One way or another, the old will come face to face with the new and this week’s Lomopedia entry is a good example of that. The Contax RX is the product of good old mechanical camera design and modern electronics. It’s a unity of two camera design ideologies and true to its Contax name, the RX delivers with notable features and remarkable performance.
The Contax RX is a 35 mm single-lens reflex camera produced by Kyocera in 1994. Being under the Kyocera line, it used Carl Zeiss lenses with its popular Contax/Yashica (C/Y) lens mount. Zeiss lenses are prized for their good craftsmanship and even better image quality. That’s why it’s no surprise that some photographers have nothing but good words to say about the RX. Contax kept the RX’s design simple — almost minimalist in nature. It had gentle angles, plain black body coating, and just the right curves to keep it ergonomic.
It may not have been a knockout when it came to looks but the RX had a few things up its sleeves to wow photographers. Although it had a manual focus body, the RX also had an electronically-assisted focusing system that helped users get better and more refined shots. It was called the Digital Focus Indicator or DFI and it worked in various lighting condition ranging from EV 2 to 20. Its role was simple — to notify the photographer if the shot was in focus. A series of circles appeared at the bottom of the viewfinder when the image was out of focus. The fewer circles, the better.
The DFI was a relatively “new” feature at the time but Contax went ahead and put it in the RX as a show of their abilities as a camera maker. It was a nifty feature to have at the time, like an add-on when you buy a high-end car. At best, the DFI was a redundancy because the RX had a perfectly bright viewfinder and could be easily focused optically, thanks to its high-quality Zeiss lens that came as a standard.
Aside from its forward-thinking DFI feature, the RX also had automatic film advance/rewind, center-weighted metering, Av/Tv/P-mode auto exposure, and shutter speeds up to 1/4000. The RX also had a nice shutter sound according to people who used and owned one. It was the sleeper SLR that had a lot to offer but was overshadowed by other popular cameras. Under the radar but definitely not underappreciated, this camera is something to look out for if you’re into good image quality and cool camera features.
Photos Taken by Our Community with the Contax RX
Type: Auto-exposure 35 mm single-lens reflex camera with focal plane shutter
Lens Mount: Contax/Yashica MM mount
Shutter: Vertical-travel focal plane shutter
Shutter Speeds: 16 seconds to 1/4000 second at “Av” and “P”, 4 second t0 1/4000 second (setting values) at “Tv”; Manual mode 4 seconds to 1/4000 second, B and X (1/125 second)
Self-Timer: Electronic self-timer with a 10-second delay
Shutter Release: Electromagnetic release, provided with a special release socket
Exposure Control: Aperture-priority auto exposure, Shutter speed-priority auto exposure, Programmed auto exposure, Manual exposure, TTL auto flash control, Manual flash control
Metering System: TTL center-weighted average light metering/spot metering switch cover
Metering Range: EV 1-20 on center-weighted average light metering, EV 5-20 on spot metering
Film Speed: ISO 25-5000 for automatic setting with DX film, ISO 6-6400 for manual setting
AE Lock: The quantity of light on the image surface is stored in memory
Exposure Compensation: +2 EV to -2 EV (can be set in ⅓-EV increments)
Flash Synchronization: In combination with a dedicated flash, the shutter speed is automatically set when the flash is fully charged
Focus Indicator: TTL phase difference detection system, Measurable: EV 2 to 20 luminosity range, Displayed by the digital focus indicator in the viewfinder
Viewfinder: Eye-level type using the pentaprism, Field of view 95%, Magnification 0.8x
Display in Viewfinder: Digital focus indicator, Shutter speed, Aperture, Exposure mark, A.B.C. mode, Exposure compensation, Metering mark, Exposure counter, Flash mark
Display Panel: Film counter/film speed/remaining time on self-timer, elapsed time on bulb exposure, multiple exposure mark, custom function mark, and battery warning mark
Film Loading: Auto-loading, automatic film positioning to “01” on the counter
Film Advance: Automatic winding with built-in motor
Film Rewinding: Automatic rewinding with a built-in motor, automatic stop after rewinding is completed, mid-roll rewinding possible
Drive Modes: Single-frame shooting, continuous shooting, self-timer shooting, and multiple exposure shooting, Winding speed up to 3 frames/second on continuous shooting
Power Source: One 6V lithium battery (2CR5), one lithium data-back battery (CR2025) in the camera back
Dimensions: 151 (W) x 104.5 (H) x 59 (D) mm
Weight: 810 grams