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Contax RTS III or Nikon F5 -- which would you buy?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:26 am    Post subject: Contax RTS III or Nikon F5 -- which would you buy? Reply with quote

I've always been fascinated by the build quality of Contax SLRs after getting to use a friend's 139 back in the 80s. But after reading through the features for the various Contax SLRs, I can say that the Contax I would prefer the most would be the RTS III because of its feature set. But I'm amazed at how much the BIN prices on eBay are for this camera. Didn't find any auctions, just BINs.

It occurred to me that a much more advanced camera can be had for quite a bit less. So I had a look at prices for the Nikon F5 on eBay. Sure enough, a more recent technology, AF camera can be had for substantially less money than an RTS III.

Which causes me to wonder -- given that this is a manual lens comminity here -- would you pay a premium for the RTS III over the Nikon F5, or would you go for the Nikon instead? Prefer EOS? Then substitute an EOS-1n or 1v for the F5. The RTS III is still more expensive. Or is it worth the premium because it accepts Zeiss T* lenses?

I've never handled either camera so I don't really have any direct experience to form an opinion on. But being a cheap bastid, and in spite of my desire to own a cool Contax, I'd probably go for the F5 instead.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's a wrong way to address the decision. You should not decide based on which camera features, rather, based on which lenses you own, or want to own. And of course, on which shooting philosophy you want to follow

Nikon and Contax are, in my opinion, the best brands of film reflex cameras.
Yet, the F5 and the RTS III are deeply different cameras, in philosophy and features.
One is autofocus, and oriented towards that technology and even ready for image stabilizer implementation.
The other is manual focus, and more oriented towards precision than speed.

If you buy the F5, you want to use them with Autofocus lenses. It does not make much sense to buy it to use it with manual lenses. Aside from the fact that I don't know if it's completely backwards compatible (like many newer Nikon cameras it might present physical difficulty to mount the pre-AI lenses), there are better Nikon cameras for use with manual lenses - the FM2 comes to mind, but there are others also.

If you buy the RTS III, you make a huge investment in the manual lenses use and philosophy. You get probably the best there is for manual focus technology. But it's on the other side compared to the F5.

So I think that even the doubt itself between these two lenses is problematic. Because they are not really close cameras that one could choose between. They are worlds apart.

If I was in your shoes I would first make it clear to myself the following:

1) what road do I want to take, autofocus with some manual compatibility, or exclusively manual?

2) how many lenses do I have that I can use with the F5, and how many that I can use with the RTS III ?

Especially the second is the crucial answer that you need to give to yourself. Because Contax lenses are expensive, and if you need to buy many of them to build a varied set to use with the RTS III, you need to be ready to fork out a substantial amount of green bills for them.
Not that autofocus Nikon lenses are cheap, for that matter...

So I think that you are the only one who can give you the answer, based on the two questions streamlined above.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

I'm interested in the view that Contax make a good (best?) manual focus camera. Those Yashicas are really better than a nice Minolta XD11? I agree that Contax lenses might well be the best (I have to as I have 4) but not so certain the RT series is that special?

If I wanted a nice manual focus camera my money would be on the Canon T90 with the (unique?) 4 way split image screen...lol

Doug

Orio wrote:
I think it's a wrong way to address the decision. You should not decide based on which camera features, rather, based on which lenses you own, or want to own. And of course, on which shooting philosophy you want to follow

Nikon and Contax are, in my opinion, the best brands of film reflex cameras.
Yet, the F5 and the RTS III are deeply different cameras, in philosophy and features.
One is autofocus, and oriented towards that technology and even ready for image stabilizer implementation.
The other is manual focus, and more oriented towards precision than speed.

If you buy the F5, you want to use them with Autofocus lenses. It does not make much sense to buy it to use it with manual lenses. Aside from the fact that I don't know if it's completely backwards compatible (like many newer Nikon cameras it might present physical difficulty to mount the pre-AI lenses), there are better Nikon cameras for use with manual lenses - the FM2 comes to mind, but there are others also.

If you buy the RTS III, you make a huge investment in the manual lenses use and philosophy. You get probably the best there is for manual focus technology. But it's on the other side compared to the F5.

So I think that even the doubt itself between these two lenses is problematic. Because they are not really close cameras that one could choose between. They are worlds apart.

If I was in your shoes I would first make it clear to myself the following:

1) what road do I want to take, autofocus with some manual compatibility, or exclusively manual?

2) how many lenses do I have that I can use with the F5, and how many that I can use with the RTS III ?

Especially the second is the crucial answer that you need to give to yourself. Because Contax lenses are expensive, and if you need to buy many of them to build a varied set to use with the RTS III, you need to be ready to fork out a substantial amount of green bills for them.
Not that autofocus Nikon lenses are cheap, for that matter...

So I think that you are the only one who can give you the answer, based on the two questions streamlined above.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Doug, I'm a big fan of the T-90 also. Cool But I'll stick to the RTS III vs the F5 for this discussion.

Well, for me this is mostly an academic exercise, since I don't own any Contax-mount lenses. I do own several Nikon-mount lenses, though. But since this is the MFlenses forum, I think it is only fair to limit the comparisons to the two cameras as to how they perform with manual focus lenses.

