Tag Archives: rts

Contax RTS III with Macro attachment

As I have said, I am running out of new to me cameras to try so will be moving towards projects and themes. So hello macro photography, my first trial set-up. This is another set up that was been loaned to me by a reader. It has taken me a while to get round to trying it out but on one fading summer day try it I did.

This is the set up.

For my first try I picked a few things from my garden and used the black garden table as a backdrop.

The selection of subjects.

I haven’t tried this kind of thing before, but I already knew there would be a light drop off due to the length of the bellows. I had no idea how much, so I did a quick search and found lots of really technical details with, shock horror…MATH! I can’t find the actual website I used at the time, but this one explains everything very well. This site also has a disc compensation device you can make.

No worries really, my only real issue was the fading light. I had to use a low aperture which meant the already shallow depth of field even smaller. My other issue was the fact I was using film so no chimping to check I was doing it ok. I would really love a Contax to Nikon or Minolta adapter to try it all on digital. I will look around my “stuff box” it is amazing what I shove in there.

Anyway after working out the correct exposure I got to shooting. The depth of field was incredibly shallow as I had to use a f5.6 to gain a speed of 1/125th. I know I was using a tripod, but it was still a bit windy so I needed that speed to avoid any movement. I will try it again on a much sunnier day, when England decides to stop this incessant raining.

Here are my results.

I like them. I want to try it again with a much smaller aperture and a faster film to see the difference. Have you tried this kind of set up? Any advice?

Return to the Contax RTS III

As I was lent this camera and I am not sure when I have to give it back, I thought I would try the Contax RTS III again. I popped in some Fuji film and headed to Skipton with my father.

In the short time I have left the camera on my shelf I had forgotten how to use it. I have been using automatic cameras recently and for the first few shots I even forgot to focus the thing. Golly, what a complete amateur. But circumstances meant that my failings were not a total disaster in regards to the film.

The 28mm lens has a long depth of field and the camera and film coped with my setting choices until I came to my senses.

I still found the camera very heavy and would have preferred a different strap. The look of the camera is also not “classic” enough for my tastes. But gosh, the lenses are sharp. After the 28mm I tried a few shots of my 40 year old ape toy with the 50mm lens. A few of my friends are freaked out by Charlie, but it is a new project I have started.

Here are the new Contax shots.

It is a stunning camera and if you only want one camera then it would be an awesome choice….if you can afford a good one.

Contax RTS III

While taking part in my first vintage fair I was contacted by a reader of this blog who made me an offer I could not refuse.

“Would I like to try a Contax RTS III with a lens of my choice?” he asked.
“Erm yes please!” I replied without much delay.

So at the fair he brought in said camera as promised with a 28mm lens as I already had a 50mm. He also brought in a box of other items including a 500mm mirror lens with a Contax adaptor.

Here is the camera with the wide angle attached.

My goodness this is a heavy camera, but as you can see in perfect condition. I think if I had owned this camera it would have been a lot more scratched up as I carried it and swung it around. Mr Generous really did look after his stuff. Everything in his box of goodies was in its original box or a bag and labelled.

This camera was first introduced in 1990 and you can find all the technical details you like on this page. Really far down on that page you will see details of a ceramic film pressure plate. This other site also mentions it as a starred feature that ensured a flat film plane as it was enhanced by a vacuum. Well, that is impressive. This reviewer said it felt and looked like a Porche of cameras. I have to agree. Even though it was heavy it was surprisingly comfortable to hold, the hand grip being just the right size for my tiny hands. The diopter adjustment made the already bright viewfinder a delight to look through.

As I had this camera for “as long as you like” I decided to put a few films through it and experiment a bit. So for the first film I put in some Kodak EPH P1600X slide film that I had been given by another reader. In fact he gave me a fair bit of this now unavailable film. I wish I had read that link before as it mentions it is a rare 400asa film that can be pushed to 1600…oh I think that is what the ‘p’ indicates before 1600x.

And it says it right there on the tin! Push once for 800, twice 1600, thrice 3200.

Well, I really should start reading instructions and reviews before I use things, but where is the fun in that. Anyway, nowhere does this film have 400asa written on it, not even on the box, you just have to be clever enough to know it??

So as I thought the film was 1600asa and it was from 2002, I set the camera to 1250, moving the dial two places lower on this camera. First I tried the 500mm lens, as it did not have an aperture dial I used it at various settings. I tried aperture and speed mode hoping the camera would figure it out the aperture of the lens. I also tried manual, guessing the lens was an f8 as I had seen other lenses with the same sized aperture. I took ten shots then changed to the 28mm lens.

Then I made some calculations. Sending the E6 film off to be developed would take at least a week and cost about £15 with postage. I have at least 12 rolls of slide film. Gosh that would be expensive.
An order of Tetenal Colortec E6 would be about £50, arrive the next day, and possibly develop 30 films if I could do it. And there is the rub, I have never done E6 processing before. In Japan you could only get black and white chemicals due to government restrictions on the chemicals needed. So I had next to no experience with colour processing. How hard could it be?? Be brave I thought, chemicals ordered!

I found this site and followed it to the letter. I followed the mixing ratios and timings with a quick glance at the pack instructions. If I had known about the pushing element I would have also followed the film guide which I found later. That would have meant adding 5 minutes to the first development stage.

I boiled a kettle to use as topping up water for the tub which I had filled from the hot tap. I put all the chemicals in the tub and took constant temperature readings to check it stayed at 38C. The main issue I had was the wash process, because the sink was full and I have a small kitchen. But in the end it was not as hard as I thought it would be to keep the temperature fairly stable, even on a cold day. I agitated the developing tank every 15 seconds by using the agitation stick rather than taking the tank out of the warm water and inverting it. Then I waited very impatiently for the film to dry.

So the first part of the film was from the 500mm mirror lens.

Well, they are a bit crappy. Underexposed and fuzzy, focusing was quite hard due to the very small depth of field and darker viewfinder. I don’t like the lens very much, though I am glad I tried a free one as I always wanted to buy one for bird watching. The slides were obviously underexposed which enhanced the blue tint.

Here are some of the ones from the 28mm lens.

At first I was disappointed with the results, but then I remembered…Hey, I developed these slides! The film was 17 years out of date and I used it at the wrong settings on the camera and wrong timing of the film processing. So actually, they are not that bad 🙂

These slide also have a blue tint. The ones in the link I shared to before were also blueish. I wonder what the slides will look like when I try another roll and set the camera to 400asa.

As for the camera, it is a bit awesome. I have put a fresh roll of C41 film in it which I will not be processing myself as I want to see what it can do without the hit and miss of my own processing skills. For a Contax camera these can be found for sale at quite reasonable prices. If you are looking for a good quality, manual focus SLR, they don’t come much better than this.

Update: I tried another roll of the slide film today, this time taken at 400asa. I tried a few settings and a yellow filter. I found the yellow filter definitely was not needed and the blue colour cast was probably due to the underexposure of the first film. Some of the new roll were still blue, but some were relatively ok. Either way this roll came out better.

Here are some more from the second roll. It is not my favourite film at the moment, but I will try it in another camera for another comparison test at a later date.