Contax (Kyocera) Aria Reviews

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Latest Reviews

★★★☆☆

“Bought on ebay virtually unused. Three major irritations: ”

Written on: 03/05/2010

Bought on ebay virtually unused. Three major irritations:
First, I have never encountered a stiffer on/off switch on any item. I dislike using it. It's so stiff that one can easily imagine it breaking.
Second (no one else has mentioned this, so I might just have been unlucky)the door release mechanism is equally stiff. A real thumb acher. Also, the door is slightly loose when no film is loaded.
Third, the body covering marks very easily.
I owned a Nikon F80, a camera of comparable build which… Read Full Review

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★★★★★

“The aria is an all-around great camera. Spot metering...”

Written on: 15/03/2010

The aria is an all-around great camera. Spot metering is impressive (considering many high-end DLSRs don't even have this). The Carl Zeiss lenses are phenomenal; I'm even using some lenses that are probably slightly 'big' for the aria (the 28-85mm zoom and 80-200mm zoom) but they balance just fine and produce ridiculously gorgeous pictures. Having owned Nikon and Contax systems, I can testify to the immense merits of both. But the Contax definitely possesses something "magical"-- a strange… Read Full Review

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★★★★★

“I'm very happy with the Contax Aria camera body. I've...”

Written on: 16/03/2007 by Rob Valine (3 reviews written)

I'm very happy with the Contax Aria camera body. I've been using them for 7 years and will be using them for years to come. To see photos taken with these camera bodies, Go to www.RobValineimages.com… Read Full Review

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★★★★★

“The plastic on the Contax (Kyocera) Aria 35mm SLR...”

Written on: 30/12/2005 by Todd Frederiksen (1 review written)

The plastic on the Contax (Kyocera) Aria 35mm SLR camera is tough as nails, and strips the weight off the package. This is highly desirable compared to the "battleships" that fill out the rest of the Contax line. Paired with the Tessar 45/2.8 or the Planer 50/1.4,1.8 you have a discreet street package that will get you into the "scene" without looking like a wedding photographer. That is such a huge advantage when shooting "people" in high profile or hazardous situations. Big manual controls… Read Full Review

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★★★★★

“I bought my first CONTAX Aria in 1999 and loved it...”

Written on: 05/08/2003 by cceuk (1 review written)

I bought my first CONTAX Aria in 1999 and loved it from the moment I picked it up, but the results were superb (even with the Yashica ML lenses, not the CZ items) and confirmed it as my favourite camera ever (a position previously held by the Contax 137MA). Sadly a burglar parted my company with both cameras, and with the insurance money I was seduced by an attractively priced Contax RX. For some reason I never got on with the RX - I think because of a poorly placed AEL button which resulted… Read Full Review

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123561_Bryan.'s Response to cceuk's Review

Written on: 24/08/2003

I really don't see how anyone could give a modern camera a 10 out of 10 rating that regularly overexposes frames or has a dim viewfinder, especially as one can easily find cameras that don't share these shortcomings. If you're a diehard Contax fanatic maybe you have no choice but to invent work-arounds and excuses but there's no need for the rest of us to settle for second best on a camera that costs what the Aria does.

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168190_Davidchristie's Response to cceuk's Review

Written on: 01/09/2004

I have problems with my Aria (Aug 2004) in that contrary to most reviews I find it UNDER exposes on centre-weighted exposure on slide film (Velvia). It has been returned and supposedly fixed but appears to still have this defect. I intend to return it and ask for a replacement or my money back! I still have a Contax 139 which behaves perfectly on manual. Is this a sign of the times?
<br>
<br>David Christie.

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Tomseverin's Response to cceuk's Review

Written on: 01/02/2004

Actually I've found overexposure to be a common complaint of Aria owners, so the reviewer is correct. But, as a visitor on occasion to a camera repair and auto repair shop, I can confirm the BMW analogy as both seem to be constantly in need of repair.

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Dij's Response to cceuk's Review

Written on: 02/12/2003

Bryan, please read the review properly before you rate it. The Contax RX is criticised for its dim viewfinder and wayward exposure, not the Aria, which I for one found to be a smooth and accurate camera, possessed of intuitive handling. And Petepsy, either you were drunk at the time of writing or your negative rating of another's review was high hypocrisy. It can be said that the Contax brand itself provides the initial attraction to its product, but longterm use will tell you what that brand stands for. Less a Porsche than a BMW: not too much flash, a little mysterious, but its true worth is apparent over time.

