Modern Classic SLR Series
Contax RTS Camera Operation - Part II

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Inside the Viewfinder

The Contax RTS employs a through-the-lens (TTL) reflex viewfinder shows up to a 92% of the actual picture area of 36 x 24mm film format. The magnification ratio is 0 87x and should been adequate for a eye glass wearer to view through the entire image in the viewfinder. Inside the pentaprism, it is silver coated with the deflection mirror multi-layer coated to ensure maximum brightness of the viewfinder field. Interchangeable focusing screen feature is also provided for specific application that requires additional viewing aids.

Because the viewfinder is the medium between a photographer and the camera. Inside the viewfinder, there are exposure indications in the form of 16-dot LED shutter speed display that shows calibrated and in-between speeds. A green shutter speed pointer overlaps 'A' setting on Auto and indicates shutter control dial setting on Manual mode. At the top of the viewfinder, aperture display shows maximum aperture of the lens in use; use selected f-stop in use. When you activate exposure compensation, a circular exposure compensation tab appears at the lower portion. The viewfinder of RTS shows the field covered by the lens in use always at the maximum aperture for maximum brightness for comfort in view, focus and composing. In addition to the moderately bright view field, it provides preview of all necessary information to help you obtaining correct exposure.

Microprism Focusing Spot

The Contax RTS has not provided with an Interchangeable Prism design. However, it does provide a 'professional' grade feature in its focusing screen. They are designed to be interchange with other screens. Unlike many other cameras with similar features, the process is rather user interchangeable instead of factory fit or required an experienced technician to handle the task. The standard viewing screen features a microprism center focusing spot which affords precise focusing most readily. There are a few other types of focusing screens available for selection. However, once you have shifted to another type, the standard microprism viewing will be replaced with the specific type which can be varied with the respective characteristic of the screen type. There are more sections explaining in the shared accessories section.

Aperture Display

The figures along the top edge of the finder frame denote the f-stops. The complete scale consists of 1.2, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 and 32 settings. When the lens is mounted properly, the scale shifts to the right or left, correspondingly, to display the maximum aperture of the lens in use always on the extreme right. When the aperture ring of the lens is turned, the green pointer moves to display the preset aperture in green figure.

Shutter Speed Display

When the LED display push button is depressed before or after film wind, the LED dot comes on to display the shutter speed ensuring correct exposure in relation with the preselected aperture. If the LED dot comes on within the range of 2000 (1/2000 sec.) and LT (4 sec.), correct exposure can be obtained as long as the shutter speed dial is set at the 'AUTO' setting.

If the LED dot comes on in alignment with 'A' or 'B', incorrect exposure is indicated; therefore, the lens aperture and/or shutter speed setting must be readjusted accordingly.

When the green pointer overlaps the 'A' setting, it means that the camera is set for fully automatic exposure. In case the shutter control dial is adjusted to any position other than the 'AUTO' setting, the green pointer will overlap the figure corresponding to the shutter control dial setting.

Exposure Compensation Tab

When the film speed dial is turned and the exposure compensation pointer is aligned with any setting other than 'X1', this tab appears on the lower edge of the finder frame to signal that exposure compensation is being made.
Warning: Exposure compensation only works in AE mode, please note when the scale has been activated other than the standard setting, the camera will provide a compensated exposure value (Either + or - in accordance to your setting) other than the recommended value provided by the camera meter. Always remember to turn the index to neutral point after use, if that is not followed, all subsequent exposure will also be 'compensated'.


The viewfinder corresponds with focusing. To secure focus, just simply turn the focusing ring of the lens while sighting through the viewfinder until the main subject appears clearly defined. The microprism focusing spot at the center of the finder field affords utmost convenience and ease in focusing. Precise focus should be secured when the multiple glitter disappears and the image of the subject within the focusing spot appears sharp and clear.

The viewfinder of your CONTAX RTS affords viewing and focusing always at maximum aperture. To check the depth of field after securing precise focus, simply push in the depth-of-field preview button.

The method of focusing remains the same regardless of what type of lens or combination of the Auto Extension Tubes is used.
when necessary, the standard screen featuring the microprism focusing spot can be interchanged with anyone of the four types of focusing screens available as optional accessories

Focusing - Blur.jpg Focusing - Sharp.jpg
Make it a rule to support the camera firmly with your left hand and while gently gripping the camera body with your right hand, press the magnetic release with the ball of your right index finger. Also, see that you are fully acquainted with the proper procedure of operation of your camera.

Otherwise perfect shots will be spoiled by erratic movement of the camera at the critical moment of exposure.

Depending on how you wish to compose your picture, you can hold your camera in either horizontal or vertical posture.
When required, steady your camera by holding it against a wall, bean bag, tree or anything that can help to steady your body.

