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Interchangeable Focusing Screens


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Interchangeable Focusing Screens

Often considered a handy feature along with interchangeable prisms (Interchangeable Finders feature is
NOT available with any of the Contax SLR camera models). Why would anyone wanted to change the focusing screen ? Because not all photographers are engaging with the same assignment or applications or simply just cannot be sure of what are they will be using with their cameras.

Well although the camera is supplied with a standard screen but it is hard to use simply a split image rangefinder screen to handle all form of assignment and conditions. For an example, it is difficult to use a standard screen type to shoot astrophotography; some photographers who often use the camera for copying work will find a matte screen with vertical and horizontal lines more useful than any other screens.

Scrn1.jpg Scrn2.jpg Scrn3.jpg Scrn4.jpg
The are a total of seven types of focusing screens designed for the original CONTAX RTS to assist photographers for facilitates various tasks.

UPDATE:- Hello, First, thank you for an amazing site! I feel that your page on Contax focusing screens could be improved a bit. Are you aware that the RTS II screens do not fit the original RTS? The screens for the original RTS are a bit smaller and the tab is located in a different place. Searching the net it's very difficult to find information on which screens fit the original RTS and based on KEH's pages the correct answer seems to be screens without a prefix like #1 = microprism or #3 = split-image 45 degree while the numbering is the same as the RTS II FS-series screens. It would be great if you could add this info to your page and maybe prevent others making the mistake of getting a RTS II screen for the RTS. A separate row for the RTS in the quick reference table would be very nice.

Best Regards,
Petri Rahikkala <>

Some of the focusing screen design are quite unique in its class. Take an example of the (Split Image/Microprism Collar with data guide mark), it is a split image/microprism collar type featuring guide marks showing where information from Data Back Quartz D-4 will be recorded onto the film. As you compose through the viewfinder, you will be able see whether the recorded data will be placed against a background of the right contrast. FS.5 (Matte Field) screen is an ideal screen for all round general photography where you trust your eyes most and does not like the cluttering of the outline and focusing aid inside the viewfinder. Anyway, as far as focusing screen is concerned, it is a matter of personal preference. Just select a screen type that can make you feel more positive and you think that can help you be more responsive and productive in your work, Errr... may be creative at times.

The Contax RTS series cameras have a ground glass viewing screen with a center focusing area. The standard screen which has both types of rangefinder, microprism and split image are formed from molded prism. They are very vulnerable at small apertures, especially with lenses that is above f/4.0. so, if you lens has a large aperture, the full aperture metering method will ensure the viewing comfort is there; if smaller aperture lenses are used, make use of the ground glass to focus. The split image is good for handling subjects with horizontal and vertical lines. Originally, there were 7 types of focusing screens that came with the RTS. It has added another one which specifically supplement usage with the CONTAX Data Back D-4.



<Removing the Screen>

After unmounting camera lens, grip the focusing screen release lug with the tweezers supplied with each screen, and then pull to loosen and lower the screen frame. Then remove the screen by gripping small lobe on screen edge with aid of same tweezers.
<Installing the Screen> By using the tweezers, grip the lobe on the replacement screen and insert the screen in the descended screen frames. Then reposition the screen frame by gently pressing other end of the tweezers up against a small projection on the frame until it firmly snaps into place.

Note: take care not to touch the surface of the deflection mirror.

Caution: It is NOT advisable wipe the screen surface with cloth or normal tissue paper. In case dust, grit or lint has accumulated in the viewfinder, blow it away by using a blower brush, after removing the screen.

* Be sure to use the special tweezers described above when removing or installing the focusing screen, being careful not to scratch or mark the screen and mirror surfaces.** Be sure to install the screen correctly otherwise the screen may become dislodged and damaged, even causing lens removal or installation difficulty. When this occurs, take the camera to your nearest camera shop for professional service. 

