Modern Classic SLR Series
Contax RTS II - Other Issues - Part II


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Naturally, other than its basic design concept, there are a few other factors and features which proved to be considerably important to the eventual development of this remarkable camera from Contax and hence leads to its popularity.

Among the many new methods employed in production and assembly which leads to the development of the CONTAX RTS II Quartz, Kyocera stated they adopted a new 'Block System' which was a concept developed solely for the camera. While most cameras are produced on a standard assembly line, in which the camera body proceeds along, with parts and components added one-by-one, the Contax RTS II Quartz was produced under a completely different concept - the 'Block System' - where various components and mechanisms are produced and assembled by members of different 'block teams', who are responsible for production, assembly and testing. The camera is gradually built up through collation of these block efforts, with regular, overlapping quality tests at every step. In this way, every component and mechanism is tested not only for its own operation, but for its operation in coordination with other parts. Any failure to pass even one of these tests means rejection of the 'block' and makes it impossible for a defective camera to be assembled, so that only those cameras meeting every test of accuracy, stability and durability emerge from the factory.

Smooth Film Transport & Flatness Of Plane:

One key area where most camera manufacturers have long ignoring development is inside the camera, the film back. Basically, the ultimate task of any SLR camera is the production of an image on film through the lens. Kyocera was the first to revive attention to the film back in SLR cameras where the Japanese truly appreciate the alliance by identifying a fact where color contrast and resolution properties of the Zeiss T
* lenses will only take to its full effect only if perfect flatness is maintained in the film plane. To achieve perfect film plane flatness is exceptionally difficult, since the Film backing on which the image-carrying solution is borne tends naturally to warp and curl. The RTS II Quartz employs an extra wide film pressure plate, supported by a double-construction back cover, to maintain complete flatness over the exposure zone. Then, to help prevent irregular film curling, a large-diameter winding spool is used. A special clutch mechanism within the rewind crank assures smooth film transport, free of external pressure, while a similar clutch acts to free the take-up spool during rewinding to reduce torque. The similar high attention to this specific area was again lead to development of the award winning development of the ceramic pressure plate seen in the next upgrade of CONTAX RTS III in 1990.

Aluminum Diecast Body: Although it used to be a belief that professional class SLR ought to be made with a metal consturction. With the exception of the commanding autofocus SLRs right now such as Canon EOS1(1989) and EOS1n (1994) series cameras which uses carbon fibre reinforced polycarbonated bodies (but the current EOS1v (2000) has eventually fall back to that "proven equation" with an Aluminum Discast camera body construction).

In the case of the CONTAX RTS II Quartz, the body frame is produced to the most rigid standards, with a Copper Silumin impregnated Aluminum alloy of exceptional durability used for the body diecastings. A high temperature, high-pressure steam annealing system eliminates distortion completely. With a metal properties which is high corrosive resistant and less react to temperature changes, the ultra-rugged metal casing protects all the important computer circuitry hosted within the body shell for expected long lasting professional abuses under all workable climatic condition and situation.

One of the most uncomfortable area of any electronic SLR camera is at its data transmission and circuitry for computation of metering and exposure control. Kyocera designers have looked into the details and come out with a solution to tackle these disturbing issues which has proven to be very functional over the years.

Reliable Data Transmission: A precision finish to within one micron (1/1000mm) of perfect flatness eliminates 'chattering' in the transmission of aperture information to the camera's CPU. Gray-coded data is transmitted reliably through a newly developed base plate with laminated contact tracks and pronged brushes.

A longer, double-construction rewind shaft provides smoother rotation, aided by rounded film guide edges and ball bearing transport operation.

Total System Integration Through 'Real Time' operation

One of the most important innovations of the original Contax RTS was 'Real Time' operation of the camera - to give the photographer instantaneous response in camera control and operations. One key factor was the use of an electromagnetic shutter release system, through which control of not only the camera body, but all the Real Time System accessories, as well, was able to integrate smoothly and swiftly with one another. The electromagnetic release design is faster, smoother and more reliable than any mechanical release system. Its sensitive micro-switch requires only a 0.7mm stroke to instantly relay commands to the electronic control center of the camera.

Some input from a passionate Contax user "....... But they have the features that matter to me. The viewfinders are also very bright and high in contrast which makes using them a joy. One point that you didn't make in your discourse on the RTS and RTS II, they have a very light shutter release action which is unique. The newer RTS III doesn't unfortunately. With the very sensitive release of the earlier RTS models, once you get used to it, the taking of a photograph becomes almost instantaneous. At the very slightest twitch of my finger, the photograph is taken, almost before I'm conscious of deciding to take the photograph.... - "Jason Cheng" <> -

Three significant advantages come with this system. First, chances of possible camera shake has greatly reduced which usually help to minimize primary cause of blurred photographs. Second, there is no time lag between decision and execution, as the exposure begins instantaneously with the pressing of the release button. Third, the photographer controls an integrated photo system of body, lens and accessories all through a single release switch (which can be located on an accessory, or remote control unit). Besides, electromagnetic release system also increases the performance reliability of such accessories as the Professional Motor Drive, Real Time Winder, TLA Flash units, etc. The electromagnetic release design was so successful that virtually all higher end electronic SLRs that followed in subsequent years have incorporated with such a design as standard feature.

