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Contax RTS 35mm SLR Film Cameras

Contax RTS 35mm SLR Film Cameras

#FilmCameraReview - A quick look review of the development timeline of the Contax RTS 35mm manual focus SLR film camera system, a high point on the most-wished-for list.

High on the most-wished-for 35mm SLR by film photo enthusiasts and collectors are the Contax RTS camera system, introduced as a professional 35mm SLR system with an electronically-controlled shutter, manufactured by Yashica and introduced in 1974, with lenses made by both Carl Zeiss and Yashica (later Kyocera).

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The RTS was first designed by Prof. Dr. Katsuiko Sugaya and styled by the Porsche Design Studio. Though unconventional (when compared with many other mainstream SLR designs available during that time) RTS system proved to be an immediate hit once it was introduced. During the length of its production, the RTS went through further developments with the introduction of the Contax RTS II Quartz (1982) and Contax RTS III (1990).


The RTS also incorporates features such as exposure compensation, depth of field preview, mirror lock-up., electronic self-timer, flash AE, interchangeable focusing screens, and a 250 bulk film back within their model range to justify itself as a full-fledged 35mm professional system camera.
The standard for the Contax RTS series is the Zeiss Contax series of lenses, well known for its excellent optical quality and built, with prices beyond the norm. The Contax/Yashica lens mount is also adaptable to the Yashica ML series of lenses, which was produced for Yashica's own FX and FR SLR series. These lenses too, albeit in a lower-priced range, when compared to the Zeiss, who do have their ardent followers too.

The RTS Series



Contax RTS (1974)

Contax RTS

The RTS featured an electronically-controlled, horizontal cloth focal-plane shutter with speeds of 1 - 1/2000 sec. plus B, interchangeable focus screens. The camera was designed to be compatible with a number of professional accessories including power winders, professional motor drives, and both infrared and radio-controlled remote releases.

Contax RTS II Quartz (1982)

Contax RTS II Quartz

While the RTS II is a model replacement for the original RTS, many regards it as a totally different camera as it contains many important changes and improvements over the previous model. This included Quartz timing, 97% viewfinder (as opposed to the 92% viewfinder of the RTS), horizontal titanium foil shutter curtain, and more.

Contax RTS III (1990)

Contax RTS III

The RTS III is the first SLR with an integrated five-frame per second motor drive, and the design comes with a Real-Time Vacuum Back and ceramic pressure plate, Pre-Flash Spot Meter which provides TTL flash meter readings with any flash equipment, Automatic Bracketing Control, and multiple exposure capabilities. Shutter speeds reached 1/8000 second with X-sync at up to 1/250 second.


The camera was also the first to have a pre-flash spot meter that provides TTL flash meter readings with any flash equipment. The RTS III also boasted of several other notable features like a built-in motor drive, diopter control, automatic bracketing control, and multiple exposure capabilities.

Other Contax Models

The RTS model was not the only series produced. After the initial launch of the FTS in 1974, the following model was also introduced and launched by Contax:

Zeiss / Contax Lenses

Zeiss / Contax Lenses

All of the Zeiss / Contax SLR lenses are designed by Zeiss in Germany, coming in with a total of approximately 30 lenses, all manual focus, which include five zooms, four special order lenses, and three teleconverters. These lenses are of excellent construction with focusing action that is firm and smooth. The MM series lenses support all camera functions, including manual, program, aperture priority, and shutter speed priority modes while the AE series do not have the mechanism to allow the camera body to control the aperture diaphragm in the lens.

Yashica ML Lenses

Yashica ML Lenses

The Yashica ML series lenses, which share a common bayonet mount on the Contax RTS and on the Yashica FX-1,  was the pro-line of Multicoated lenses developed and produced by Yashica (Kyocera), to sit between their consumer-grade DSB line and the state-of-the-art Zeiss T* within the Contax / Yashica system. They are Japanese-made, from the same factory as the legendary Zeiss Contax T* lenses - but due to their coating, they have a slightly less contrasty, classic look. They are renowned for their vivid color rendition.




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