Need to know more on Contax slr system

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by abhishek@1985, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. abhishek@1985

    abhishek@1985 Member

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    Hi friends,

    I had a great opportunity to use a contax aria with the 50mm CY lens.Blown away by the handling and the ease of use of it. Have been thinking to sell all my bronica medium format system as its getting too heavy to carry on hikes. Hence would like to invest in a Contax system.

    Thus, would like to know your viws as to which ody to go for - Aria or RX?
    I am interested in 28mm or 25mm lens for landscapes and 85mm/100mm lens for portraits. This would complement my Leica M6 with 50mm f2 hexanon.

    Please let me know your thoughts and key points I should consider as I am looking forward to use the same for street portraits as well as 28mm for landscape shots.
     
  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Bear in mind a Contax is little more than a Yashica with a more expensive set of clothes!

    They have not been made for quite a while now and the accessories that are available are damn expensive, lenses especially. The 25mm wide angle retails for nearly twice the price of a Nikon manual focus 24mm. Yes they bear the Contax name and they are seemingly well made, but having said that I don't think they are actually worth what they sell for.
     
  3. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Yes, a nice Nikon (e.g. FE) with 24/2.8 and 85/1.8 or 105/2.5 Nikkors would be a lot less expensive and do just as well, not to mention be a lot more repairable.

    That having been said, there is a mystique to the Zeiss lenses.

    If one really wants to get crazy, Zeiss now makes Nikon-mount 25/2.8 and 85/1.4 lenses, so one can use a modern or vintage body and brand new Zeiss lenses, if one wants.
     
  4. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Some Contaxes are now more expensive than when they were new which don't make sense to get one.
     
  5. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Contax SLRs and their lenses are awesome. I have the RTS, RTSII and an RX. Many love their Aria but I handled it and it felt too cheap and was too small for me. Consider some of the others like the 139 or even aforementioned Yashicas. There was a nice 139 for sale on APUG recently. I got an FX-3 for very cheap and all my Zeiss C/Y lenses fit just fine. That said I also shoot Nikons (F2, F3 and FM2) and mostly older 60's and 70's manual focus glass. I use the Nikon glass mostly for more classic look of B&W and the Contax and Zeiss lenses for when I want a more contrasty B&W look and/or color. Both systems are terrific.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2013
  6. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Contax cameras aren't dressed-up Yashicas. Most of the models don't have equivalent Yashica models.

    That said, the reason you buy a Contax is for the Carl Zeiss lenses and not for the bodies. And you either believe that the lenses are a notch above what others offer, or you don't.

    By the way, nearly all of the cameras will need to have new foam seals (but that's true of any Japanese camera from the 1980s or earlier), and many Contax cameras (and certain Yashicas) will neeed to have new body coverings.
     
  7. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    I have the RX and the Aria (as well as the RTS-III, AX, and S2). I much prefer the RX over the Aria for just about everything, but sometimes I want something small and the Aria is definitely small. I have the 25, it's my most-used Zeiss lens. I also have the 80-200 f4 which I like very much, as well as the 50 f1.7 and the huge 28-85. Zeiss lenses will definitely blow a large hole in your bank account, and while I'm not convinced they're actually worth it I'll never sell mine and plan to acquire at least a 100mm macro when finances improve.
     
  8. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    Contax bodies have gone way down in price over the last few years while the lenses have increased in price for the most part. I have always thought the Aria was a little too light. The RX is a good camera. The ST is nice. If I were to rank the bodies, I would say the RTS III is the best (it is large though) then the ST, RX, S2. If you want a small body the Aria is good.

    Zeiss makes (and made) great lenses. I wouldn't call it a mystique, just higher quality with better precision. I can see the difference, and I have used practically everything, but a lot of people will swear that there is none. You won't regret getting a Contax though. Try it for yourself and you will see.

    For lenses, a 28, 50 and 85 (sonnar) would be a great lightweight setup for hiking.
     
  9. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    The original RTS body was Porshe designed. I have owned the 139 and the 167MT and held others including the Aria. Contax cameras are so ergonomic and felt better in my hands than any other SLR camera from the 1980's. Pick your favorite body and go with it.

    I owned the German 25 and 180 and the Japanese 35, 50 and 100. All the glass was made in Germany by Zeiss. All my lenses were bought brand new and were all the original lenses before the program mode contact. All were tack sharp and contrasty. Just pick the lens focal length and maximum aperture that you want. They are all great lenses.
     
  10. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

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    Go for Contax. Apart from Zeiss lenses, the camera's are really well made. I own 1 RTS III, 1RTS II and 2 Aria's. The Aria's are my hiking camera's, together with 28mm,50mm and 85mmS. A really lightweight set-up. The RTS III is a rock, really nice, but heavy, usually supporting the 85mmP. If I could have only one body I would probably have kept my RX, a wonderfull camera with the most well-demped mirror.
     
  11. Viggi

    Viggi Member

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    I picked up a 167MT and while I like the handling, the whining motor sort of bothers me. The Nikon F80 is smoother and quieter, although I actually prefer to shoot the Contax. Is the film-advance noise of the RX high-pitched? When I was shooting the 167MT at a market, some of the locals actually looked back at me when the camera advanced and I felt uncomfortable continuing. I had an easier time with the old Konica T3 (not to mention the Hexar AF). I just really want an RX.
     
