Buying an RTS III in 2003 A Few Concerns

K

kimd

Hello All,

I've been lurking on this forum for a few months now and have learned a great deal from the wealth of information present. This post is one of a series of questions I would like to ask (posted in their appropriate categories)

I'm just about to purchase a 35mm system - and am seriously considering a Contax manual focus camera as an alternative to the Canon EOS 1V. In the Contax line, the RTS III is currently my first choice, but the RX might also be an option.

I do have several concerns about Contax and the RTS III:

1) Repairs / Service.
- What do people think about the future of the C/Y-mount?
- Is it still possible to get decent service in Canada - what about in the future?
- Cost of repairs - more than other camera brands?

2) RTS III Viewfinder Display
- Is the viewfinder display fade a widespread issue, or isolated to early or heavily used cameras?
- Some people have mentioned that you can use the DOF preview button to aid in viewing the display in bright light. When the preview button is depressed, is the exposure info locked, or does the metering react to the drop in light intensity?
- What are people's general impressions about the RTS III's display layout (ie. shutter speeds lined up along the right border) when compared to a more traditional display with a digital match needle (eg. Canon EOS 1V, Contax N1)?

3) RTS III Reliability
- Has anyone had problems with the reliability of the vacuum back?
- Is the camera adversely effected in any way if the vacuum back stops working - or does it simply act like any other camera?
- Any other reliability concerns after about 13 years of availability?

4) Accessories (Macro Flashes, Tripod quick release plates and L-plates)
- Are macro flashes - comparable to Canon's Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX or Macro Ring Light MR-14EX available for Contax cameras?
- Really Right Stuff doesn't even make a standard quick release plate for the RTS III (although a few other companies do), but a proper L-bracket seems just about impossible to find. Anyone know if the RRS Multi-Camera L-Plate works?
- Anything else difficult to find?

My apologies for the huge slew of questions. Thanks everyone for your time.

Kim
 
M

mikel

Kim,

> - Really Right Stuff doesn't even make a
> standard
> quick release plate for the RTS III (although a
> few other companies do), but a proper L-bracket
> seems just about impossible to find. Anyone know
> if the RRS Multi-Camera L-Plate works?

A while ago I had couple questions to RRS about their plans on making QR plates for Contax N1 and couple other cameras.

I don't know how they stay in business - they seem to be most arrogant and pushy guys on the block. When I asked them if they plan to make a plate for N1, their response was along the lines of "why would anyone want Contax, when there is Canon EOS 1V".

Luckily, they're not the only ones to make QR plates. If you need QR plate for RTS-III in Arca-style mount,
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
is a place to go. Kirk Enterprises is American company, although they don't seem to know where the metal that they use is coming from (e.g. is it USA or some despicable communist country...)
Most QR plates are reasonably priced ($50-$60).

> Anything else difficult to find?

Yes. Other people in your area that use RTS III


Hope this helps,

Mike.
 

redwood

Active Member
>Hi Kim,

What type of images are you taking.Landscape/sport/wildlife?

I have and still own EOS 1000, EOS 100 AND EOS3. They have served me very well over the years and i have found them totally reliable.

I also own RTS111 ,167MT,139, AND ALL HAVE HAD DRIVE FAULTS. My little Aria is however reliable though clearly not as macho as RTS111 but hey i want a camera to work when i want it and not be unreliable as others. I use Contax for 35-135 focal length and 100 to 300 mm the Canon takes over.

I am clearly mentally unbalanced but i just cant give up those CZ lenses on the basis of just reliability of a camera body.

I used to be indecisive but know i'm not so sure.

Buy a modern Contax with a guarantee and enjoy the glass.

A repair for the RTS111 with Contax cost me £180 which had to be paid in advance before they even looked at the camera.Needless to say there was no change and six months down the road a similar fault appeared but the repair was out of guarantee.Thats probably not what you want to hear is it.

I find with the RTS that some my transparencies have a light scratch running through them. This is most noticeable when after scanning and in Photoshop at 100% mag. All these blemishes have to be removed prior to being sent to my picture library, this is time consuming. The cause may be the vacuum back or simply wear and tear as the film is transported across the plate.

I keep meaning to carry out a test between the Aria and RTS111 using the same film and lenses and put them through my scanner to measure the actual difference with the two cameras. My guess is the difference wont be that great in sharpness. Unless somebody out there knows different.

