Modern Classic SLR Series
Contax RTS II - Camera Operation - Part I


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Content in this section was mainly based on the original camera instruction manual of Contax RTS II Quartz. As I need a backbone from scratch to construct this site. The RTS II Quartz is an upgrade model of the original RTS which was introduced back in 1975. To just conclude it as just another upgrade is rather unfair because the Contax RTS II has improved considerably from the previous camera. Although it is essentially an automatic-exposure single lens reflex (SLR) camera but it is an extremely well made camera shelled in a ultra rugged robust body construction which was designed to serve users under any imaginable photographic condition.

The camera still has a strong resemblance of the RTS in its exterior design, retaining the form designed by the Porsche design group while incorporating an improved automated body mechanism featuring ever greater reliability and precision. But within the similarity of exterior appearance, it was loaded with a host of features which can excite many eyes of even seasoned SLR user. Capabilities such as a digital controlled mechanism using high-precision quartz pulsation, a finder with digital display information, a TTL flash direct metering system, AE lock, electromagnetic controlled shutter, etc. Naturally, I need not have to remind you the camera has one of the finest optical lens system available which is essentially form the all important backbone of the entire Contax SLR photographic system. The Carl Zeiss lens system has mushroomed over the years to patch many vacant spots at critical focal lengths for professional use especially at the Ultrawideangle and telephoto range. I do hope this site will benefit you if you have already a Contax RTS camera but still not too familiar with its functions or controls. Well, perhaps this even leads someone who intends to start his photographic journal to consider the Contax as an alternative SLR camera system as modern 35mm SLRs are ridiculously expensive now.

There are two ways to browse in this site, one way is to click on each link on the subject matter and go direct to the page you like to see; while another way is to click on the conventional " | Next | " to view page by page. You may set your preference best suit your personal interest and browsing comfort. Detailed below are the main categories but since each subject come with sub topic which are relative, it is always encourage to browse through all sections in this site. Other than bookmark this site, an alternative is, to print individual page in hard copies for easy off screen reading. If you have any further questions, you are always encourage to make good use of the readily available | Message Board | to ask for help.

Counter / Memo Holder
Setting the
Film Speed
Shutter / Mechanical Shutter
Viewfinder Display

Film Rewind
Metering System
Automatic Exposure
Manual Exposures
Flash Photography
Multiple Exposures

Camera Back
Mirror Lock
infrared Compensation Mark
Camera Care

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<Mounting the Lens>

Remove the camera-body cap and the rear lens cap. Insert the lens mount into the camera-body mount matching their respective red dots. Turn the lens clockwise until it click locks into place, aligning camera's red dot with the aperture/distance scale index. When using a lens cap of the snap~on type, attach or remove it from the lens by pressing in the two side-tabs.

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<Removing the Lens>

While pressing the lens release button, turn the lens counter clockwise and lift it out from the camera mount. When leaving the lens uncounted, be sure to keep the caps covered on the camera-body mount and on both ends of the lens mount for protection's sake.

* When changing lens, avoid touching camera interior or lens surface with your fingers. Avoid direct sunlight when removing or mounting the lens with film loaded in the camera.

Installing Battery:

Please note that: The Contax RTS II's electronic shutter and exposure control systems are battery powered so the battery must be fresh and correctly inserted if the camera is to function properly.
1) Open the battery compartment cover on camera base by lifting up cover knob and turning it in direction of arrow. 2) Insert the battery according to polarity diagram shown in the battery compartment, otherwise the camera will not function properly. Then replace the cover and turn the knob to firmly secure the cover.
Usable Power Source: 6.2-V silver oxide battery (Eveready 544, Ucar 544, Mallory PX28 or equivalent) or a 6-V alkaline-manganese battery (4LR44 or equivalent).


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<Main Switch> The main switch on top of the camera is used to turn the power ON and OFF. Turn the switch as far as it will go in direction of arrow (revealing a red dot for ON) to set the electronic shutter, metering circuit, the viewfinder LEDs, etc. in a state of readiness.
With the main switch turned on, pressing of the exposure check button will cause the LED indicators in the viewfinder to light up and stay on for 16 seconds. When the main switch is turned back (red dot in covered position), all of the electrical circuits will be turned off, causing camera functions to cease. The LED indicators will be turned off at the same time.