  12. elekm

    elekm Member

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    You could go with a 139 Quartz and add a winder when you want it. The 139 has autoexposure and manual shutter speed selection.

    Another option is the 137MD, which is autoexposure only with just two manually selected shutter speeds - B and flash sync. I don't think the built-in film advance is too loud with this model.
     
  13. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I have the 159mm.
    It's manual advance (winder available) and quite small.
    I've never had a Yashica and was tempted to get one as a backup body until I read so much about the sub par mechanics and just got another 159mm.

    The 159 lacks mirror lockup but gives you 1/250 flash sync and aperture priority if needed.
     
  14. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    brucemuir, I never found the Yashicas to have subpar mechanics. I used an FX-3 and FX-D Quartz for several years and had excellent reliability. The FX-3 has crappy body covering, but that's easily solved by buying one of the cool camera leathers that are available for it.

    The Contaxes are generally nicer, but nothing wrong with the Yashicas, especially if you buy the 1980s ones.
     
  15. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    The contax coverings are nothing to write home about either Jim.
    I just saw a thread where maybe it was the 2000 (forget the exact model designation) where a couple people were complaining about gearing and other plastic parts.

    Like I said I never owned one and haven't been inside one to compare so take the internet advice with a grain.
    I got lucky and got a 159 with discolored covering for 35.00 usd so went that direction.
    I know the contaxs dont have the best rep in the electrics dept.
     
  16. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    It's possible the FX-3 Super 2000 was less well made. Mine was the non-Super 2000 that maxed out at 1/1000 and it was certainly reliable.
     
  17. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    The Yashica FRI is the best Yashica body I think. I have had one for nearly 20 years, used intermittently, that is quite worn. Still going strong.
     
  18. graubär

    graubär Member

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    Aria is smaller than the RX and the RX is more robust. I like my 2.8/28 mm and especially the 1.4/85 mm. The 85 is quite large and the 2.8/85 and the 2.8/135 are cheaper alternatives. Especially the 135 is exzellent! These Zeiss Contax lenses are not more expansive than Nikon or Canon of comparable quality! Leica is more expensive! I am using Contax bodies 167MT, S2 and AX since over 20 years and i will continue to do so, hopefully for another 20 years.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I've had 167mt's, an RX, and now an RTS III (which I bought because I got the body for a steal, and I had always wanted one when they were still making them but could never afford one). While the rubber covering on the used 167 I bought was starting to bubble a little where the hand grip went, I never had a mechanical or electronic problem with either one of the 167s or the RX. It's too soon to tell with the RTS III as I haven't had it that long (less than a year now). I've also had a G1 and a G2 for close to a decade, with no incidents or problems. I'm not a light user nor am I a heavy user of any of these systems (they get trotted out a few times a year, but when they do they're getting 30+ rolls put through them in a week, most specifically on the G1/G2 kit). The SLRs have been to Belize, Thailand and Cambodia (nothing like a tropical climate to stress a camera) without failure. I would opt for the RX if you are looking for an SLR body - I think it's the best compromise between function and weight, plus it has that nifty little feature of the focus indicator in the viewfinder. It's a manual focus camera that will indicate not only if you are in focus (it uses a center spot of the viewfinder for measuring) but it will also indicate if you are focused closer or farther, and can optionally show you the depth of focus of your chosen aperture, so you can play with hyperfocal focusing or front-focusing (useful if you have to use a very small aperture due to bright light outdoors, but want to blur the background) without taking your eyes off the viewfinder.
     
  20. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    Well, you should be buying into the lenses rather than the bodies and as others have mentioned even the Yashica bodies are OK. The bodies have an effect, of course, but the primary determinant of final image quality will be the lens. The 28/2.8 MM is excellent. I'm not sure about the 25/2.8. I understand there are 2 optical versions of this lens but I've not used both so I'm not really sure if there is a significant optical difference.

    As for the portrait lenses, I think you should do some research on each lens and see if the rendering each offers is what you are after. The 100/2 is a very nice lens, as is the 135/2 which is also worth considereing. I've had the 85/1.4 and 135/2 but only kept the 135/2.

    I wonder if ultimately you might be better off with a medium format body such as an M645 which is potentially lighter than your Bronica but which will give you a better result than any 35mm film camera, IMHO. The M645 lenses are very cheap too. The 120/4 A Macro is an ideal portrait lens, as is the 110/2.8 N and these are both at the expensive end of the Mamiya M645 range. The wider lenses are not very expensive and the 80/2.8 N is a really nice lens yet extremely cheap. I get that you're trying to get away from weight but I don't think there is anything you can do to replicate medium format image quality with a 35mm camera, even with Leica or Zeiss lenses.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2013
  21. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    I've had four contax bodies and nothing but bad experience with the system overall. The lenses were great. The bodies gave a never ending set of problems.

    I would not touch the system.
     
  22. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Details please? I've owned RTS, RTSII, RX and Aria. All terrific, no problems.
     
  23. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    One busted rewind mechanism. One shutter which kept dying sporadically and one dead meter. My Aria had no problems.

    The repairs were expensive. The cameras were expensive and the parts were hard to find.

    I don't translate my experience with 4 cameras to the system overall. When they work, they're great. When they don't, it's like pulling teeth.