Regards

David



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bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Kim

I have some input on 2) and 3) only


Years ago I owned an RTS III and so did a fellow Contax Postal Club member. His was earlier than mine and at a Club outing we noticed that there was an appreciable difference in the viewfinder display brightness of the two cameras, each with 50/1.4 and pointing in the same direction. Mine was brighter.(You do know that the brightness of the display varies in two steps with the brightness of the image shown?)

A week or so later, my Club mate returned the camera to KY UK and, if I remember correctly, it was replaced at a very modest cost, or possibly FOC, with a new display unit. The owner reported that it was now perfect and that during a phone call with the service dept., they mentioned that there were problems with early camera display units.

If you find one that looks "right" it probably will be right!

Similarly, I had problems with the ceramic vacuum plate scratching my slides. It was replaced FOC and there was some mention of a particular small batch of plates causing problems.

The vast majority of readers and users will, no doubt, report that they have had no such problems, or any general problems with RTS III reliability.

Cheers, Bob.
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
David, I'm worried about this.....

"A repair for the RTS111 with Contax cost me ?180 which had to be paid in advance before they even looked at the camera.Needless to say there was no change and six months down the road a similar fault appeared but the repair was out of guarantee.Thats probably not what you want to hear is it. "

.... what was the fault? Was it the scratching you mention later? And was the camera sent directly to KY UK?

I have never heard of KY UK asking for money in advance to service a camera! They usually provide an estimate, with a small handling charge(which includes insured return carriage) if you don't wish the repair to take place.

(Frazer, I wonder if you are reading this!)

Cheers, Bob.
 

redwood

Active Member
> ,Hi Bob,

The fault was an intermitent drive/battery drain problem about two years ago. The camera was sent via my local camera shop and on receipt at Kyocera they requetsted payment before the repair took place which i did. They told me that they had problems with work being done and not being paid for, hence payment first. This was my first dealing with Kyocera repair Dept and assumed it to be the norm. I was told the problem related to the illuminated display. I was fortunate by chance to speak with Frazer the other day and he has helped me with regard a future repair for which i am very gratefull. I have a Kyocera receipt in relation to the repair.If you wish to contact me direct then please do so.

Contact me direct on info@norfolkimage.co.uk

regards

David



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bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the info David.

I can understand KY UK asking for payment when a third party is involved .... they've probably been stung before (not always by the customer!)

Glad to see Frazer is still helping .... exactly what I would have expected!

Cheers, Bob.
 

bjornsor

Member
David How can you judge the sharpness with a scanner? I suppose pictures taken with both cameras are sharper than your scans, unless you use a very bad film if you find a film that bad.
 
Y

ygs

> know where the metal that they
> use is coming from (e.g. is it USA or some despicable
> communist country...)

I'd like to draw Administrator's attention to such kind of stupid and offensive comments. This is far out of (N)etiquette...
 
K

kimd

Thanks for the answers everyone - please keep them coming. I'd like to hear from as many people as possible...


Mike:

I'm not sure if you'd heard, the RRS ownership changed a while back. Apparently, people are finding them much more friendly and accommodating nowadays. I can attest to this. When I spoke to them on a couple occasions in the last month, I was greeted by very friendly, helpful people. The fellow I spoke to said he wasn't completely sure why more Contax plates hadn't been made - but thought it may be due to troubles with replacing batteries. FWIW, I'd rather purchase plates from RRS because I think they are more nicely constructed (ie. rounded edges) - but Kirk is a definite option if RRS doesn't pull through...

David:

The type of photos I like to take cover a wide range: street, landscape, portrait, macro, architectural etc. Consequently, I'm interested in focal lengths covering the 20mm - 135mm range. In all likelihood, I'd start with the Distagon 28 f2.8, Planar 50 f1.4, and Sonnar 85 f2.8. The 21mm f2.8, 60 f2.8 C Makro (or 100 f2.8 Makro) might follow - depending on my needs.

With Canon, I'm not too thrilled with the construction or feel of many of the non-L-series lenses covering the range listed above. The 1V body does feel very nice and solid though...

With regards to the RTS III scratching your film: Do you have an early model? I read somewhere that an early batch had some problems with the ceramic pressure plate (near the vacuum holes) - and a replacement fixed the scratching. You may want to look into it if you dare....

Thanks again,

Kim
 
K

kimd

Whoops, I just realized that Bob mentioned the pressure plate already...
 
