FILM REWIND: CONTAX RX

Does camera love last? I'll let you know starting today and throughout 2018 as I revisit cameras from my collection that I gushed over when I originally bought them. How do classic film cameras hold up over time? First up, my Contax RX.

 Contax RX with Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 Planar

Contax RX with Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 Planar

I bought my Contax RX almost three years ago for two reasons, one more rational than the other. Rationally, I wanted an inexpensive way to try Carl Zeiss glass. Irrationally, I thought the Contax/Yashica bodies produced in the mid-1990s were cool looking. Although I buy a lot of old cameras on eBay and have had really good luck there, the RX is a pretty complicated camera full of electronics. With that in mind, I decided to get mine from a trusted source with a solid return policy, so I kept my eye on KEH, B&H Photo and Adorama. It wasn't long before a nice one turned up at B&H. They also had a 50/1.7 Zeiss Planar in the Contax/Yashica mount, so I heated up the credit card.

When I originally reviewed the RX on my old WordPress blog, I couldn't heap enough praise on this camera. Even though the RX was big and fairly heavy, I wrote that it felt just wonderful in the hand. It's metering was spot on, I loved its digital focus assist, big and beautiful viewfinder, built-in diopter adjustment and oh-so-sweet sounding shutter. Here are some shots from my first roll through the RX on Acros film.

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I haven't shot this camera nearly enough and when I took it out for a walk on the beach a few weeks ago, I had to ask myself why. The RX is truly a very pleasant camera to shoot. Like the Nikon F4, it offers up most every metering mode a photographer could want. And the camera will bend to the skill level of its user with fully automatic everything shooting mode to manual. The integral motor drive will have you shooting up 36 frames in no time and I still think the Contax RX has one of the best sounding shutters of any camera I have tried.

As I have written before, the RX was released just as the photographic world was beginning to embrace auto-focus, so it has the brains of an auto-focus camera without the ability to actual automatically focus a lens. As you are manually focusing, an indicator at the bottom of the viewfinder will tell you when you've nailed focus. It's cool, but with this big and bright viewfinder, stunning Zeiss lens and split image screen, you really don't need the computer assist.

I would buy the RX all over again and even though I have only tried one Carl Zeiss prime lens, I love the way it renders. There are a couple more C/Y mount Zeiss lenses I have had my eye on, the 28mm f/2.8 is supposed to be amazing and the 35-70mm f/3.5 is reviewed as one of the best zooms ever made. After living with my Contax RX for a few years, I can definitely say I'm still in love. Here are some shots from my beach walk during a negative tide, ironically shot again on Acros film.

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