CI Photocommunity

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

Aria RXII or ST or RTS III Dilemma


Well-Known Member
Hey, there!

At the moment Aria is my one and only body, so naturally with all the recent news I started looking for a second backup body just in case. I can't decide if I should get another Aria or something else though. I suspect that I will be using Aria 80% of the time, so another body I buy will not see as much use as Aria. What I would definitely like in that second body is several things that Aria is lacking. More specifically:

1. Mirror lock-up
2. Better weight balance with heavy lenses for situations when I actually need the camera+lens to be balanced. (my "heavy" lenses include Distagon 35mm f/1.4, Planar 85mm f/1.4 and Sonnar 135mm f/2.8)
3. Vertical release button (or a grip with vertical release button)
4. Maybe better flash control.

Based on that it seems to me that RTS III may be the best fit, but the problem is - it's too damn heavy. And I don't know how reliable that vacuum back is. And with RX I'm not really willing to compromise on viewfinder brightness, so that means that I would prefer RXII, which is very hard to come by. As far as ST goes - I have seen one, but I think it's about as heavy as RTS III, so it makes little point in getting it instead of RTS III.

So, as you can see I have quite a dilemma here... Would love to hear any opinions/recommendations from folks that have Aria AND some other body also.



Mike, The ST is lighter in weight (800grams)than the RX (810 grams)or RX II. Neither the ST,RX or RX II have mirror lock up. However, the RTS II is 735 grams and does have mirror lock up with a very bright viewfinder. This was their flagship before the RTSIII came on the scene. I hope this helps.


Hi Mike,

If you want all requirements met (1-4), the only choice is the RTS III. With any other option, you have to make a compromise in at least one of the mentioned 4 requirements.

The following bodies with C/Y mount have MLU (mirror lock up):

RTSI , RTS II, RTS III, S2/S2b and Yashica FX3 (both over self-timer)

- Only the RTS III has a better flash control
- The S2 and I think also the FX3 do not have the possibility to attach a motor drive. So a vertical release button is not possible
- The RTS I and II work still o.k. with the biggest lenses. But the RTS III is clearly better in this respect

Which "heavy" lenses are you planning to use? I love the RTS II. IMO the perfect camera except for the missing spot metering. On the second place I would put the S2, but there you have to decide either for spot metering model or CWM (S2b). But the S2 is slowing you down. You take automatically more time to "make" the pictures, which is very good for the results. Check the posting for each camera in the model-specific threads.

I also used to have the Aria. It is is best choice for the money, except for the missing MLU and the viewfinder is not perfect for people who wear glasses. THe Matrix metering in the Aria is strongly different to the CWM. So you need to play with it a little bit to get used to it.

But it is very small and light as you know. Ligther than a Leica M6! Same counts for the S2.

Only if you use the newer zooms (28-85, 100-300) you will really appreciate the RTS III. With all other lenses (mabe except the 35/1.4 and 21/2.8) you will do not have an advantage when choosing the RTS III over the others.

Just my 2 cents


... i forgot to mention: Vacuum back only helps, if you choose at open aperture like 1.4 and 2.0. The DOF will otherwise overule the benefit of a very exact film plane. Check in this forum the Zeiss article I uploaded about image quality (section manuals I think)

The RTS III has a problem over the yeasr with fading display in the viewfinder. This costs around 200 Euro for a replacement. It needs to be done ca. every 5 years. Otherwise you will not see the readings in the viewfinder in normal sunlight conditions...


Well-Known Member

Yes, I know that RTS III is heavy, that's exactly why I said that even though it fits the requirements, it may be too heavy for the job. Ar far as ST goes, I suspect part of a problem is finding one in good condition and I also don't like the way exposure information is shown in viewfinder. It's red in color so it's relatively easy to see, but it's not done very well. And as you said, neither ST nor RX/RXII have mirror lock-up, which is somewhat a problem. By the way, I don't remember, does RX have a viewfinder shutter? As far as RTS II goes, I have never seen one first-hand, so it's somewhat hard to figure out if that may be a good fit, but I'm concerned with reliability and repair issues. Since it's been discontinued way too long ago, it's potentially a problem.


I shoot quite often at f/1.4 and f/2.0, so naturally it's good to know that when everything is said and done I can only blame myself for out-of-focus picture
For that reason vacuum back is definitely a good thing. Since it seems that Kyocera will be providing repair for existing cameras for the next 10 years, I can definitely replace the viewfinder display at 200 EUR every 5 years as well. Heavy lenses that I have are the ones I listed. I don't plan on getting any more Contax lenses except maybe 300mm Sonnar and 21mm Distagon. Also, I'm looking for S2 as well, but they're pretty hard to find and rarely go for less than $800 which is what you may pay for used RTS III these days.

I have been using Aria for many years now and I'm actually surprised you find it to be uncomfortable with glasses. I'm quite nearsighted and I even added extra -2D diopter on my Aria and it works pretty well for me. I didn't find N1 viewfinder any better than Aria's as far as using them with eye glasses. In fact I even like greater magnification factor of Aria (0.86 I believe) vs. N1 (0.74). Makes focusing easier as well.


"By the way, I don't remember, does RX have a viewfinder shutter?"

Yes it does.


Well-Known Member


I wonder what the current fair market value of Contax RTS III is? Aria and RX seems to fetch anything between $300 and $450 these days.


I checked used inventory for RTS III's on 3 major store websites none have them in stock. A major NYC store says the item is on "back order because of demand." A certain auction site has one now for over $800.00 which is the price I had seen in the past -- between $800.00 & $900.00. In any event be patient and good luck to you.


Well-Known Member
I have an Aria, which I like very much. I can appreciate your dilemma. It should be obvious from the above that all of your requirements cannot be met with anything other than an RTS III, which you rule out because of weight (and/or price).

I solved my problem by getting a 139Q with a motor drive, both in good condition and for very little money. I would guess the combined weight is less than an RTSIII, but it's enough to balance well with the heavier lenses. It is extremely reliable and well made and if anything should go south you can replace the camera for less cash than getting anything else repaired. True, no MLU, but it looks like you will have to compromise something.

I'm not sure what you mean by "flash control" unless you refer to the limited synch speed. One can always cut down the effect of ambient lighting by stopping down.

I guess this isn't the solution you were looking for, but think of all the goodies you can get with the savings.