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Petepsy's Response to cceuk's Review

Written on: 30/08/2003

Handling a Contax camera is an experience, it' s the Porche photograpy experience. So if someone states it may be slightly darker in the viewfinder, be reminded of the incredibly high standard Contax has. Buy one experience it then critise it, but my thoughts are if you bought a model you like you'll never part with it. Unless a burgular has other ideas.

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★★★☆☆

“I purchased Aria as newer body to replace my Yashica...”

Written on: 01/07/2003 by Juan Sandoval. (1 review written)

I purchased Aria as newer body to replace my Yashica FX3 Super camera, as I have Contax lenses. The Aria is lightweight and compact like my Yashica which was the main reason I got it. But I do not have good results with the automatic metering. When I select evaluative metering mostly I get overexposed photos, especially with the 28mm lens - slides are always overexposed especially. The metering on my FX3 Yashica actually works better.
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Cceuk's Response to 112207_Juan Sandoval.'s Review

Written on: 05/08/2003

I feel that it is a little unfair to damn a camera on an aspect that with experience can easily be overcome. My Aria certainly shares a tendency to over expose slide films (though it is spot on with print film, which has higher exposure latitude anyway). To counter this I merely over-ride the DX setting and increase the ISO speed - problem sorted!

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Rob Valine's Response to 112207_Juan Sandoval.'s Review

Written on: 16/03/2007

You can&#039;t rely on a cameras meter to solve exposure problems for you. You have to be able to recognize light and understand exposure enough to recognize what could be a problem and what won&#039;t be a problem. If your shooting in mixed lighting with slide film, It is something that can obviously be a problem. I&#039;ve never had this problem with the Contax Aria camera and have taken thousands of pictures with slide film. You have to remember that slide film has a narrow latitude of exposure and there are some things that simply won&#039;t fit in that latitude regardless of what meter you are using. I also have and use a Yashica FX-3 camera and it&#039;s a great little camera. Although, I wouldn&#039;t say the meter is any better or worse than the Aria. I usually bracket important slides 1/2 over and 1/2 under just to give a choice of exposures.

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155436_Thomas Turk's Response to 112207_Juan Sandoval.'s Review

Written on: 12/05/2004

How about simply spot metering on the heart of the subject, and choosing a slightly brighter part if u want a darker pix and vv..

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★★★★★

“Ok, so you want to be a photographer right ? You go...”

Written on: 09/11/2001 by Alan. (1 review written)

Ok, so you want to be a photographer right ? You go through all the "major" brands and buying guides, endlessly comparing features until you go stark crazy ! In the back of your mind you say to yourself, " Hey, if I am putting this much time and energy into this search, maybe I should think about getting some quality gear that will last !"
But all you run into are dim viewfinders, obscure controls, and cheap zoom lenses. So what's an aspiring Ansel Adams to do ? One day you are at your… Read Full Review

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37716_Bill.'s Response to 5662_Alan.'s Review

Written on: 13/09/2002

What I am reading here is a sales pitch, not a review.

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Alanhayes's Response to 5662_Alan.'s Review

Written on: 15/12/2018

Hi All. The guy who gave the original review of the Aria. And for anyone who ever used a Contax Camera, we all knew I was not writing a "Sales Pitch". It's amazing to me the reviews I have seen since. I certainly respect everyone's opinion. So goes the Internet :)

So here is my update as far as a long life of using the Contax system as of 2018. Yes, 17 years ago! The Aria helped me break into professional photography. Just by having a Contax gave me credibility. The disappointing thing obviously is that the whole Kyocera relationship with Carl Zeiss blew up as the digital age fell on us. But now, guess what? It's 2018 and "Film is In". Amazing how the tables turn!

So here's how it went down for me. I loved my Aria, the size, handling, custom functions you name it. I never had a problem with over/under exposure for the most part. I had a Databack on it for awhile, and I do think it had a tendency to over expose maybe by 1/2 stop. But with the Spot meter, you knew where to point it to get results. I recall I believe a Custom function which helped get around the crazy tightness of using the on/off switch as an AE lock.

