Contax RTS

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by Rick Helmke, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. Evening everyone,

    I just took a look at a Contax RTS. It’s the first I’ve ever come across. I recall reading about it when it was introduced and it seemed to be way ahead of everyone in terms of tech. It has an odd battery and if I am not mistaken, it had a Yaschica lens. What’s the story on these? Have they held up or just all die at once? I’m not looking to buy this one but it’s the most interesting older camera I’ve seen lately.

    Rick H
  2. For the (neo)Contax series in general, Yashica produced them under license and both Yashica and Contax lenses were made in this mount.

    I think the Contax-Yashica cameras were especially "pretty", but the camera covers deteriorated badly (oddly eough shared by seat covers in Japanese cars of the same era).
    I got red leather to re-cover it:
    Contax-139Q-red-cover 2.jpg
    Normally, I'm strictly for conservation, but felt the poor quality of the original cover excused me to some extent.:rolleyes:
  3. SCL


    I loved much about the RTS, but as mentioned they had a covering deterioration problem, so I went with an RX instead, and am quite happy with the results. I thought about the AX, which had a unique solution to autofocus with a strictly manual focus lens, but it seemed too complex and prone to failure for me to commit cash. BTW, JDMvW - nice looker!
  4. The one I looked at had covering that was very sticky. That seems to be a problem on many cameras much newer. I also noticed that there were some odd controls on it. There were settings for 1x, 1/2x and others that are set by rotating the iso dial. There looked like some sort of needle in the lower left of the viewfinder and I never did find an on/off switch. I would need to spend serious time reading the manual to use one of these.

    Rick H.
  5. I had an RTS 2, and loved it. The battery is the same as the first version, a 6v 4LR44 which are readily available. I’m not sure what the viewfinder needle in the lower left is? There is a flag that pops up down here when the exposure compensation is set, so it might be that. The on/off switch is on the front of the body to the right of the lens (as viewed when holding camera in normal position) and those markings on the ISO dial are the exposure compensation settings. Press the switch and the meter comes on, and goes off automatically about 16 seconds later IIRC. The shutter was a revelation, using a magnetic switch that tripped easily with a gentle squeeze. Something that was taken up by most manufacturers since. It looked and felt great, but the electronics were, allegedly, a bit flaky and I sold mine before it got to the flaky electrics stage. If you can get a working one at a good price, it will accept Yashica lenses of the same era at a fraction of the cost of the Zeiss equivalent. Many will say the reason you have a Contax is for the Zeiss glass, but if you want to play with a lovely ergonomic camera for the experience, the Yashica glass is pretty darn good (my ML 50mm f1.7 is stellar). If the first version has the same exposure lock as the second, watch out for leaving it on as it will drain the batteries.
  6. I have a Contax RTS single lens reflex camera, its
    covering deteriorated badly, I replace its cover with
    a snake skin cover from

    I bought a Contax S 60 years model, it has a titanium body, no covering needed
    This solves the cover problem
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  7. Contax  60 years.jpg
    Contax SLR camera 60 years model with titanium body
    If I remember correctly, Contax was the first camera company to use titanium cover in the camera bodies
    They made many titanium cameras, such as Contax S,
    Contax S2, Contax S2b, Contax T titanium pocket 35mm camera Contax T2 titanium pocket 35mm camera

    Some technical detail about the Contax 60years SLR camera

    Lens: Carl Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28 T*
    55mm diameter thread UV filter

    ISO settings 12 25 50 100 200 400 800 1600 3200 6500
    Shutter dial B 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000
    Battery compartment 2 silver oxide SPX76 button cell

    Pentaprism viewfinder:: Ground glass screen with center diamond ring
    and split prisms
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
    julien_t and stuart_pratt like this.
  8. I think that’s an S2.The S was an early SLR from the late 40s.
  9. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    I have an RTS still with the original cover in very good condition.
    It's quite a heavy camera and very similar to the Yashica FR1. I think the main difference was the lack of a viewfinder cover.
    I have an FR1 too!
    The RTS II is a major upgrade from the original. Mine still has its original cover too, also in very good condition.
    My favourite Contax is the 139, quite a bit lighter than the RTS series, and with the 2.8 45 Tessar it is almost pocketable.
    In fact it is slightly smaller than the G series rangefinders that everyone raves about. (I have a couple of 139s... )
    The 137s had an integral winder powered by 4 AA batteries, which also powered the camera functions. I have a couple of both versions-
    the 137 MD which was aperture priority and the later 137 MA with which you could alter the shutter for manual operation.
    All my 137s, 139s and Yashica have needed replacement leather and light seals.
    The Yashica ML lenses were pretty good, just not as good as the Carl Zeiss lenses. The difference in size is quite marked too.
    [​IMG]Contax RTS by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Contax Zeiss 135 2.8 and Yashica ML 135 2.8 by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Contax Zeiss 200 3.5 and Yashica ML 200 4 by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
    [​IMG]RTS II by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Contax Yashica 004 by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Contax 011e by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Contax 139 by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
  10. On the questions here - The settings for 1x, 1/2x, etc are exposure compensation which can be used when you don't trust the light meter.

    The original RTS doesn't have an on-off switch they saved that for the RTS II. The concept behind this was that you could just pick up the camera and shoot. Hence the RTS acronym - it stands for Real Time System. The shutter button is very sensitive and has a short travel with no 'half press' to check the exposure (again this is a feature on the RTS II). There is an exposure preview button on the front, above the self timer which will tell you how the camera is going to expose. Sadly this also means no exposure lock.

    The Yashica "Twin" of this camera - the FR-I has a similar body style but is downgraded 9e.g. no 1/2000th shutter speed) but more than compensates with nice meter-on switch on the back which is why it's my preferred camera of the two. It also has leathers which don't deteriorate.

    The RTS II is in a different league to either in terms of usability with more conventional shutter release, memory lock and TTL flash. It's also IMO the most durable, as it's a perfected RTS. All of the RTS series are electronic cameras and getting unreliable the electronics often fail on the RTS I and the RTS III has a DC-DC converter unit which often fails and can't bee replaced.

    Finally, another thumbs up for the 139, its a super little camera which does most of what the RTS II does in a tiny package, and if you want a cut price version, Yashica's FX-D is essentially the same - to the extent that they can share autowinders. Ultimately, I do prefer the 139's improved successor, the 159MM, for it's programme modes and faster top shutter speeds, 1/250th flash sync and sculpted handgrip making it the most capable manual wind Contax/Yashica SLR.
  11. Well I couldn’t stand it and got a few other things done so I called the guy and got it for $30. This should be interesting.

    Rick H.
  12. I bought a RTS II couples weeks ago with the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4. Really nice camera and lenses...

    The body have a nice solid/robust feeling which I enjoy. But the downside is that is a bit hard to hold with just the right hand. Maybe a small grip like F3 would have been handy? But it would have not look has nice/streamlined has it is.

    The red led infos really popup well in the bright and large viewfinder.

    I like the knobs, push buttons and winder. I’m a mechanical engineer, I like things like that ;)

    For the batteries I just bought a pack of 5 for 15$ on Amazon so price and availability don’t seem to be a problem.

    Just finished my first roll. Can’t wait to see the pictures.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020

  13. Post the pics here when they come from the lab.

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