When a telephoto lens is use or when shooting at a slow shutter speed, the use of a tripod to support your camera is recommended.

Automatic Exposure

The Contax RTS features a fully automatic through-the-lens electronic exposure control system.

By simply presetting the film speed and lens aperture, its highly sophisticated electronic circuit functions to vary the shutter speed continuously and automatically according to the subject brightness, thus ensuring correct exposure under most light condition.

Besides fully automatic exposure control through aperture preselection, the camera provides semiautomatic exposure control through preselection of the shutter speed.

Automatic exposure through aperture preselection

1. Turn the shutter control dial and align the 'AUTO' setting with index on the camera top. When thus adjusted, the green shutter speed pointer in the viewfinder will overlap the 'A' (Auto) setting. Note: Make sure the exposure compensation pointer is aligned with 'X1 '.
X1 set,jpg

Set Lens.jpg
2. Preselect the lens aperture. Turn the aperture ring on the lens barrel and align the required f-number with the index. The preselected aperture will be displayed in the viewfinder in green figure. Refer to the table below for approximate aperture setting under different light conditions.

Aperture Setting Guide

Light Condition


Outdoors under bright sunlight

16, 11, 8

Outdoors under overcast

5.6, 4, 2.8

Indoors or night photography

2, 1.4

Note: Above f-stops to be used when ASA 100 film is in use.

3. Press the LED display pushbutton while sighting through the viewfinder.

Depression of this pushbutton provides a check of exposure condition before or after film wind. If the LED dot comes on within the range of 2000 (1/2000 sec.) and LT (4 sec.), it indicates that correct exposure will be obtained at the preselected aperture. In case two LED dots appear, it is an indication that an in-between shutter speed will be set automatically.


4. Advance the film and press the magnetic release.

If the LED dot displays a shutter speed of 1/30 sec. or longer exposure, hold the camera steady to prevent erratic movement at the moment of exposure.

Press.jpg  Viewinfo4.jpg

When the magnetic release is depressed, the LED dot will come on momentarily to display the shutter speed at which exposure is being made.
Correct exposure can be obtained through various combination of the lens aperture and shutter speed. Depending on the subject condition, therefore, alter the aperture setting to provide exposure at the right shutter speed.
For best results, shoot your subject with the sun behind your shoulder.

| Previous | Next | Viewfinder Display, Film unloading, technical Outline

Beyond the User's Manual, addressing other Issues : 4 Parts
Scanned early Contax's system accessories files in PDF format: Motor Drive | Winder | Macro | Databack/Remote | Flash | Early Lenses 1 & 2 | Accessories

Other Contax Accessories: Filters | Eye-Cups / Diopter lens / Right Angle Finder / Magnifier| Lens Caps/Lens Rear Caps / Body Caps / Lens Pouches | Soft lens Shades/Metal Lens Hoods/Adapter Ring/Gelatin Filter Holder set | Focusing Screens

| Back | to Index Page of Contax RTS
| Back | to Index Page of Contax RTS II Quartz
| Back | to Index Page of Contax RTS III

| Back | to Main Index Page of Contax RTS series models

Camera Models: | Contax RTS | RTS II | RTS III |
Shared Resources:| Motor Drive- PMD W6| Winder - RTW-W3 | Screens | Flash | Macro | Remote | Databack | Accessories | Zeiss T* Optic | Instruction Manuals: Contax RTS HTML | PDF | Contax RTS II Quartz HTML | PDF | Contax RTS III (3 parts PDF by, M. Butkus, NJ. Part A | Part B | Part C |

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Main Reference Map:

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1975: RTS
1979: 139Q
1980: 137MD
1982: 137MA
1982: RTS II
1985: 159MM
1987: 167MT
1990: RTS III
1992: S2
1992: S2b
1992: ST
1994: RX
1996: AX
1998: Aria
 List of Carl Zeiss T* lenses for Contax SLR cameras  

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Credit: MClau, joint maintainer of the Contax RTS MB. Some of the content are extracts from: Cees De Groot, who maintains a Contax FAQ site and Tim Roger website on Contax SLR cameras, A few of the images on Zeiss lenses were downloaded from Contax US website. My buddy, Yeak & Rizal Yahya, for their cool programming with Contax RTS's Message Board, Note:certain contents and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures, sales manuals or publications published by Kyocera over the years and/or contributions from surfers who claimed originality of their own work solely for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible disputes except rectifying them after verification."Kyocera", "Yashica", "Contax" & "Carl Zeiss T*" are registered trade names of Kyocera Corporation Inc., Japan. A site made with an Apple IMac, dedicated to all fans of Contax cameras and Zeiss Optics.