The RTS was the first advanced electronic SLR system camera developed by mutual cooperation of Carl Zeiss T*, West Germany, and Yashica, Japan or more popularly known as Kyocera. It offers the advantage of one of the most sophisticated fully automatic through-the-lens exposure control available during the late seventies.
Technical Highlights of the CONTAX RTS 35mm SLR system camera
Designed under the conceptual theme of 'Real Time" functional response and disposition of information, it provides such capability in all fields of photography as could not possibly be expected of other 35mm SLR models. The new Bayonet Mount also a product of mutual cooperation between Carl Zeiss and Yashica affords perfect coordination of the optical, mechanical and electronic systems.
'Real Time' is a computer terminology denoting absence of physical time-lag in disposition of information. However, in this case of this original RTS model, the 'Real Time' are more on abstract term or use to describe responsiveness attributed to digital or electronic application. However, there are some features found in the later models which are truly real time in nature, such as the TTL OTF flash exposure control used in many other Contax models that followed. But since the Contax camera system uses that to project an image for their system, we retained it in this sections of the camera operation for you to digest. Please be remembered and subjective enough to absorb that fact where the RTS featured here was a camera model that was introduced some 25 years ago in 1975. Some outstanding features (comparable with cameras among its class) that can be found in this original Contax camera model are:
1. 'Real Time' LED Shutter Speed Display
By pressing the LED display button before or after film wind, the LED (light emitting diode) in the viewfinder will come on instantly to display the calibrated or in-between shutter speed ensuring correct exposure in relation with the preselected aperture. Although the meter may suggest a recommended speed display inside the viewfinder at full stop when operates in AUTO mode, the speed is in fact stepless. In manual mode, the speed is electronically timed and operates as indicated at full stop.
2. 'Real Time' Magnetic Release
Because this magnetic release trips the shutter through feather-touch fingertip action, camera shake at the critical moment of exposure is effectively prevented. Since, moreover, shutter tripping is accomplished through contact of an electric switch, all types of off-hand controls can be used directly. Correct exposure is obtained through continuous light reading immediately just before exposure.
However, the electromagnetic shutter release is so sensitive that some even complaint it is being too 'reactive'. It may take some time to get accustomed to its sensitivity of its feature touch characteristic. Most cameras around its time use levers or dial to turn the camera on or activating the camera meter. The RTS has its meter on when you press the LED display button locates in front of the camera where your index finger naturally rests. Of cause, one would expect it uses the Canon AE-1's method of pressing the shutter release button halfway which is also still adopting currently by most modern SLR cameras. Anyway, there is not much of a difference in response time and the time lag is quite minimal between the two method used. The Contax innovation was much copied by competitions. In fact, by mid of the eighties, virtually all top rated SLR camera models which included flagship cameras by rivaling brands with electronic exposure control have employed with such design.
3. 'Real Time' 1/2000 sec. Maximum Shutter Speed
The CONTAX RTS features an electronic focal plane shutter with a unique and quite innovative design under which the primary and secondary curtains uncap to provide starting from the same position, precise shutter speeds can be obtained up to the maximum of 1/2000 sec. If you really want to pick on something, you can point at the fact where the material used in this model for the shutter curtain is a little disappointing, one would expect a more durable material be used on this top range model. Instead, it uses silk fabric as the choice. Most of its competing brands such as, the Nikon F-series camera models which have a horizontally traveled Titanium shutter curtains. Although opinions are mixed in this respect, others like Minolta's models and some from the Pentax , popular high flying models such as the Olympus (OM1n and 2n), all the Canon A series models - including the Canon AE-1 mentioned earlier and even the highly sophisticated multimode SLR camera, Canon A-1 were all using horizontally traveled shutter design with fabric as the prime material. Well, such horizontally traveled shutter design usually will restrict the maximum sync speed, in this case, the shutter design used in the Contax RTS does not fair too badly when compared to competitions.
4. 'Real Time' Off-Hand Controls
A truly trend setting and extremely precise method. It was a distinctive advantage because the magnetic release functions strictly on electrical principle, various types of electrically operated off-hand controls (remote control) can be used directly by merely plugging into the camera's release socket. The off-hand controls available include the Infrared Controller Set and Interval Timer. This principle is different from most cameras that must require an added on accessory such as Motor Drive or Power Winder to be able to provide the same. It is more economical when situation demand an investment for remote photography but where automatic film advance feature is not desirable because most photographic system has their remote control feature annexed to a motor drive system. The immensely popular Canon T series SLRs introduced during the early 80 adopted similar design pioneered by the Contax.
5. 'Real Time' Motor Drive System
The magnetic release does greatly more than just tripping the shutter. In the final stage of its function, it switches on the motor drive switch to provide precise synchronization with the motor drive unit. Of the two types of automatic film advance devices within the RTS system, the Real Time Winder is a compact and light weight but offer s slower winder speed than the 5 fps high speed motor drive.
6. 'Real Time' T * (T-Star) Carl Zeiss Lenses
But as I said, most people were lured in to the Contax SLR system were primarily convinced by one important fact - the Zeiss lenses. Carl Zeiss lenses, featuring the T* (T-Star) multi-layer anti-reflection coating which is famed for its ability to minimize possible low contrast glass-to-air reflections and assures highly faithful color reproduction permit the photographer to select comparatively high shutter speed even in subdued light situations. With a newly developed Contax/Yashica mount, the optical system grows and the RTS can enjoy most of the technological advancement that has been incorporated into all those fine new lenses that constantly being developed. There are two series of lenses with the original AE mount and the newer MM mount that can be still used on the RTS in auto and manual mode.
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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
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| 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 email@example.com, M. Butkus, NJ. Part A | Part B | Part C |
OFF TOPIC:- Personal Note
Main Reference Map:
RTS - HTML | PDF (206k)
RTS II - HTML | PDF(308k)
RTS III - HTML | PDF
RTS - HTML | PDF(159k)
RTS II - HTML | PDF(66k)
RTS III - HTML | PDF
1982: RTS II
1990: RTS III
List of Carl Zeiss T* lenses for Contax SLR cameras
| Message Board | for your favorite Contax RTS Series SLR camera Models
| Message Board | for your favorite optics
Caller for help: I am not entirely too happy with the content and images used here thus far, but since I have my limitation and if you think you can contribute your part as a Contax user to make this site better, mail them to me. Appropriate credit will be given for such effort.
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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.