Can anyone help me to advise a pilot colleague? He wants to get a MF, auto/man, 35mm SLR with a shutter speed priority mode to take air photos and has decided to go for 2nd hand so as to be able to afford the best.

I spent this afternoon being dragged off to a camera shop to check out his short list: Leica R4 and 5s and a Contax 167MT. The Leicas had f2, 50mm Summicrons and the Contax a Carl Zeiss f 1.7, 50mm. I was able to confirm to him that all were fully working, indeed the Contax (which was much newer) looked virtually unused, and all the glass was in perfect condition. But although I have used an R4 a few times, and the 5 seems to be much the same but with a wider shutter speed range, I had never met this Contax model before. If it was me I'd go for one of the Leicas, if only because I like a traditional shutter speed dial and the Contax has a switch arrangement (but a normal lens aperture ring), but I really do not feel able to comment on the Contax, which was a bit cheaper. It seemed to be a beautiful mechanism, with absolutely no discernible kick from the mirror and shutter, but I otherwise don't know anything about it.

Does anyone have any experience with this camera and feel able to comment on how it compares with an R4 or 5. Specifically: how does the glass compare and which is more likely to be reliable long term under heavy use in a high vibration environment like a Cessna 150 cockpit? The Leica would be used with a power winder (the Contax has an integral winder) and I gather that he plans to keep his new camera almost permanently in the aircraft and use it for this application only, using his existing kit for everything else (Olympus OM bought, I suspect, because that is what I use). A 50mm is all you really need in the air, so he considers that this means that the cost and availability of lenses and other system equipment isn't relevant (in my experience, dream on, but there you go), ditto flash sync etc. He shoots colour neg only, mostly one handed whilst flying the plane with the other.

Many thanks. David.