My Contax / Yashica Love Affair - So Far...

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by soeren_engelbrecht|1, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Hi All,

    this will be a post in several parts, telling the story of an "innocent" investment that turned out to be a bit more in the end - but I guess that we CMC'ers are used to that happening from time to time :)

    Back in 2005, I came across a Yashica FX-3 with Yashica 50/2.0 ML lens and ERC at a public recycling store for the equvalent of 7 USD. I tried it out, but decided that I didn't want to start off on yet another lens mount. Back home the day later, though, I called my parents - who were still in the area - and told them that I was now on on my birthday wishlist :)

    This is what it looked like - Typical "Contax Skin Disease" to the point that I actually couldn't use it without the half case becuse it had become sticky. One major feature of this - fully mechanical - camera is the "Exposure check" button on the back to activate the meter. I would simply set or check the exposure once in a while and not worry about flashing lights in the finder. Perfect for using forgiving 400 ISO BW film :)

  2. I shot a roll or two in colour, but then it went into hiatus for a while...
  3. About two years ago, I came across a Zeiss 50/1.7 on sale for the equivalent of 35 USD and thought "What the heck :)". The Zeiss lens is half a stop faster and a bit beefier (55 vs 52 filter size). The way that I shoot it, I probably won't be seeing any major difference in sharpness, but the speed is nice to have...
  4. I was now shooting Kodak BW400CN exclusively, and that combination has give me quite a few nice results :)
  5. More from the Zeiss...
  6. Third picture - more to come in the final part :)
  7. Lately, however, the otherwise quite sturdy FX-3 has been playing tricks on me - blackening out the finder for a much longer time that the shoutter speed would warrant. The explanation ?? Foam turning into goo, making the mirror stick. And the foam around the film speed window is sticky, as well. So - what to do. I was contemplating changing the foam, and maybe even reskinning it - except that I had as least ten thumbs at the last count :-(

    So - some five hours ago, I came across a beauty of an RTS in the most expensive camera store in town. For 50 USD (!!) I think that they considered the meter flaky, since it would not show the AE shutter speed at half press of the shutter, as is the norm, but simply fire. Actually, the RTS simply has a button on the front similar to the one on the FX-3 to activate the meter display :) Perfect !!

    They actually had TWO to choose from at the same price, but I went for the "Celebrity version" with the engraving shown in the picture below. To someone from Denmark, this would be the equivalent of an American buying a camera saying "Herbert Keppler" on it :)

    So, this is where the story ends. And continues, obviously - I shall gladly share some pictures from my black beauty in the future - except that the RTS is on the edge of being kosher in this forum :)

    Hope you enjoyed the tale - and maybe even recognised yourself a bit in one spontaneous purchase leading to the next :)

