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Film Camera Review, Contax 167 MT 35mm MF SLR Film Camera

Film Camera Review: Contax 167 MT

A full-featured manual focus autoexposure 35mm SLR film camera with motorized film transport.

The Contax series of 35 mm, medium format, and digital cameras as we know it today, was a revival of a camera model initially produced by Zeiss Ikon of Dresden in 1932. The series, manufactured by Yashica/Kyocera from 1975 to 2005, includes a range of 35mm SLR film cameras designed with comprehensive use of electronics, and a lens mount system, the C/Y mount, used by both lines of Contax and Yashica SLR film cameras.

The Contax SLR series, outfitted with specific features and functionality trends, started off with the professional quality Contax RTS (1974), followed by the 139 Q (1979), 137 MD (1980), RTS II (1962), 137 MA (1971), 137 MM (1972), 167 MT (1986), RTS III (1990), ST (1992), S2 (1992), S2b (1994), RX (1994), AX (1996), Aria (1998), and RX II (2002).

Contax 167 MT, Yashica ML 50mm F1.7

The Contax 167 MT, featured here, was launched in 1986 and comes with a range of six program modes, and three metering modes (which includes a permanent AE-lock). The camera is compatible with MM series lenses which have a metal flange that allows the camera to set the aperture.

Without MM lenses, the 167 MT can only be used in aperture-priority (Av) and manual (M) modes, and will automatically switch to Av mode if an improper metering mode is selected.

    Contax 167MT Review

    Camera specifications: Some pictures I took with this camera (spread in the photostream): Really nice overview of this camera (with which I agree): STUFF I FORGOT TO SAY: - Viewfinder provides selected aperture and shutter speed inside, at the top. - LCD display at the top left part of the camera is really nice.

Function-wise, the 167 MT is fitted with an electronically-timed shutter with a speed range from 16s to 1/4000, with flash synchronization at 1/125 second. The three metering modes available on the camera are selected by setting the power dial to the 'square' icon will put the camera in center-weighted metering mode, the 'circle' icon for spot metering, and 'AEL' for image capture with auto-exposure lock.

Basic Camera Features

Metering on the 167 MT is TTL (Through-the-Lens) center-weighted or spot, usable with film speed rated at ISO 25 to 5000. While exposure compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 steps, the 167 MT also comes with a feature in the form of an Automatic Continuous Exposure Compensation mode. This mode lets you capture up to three images with automatic changes to the exposure compensation setting.

Contax 167 MT, Front

The front panel of the Contax 167 MT, though the whole camera looks regal and elegant, is a plain affair with only the left-side ridged finger-grip protrusion. On the lower part of the grip is the self-timer LED display. Located centrally on the front panel is the bulked-out lens mount housing with the DoF preview button and lens release button located on its left vertical.

Contax 167 MT, Top

All of the camera's major control is located on the top plane itself. On the far left is the LCD panel, below which is the pair of HOME and ISO selection buttons, with the Drive Mode Selector next to it. On top of the pentaprism hump is the hot shoe, and on its right, is the Exposure Compensation and Exposure Compensating Value dial.

Towards the right shoulder, from front to back, are the Power On/Metering Mode Selector and Shutter Release button dial, the Mode Selector Operating Lever, and The Rewind Release Button and Film Rewind Switch.

Contax 167 MT, Back

The back, is another plain affair, with the Viewfinder Eyepiece located on the back of the pentaprism hump, and a film-back with a sculptured handhold, Film CHeck Window, and Film Transport Indicator.

Contax 167 MT, Bottom

The whole bottom plate of the 167 MT is the cover for the battery compartment, fitted to the body via a lug screw located on the right edge of the plate, which also carries the tripod socket and a surface flush RS switch setup.

Contax 167 MT, Film box

The quick load film box, accessed by a latch lock on the left shoulder of the camera back, is similarly configured to other motorized SLRs of that era - a DX-pinned film canister chamber on the left, the film frame in the middle, and the auto take-up spool on the right. Film loading is quick and easy.

Film Loading and Rewind

On the 167 MT, the auto film load works slightly differently from other autoload cameras. After organizing that the film is properly loaded and the tab properly nested, close the film back. Next, trip the shutter and the film will advance to Frame 1. The 167MT will retain the last used setting of the non-DX encoded film.

Use the film check window located on the film-back to check if the film is advancing properly. To rewind, press the Rewind Release Button button on the top plate and slide the Film Rewind Switch towards the pentaprism. You can also do a mid-roll rewind with the same sequence.

Power On Metering Mode Selection

Contax 167 MT, Camera control

When powering on you are also selecting the metering mode selection of the 167 MT. The Power switch has a 3-way linear stop.

The first click stop, on the 'square' icon, is the selection for center-weighted metering.

The second, on the 'circle' icon, is the selection for spot metering, while the 'AEL' icon will put you into the Auto Exposure Lock mode.

Viewfinder Readout

Contax 167 MT, Viewfinder readout

The viewfinder, fitted with a standard horizontal split-image/microprism screen, which displays 95% of the image frame, is also fitted with a display bar located on the top of the viewscreen.

The bar displays:

  1. Flash symbol (when activated),
  2. Exposure counter (which doubles to display elapsed time in bulb exposure and self-timer countdown,
  3. Exposure compensation indicator,
  4. Shutter/film speed,
  5. Spot metering mark,
  6. lens aperture, and
  7. Program mode.

LCD Panel Display

Contax 167 MT, LCD panel

Display on the LCD panel, besides reflecting similar information as displayed on the viewfinder display bar, while also displaying the shooting modes (Tv, Av, M, PROGRAM, HIGH, LOW) as well as film ISO speed and rewind mark.

Shooting MODE and Film Speed ISO Setting

Shooting mode selection on the 167 MT is done by first pressing the MODE button, and selected by pushing the Operating Lever to cycle through the mode selection (Tv, Av, M, PROGRAM, HIGH, LOW). The selected mode will be set and displayed on the LCD panel.

To set the film ISO speed setting, which will override the film ISO DX-coding when set, press the ISO button and use the Operating Lever to adjust. The film speed ISO setting will also be set and displayed on the LCD panel.

Drive Mode

The 167 MT supports three types of drive modes, S (single), C (continuous), and S-T (self-timer), set via the dial located by the top shoulder LCD panel. The self-timer exposure counter counts down from 10.

Automatic Continuous Exposure Compensation

Contax 167 MT, Automatic Continuous Exposure Compensation

To set the value, rotate the Compensating Value Setting Lever located below the Exposure Compensating Dial on the right shoulder of the pentaprism. Values in White are for use in Av mode, while values in Green are for exposures in Tv mode.

Contax 167 MT, Automatic Continuous Exposure Compensation lever

The Automatic Continuous Exposure Compensation mode is used to shoot up to three sequential images with an increasing level of exposure compensation.


The 167 MT is powered by a set of 4xAAA batteries. An add-on optional battery grip that uses longer-life AA batteries is available.

Contax 167 MT, AAA Battery chamber

To check battery strength, hold both MODE and ISO buttons at the same time while powering on the camera. This will light up every item on the LCD panel if the batteries are OK, otherwise, have the batteries changed.

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