The Interchangeable focusing screen feature provided in all the RTS series SLR models may be more than good enough to handle virtually all possible photographic needs; since none of the RTS series bodies provide the interchangeable prism capability. Other than the RTS III which can truly claimed to be one of the rare few 35mm SLRs that ever produced with virtually 100% filed of view inside the viewfinder - both the earlier RTS (92%) and RTS II QUARTZ's much improved 97%. However, RTS III will project a slightly smaller image than life size with a 50mm fitted due to its below average 0.74X viewfinder magnifications which aims to provide High-Eyepoint finder for eyeglass wearer (or other reasons such as working under water housing or wearing a protective helmet etc.) to see the entire field of view with data display slightly away from the eyepiece. Both the earlier RTS (RTS and RTS II) has a larger magnification of 0.87X instead and along with the aid of the moderately bright focusing screens Contax produce, which largely contributes to their comfortable viewing.

<Types of Focusing Screens Available>

FS-1 (Microprism) * for general photography. A matte screen surrounding a microprism focusing spot in the center, enabling focusing with both fields.
FS-2 (Split-lmage) * For general photography. Focus by lining up the images in the diagonal split-image center cut 45 degrees to the horizontal plane. Effective for critical focus of subject with horizontal or perpendicular lines
FS.3 (Horizontal Split-lmage) * With the split-image center being placed horizontally, makes for quick, critical focusing of subjects with perpendicular or diagonal lines. Also suitable for general photography as in case of diagonal split-image screen.
FS.4 (Split Image/Microprism Collar) * Suitable for general photography and assures pinpoint focusing via a horizontal Split-lmage focusing spot surrounded by a microprism collar in the center of a matte field, all three areas combining to provide three-way focusing.
FS.5 (Matte Field) All matte screen for focusing. Ideal for use with comparatively slow lenses of long focal length or for close-up work, making it suitable in situations where focusing difficulties are encountered with microprism or split-image type screens.
FS.6 (Sectioned Matte) A matte screen with vertical and horizontal lines equally spaced 6 mm apart to facilitate composing of your subject. Effective for perspective control shots with the Auto Bellows PC or the PC-Distagon lens, and for close-up work.
FS7 (Cross-Scale) Suitable for photomicrography and close-up work. Focus by using clear, bright screen in center. Surrounding matte field can also be used for focusing. With cross hair reticle and scales graduated at 1 mm intervals, it enables you to gauge the magnification ratio or filmed image size of subject.
FS41 (Split Image/Microprism Collar with data guide mark) * This is a split image/microprism collar type featuring guide marks showing where information from Data Back Quartz D-4 will be recorded onto the film. As you compose through the viewfinder, you will be able see whether the recorded data will be placed against a background of the right contrast.
* Note: When using a telephoto or other slow lens such as f/4, f/5.6 or slower, or in close-up photography and/or in cases stopping down the aperture of the lens, the microprism collar and split-image may become dark and cause focusing difficulty. In such a case, use the outer matte field for focusing.

A quick reference for Focusing Screens and some selected camera models

Screen(s) / Model


Combination Micro

45 degree Split-image

Horizontal Split-image

Horizontal Split/Microprism

45 degree Split-Microprism


Sectioned Matte

Cross Scale





















167 MT, S2, S2b











FS-1 (Standard)



















* Note: FT type focusing screens may be changed at an authorized CONTAX service center only.

THIRD PARTY SCREENS: A company in US, Fresnel Optics are providing some alternative choices for focusing screen other than those offered by Kyocera. It was a company primarily engaged in the development, design and manufacture of precision micro structured optics. In 1997 in a corporate move to acquire Beattie Intenscreen, a company focuses on producing focusing screens for cameras. Located in Rochester, NY, Fresnel Optics now extends to produce more screens and 'varieties for many popular 35mm medium and even large format cameras.

Logo.gif Bettie screens.jpg
Beattie Screens are not cheap, they retail any of the SIX types of focusing screens specifically for the RTS II each at USD83.95 a piece while there are TWO types (plain & Grids) designed for the CONTAX RTS III also at the same price.

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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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

| Message Board | for your favorite Contax RTS Series SLR Models
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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  

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.