5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Contax 167MT & Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 – By Brett Franklin

Firstly, I’m a collector of things. My other passion, aside from photography, is the collecting of rare soul/funk original vinyl records, so I guess it was only natural that I wouldn’t just buy one camera. But for this post I thought I’d share a few of my feelings toward the Contax 167MT coupled with the excellent Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.7 lens.

I enjoy the ergonomics of the Contax. It’s very sleek, and just about the perfect size; not too big, and not too small, so it fits comfortably in my hand. I tend to shoot in aperture priority mode and find the LCD top plate readout is very handy for quick meter checks. It has a simple viewfinder display, containing the frame number, shutter speed and aperture, which is all i need. There is a useful exposure compensation dial next to the sensitive shutter button which helps in tricky light situations. The automatic advance of the film is a a plus when you want to capture the fluid moments of the day, I keep it on single shot, but a rapid continuous mode is available.

I’m a fan of Carl Zeiss lenses, having had both a Contax T2 and Contax T, the 50mm Planar T* is a great, sharp performer. I tend to just shoot black & white, as I develop and print my own film.  Having used film cameras for over 40 years the Contax family always been attractive to me. It’s a premium brand that oozed class without arrogance – I’d highly recommend the 167MT for those who haven’t had the chance to handle the system.

I’m fortunate to have been asked many times to DJ here in the UK and abroad – a trip to Stockholm in the summer for a Soul weekend was a good chance to take photographs, so I packed the Contax 167MT. The First image below was taken on that trip. I’m also a regular around the streets of London, and since my photography usually happens within the confines of my capital city, the other 4 images were shot there. For the purpose of this post, the budget Czech Fomapan 400 was used, it’s never let me down but I’ve no real loyalty and will shoot a myriad of 35mm negative emulsions.

Thanks to Hamish for providing a fabulous resource for the film photography community.
My Instagram –  international_photo64

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9 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Marc Petzold
    December 12, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Good Street Photography Images, fleeting moments. The Contax 167mt is my daily driver, because for Size, i am using the way good Yashica ML 50 F2 Prime, which is almost a Pancake. I do also own the 50/1.7 MM Contax Zeiss, 50/1.7 ML, and many others. I have & use them since decades.

    But my real fave Contax is the RX, and i also do shoot here & there with my Zeiss Icarex 35s SLR. Digital, it’s the EOS 5D “Queen Mum”, and my Sony A7, with adapted Lenses.

    Good Light,
    Marc

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Brett Franklin
      December 12, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks for comments re photographs, I have the Yashica 28mm for my Contax and that’s also an excellent lens.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Barry Reid
    December 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Big contax fan here, got totally hooked by that 50/1.7 back around 2010. It’s an amazing lens, and was the gateway drug to a fair few more!
    Loving the Contax 159MM and Aria too.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Brett Franklin
      December 12, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks for comment, yep the Contax family holds many jewels.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Heiko Höllmüller
    December 13, 2018 at 5:54 am

    I love the Contax 167 MT for portraits or taking photos in the neighboorhood but for travells I prefer the lighter Contax 139 Q. There are so many great Zeiss / Yashica lenses out there!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Lee Stirling
    December 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I had the chance to get my hands on a 167mt earlier this year. It is a very nice looking machine but I was not really taken by it. For its size, it’s rather heavy, despite not having AF. The film advance is rather loud, making it somewhat unsuited for street photography. I was also not a fan of the push lever to change exposure settings on the camera, preferring to have dials for that job. I was using a Tamron 90mm f/2.5 Adaptall lens that rendered nice images, but shooting this camera was not something I could see myself doing long-term.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Jose
    December 21, 2018 at 3:32 am

    The 167MT is criminally underappreciated and a good cheap entry point into the C/Y system. I personally use the 45mm on it the most, and that combo is probably my favorite image making device.

    There is a problem however, whenever the ambient temperature drifts below about 10 C the camera just stops working! When it warms up again it’s fine. The first time it happened I thought it had bricked itself, but I fired it up a couple weeks later and it was fine. Very strange. I guess that’s why they made that external battery pack you could keep in your pocket, the Contax P6.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Reiner
    June 13, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Great review! I recently purchased this model along with a 139Q, I refurbish and restore old film cameras and have also acquired about 7 Yashica FX-D and restored them all. I am still going through a roll of Ilford with the 167 and looking forward to having them developed. I do agree with Lee that this camera is quite substantial and heavy, very diffrent from models without the auto film advance. I’m shooting with Yashica ML glass – 28, 50 and 135. I learned photographyon digital and still getting acquainted to film cameras but man, the nostalgia and careful attention to comitting a shot and attention to every detail is so addicting. I’m looking at an RX next, but enamored with models that have a film winder such as the 139Q( pretty much the sister camera to the FX-D).

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Brett Franklin
      June 14, 2019 at 7:37 am

      I’ve only owned the 167 in the single lens reflex models but have owned the Contax T2 and still have a Contax T, the brand delivers quality , I’ve numerous film cameras but the real pleasure for me in film photography is the developing and printing in the darkroom, for me it completes the cycle and is very fulfilling ( well if the results allow). Thanks for reading and enjoying the review.

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