It is wrong to assume that the Nikon F5 works well only with AF lenses. Any Nikon F lens can be used with the F5 (including non-AI lenses if you have the mod done by Nikon for the lift-up tab). True, you might not be able to take advantage of many of its advanced metering features with MF lenses, but honestly I've always regarded multi-segmented metering patterns as being more marketing hype than anything else. Give me a partial metering pattern any day, with maybe a spot option, and I'm more than happy.

The F5 has a 1/8000 second top shutter speed with a 1/250 second flash sync and an integral 8 frame-per-second motor drive. These features will work just as well with manual focus lenses as AF ones. The RTS III has the same top shutter speed and flash sync but "only" an integral 5 frame-per-second motor drive. If you're like me, you use these high frame rates very rarely, so again, even though the F5 has the edge, I don't regard it as significant.

Yes, Contax lenses are expensive -- although not as expensive as they used to be. But the premium Nikkor AI and AIs lenses are expensive too, and are still highly sought after. So the differences might not be as great as one might think.

Really, I think it is the Contax mystique more than anything else that results in such high RTS III asking prices. And this mystique is mostly due to the reputation of the Contax T* lenses, I'm thinking -- although as I said in my first post, I've been impressed with Contax camera quality itself. It would seem though that the Contax mystique is obviously greater than the Nikon mystique since the RTS III is priced significantly more than the F5.

Am I wrong in this analysis?


Last edited by cooltouch on Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:29 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:

Really, I think it is the Contax mystique more than anything else that results in such high RTS III asking prices. And this mystique is mostly due to the reputation of the Contax T* lenses, I'm thinking -- although as I said in my first post, I've been impressed with Contax camera quality itself. It would seem though that the Contax mystique is obviously greater than the Nikon mystique since the RTS III is priced significantly more than the F5.
Am I wrong in this analysis?


Sorry, I think yes you're assuming wrong Smile
The price of a camera is determined by many factors and the mystique matters only marginally. There are Contax cameras like the 167MT that can be bought with 60-80 Euro. The mystique does not seem to work there...
Besides, there is also a rather important Nikon mystique, at least here in Italy there is a lot more people who would spend on Nikon gear than people who would spend on Contax.

The facts are that Nikon produced cameras in a much higher amount than Contax. This resulted in lower prices at the time, and today, it results in a double lowering price effect: because they were originally cheaper, and because there are so many of them on the used market.
On the contrary, cameras like the Contax RTS III were highly expensive at the time, and not many of them were produced and sold. This results, today, in a scarcity of used exemplars available - and as the Voigtlaender SL lenses show, when a product is good and scarce, the prices skyrocket.

The Contax RTS III is not the ordinary manual camera, and it's not the very good manual camera either; it is simply the best, or near the best. It was at the top of technology of the time - and still is today. The vacuum system that Kyocera perfectioned uses the best ceramics and high engineering. The quality of build was so high that even today, all or nearly all the RTS III cameras are still functioning perfectly.
The price of such a technological marvel is completely justified by the quality of the build and the level of the technology - much more sophisticated than a simple autofocus engine.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well to say that "mystique matters only marginally" I think does not hold, or else Leicas would not sell for as much as they do.

I was not aware of the RTS III's apparent rarity, but yes I would agree that this will affect price. So can I assume that you would be willing to pay this premium for the RTS III for its technology, and not its rarity, over the F5 then?

Once again, I'm just curious more than anything else. Me, being the cheapskate that I am, I'd probably opt for the F5 over the RTS III and use the leftover money to buy more lenses. Cool


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting discussion..economics verse knowledge (if I may break it down to that) I think I see where Michael is coming from,There are so many cameras out there that are functionally beautiful and mechanically amazing that I too have wondered about which one to buy just as a learning curve.
It's like a lollie shop out there on quality older cameras (although getting one that is working maybe the the tricky thing) And the only way to get an opinion on what works for you is to buy and try...I have been looking at a few different brands Canon,Nikon,and the Contax and older brand cameras and I would base my decision on bang for buck as I know I can get the other camera no doubt later on....camera buying I am learning is like a fine wine you buy it to sample it's quality just for the pleasure and to understand what the fuss is about ...but for those of us on budgets the dollar comes first in our decision making followed by the pleasure of the chase to get it as cheap as possible. Very Happy
Head or heart??


PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
Well to say that "mystique matters only marginally" I think does not hold, or else Leicas would not sell for as much as they do.


Leica rangefinder (and partly also SLR), and Contax SLR, are two different things.
Leica rangefinder cameras belong to that "exclusive" collectioners club together with the Contarex SLR cameras and Exakta SLR cameras.
The prices of these cameras are always higher - sometimes much higher - than their effective value for their performance.
Actually, to speak brutally, some Leica cameras are really way ooooooverpriced compared to their effective technology status. For instance, the Contax rangefinders, and I would dare to say even the Kiev IV rangefinders, are technologically better models than the Leica cameras of their time.