When you are NOT using the camera, make sure that the main switch is turned OFF (red dot in covered position) to prevent accidental activation of the exposure check or shutter release button.

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<Battery Check> Turn on main switch, press the exposure check button and note lighting pattern of viewfinder LED display. If the battery is good, the LED will light steadily or pulsate regularly as shown in illustration.

The RTS II Quartz is designed to give you advance warning when the camera is about to stop functioning due to a weak battery. When the battery is weak, the normal lighting or flashing patterns will change to those shown on the right hand side of the following illustration. When the LED display behaves this way, have a spare battery on hand for replacement in the event the battery in the camera should fail, or replace the weak battery.

If the battery falls below its rated output, the LEDs will not come on even when the exposure check button is pressed, and the camera will not function. When this happens, replace the old battery.

Battery Precautions>

The normal service life is about a year for a silver oxide battery and about six months for an alkaline manganese battery. However, this can vary with such factors as picture taking frequency, battery condition at time of purchase, and prevailing ambient temperatures.
Generally, when the battery is exposed to subzero temperatures (centigrade), its performance is temporarily affected, causing difficulties in taking pictures. When shooting in especially cold regions, protect the camera from the cold or use the optionally available Power Pack P-3. In case of total failure, you can use the two optional mechanical backup speeds (1/50 sec or 'B') to take the picture.
Fouling of battery contacts with sweat or greasy stains will affect the quality of electrical contact, so make it a point to wipe the contacts with a cloth before putting the battery into service. If you have problem in cleaning, use a pencil eraser to rub the and clean the polarity of each end.
If the camera is not used for an extended period of time, remove the battery from the camera.
When going on extended trips, be sure to bring along a spare battery.
Avoid dismantling old battery or discarding it in a fire as this is very dangerous.


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<Film Loading> The Contax RTS II accepts standard 35 mm film cassette (12, 20, 24 or 36 exposure load). Reminder: before attempt to use the camera, it is always encouraged to practice more and familiarized the camera before actual shooting. Always avoid direct sunlight when you attempt to load or remove film.

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(1) Turn the main switch ON. Lift the film rewind knob and pull it up firmly until the camera back clicks open.
(2) Insert the cassette into the film chamber, then push the rewind knob down to its normal position, twisting back and fort,, slightly until it seats into place. Then reposition the rewind crank handle so that it rests in its receptacle above the "A" (AUTO) setting on the shutter control dial.

(3) Draw the film leader out of the cassette and insert the free end into any clip on the take-up spool.

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(4) Gently turn the film advance lever and wind the film on for one frame length so that both rows of perforations mesh with the appropriate sprockets. Make sure that the film meshes smoothly with the sprockets before closing the camera back.

Use one full stroke of the film advance lever to advance the film one frame and wind the shutter at the same time. The electromagnetic shutter release will not function unless the lever is given a full stroke. The film advance lever is easier to operate if it is kept in the standoff position.

(5) Unfold the film rewind crank and turn it gently in the direction of the arrow to take up any film slack.

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(6) Alternately wind on the film and trip the shutter, taking blank shots, until the exposure counter on the camera reads "1". With the film in this position, you are ready to start shooting pictures with your camera. If the film feed indicator (white line) on the film rewind knob rotates when the film advance lever is manipulated, it means the film is advancing properly.

When blank shots are being made until the exposure counter registers "1", the camera is conveniently designed so that the shutter automatically operates at 1/60 second regardless of the setting (except the "B" setting) on the shutter control dial. After the exposure counter reads "1", the shutter operates at the speed selected on the dial.


| Previous | Next | Frame counter, Memo Holder, adjusting Film Speed, Shutter, Mechanical Backup, focusing, viewfinder display 1/6 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

| 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 |

OFF TOPIC:- Personal Note

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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About this photographic site.

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.