Total Quality In Electronic & Mechanical Mechanisms:

The modern, electronic 35mm SLR camera is loaded with electronic and mechanical components, each of which must operate with total reliability if the camera is to meet the test of professional use. Electronic switches, for example, employ the most advanced and sophisticated electronic-relay capabilities to insure that data flows to and from the Central Processing Unit with total accuracy and consistency. Multi-contact systems and gold-plate finishes are standard with the RTS II Quartz to guarantee reliable performance, exemplified by the 'Palladium' alloy employed for multi-contact switches.

Mechanical movement within the camera body is primarily rotary, involving shafts and levers. All shaft holders receive a special honing, after nitride finishing, to eliminate friction. Levers also receive nitride finishes and special honing, or a surface finish following a carbonized hardening process. These steps insure that the performance of each individual mechanism will be at optimal level, with minimal loss of consistency or accuracy. The reliability built into the RTS II Quartz camera was shown in the transmission to the CPU of aperture information, in gray-code digital values. This is performed through redesigned base plate with special laminated contact tracks and pronged brushes, precision finished to a flatness within one micron (1/1000mm) that completely eliminates any chance of 'chattering', the intermittent disruption of a signal due to mechanical bouncing of individual contacts.

A Dual Modes Exposure Control System

To the photographer the word 'exposure' means the photographic process of exposing a piece of film to light in order to achieve a chemical reaction that will record an image on that film. This is the fundamental purpose of photography, and all of the advances made in camera technology are aimed at performing this operation with increased accuracy and less difficulty.

Main Switch.jpg
<<<<<<..... The camera Main Switch provides a master control over the entire electronic operation of the RTS II Quartz, activating the exposure metering system and electromagnetic release, and preventing accidental exposure or battery drain by the LED Data Display when the camera is not in use.

Basically, three factors are involved in any photographic exposure process: Shutter speed to control duration of exposure, aperture on the lens section where size of the opening through which light is admitted to the film via the lens and the sensitivity to light of the film being used (the 'ASA or DIN' rating). Since the factor of the film sensitivity is fixed (can also be overridden during processing), so that left the photographer to handle other factors of shutter speed and aperture. The combination of these two factors determines the precise exposure on developed film and the CONTAX has bother the camera that control the utmost precision of shutter speed accuracy and the stable, precise opening of lens diaphragm with their world class Zeiss optic to register the sharpest images one can record o film. At the camera portion, you will have two ways to control accuracy of metering.

SPD Exposure Metering

Most modern 35mm SLRs has a built-in method of guiding photographer to get a proper exposure reading. An exposure meter is a tool for determining combinations of aperture and shutter speed that will provide optimum exposure for a particular scene. In the RTS II Quartz, a built-in exposure meter measures light through-the-lens and provides the photographer with the information needed to set proper aperture and shutter speed. In addition, the RTS II Quartz allows the exposure meter to actually 'set' exposure automatically, according to the determination of optimum exposure made by the camera's Central Processing Unit. In this case, the Contax RTS II Quartz uses a Silicon Photo Diode (SPD) cells to measure light density so as to let the computer circuitry provide a metering guide. Within the RTS II Quartz, there are
TWO SPD cells - one SPD provides 'center-weighted' metering for ambient light exposures; another SPD meters electronic flash lighting with the Contax TLA Flash System.

According to the precise level of light determined by the SPD and processed by the CPU, the RTS II Quartz provides the photographer with an indication of optimal exposure factors. This is done through a special Viewfinder Data Display. The photographer decides to employ either the AE (Automated Exposure) or Manual Mode. (TLA Mode for electronic flash metering is selected automatically when applicable.)

In the AE Mode, although the system employed is not actually "REAL TIME"
* as what the Contax claims when operating in ambient light exposure, but in practice, it is fast enough and it means that the final shutter speed command comes virtually at the instant of exposure, protecting the photographer against sudden changes in light value just as the shutter release is pressed.

* NOTE: There are only two SLR camera system can truly claim as operating in real time during ambient light exposure. Olympus OM2(n) with other equivalent OM models (OM2nSP, OM3(Ti), OM4 (Ti), OM40 ) etc.) and the Pentax LX. However, in the case of RTS II (and RTS III or other equivalent CONTAX SLRs that can provide TTL flash exposure control) TTL flash exposure operation is REAL TIME.

PDF file (1MB) JPEG (210k)
Digital Data Processing The electronic process of exposure determination is illustrated at left by a chart in PDF format. First, all relevant factors are relayed in 'analog form to a Bi-MOS Integrated Circuit, where they are converted into digital codes. Then, these codes are processed in the C-MOS LSI, which relays commands to all 'concerned' camera functions. The use of digitally coded information greatly increases the consistency and accuracy of this data, to make exposure measurements of a much higher degree of reliability than is possible with analog information only.
<<<<<<----- A Scanned illustration of the Circuit Diaphragm from a RTS II Quartz Sales Manual.

| Previous | NEXT | 2/4 Exposure Control, AE Locks, Expsoure Compensation, Metering Patterns etc.

Basic Instruction Manuals: 6 Parts
Beyond the User's Manual, some relating topics: 6 Parts

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

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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.