The Contax reflex cameras are not part of that type of collectionism.
They are still perceived, mostly, as "usage" cameras.
I think you are underestimating the quality and value of the RTS III camera. The film vacuum system is technology at the top. Put it on a premium body (that of the RTS II) that was for long time considered the best SLR camera ever made, and you should get the idea.
Of course Nikon film cameras have very high quality and are much cheaper, so overall, they are certainly a much better price/quality ratio bargain.
But we must also say that Nikon never made a film SLR as advanced technologically as the RTS III or the AX

Quote:
I was not aware of the RTS III's apparent rarity, but yes I would agree that this will affect price. So can I assume that you would be willing to pay this premium for the RTS III for its technology, and not its rarity, over the F5 then?


If I could afford to spend 900-1000 Euros on a small format film camera, yes, I would absolutely buy the RTS III. But I'm like you: I prefer to spend money on the lenses, and use more affordable (but still good) cameras such as the RX.


PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding the Contax RTS III, hold one and you"ll know what the fuss is all about...


PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:41 am    Post subject: Contax RTSIII vs. Nikon F6 Reply with quote

You can see at photo shops behind the window glass lots of used Nikon camera bodies, but very less Contax RTS cameras and lenses! Is that good or bad?

I'll going to keep my RTSIII and AX until the devil gets me!


PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NIkon F5 big, bulky and several them has issue with film loading, even a little miss align or not perfectly flat film may you can't load film.
but... a joy to use if works, focus confirmation is very handy with manual lenses.

Contax RTS III (Yashica/Kyocera made ) I do not expect much, I have older model Contax RTS which is a simple camera. If you can afford Nikon F5 look a more advanced Contax model and prepare your self if any of them stop working you will have an expensive brick...

Smarter to look less expensive SLR cameras and if they are stop working looses will less.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A small (or important) point.....for screw lenses, a Nikon M42 adapter would have infinity problems, but a C\Y m42 adapter doesn't.


PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since this post has been brought back from the dead I suppose I'll join in. I had an RTS III for many years and it performed flawlessly the entire time I owned it. I got it and some lenses Distagon 28/2.8, Planar 50/1.4 & a surprisingly-superb (and beastly) Vario-Sonnar 35-135 all in minty demo condition from B&H back around 1998. Coincidentally I had bought it to replace a beloved Nikon F4E that was stolen that I owned for many years before that.

The Planar seems to be a bit polarizing. Some love it. Some hate it. I never found mine to have a harsh or strange bokeh or to be overly contrasty as some complain. It definitely is a modern lens through and through but I was always impressed with what I got with it and that holds for the other lenses as well, perhaps even more so. In fact the 28 and 35-135 were real standouts. I got a C/Y-to-EOS adapter and used on my 20D. The Distagon had a tendency to blow out the sensor fairly readily but the zoom was just sublime. It also had a macro mode and the detail shots you could get with that combo was pretty amazing.

The only fault I ever had with the RTS III was the motor. The noise it made kept it from being usable in certain situations where discretion was wanted or needed. For that I would still switch to a Leica M or Nikon F. All the batteries also added weight to an already formidable camera. Though, for what it does, it was (and still is) a marvel of engineering. Of course I also worried a bit about servicing should anything ever happen. I probably could have lived without the vacuum back if it ever failed (and couldn't afford to have it fixed) but since the motor drive is the only means of advancing the film, I started to move back to fully mechanical cameras for 35mm reflex for the reliability and serviceability.


PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that the thread is alive again, let me post my take on this as well...

Once a long time ago I had a choice of which system to buy into, and in the end if boiled down to picking either Contax MM or Nikon. I looked at the top-end cameras of both (RTS III vs. F4) and picked Contax because I reckoned that:

1. The Contax shutter release is so incredibly nice. By comparison, the Nikon shutter release is soft and undefined and makes it hard to take a shot at a precise moment without shaking the camera in the process.

2. Contax had the only cameras (still true to this day, maybe unless you consider some exotic brands) that allowed me to lock exposure and keep it locked indefinitely easily and intuitively with the shutter finger.

3. The metering mode switch is awkwardly placed on the side of the prism on all top-end Nikons, which was understandable because the prism was exchangeable, but is very hard to find an excuse for ever since the F6 (and even today's D3 and D4 have this incredibly inconvenient arrangment).

Ever since I've owned a Contax, this list of preferences has confirmed itself over and over. Build quality should be pretty equal, just as reliability, between the two systems, and even though I enjoy the features of the RTS III (very narrow spot meter, TTL flash spot metering, etc.), I could do without them.


PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd go for both...

I used to own Contax cameras and they were a joy to use.
I've since moved to Nikon mainly and they, too, are great fun- but auto focus and digital.

If Contax were making digital cameras today I'd be a very happy bunny.


PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2019 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

another comment to supplement this old discussion; for focussing autofocus cameras -at least the Canon variety- has a less precise viewing system which needs a special screen fitted And even then it is inferior to the Contax. I suspect Nikon autofocus devices suffer from the same handicap; no point in being extra bright and precise if the auto-motors take care of focussing.

p.