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Thread: Contax RX is Awesome

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Contax RX is Awesome

    If anyone out there is entertaining the idea of buying a film SLR with some automation, the Contax RX is "just right", IMO. In one of those CWF (childhood wish fulfillment) moments, I bought one on eBay from Popflash (I had lusted for an RTS in the 70s). I just got the RX a few days ago, and after putting a roll through it I'm very glad I got it.

    It is auto-advance, and Av/Tv/P-mode auto-exposure (plus manual, of course). It is not auto-focus. It has center-weighted and spot metering, shutter speeds to 1/8000, and an amazing line of Zeiss lenses from which to choose. Unfortunately, the lenses aren't cheap, but they're cheaper than used Leitz lenses, in general. I'm currently using a middle-of-the-road 50mm f/1.7.

    The handling is like butter. Controls are placed nicely, if you get past the shutter speed on the left thing. Everything is placed for easy finger reach. The thing sounds like a precision machine when fired, except for a bit of "sproing" or ringing after the winding completes, when you're close to it. I noticed this when dry firing it. I didn't notice it when shooting with film loaded, but I was concentrating on framing and shooting, not the sound of the winder. It's pretty darn quiet for an auto-wind SLR. Louder than my M8, though.

    It also offers an interesting feature: digital focus confirmation. It seems to work well, if a little slowly (too slowly for quick shots, for sure, but I may need more practice). Coming from autofocus DSLRs and rangefinders, surprisingly, I must admit I found it a little slower for me to focus than my Leicas (yes, I've read that rangefinders are quicker to focus, but didn't quite believe it). I assumed that seeing the whole image come into focus would work to my advantage, but that hasn't been the case. I missed focus on a lot of shots in lower light on Christmas Eve.

    I'll post some pix once I'm done scanning. They won't be great for peeping, since it's Tri-X pushed to 1250 :-\, indoor low-light shots.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    Can a kind admin move this to the "Analog Cameras" forum? Sorry, I lost my head for a minute there.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Contax RX is Awesome


    Congrats, mathomas, the RX is such a nice design of a quality tool.
    Looking forward to see some pictures, also pictures of the camera itself, please ...
    Like Jorgen did in this thread (and by the way on the very same Other Cameras board).
    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20016
    I wouldn't worry too much about the board, if there's a Contax RX or RTS thread, we'll find it

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    Hi Steen. Thanks for the link to the other thread. Happy to oblige, regarding photos:

    The lovely camera:



    A few snapshots from Christmas Eve, on Tri-X @ 1250, developed in Diafine:






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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    Congratulations with a great camera, Mike. I bought mine a couple of months ago, and couldn't be more happy. I'm probably buying another one for different film types, other lenses, backup etc. I've considered an F6 and/or F100 off and on for a long time, but now I find that film and manual focus is a great combination. Those Zeiss primes aren't too bad either

    I just spent my first full weekend in over five years with film only. Photos coming up in a few days.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    Great camera! Used one for years and years.

    The focus assist is helpful if you don't try to do the major part of focusing with it ... but instead for just that final tweak. Eyeball it, then tweak it ... it's pretty quick once you practice a bit.

    In most cases, if you learn to rack the focus back to infinity after each series of shots, you'll find you learn to instinctively turn the focus ring one way rather than the back-and-forth hunting, and that achieving focus for most shots like you posted is a very short throw ... (note how the distance markings on the lens barrel compact as they move toward infinity).

    A pretty accomplished photojournalist taught me these tricks years ago.

    -Marc

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    Thanks for your thoughts folks.

    The RX really handles beautifully. I don't really mind the manual focus, coming from Leica Ms. However, it's a nice change of pace to have so much automation elsewhere (if I want it) in the RX. And I'm already a Zeiss fan from my Leicas, so it's great to have an SLR system that is Zeiss-based.

    fotografz: I've heard of that focusing protocol before. I really should practice it, as it would be handy with any manual-focus platform, I believe.

  8. #8
    meilicke
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Great camera! Used one for years and years.

    The focus assist is helpful if you don't try to do the major part of focusing with it ... but instead for just that final tweak. Eyeball it, then tweak it ... it's pretty quick once you practice a bit.

    In most cases, if you learn to rack the focus back to infinity after each series of shots, you'll find you learn to instinctively turn the focus ring one way rather than the back-and-forth hunting, and that achieving focus for most shots like you posted is a very short throw ... (note how the distance markings on the lens barrel compact as they move toward infinity).

    A pretty accomplished photojournalist taught me these tricks years ago.

    -Marc
    Thank you! This sounds like a workable idea that I will have to try (sony nex with canon fd).

  9. #9
    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Contax RX is Awesome

    I shot again with the RX yesterday. Again, I have to say what a nice camera! I love how every control is at your fingertips. It seems that Contax thought very hard about how to organize the dials and buttons. You can do most things (well, everything having to do with the actual photo) with your eye to the viewfinder. I shot in Av mode, and I really loved the fact that the exposure compensation is right there as a big, easy-to-use dial. Originally, I thought it was a bad idea to put that dial where the shutter dial speed normally is (on classic cameras, anyway). After some thought and use my theory is that Contax must have decided that most folks would shoot in auto-mode, and thus put exposure comp where you could adjust it with your right hand while focusing and adjusting aperture with your left (just a guess).

    This camera seems so much easier/quicker to shoot with than my Canon 30D, if adjustments must be made on-the-fly. Why did we have to lose usability when the sensor changed from film to digital? And why doesn't every camera that offers exposure automation (including the M8/M9) have a dedicated dial for exposure compensation? (yes, I know the M9 has attached it to the jog dial + func button, but you have to move the camera from your face to use that).

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