| Contax G1|
image by Christopher Robin Roberts (Image rights)
Contax is originally the name of the famed 35mm rangefinder camera made from 1932 by Zeiss Ikon (see Contax rangefinder), which subsequently became the name of a pioneering single-lens reflex camera made from 1947 by the Eastern part of Zeiss Ikon (see Contax S).
In 1973 the Contax name was licensed to the Japanese maker Yashica by Carl Zeiss to create a prestigious brand of 35mm cameras and interchangeable Contax/Yashica lenses in cooperation with the German company. By that time, Yashica was a production giant with considerable electronic camera experience, and was seeking ways to expand sales and improve brand name recognition in the highly competitive 35mm SLR market. Thus began ‘Top Secret Project 130’, a collaboration with Carl Zeiss to produce a new, professional 35mm SLR with an electronically-controlled shutter, bearing the Contax brand name. The F. Alexander Porsche Group was hired to complete an ergonomic and styling study of the new camera. The new Contax RTS and its Zeiss T* lenses appeared at Photokina in 1974, and proved an immediate hit.
Until 1984, Contax cameras were made by Yashica in Japan, with lenses made by Carl Zeiss – some in Germany, some in Japan. The cameras were noteworthy for their advanced electronics. The Carl Zeiss T* lenses, in particular, soon gained a reputation for superb optical quality. Since manual-focus Contax and Yashica manual-focus 35mm SLR cameras share the same common bayonet lens mount, their lenses may be used interchangeably.
Contax cameras continued to be produced by Yashica until the latter was acquired by Kyocera in 1983. At that time, Kyocera's new camera division took over responsibility for production of all Contax and Yashica branded cameras, eventually introducing cameras under its own name, as well as contracting production of other models to outside manufacturers, such as Cosina.
In 2005, Kyocera halted production on all Contax-brand film and digital cameras.
- Contax N Digital (N-mount)
- Contax i4R
- Contax U4R
- Contax SL 300 T*
- Contax SL 400 T*
- Contax TVS digital
- Contax 137 MA
- Contax 137 MD
- Contax 139 Quartz
- Contax 159 MM
- Contax 167MT
- Contax Aria
- Contax AX
- Contax CGCM
- Contax Preview
- Contax Preview II
- Contax RTS
- Contax RTS II
- Contax RTS III
- Contax RX
- Contax RX II
- Contax S2 / S2b
- Contax ST
- The Contax Connection, by Peter Dechert, available for download in PDF at Peter Dechert's Corner
- Contax group on flickr
- Contax SLR website by Cees de Groot
- The Contax Camera discussion community!
- The biggest Contax User Forum – Contaxinfo.com
- The German Contax User Forum — Contaxinfo.de
- Focus tips for Contax Rangefinders
- Contax & Yashica PDF instuction manual at Orphancameras.com