  8. You can get inexpensive Contax/Yashica leatherette from, I used them to
    fix my two Contax 139
  9. Great post and photos. The covering problem afflicted both the Yashica FX series as well as the Contax 137 and 139's.
    Camera Leather has lots of options to restore.
  10. Good photos, as usual, though I wish the story had been about the children rather than about cameras and lenses. But you do make a point when you suggest that not only one maker provides a three-dimensional effect.
    Please see also:
  11. It's not the camera.
  12. I've always thought that the Contax RTS is just one of the most beautifully styled cameras ever. I remember seeing it at a camera show at the Sheraton Park in Washington DC in 1975 and being blown away. But I was already rather invested in Topcon at that time. Now, like my Topcon gear, it's a DSLR orphan lens mount.
    Although, around the rewind knob is a strange place for the shutter speed control. (Even stranger than the OM-1 with shutter speeds around the lens mount, and the aperture "somewhere" on the lens.)
  13. Glad to see the affair is moving ahead! I too, would love to have Contax body. One of the better ones like yours for 50US$ would be perfect! Mostly they seem a bit pompous for a 159 or a Contax RX! Still you've managed some great shots and I really believe what Gene said! There's wonderful glass out there just waiting to be lifted up to glory! Thanks for the wonderful (envious) post!!
  14. Oooh! That new RTS is just beautiful, Soeren...I'll look forward to seeing what you can do with it. In the meantime, those are lovely pics from the FX3; the one of Asta and her grandfather is a real charmer. It's nice to know that I'm not alone, as one simple little decision leads into something much bigger and more expensive. But usually most enjoyable...
  15. Wonderful, all the way around Soeren. What lovely images. I've always liked the RTS, but I need another camera system like another hole in my head. Love the Zeiss lens.
  16. Soren, what a great write up and wonderful photos to match. I to have a Yashica love affair. I currently own a Contax 167MT, 2 Electro 35G's and a Yashica T-AF. Im hoping soon to come into the possession of a Yashica FR1. I must say that I haven't been able to afford any Zeiss glass yet but I am completely happy with the Yashica ML lenses I own. I think for the price they are an incredible alternative to pricier Zeiss optics.
    The RTS is an absolutely beautiful camera and your are very lucky (Im jealous!) that you got one for such a great price. Oh, I dont know if you are aware but there is an M42 adapter available for the C/Y mount that opens these cameras up to the wonderful world of screw mounts. Have a look at my 167MT folder on flickr for some photos I shot with my Mamiya Sekor M42's on the Contax.
    Thanks again for posting and keep us updated on any new body/lens purchases to expand your addiction...errrr, I mean collection. :)
  17. Some love affairs never end until, well, you know.
  18. Great pictures. Anton and Asta & Grandpa are my favorites. Thanks.
    As I've said many times before, I think the Contax SLRs are among the most stylish SLRs ever made. I went for the 139 (and recovered it - posts at , ). Cameraleather is the place.
  19. Thanks for all the comments, guys. I am aware of the various reskinning options, and I actually "did" my Leica IIIa with an Aki Asahi kit. On the other hand, counting import taxes, a reskin kit would have set me back just as much as the RTS did :) Not to mention the seals.

    Advantages of the RTS over the FX-3 are - to me - the 1/2000 sec (I like to shoot with shallow DOF and always use 400 ISO film) and the exposure automation. And it feels subjectively better in the hand. It definitely is larger than the Yashica, but then again I can use the RTS without a half case.

    Will be bringing the RTS on a couple of family daytrips over the next couple of days :)

    I hadn't thought about the M42 option - I have a 55 mm Vivitar Macro and a 23 mm as well... And then I am eyeing a Zeiss 35/2.8 in a local store, as well... Again, the original 7 USD could turn into even more :)

    Thanks again,


  20. Soeren ... I like all of these photos but particularly Anton and Grandma. Awesome framing. A real moment. Also, I don't mean to hijack ... but this is my first post. I've been a reader/lurker for about a year. I'm also a Contax/Yashica/Zeiss junkie.

    Got my first one, an S2 with a pancake 45, when I was in college ... I was studying photography, in fact, and had never paid much attention to lens quality. Looking back I didn't know much about anything at all!

    I was using a Canon Elan, which got saltwater in it and stopped working ... I was a poor student, bought a Minolta (Maxxus?) autofocus with a lacklustre 24mm lens on it. I actually started noticing that my prints were not very sharp; and I did not like the lack of manual controls (although I barely knew how to work manual aperture and shutter, but I digress)

    So I sold some stuff and raised about $500, which I brought to the classic camera store (this was near Portland, ME). They directed me to the S2 + pancake. I fell in love. I ended up getting a Distagon 28mm 2.8 (new, off the shelf for less than a used one costs now!) ... Then ended up using the S2 and Distagon to complete a documentary photography project that semester. About 150 rolls of 36exp. Neopan in four months. All soup-canned, wet processed by hand, printed, etc. I was def. still learning. I would bet that about 1/4 of my photos were badly over or underexposed. It was really with that camera that I learned b&w photography.

    I'm sorry to say that I no longer have my S2. I'm a journalist by trade and even after college, times got hard and I sold it. Kick myself all the time. But, now I have a beautiful RTS, RTS II, an FX-3 Super 2000 (Japan made), an FX-2 and a beat up 139Q. They are each a pleasure to use but there is def. something special about the RTS and RTS II. For lenses I have a 50 1.4 (AEJ) and another pancake 45.

    I really like this forum. It's good to talk with people who enjoy classic manual photography. I always stand out among my friends, who all have DSLRs or digital point and shoots.
    That is all!

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