Contax RTS – an old dog gets new life

My Contax RTS (Real Time System) 35mm SLR camera with its new “skins”. These cameras which were first released back in 1975 are notorious for shedding their original factory applied coverings. If you search online selling sites you’ll find plenty of these cameras for sale but very few have their leatherette covers still attached as they tend to peel away from the metal bodies and shrink (dry out) over time. The good news is that the old coverings are a breeze to remove and there’s a wide selection of aftermarket replacement options to choose from. Black is no longer the only color as bold colors like red, blue, and even green have become popular and textures like lizard skin to well, whatever you think you may like. I wanted to stay with the more traditional look and feel so I went with recycled leather from Hugo Studio’s Custom Camera Covers (hugostudio.com).

The previous owner of my RTS had attempted to reattach the original leatherette with some type of contact adhesive but even that failed over time. Yashica’s choice of coverings just didn’t stand the test of time no matter how they were reattached.

While waiting for the new coverings to arrive I added a new to me Yashica ML 50mm f1.7 lens which I was able to chase down in near mint condition. I went with the Yashica made (likely Tomioka-Zeiss) f1.7 based solely on cost. The original Carl Zeiss designed glass for the RTS is way out of my comfort zone pricewise so I went with what I know. Besides, both lenses were made in Japan probably on the same factory line by Yashica anyway.

This would be the standard lens that would have been on the RTS. Here is an empty box that I found for sale on an auction site with everything but the lens. A nice find for any serious collector (and if I had the lens I would buy this in a second).
Here’s a nice Zeiss lens kit that sold recently from a seller in Japan for around $280.

So there it is. Recovered and looking much better. Now to recover the data back so everything matches.

Contax Data Back for the original RTS with it’s slightly detached leatherette.

Comments are always welcomed as I’ve learned quite a bit from reader feedback. As always, thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com (CC Design Studios hosted by Etsy). – Chris Whelan

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