Mint 159MM with the W-7 pro winder
The Contax 159MM was released in 1985. It ushered in a new
type of aperture indexed Carl Zeiss lens called the MM Mount
(Multi-Mode). The MM lens allows the use of the Program modes
on the 159MM and subsequent cameras. MM lenses are distinguished
by their minimum f-stop being painted green. Other technical
distinctions are that the MM lens has a tab at the lens mount
to signal the camera body that it is an MM lens, and that the
MM lens has a lighter weight diaphragm assembly which allows
the camera body to set the f-stop for program or shutter preferred
modes. The top shutter speed on was 1/4000 second and X sync
was at 1/250 second. It had three program modes, High Speed,
Low Speed and Normal, as well as Aperture Preferred and Manual
exposure modes. TTL flash metering was also standard. It was
the first Contax with a high-speed Copal shutter with 1/4000
sec. as shortest time (Nikon had set this mark with its FE 2)
and a shutter-priority and a program mode. It was also their
first camera to use rubber coatings on the body rather than traditional
leather. Some of the 159's have been reported to have had reliability
problems with electronics or shutters, but I know of others that
have never had a problem, and I have one myself that is problem-free
and it is my main body right now. I use it with a pro motor drive
that provides me with a front grip and two more shutter releases,
one vertical and one at the top of the front grip. It is a great
blend of old and new technologies, still having a manual rewind
crank, yet having the newer rubber coating instead of leather
which looks and feels nice but doesn't last, and having the MM
mount and a fast shutter speed.
TYPE: 35mm direct drive SLR featuring auto/manual exposure;
TTL auto flash control.
IMAGE SIZE: 24 x 36mm
LENS MOUNT: Contax/Yashica mount.
SHUTTER: Quartz-timed, electronically controlled vertical travel,
metal focal plane type.
SHUTTER SPEEDS: Semi-continuously variable from 60 sec. to 1/4000
sec. in AE modes, 1 sec. to 1/4000 in Manual, with B.
FLASH SYNCH: In Direct X synch with TLA units, automatically
synchs at 1/100 sec., at 1/250 or slower in manual flash mode.
X synch also. ELECTRONIC SELF-TIMER: Quartz-timed, electronic
self-timer with precise 10 sec. delay. LED flashes to indicate
operation, accelerates 2 sec. before shutter is released.
SHUTTER RELEASE: Real Time Electromagnetic Release System featuring
quartz-timed operating sequence; aux. remote electronic release
EXPOSURE MODES: Normal Program AE Mode, High-Speed Program AE
Mode, Low-Speed Program AE Mode, Aperture-Priority AE Mode, Manual
Mode, TTL Program Auto Flash Mode, TTL Aperture-Priority Auto
Flash Mode, Manual Flash Mode.
METERING SYSTEM: TTL center-weighted with SPD sensor. EV 0 to
20. Film speed ASA 12 to 3200. Coupled to main switching circuit.
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION: +-2EV by rotating exposure compensation
dial. Click stops at 1/4 (-2), 1/2 (-1), X1 (0), 2 (+1), 4 (+2)
with intermediate settings.
AE LOCK: Using main switch, exposure is held in memory.
VIEWFINDER: Eye-level penta-prism; field shows 95% of picture
area. Magnification of .82x
FOCUSING SCREENS: Horizontal split prism standard. Four others
VIEWFINDER DISPLAY: LED digital display indicating aperture and
exposure compensation signs, LED display indicating shutter speed,
over and under exposure, program AE modes, dedicated flash mark
array indicating shutter speeds.
FILM ADVANCE: Lever operated. 135 degree winding angle and 30
degree stand-off angle, provision made for 159 Winder W-7.
FILM REWIND: Film rewind crank-handle with clutch action, and
film rewind release button.
EXPOSURE COUNTER: Auto resetting type; at all shutter settings
except B, camera shutter system automatically operates at 1/100
sec. until counter reaches 1.
MULTIPLE EXPOSURES: Enabled by turning multiple exposure lever.
ACCESSORY SHOE: Direct X contact and TLA contacts.
CAMERA BACK: Opens by pulling film rewind knob all the way out.
Provided with memo holder. Removable.
DEPTH-OF-FIELD PREVIEW BUTTON: Button type.
MIRROR LOCK: None provided.
POWER SOURCE: 2 1.55v silver-oxide SR44 or alkaline LR44 batteries.
BATTERY CHECK: Indicated with battery check lamp activated with
OTHER FEATURES: Provisions for Data Back and motorized winder
SIZE AND WEIGHT: 138mm x 89mm x 55mm. 520 grams without batteries.