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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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Studio Fun – A couple of first’s from Yashica

On the left, the Yashica ’35’ released in 1958 was Yashica’s first 35mm rangefinder (fixed lens) camera and on the right the Pentamatic ’35’ which was Yashica’s first 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. The Pentamatic was designed in 1959 and released by the Spring of 1960. Up to this point Yashica was know for building high-quality value priced twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras. These two handsome examples are proudly displayed in my collection. The good news if you’re chasing these classics are that the rangefinder model is readily available online with many excellent examples for sale. The Pentamatic is not hard to find but chasing down a solid working model is a bit harder.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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Friday Fotos! – Yashica Pentamatic lenses

These two lenses are by far the earliest lenses made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica’s new Pentamatic ’35’.

Decoding the serial numbers, the lens on the left was made in October 1959 and it was number 92 in the production run. The lens on the right was made in December 1959 and it was number 1,630 in the run.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

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Yashica’s first 35mm camera – 1958

63 years of dirt. Here’s the before image of my recently acquired Yashica 35 by Yashima. It was made in April 1958 which makes it one of the earliest known examples of this historic camera. Sharp eyed viewers will also notice that the lens says Yasinon vice the name that was eventually used, Yashinon.

Nice and clean now. This one was assembled in April 1958 at Yashima’s Shimosuwa factory on the shores of Lake Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

This one features the Yasinon (vice Yashinon) f/1.9 lens. It’s one of the earliest known examples still in the wild.
Earliest known advertisement.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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My first post…

First Look!

CHRIS AND CAROL

The exciting first look (in print) of the Pentamatic…

First official appearance of the Pentamatic occurs in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography magazine. In the June 1960 issues of Modern PhotographyU. S. Camera and Popular Photography, the first full-page ads appeared for the Pentamatic ’35’ reflex camera. The actual release date in the United States has almost always been considered by many to be March of 1960.

As of yet, I haven’t found evidence in print to support the March date. I do know that the Pentamatic was shown at the 36th annual ‘Master Photo DeaIers & Finishers Association’ trade show (MPDFA) held in St. Louis from March 21-25, 1960. I don’t know if the Pentamatic was released in Japan at an earlier date. From the progression of the serial numbers, by March 1960, about 1,500 cameras had been produced since production began in December 1959 at the Yashica Suwa factory. I doubt that there were enough cameras by March to support any widespread release in Japan or in Asia at that time. By June 1960, about 6,000 cameras had been built. There may have been enough to ship to the world markets starting in April and May. At their peak of production (summer 1960), it looks like Yashica was rolling out about 1,200 to 1,400 cameras each month.

Have a “Camera Holiday” in Japan. May 1960 magazine ad.

Part two of the “Camera Holiday” in Japan promotion. Very nice mention of Yashica’s factory in Suwa and the wonders of Japan!

Yashica provided this first ever look at their new Pentamatic SLR at the March 1960 MPDFA trade show in St. Louis.

First published look at the new Pentamatic from Yashica. May 1960

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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Contax RTS – getting it right

My recently acquired RTS stripped of its faulty skins. It’s a blank canvas and I like the look for now. The mirror is locked in the up position (the little lever to the right of the lens mount).

This scan (below) is from a Yashica marketing brochure from early 1975. There’s been so much misinformation about the origins of the RTS that I thought it would be best to go to the source to get the facts straight.

Lots of flowing marketing speak in there but it delivers with no uncertainties who did what and why. The when isn’t mentioned but many of the pictures inside this brochure are from mid 1974 based on the cameras, lenses, and accessories pictured (not just the RTS stuff). It’s generally believed that the initial talks between Yashica and Zeiss started as early as 1971. I might mention that this was an extremely challenging time financially and structurally for Yashica with some accounting and management issues reported in the global press which led to a bit of a scandal of epic proportions for Yashica’s founder(s).

Some of these accessories weren’t fully developed at the time this brochure was published and I’m far from being an expert on which lens was or was not available. I’ve never looked closely at the Carl Zeiss lens line developed for and with Yashica.

Contax RTS Real Time System.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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the Ugly Duckling

It isn’t a great way to start off a post about one of your cameras, but it’s appropriate. Especially a camera that I’ve been chasing for a long time and had an interest in since the late 1970s. My first 35mm SLR was a Yashica TL Electro X (purchased new in 1972) with an Auto Yashinon 50mm f1.7 M42 lens (screw mount). I loved that camera but wasn’t a fan of having to screw-in the lenses whenever I wanted to change focal lengths. I saw other photographers quickly attach and detach their lenses quickly (Canon, Nikon) and wanted a new camera that could do the same. But Yashica in 1977 wasn’t sexy enough sitting alongside the other SLRs for sale in the Navy Exchange store in Yokosuka, Japan. The Canon, Nikon, and Minolta reps were better prepared than the Yashica guy to present their products to cash flush Sailors looking to spend their hard earned dollars on new cameras, stereos, and watches. I vaguely remember looking at the then still new Yashica-Contax RTS in the Exchange catalog but wasn’t captured by its specs or looks. The Yashica FR and FR I versions didn’t capture my attention either. By this time I only wanted to get my hands of the Canon F-1 and Canon FD lenses not to mention all of the goodies you could add on to the F-1 (motor drives, a winder, finders, data backs…). So when I got to the store I didn’t even pick up the RTS.

Fast forward to the present and that RTS I didn’t think of much way back then I just purchased 44 years later. I want to see if the Contax RTS is a worthy camera that I missed out on or did I make the right choice. I still own that F-1 I purchased in 1978 and it’s held up beautifully over the years and followed me around the world.

Almost all present day RTS bodies share a common trait – peeling leatherette (or whatever that stuff was). A quick look at the online selling sites will show that it’s a rare camera that has complete original coverings and if it does look good and well attached then there’s a good likelihood it’s been replaced by aftermarket skins (I have some ordered).

My new to me RTS peeling skins and all. Most importantly, it works. Being an all electronic camera if something goes wrong it’s a paperweight. It uses the still easy to find A544 6V alkaline battery to power everything.
Not only does the leatherette peel away from the metal body but it dries out and shrinks a bit too which makes it nearly impossible to simply dab some glue behind the upturned edges.
It was super easy to peel away the covering on the film door – my guess is that it’s been reattached at some point before with contact adhesive. I cleaned any residual adhesive from the camera with isopropyl alcohol (70%) and some Q-tips and a rag.

Stay with me on this series of posts as I bring this ugly duckling back to life (appearance wise) and put it through some actual film tests. But first, I need to find a lens for it that won’t break the bank. The Carl Zeiss lenses designed to compliment this model are way over my paygrade so I’ll turn to the less expensive and maybe equally competent Yashica ML lenses in the C/Y mount. I have a sharp ML 50mm f1.7 on the way. BTW, RTS stands for Real Time System.

What the covering is supposed to look like.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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a different point of view – Yashica lens

Studio shots from December 2014. Samsung Galaxy S4.

The Yashica camera is my black J-3 from 1963.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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Classic Yashica Saturday – J3 with Yashinon Zoom

Yashica J-3 in pro-black finish with Auto Yashinon 75-230mm f4.5 zoom lens. The camera is from 1963. This was Yashica’s first black 35mm SLR.

My trusty buddy Pirate keeping me company while I played with my cameras. Sadly, Pirate passed away back in the Spring of 2018.

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
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wordless wednesday

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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

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