DPR Forum

Welcome to the Friendly Aisles!
Register now and use your old dpreview username.
Enjoy this modern, easy to use software. Look also at our Reviews & Gallery!

Advice Needed Thanks


Well-Known Member
Fellow Forum Members:

I need some advice on how to proceed on C/Y camera bodies I own. I'm not exactly sure where this should be posted, so I just picked the RX section since it deals with an RX in part. Here goes:

I am currently overrun with Contax C/Y camera bodies of different types, all of which seemed like great ideas at the time. I enjoy handling and shooting all of them, but feel that I should probably "thin the herd" so to speak and just get used to and really learn one model in-depth. I find myself fumbling at times because I am using a different camera all the time.

Let me start off by saying that in addition to the bodies I will list, I also have a G1 and G2 with four lenses, and those aren't going anywhere since they are great travel cameras and I enjoy them a great deal. I also have started shooting medium format, and recently had a brief dalliance with 4 x 5 which was not for me. I've got a pretty decent selection of CZ manual focus lenses for the SLR's and my plan is to probably keep them and just dispose of excess bodies.

I started off with the Contax 167MT, and actually have six of those in working order, three with P-5's installed but two are quite old now. I became intrigued with the older Contax SLR bodies and have two of the 137 MA's with data backs, a 137 MD, two 139Q's (one pristine) and a very clean RTS II. A few months ago, I got an RX in very nice shape, and although it seems like the largest of the bunch, I like it so far after a few rolls of film. The focus indicator seems nice in certain conditions. I have not really taken the time to learn the camera in-depth yet.

If you were in my position, and wanted to prune this collection a bit, which ones would you drop off first? I do mostly street photography with 35mm, or special events such as festivals and sports, a wee bit of close-up stuff and lots of informal portraiture. My first love is black and white, but some of the "pop" of colors from the Zeiss lenses has me hooked on that at times as well. I love film, but at some point I will probably acquire a simple DSLR. At present I feel no strong need to do so however.

I tend to think of the RX and the 167MT's as "new Contax", with heavy emphasis on electronics and the others as "old Contax" with fewer bells and whistles, but with a more solid feeling construction. My lens collection is slightly heaver with MM lenses than AE. Focal lengths in prime lenses run from 28-200, with three zooms, 28-85, 35-70, and 80-200. The 28-85 CZ pretty much lives on the RX, since its the only body this lens doesn't look freakishly large on. On the small side, the 139Q with the 45mm pancake lens is almost too cute to part with.

So guys, which ones do I get rid of? Do I stick with the newest stuff on the theory I can still get it serviced, or sell that off and keep a couple of the old guys around? Do I chuck them all and buy a DSLR and use my CZ lenses with that? What does the group think? Hopefully this will spur some interesting discussion.

All comments welcome.
Hi Tom, I have the same troubles. Too many cameras that do not get used as much as they ought to, hence I have been pruning for the last few months and still am! My personal views are: the newer bodies are just as solid if not more so than the older ones. I tried the 139, 137MA etc, but soon returned to newer ones. If you shoot sports and street, then surely a motordriven body is a big bonus if it is quiet. The nicest Contax's I have used are the ST & RX, they leave all else in the shade for me. They are small enough (I do not like the bulk of the RTS3) and they are so lovely to use, the only downside for me is the slightly lower viewfinder magnification, which can seem a bit like looking down a tunnel. If these cameras had the same viewfinder mag as the RTS2 they would for me be the perfect SLR. The RX has a much quieter drive than the ST, so is ok for street work. I also very much like the RTS2 for it's build, feel and viewfinder, especially with a Beattie screen which works wonders in this camera, much better than in other ones. Personally I would retain the RX and RTS2 and sell all else. If you like the 139 so much with the pancake lens, why not buy the nicer S2 or S2b to replace it? then just have three very different but complementary bodies? A DSLR will only dissapoint you after the C/Y cameras, especially in the viewfinder, I would also suspect they would not be too good for street work...do not be tempted to follow the herd just for the sake of it, if the results you get from film are good for your needs, then why change? so many people are throwing loads of money and superb cameras down the pan and getting inferior image making tools in the process...madness I say. Also bear in mind that a DSLR with C/Y lenses on adaptors is not exactly the best combination for the type of work you do. But at the end of the day, if you were going off for a trip right now and could only take two SLR's, then which ones would YOU take? maybe that will answer your question... cheers Steve.M.
Hello Tom, yes - a tricky problem. Like you and Steve I have a rather large collection of cameras, lenses and accessories most of which are used but not all. I have an emotional commitment to the old RTS and still use 2 that are pristine, one being the demonstrator model with the gold baseplate - 30 years old and still with its original light seals and the shutter as crisp as ever. I have been pondering the same issue - I have every camera other than the Aria and most of them in 2 or 3s - some in variant forms such as the RTS Fundus and 2 137 CGCMs which are used for microscopy. For the sake of vanity, I'd probably keep one of the gold RTS + 50 1.4s - at first glance they're a bit 'bling' but all 3 are perfect and while I'd never use one in public, they're fine in the studio and create a real talking point for models.

