I might regret this but if one were just diving into Contax SLR's, which would you recommend?
RTS II or III ... Or an RX
S2b if you can find and afford it. Full mechanical but with the center-weighted meter (similar to the RTS II). The S2 has a spot meter, which is fine once you learn to meter and adjust quickly. Center-weighted is a better all-purpose metering system in my opinion. Hand meters can be used in cases where a spot meter is a better choice.
Second to the S2b, an RTS or RTS II.
Some of my qualifications:
I started in photography with an S2, and currently use an RTS as my main shooter (I'm sure I will be taunted for using the word "shooter" even in context), as well as a Yashica FX-2. I also have and use an RTS II (special occasion), 139Q (when I feel like it) and a Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 (backup camera.)
The RTS II has the most features and is a tank. The RTS is a tank, has a great meter and shutter release but no AE lock. The 139Q is small and has features that sort of fall in between the RTS and RTS II. IMHO, the 139Q is an under-appreciated little beauty.
There's nothing wrong with the Yashica bodies, though.
End of sermon.
Let us know what you decide!
Originally Posted by kivis
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I bought a brand new Contax 139 back in the early 80's. It was a great little camera. The only thing bad about it was that the leatherette covering on it fell apart in a few years so I replaced it with an aftermarket covering which held up fine.
After many years of use the seals eventually started failing and the film winder jammed so I replaced it with an almost new 167MT which I purchased from a local Doctor. A salesman at the local Pro Shop told me that the 167MT's were the most reliable cameras that Contax ever made. Everyone was afraid of the built in autowinders when new but they turned out to be extremely reliable. The weakest part with 35mm cameras are their manual film advances. Anyway, that's what he told me and I wasn't looking to buy a used camera from him.
The later Aria cameras had matrix metering which sounds nice. I know I like it on my Nikon digital. However, I have no experience with an Aria.
I have the RX, RTS and RTSII. Love them. Many speak so highly of the S2, 139, and others. The Aria is the only one I held and did not like. Felt too plasticky, small and cheap, just an impression. Most are wonderful.
Depends on what you want out of a camera. I have an RTS III, RX, AX, S2 and Aria. Sold my 167MT. Returned the ST.
A user's opinion...
RTS III: Big and heavy. A bit long in the tooth. Still expensive, very capable. I lusted after one of these for years.
RX: The best, most capable camera they made. I love mine, I want another. If I could keep only one, this is it.
AX: A big meaty handful of a camera, autofocuses with manual focus lenses. Just as capable as the RX, only much larger.
S2: All mechanical, with spot metering. Small.
Aria: Small and light, a tad cheesy-feeling, not the solid metal heft of the rest of the Contax line. Still a nice camera.
167MT: I hated the sliding toggle switch for the shutter speed control, so I sold mine. Otherwise a good camera.
ST: A little smaller than the RX, and noisier. I had one for a week, didn't like it, sent it back.
Heard from others (to be taken with a grain of salt)...
RTS: These seem to be failing, electronically. Best to avoid.
RTS II: Replacement for the RTS, much more reliable from what I've heard.
S2b: Same as S2, only with (I'm guessing here) center weighted average metering, not spot.
RXII: The RX with the good stuff left out.
I am beginning to resent being referred to as 'half-fast'.
Whatever that's supposed to mean.
One review of the Yashica FR thought it a better camera than the contemporary Contax. It's a great camera in every way, if a bit of a brick. It doesn't have 'Contax' on the front of course.
Originally Posted by pstake
Incidentally, and somewhat OT, I recently did some stills tests on the 50mm F2 ML lens that came the FR body, with a view to using it for movies on a DSLR. The resolution was astonishing, out-resolving my Nikons of various eras. At 200% magnification at F5.6 individual specs of dust were sharply defined. If you do decide on a Contax don't overlook the ML Yashica lenses, although prices have climbed sharply over the last year they haven't reached the stellar tags being asked for Contax glass.
Last edited by blockend; 09-05-2012 at 05:24 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I wanted a 167MT for several years and eventually around 1987 I was able to afford one. With the 50mm F1.7 Zeiss lens, it remains the most expensive camera I have ever bought, costing considerably more than the Pentax DSLR I bought over 20 years later. The 167MT has been very reliable and I still have it, although it doesn't get much use these days, but this discussion reminds me to dig it out and start using it again.