Contax 137 MD

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Introduced in 1980, the Contax 137 MD was, at that time, the smallest 35mm SLR with an integrated motor drive. This is "invisibly" housed within the camera body, and can be set to simply wind-on after each exposure, or shoot continuously at 2 frames per second. Rewinding is however entirely manual. The Contax 137 MD "Quartz" - to give it it's full name - refers to the fact that the horizontal-travel cloth shutter curtain is quartz timed. It also has an electromagnetic shutter release, and so doesn't operate without batteries fitted. The Contax 137 MD offered an aperture preferred automatic exposure with center-weighted metering. The only directly select-able shutter speeds are 1/60th sec., (X-sync) and B. The camera selected shutter speed appears in a vertical bank of LEDs on the right side of the viewfinder display. The lens aperture and frame number are also displayed in the viewfinder. There is an AE Lock (which locks the shutter speed setting in memory, regardless of subsequent changes in light levels), an exposure compensation dial, a depth of field preview button, an electronic self-timer and a second meter cell for dedicated TTL flash.

The model was superseded by the Contax 137 MA in 1982.


Lens mount: Contax/Yashica bayonet.

Viewfinder: Silver-coated prism with horizontal split-image spot, surrounded by a micro-prism collar. 0.86x magnification shows 95% of picture area. Shutter speeds indicated by 16 LEDs, plus over and under exposure indications; aperture selected; exposure counter; exposure compensation warning LED; Shutter speed LEDs flash to indicate AE lock operation; effective flash range indication; DOF preview.

Shutter: Quartz-timed electronically controlled horizontal travel type cloth focal plane shutter. Semi-continuously variable [1] on AUTO from 1/1000th to 11 seconds, plus X (1/60th) and B. Electromagnetic shutter release. Quartz-timed electronic self-timer with precise 10 sec delay. Front facing body LED flashes to indicate operation, accelerating 2 seconds before shutter is released.

Meter: TTL, center-weighted averaging metering at full aperture using SPD (Silicon Photo Diode) cell.

Exposure: Aperture-preferred automatic exposure. +/-2 EV exposure compensation button, click stops at every half EV, and is marked 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, 4. Setting AE lock lever locks in shutter speed in effect at time of setting.

Film Speed: 125 to 3200 ASA.

Flash: Standard X-synch hot shoe at 1/60th, and TTL flash metering with dedicated flash units.

Film Advance: Automatic. Either winds-on one frame, or continuous shooting at 2 f.p.s. Includes a small film advance indicator/confirmation window.


  1. All continuously variable shutters are in fact more correctly described as semi-continuously variable. Continuous variables are variables that must take a value between their minimum and maximum, and all cameras have maximum and minimum shutter speeds. It appears that later Contax and Yashica cameras alone used the correct terminology in their literature.