I have pondered which ones would upset me most to lose: pristine RTS+PMD+250 back & loader; RTSII; S2b; RTSIII and AX (fantastic macro capability). I'd still keep my Preview for studio and some landscape work. Lenses I'll try to keep: 15mm, 21mm, 28 f2, 35 PC-shift, 55 f1.2, 60 S-Planar, 85 f1.2, 85 f1.4, 100 f2, 135 f2, 180 f2.8, 300 f4 (old version), 28-85, 70-210. I hope to buy the 100 S-Planar in February and if I can find a 35-135 at a fair price, I'll swap that for the 28-85. And a Mutar 1 and II. I would also keep 2 Yashica lenses - the 55 macro (a true gem) and the 100 Medical.

This combination gives me everything I need for indoor sports, portraiture, landscape, architecture and macro work. Accessories I'll never sell voluntarily - the bellows system (best ever made imho), N forms of magnifier and R/A Finder, Radio Control unit; IR Control S, copy stand II, RTF540x3 + slaves + filters + AC Power units, TLA360 and finally the lens hood system (superb range).

Mind you, I still have to source a few things: TLA480 sync cord + Panel and diffuser (mine lost somewhere); AC Controller for the PMD; that 35-135 (there're a few at KenMar but once I've paid for insured shipping + duty + VAT, not such a bargain!)

Oh, and if I could only take 2 bodies with me - S2b and AX.



By the way, I use Yahoo mail and when I use the 'reply' key, I type out in nice separate paragraphs, but when the post appears here, it is in one whole big ugly paragraph..any PC literate folk know why?

cheers Steve.

Graham... "I have every camera other than the Aria and most of them in 2 or 3s"

...I hope you realise you are a sad man! and by the way, Dale photographic are currently showing a near mint Zeiss C/Y 100 makro for £495, which seems a very good price. Also Ffordes are showing a 35-135 for £849 and have a load of new and exotic Zeiss lenses in.
He he,

Hi Steve - sad man? Yes, you're probably right, somwehat obsessive about dear old Contax and Zeiss gear - guilty as charged.

Happy to still use some of the best ergonomically designed camera equipment and lenses - you bet! My gf will slaughter me when she finds out about acquiring the 55mm Zeiss but what a joy to play with it. Ho hum, now where's the 500 4.5.....

Hope you're in better health.


Steve Moseley (Grumpoid) wrote on November 22:

' 2006 - 12:26 pm,I use Yahoo mail and when I use the 'reply' key'

Hi Steve

it seems that your email program uses some kind of formating code. Try to use the mail program as text only. No html or mixture of both.

For formatting your answers, use only the return key. Nothing else.

Dirk..thanks for that..I may not bother to use reply, but just log into the forum instead.

Graham..thanks for asking about the health..unfortunately it continues to be very up and down and unpredictable..to make matters more complex, my GP and the specialist at the local hospital fundamentally disagree about the possible causes..

..oh and it's best to not tell the gf about any Zeiss items..

cheers Steve.