I've had an RX, two 167MTs and now an RTS III. You can't go wrong with any of them. The RX and the RTS III are tied for whiz-bang cool factors - the RX has the digital focus assist, which will not only help you focus, but it will also allow you to figure out where to focus to take advantage of your depth of field (very helpful if you're forced to shoot at f16 but want to blur your background to make it LOOK like you're shooting wide open), whereas the RTS III has not only the ceramic film pressure plate and the vacuum back for perfect film flatness, it also has a 1/8000 top shutter speed and TTL flash metering for non-dedicated flash sources. So you can test fire studio strobes, a Vivitar 283, or anything else for that matter, and meter it through the camera instead of hauling around a separate flash meter.
my brother has two RTS II and used them as an archeologist under severe conditions, dust, shocks, rain, on the construction sites. They were very reliable and sturdy. But after years of use they got electronic malfunctions and unfortunately there is no longer an official Kyocera service station here in Germany. The availability of spare parts is also a problem. The Carl Zeiss lenses are great (1,4/85, 100 mm Makro Planar, 2,8/25).
Contax 137 MA. Great camera, quick autowind, reliable, great metering, great price (bought one with a Contax flash, Yashica macro lens, for $75). Can't beat it if you want to get into Contax.
That depends on what features you want. I just went through this (mostly a Canon guy) and I wanted these features:
Originally Posted by kivis
Aperture priority auto exposure
Program auto exposure
ALL exposure meter information in the viewfinder
1/4000 shutter speed
1/250 flash sync
I ended up with the Contax 159 MM, Zeiss 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.7 and 135mm f/2.8. I'm very happy.
When I want a good photo, I shoot digital. When I want a great photo, I shoot film.
So the short answer out of all of these suggestions is that most of the contax line up is reliable. There are some potential issues with mirror slip on many of these, but that is problem that can be fixed. Just dont leave the camera in a warm car.. I currently have a contax139q with the alligator leather. Much prettier than the standard vinyl covering that comes off! At any rate, if you are intersted in buying, try looking at www.keh.com they have a good selection there of many models that people have spoken about here.
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Mark Hama CLA'd my RTS and my RTS II.
Originally Posted by flatulent1
I had the RTS first and it looked barely used (no brassing, no tri-pod marks on the base plate, very clean in general) but had sat for a long time with a battery in it. Consequently, the battery compartment had corroded and it needed a new one to function reliably, which it now does.
Hama told me that the electronics on the RTS II were much superior to that of the RTS and that he would recommend I find an RTS II (prior to this, I had only used an S2 — electronics were new to me.)
All of that said, for what it's worth, my RTS feels the same as, and functions similarly to my RTS II — and is so far equally as reliable and durable. I don't baby it like I do my RTS II and it has been my primary go-to camera for about the past two years, roughly 100 rolls of film.
One night, I had my alternating and blinking rear bike light going in the living room. I pointed my RTS with Planar 50 1.4 at the light and looked in the viewfinder. The concept of RTS metering clarified as I watched the meter doing its job quickly and precisely. Photos have shown that it does the job accurately as well.
I hope I'm not jinxing myself because I really enjoy using that camera!
Instead of a Contax, how about one like this -
Old but probably one of the best designs in terms of looks and quality.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
I have an RTSIII, RTSII (jammed; in repair), RTS (great), S2 (NOS; hard to work with due to the spot metering and the viewfinder display; flashing or constant led's) and a scruffy 139Q with a scruffy 2.0/50 ML Yashica.
They all have great viewfinders, are well built and offer acces to Zeiss optics. I find them more "jam-prone" then my Nikons (FM2n, FE2, FA), which have never given any problems apart from light leaks.
I'd say a 139Q if you want to go cheap; lovely camera and ignore the failing leatherette or an RTS or RTSII. I have no experience with the highly praised RX.
I have a 139 with a winder. I think it's an outstanding camera. I replaced the foam seals and the body covering myself, as well as the covering on the winder.
If you don't want to spend a lot, a 137MD can be picked up on Ebay for ridiculously reasonable prices. I know it's an auto only but the auto exposure lock is superb. I've got a 137MA with the manual exposure option but use the AE lock on that camera as well. I've written a bit about them here. Unlike, the Aria, the 137 cameras are a better size for the Zeiss lenses. I have a Yashica FR1 as well and can't fault it.