knew little and for which I cared even less. After all, if this rebranded, electronic Yashica were anything worthwhile I’d have heard about it from my friends at the camera shop, or spied one scrolling by in my Instagram feed. Yes, surely if the 139Q mattered I’d have known about it.
Still, it was being sold with a fairly legendary Zeiss lens attached, so I bought the whole kit and awaited its arrival. Getting hands on this beautiful glass would be a big win for anyone, no matter what substandard camera so lecherously clung to it.
Luckily, this uncharacteristic bout of arrogant self-assurance was not much more than a 24-hour bug. When the camera arrived and I pulled it from its packaging my pompous windbaggery was justifiably and firmly checked.
I held the Contax, flicked its controls, squeezed off a few shutter releases, and decided my next action should be to insert into my gaping opinion hole the proverbial sock.
Just over a month later the Contax has become a constant companion. While it’s not a perfect camera, it’s surely one of the best I’ve ever shot. With objectivity (and humility) happily renewed, here’s the great, the good, and the bad about Contax’s electric wonder.