H

hsballon

>re service in canada ... previous acredited service tecks no longer >function as such.

contax new jersey refers you to nortown photo service in mississauga,ont who assess problem and then forward ,if nrcrssary, to contax usa ,in n.j. i'm in this process at present. hope this helps. henry
 

joanjordi

Active Member
My 2nd hand RTSIII has survived twice a 1'5 meters high dropfall from my bag to a solid ground, without any damage...
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Kim,

You sound like a good candidate for Contax C/Y, and for reasons of weight and features I you should consider three bodies: RTSIII, RX, and Aria. Your lens choice is in the CZ sweet spot.

Some responses to your initial posting:

- Camera repair and parts are legally required to remain available for a decade after product discontinuation. RTSIII is a current product, and so is the Aria, while RX(I) may have been just discontinued. Expect plety of life from C/Y, whatever Kyocera does.

- DOF locks exposure setting.

- I hate the traditional Contax display of shutter speed, with overlay of speed as set and speed as metered: a blinking, confusing mess. My solution is Av and AEL. Only when I can shoot (and think) slowly do I use M. In contrast (pun intended), Aria is much better.

- One of my vacuum backs is probably broken, and came to me that way. No effect observed, and none expected. I have no concerns for RTSIII reliability.

I agree with your opinion about EOS non-L primes (I have four). The build quality is middling, and the tactile feedback is HORRIBLE. Blame the AF mechanism, since Canon FD was fine. I love C/Y for beautiful optics, manual control of focus, and full-metal build for most of the lenses in the line.

Finally, to consolidate your flash questions, I mix and match the TLA280 (3 pins), RTSIII (3 pins), TLA360 (5 pins), and Aria (5 pins). There is no difference in behavior for TTL use. I believe the 5-pin connector gives some automation with auto (non-TTL) mode and with N system cameras (perhaps auto-zooming). RTSIII preflash metering works with anything it can fire, including studio strobes.
 
M

mikel

Kim,

> Mike:
>
> I'm not sure if you'd heard, the RRS ownership
> changed a while back. Apparently, people are
> finding them much more friendly and
> accommodating nowadays.

That's nice to hear that things have changed there, but considering the fact that there are no plates available for RTS-III, I believe that's of little help to you
(It also looks like they don't make ballheads anymore).

But you can get plate from Kirk, so that's not a problem. The question actually should be which ballhead to use - Kirk's BH-1 or BH-3, or the real Arca-Swiss or maybe even Acratech. Once you got this out of the way, you can technically get a simple custom-made QR plate from any machinist in your area (that is, if for some reason you don't want to deal with Kirk).

Mike.
 
K

kimd

Rico, I agree about the RTS III display. I found it a bit confusing to see blinking shutter speeds etc. when playing with the camera in the local store.

Anyone disagree about the RTS III viewfinder being confusing? Does it get easier (and faster to use) over time - especially in Manual mode?

Do you think the RX has a better display layout (with DFI turned off) than the RTS III? By looking at the RX brochure on this site - it seems as though it has a miniature match needle graph. Is the graph difficult to read in practice? Does it show half stops? What is the maximum number of stops (over and under) that the RX can display?

Boy, would I kill for the Canon 1v's (highly visible) match needle in a Contax C/Y camera...

Kim.
 

redwood

Active Member
>Hi Bjorn,

The only cost effective way i could think of comparing the two bodies was to use velvia film in each camera, record the same scene using the same lens on the different bodies and then scan via my Minolta 5400 and check at 100% magnification. I suppose by introducing an extra element into the test it would effect the results but surely the effect would be the same for both images.Any difference between the results would therefore be the result of the vacuum back RTS111 via the Aria. Perhaps someone out there has done this very comparison but on a more scientfic basis. Kyocera says the vacuum back works. It would be nice to see some evidence.Certainly when i have scanned non CZ lens and compared at magnification wih a CZ lens after scanning the differecne is clear. I see no reason why if there is a difference in sharpness in the image when using the two bodies why it wouldn't show up using the simple test mentioned.I thought the whole point of the vacuum back was to keep the film flat at exposure making the most of the CZ optics and increasing image quality through sharpness.

Regards

David

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joanjordi

Active Member
<Anyone disagree about the RTS III viewfinder being confusing? Does it
get easier (and faster to use) over time - especially in Manual mode?>

I find is not very clear because the numbers are white in a blue background. Maybe confusing too because shows all the information you need to shoot in every mode (AV -TV or M), and is a lot of information.

Personally, my "big problem" is the 100% viewfinder coverage. Frame mounted slides and lab prints don't cover 100% film impressed surface, and sometimes have obtained "cutted" photos when the subject fill the viewfinder.

But is much more "my" problem than camera problem or misfunction.
 
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