I started experiencing electronic problems with the camera. It would simply spontaneously shut down. I am not sure what the problem was, but it died on me at a cousin's wedding. I was not the photograpger of record, but I felt rather impotent with a dead camera and flash bracket around my neck!

So I traded it in for an AX. Man, did I love my AX. The AX is to put it mildly, not a portable camera! So I missed lazy Sunday's roaming around town with my Aria. What the AX WAS was a great 35mm Studio Camera, which is where my focus had shifted to. With that, I bought a Contax Preview II Polaroid camera and an RTS II "backup". I then started expanding my lens lineup and traded up to the likes of the 25, 35, and 85/1.4 (Could never afford the 100mm F 2)

Then Wedding "Photojournalism" came in and the costs to deliver 500-1000 images with Film just became too much... let alone casual shooting. So I started shooting with Canon Digital. I did "transfer" one Zeiss lens to the Canon line through a Leitex adapter.. the 50/1.4. I still have the rest of my Zeiss glass which I will probably never part with.

A couple of years ago, the mirror on my AX started locking up for some reason. Unfortunately I waited too long and Contax parts are literally impossible to find to repair the Cameras. I will try though. I am eying a used RTS III to anchor the rest of my glass. Could not have afforded it when they were in their prime. I hear there is a problem with the mirrors on some of the Contax Cameras, so if you are buying used, please ask the seller!

My bottom line? At the time of launch, the Aria was truly something special. It was an on-ramp into the world of Carl Zeiss Lenses. For a new Photographer, it was an absolute dream. If you viewed it as a tool within a wider Contax system as a pro shooter, you traded up if you ran into reliability problems as I did. As you learned to operate ANY camera (I shot with Medium and Large Format as well..), you put more stock into what the lenses could deliver... as much of Studio Photography could care less about Auto Exposure modes.

When I shoot now, I rent my Lenses for the application and If I need a Body with specific capabilities, I know I can rent that too. Cameras are tools and you should shoot with the most reliable image making tools you can find.

I will always retain a Contax Body of some sort simply to shoot with Carl Zeiss lenses. When I hit it big, I will probably explore some of the new higher end Zeiss lenses for Canon and Sony bodies.

For those just starting out in Photography and you want to start out with Film, I would recommend perhaps an inexpensive Contax 139, RTS II or even one of the nicer Yashica Bodies available used. They will serve the same magical purpose my beloved Aria served me: A classy and intuitive tool to help you learn how to paint with light. Cheers and never stop shooting.

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Rob Valine's Response to 5662_Alan.'s Review

Written on: 16/03/2007

I have to agree. I&#039;ve been using 2 Contax Aria bodies for 7 years. In response to Bob&#039;s comment, In 7 years I&#039;ve had to make one repair to my Contax Aria bodies. It was a stripped tripod socket. That&#039;s after 7 years of hard professional use.

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105722_Bob.'s Response to 5662_Alan.'s Review

Written on: 09/06/2003

People who are seriously considering this camera should also consider that they are buying a very expensive film camera body that might not be around much longer. Repair statistics are terrible:
<br>
<br>Nikon - 15.6% defects
<br>Yashica - (now discontinued) 16.6%
<br>Ricoh - ( now discontinued) 17.1%
<br>Canon - 19.6%
<br>Leica - 24.3%
<br>Pentax - 25.9%
<br>Minolta - 26%
<br>Contax 30.3% - (most number of repairs of any name brand)

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★★★★★

“I bought my second Aria 2 weeks after my first Aria....”

Written on: 27/04/2000 by CyberPOP. (1 review written)

I bought my second Aria 2 weeks after my first Aria. There will be the time to change from one to another, but noone can part me from Aria. The well-built, light weight camera that can mount a Zeiss lens on it for a reasonable price is sought after. I enjoy using Aria as my serious photo or travelling. The Aria with Tessar 45/2.8 is a handy point-and-focus-and-shoot camera. People are wondering when they saw Aria with Tessar 45/2.8 on it. Is it a "high-end point-and-shoot" or a "junk-like SLR"?… Read Full Review

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105732_Danny W..'s Response to CyberPOP.'s Review

Written on: 09/06/2003

The Contax Aria is in fact the el cheapo of the Contax line, lots of plastic construction. This is not a camera you'd want to take outdoors very much. With a CZ zoom it is very unbalanced and nose-heavy. The reviewer might have mentioned these facts.

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