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Which should I get? N1 with 24-85, or RTSIII with 35-70? I know the N has autofocus, but besides that, what are the main differences and why is one better than the other? Cost seems to be the same, so which should I get?
The N1 only has a limited range of lenses available for it, whereas the RTSIII will give you access to a vast range of Zeiss, Yashica and third-party lenses and accessories. If you need autofocus, then there is always the AX, or the RX with its focus assist.
Thanks for your reply Nick. I'm planning to only use the zoom plus a 50mm 1.4 for low light/depth, which is available for both systems. So in that light, when cost is the same, and lenses are the same, which camera is the preferred one?
The lenses aren't the same as they would have been re-designed for the later N-range. So they may be technically better, thanks to improved computing power.
I grew up with the RTS range and have no experience of the N-range, so I don't feel qualified to give an opinion. Both cameras were available at the same time, so it's down to you to make the decision: autofocus and limited lens range; or manual focus (with one exception) and a large range of lenses and accessories.
I have just used the 35-70/3.4 on my RTS II after a long hiatus (due to a move), and it reminded me of why I bought into the CY system a long time ago. It was such a pleasure to use, but most importantly the pictures were great. Like Nick said, you'll have access to a wider range of lenses with the CY system.
I've always wanted a N1 with the 24-85, but the body is much larger than any of the old CY bodies maybe except for the RTS III; tried one out at the store back then. The other thing is the N1 is newer than any of the older CY stuff, so you might get a body that will last longer; parts as scarce as they might be.
One thing that can be said of the RTS III, it's robust precision will win you over; if the weight doesn't bother you that is. Either way, you'll have a winner on your hands.
I own both systems. And both have their pros and cons. The lens range of the N system is limited; if you want AF with C/Y mount, there's only the "white elephant" named AX. AF speed of both is poor in comparison to modern systems like Nikon or Canon - but you can live with it if you know the drawbacks.
After all you can expand the N system using an adapter and Contax 645 Zeiss lenses. For example the great 140/f2.8 oder the 210/f4.0.
Flashlights will work on both systems. So feel free. Welcome to the analogue photo universe...