CONTAX® RTS III / 167MT

Let me begin by stating that this is in no way an extensive review or a microscopic breakdown of the camera specs. I simply wanted to share my immediate viewpoints on the comparisons between the Contax® RTS III and the 167MT for those who happen to be curious or are undecided on which one to buy, just as I once was.


The first noticeable thing to mention is the size difference. The RTS III has more weight and body mass which feels a lot more heavy-duty or “professional” in your hands. The added dimensions add comfort when shooting and is ergonomically more responsive. If you have smaller hands or don’t like holding hefty cameras for long shooting durations, I would opt for the 167MT. The RTS III added weight also accounts for the newly implemented settings (dials) which I wish Contax® would have kept simplified with the LCD and slider-switch system that the 167MT embodies. For me, the LCD slider combo is super easy and fast once you get the hang of it. You can responsively adjust your shutter speed through the viewfinder and it becomes second-nature to adjust speeds to accommodate the built-in light meter without ever having to take your eye away from the camera. This approach comes in clutch when you’re trying to capture a frame on the fly. Speaking of the built-in light meter, I also prefer the 167MT’s easy to use arrow style metering system. Perhaps I’m just not technically inclined but the RTS III meter isn’t nearly as simplified when it comes to shooting in real-world scenarios. Life moves fast and I like my cameras to be able to keep up. I also wish they would have kept the LCD as it was because I like being able to look at the top of my camera and have all of my settings displayed digitally rather than having to spot where the needle is pointed on the dials like I have to do with the RTS III. This isn’t a huge problem since you can see the digital read-out when your eye is to the viewfinder.


As for the build, in my opinion, the RTS III blows the 167MT out of the water. Mechanically it feels like a much more superior machine with added vertical and horizontal (landscape and portrait) shutter buttons. The viewfinder has been proficiently upgraded to adequately accommodate my poor eyesight when compared to the lackluster eyeglass of the 167MT. A lot of my frames would tend to come out soft since the viewfinder was hard for me to nail focus through, especially when I would forget my eyeglasses. Now with the new big bright viewfinder its like having floor-to-ceiling windows in your home. You can clearly see all of the beauty that stands before you. Contax® also added an appealing rear privacy curtain to help prevent the undesirable dust that tents to party-crash its way into the finder. 


I can honestly say the RTS III performs elegantly yet ferocious like that of a luxury sports car. I believe that’s what the Porsche® design team had in mind when they implemented their automotive disciplines and applied them to a machine that could equally transpire experiences into thrills and turn them into small desirable fractions of happiness.


-Danny



LEICA® MINI

I bashfully forgot I bought a Leica® Mini. I suppose when you buy and sell over fifty cameras a week its hard to meticulously keep track of what has come and gone. I coincidentally spotted the Leica™ box in the back of my camera cabinet as I was trying to figure out what shooter to pack for a little staycation that the gal and I were going to embark upon deep in Topanga Canyon later that morning.


I’ll admit, I was pretty excited to use this camera for the first time because I’ve read really great things about this particular ‘red-dot’ and the praise that it receives by its avid users. I had high anticipation but I suppose hype isn’t always justified because the first thing that caught my attention as I loaded a roll of Portra 400 was just how flimsy the plastic parts felt on the body. I’ve owned a handful of Leica’s in my day and all were built sturdy and felt tough but this one simply did not meet the standard of what I’ve experienced prior. After doing a bit of research I discovered that this particular model was manufactured by Kyocera™ in Japan and was set to appeal to a lower-tier market in the early 90’s. I’m a huge fan of the Kyocera™/Yashica™  brand and equate a high-end experience with the Leica™ insignia but this one was a miss for me. The shutter button felt unresponsive and the power button was about as hard to get to as a deep embedded wedgy. Perhaps I just have full-figured fingers, whatever the case, I wasn’t moved by the lackluster build.


I can already hear the camera snobs yelling “who cares about your fat fingers and the plastic chassis, it’s Leica® lens, bro!”. Well, I’m not one that’s too narcissistic to look past the veneer and fall in love with the personality if it can give me what I want, what I need, if it can give me something worth keeping. Unfortunately I’m not too sure that’s the case here. As you can see from the images above, a lot of the frames from the roll are a bit muddy and didn’t deliver the “wow factor” that I long for when I get my scans back. Perhaps I set my expectations too high, perhaps I should’ve used a lower film speed, perhaps my fingers should sign up for hot yoga. Whatever caused this first encounter to go awry, it brings me great anguish to confess that this camera just doesn’t do it for me.


-Danny


YASHICA® T

This is the first of the almighty T series cameras that Kyocera®/Yashica® produced in the mid 80’s that features a meritorious Carl Zeiss® Tessar lens. The camera design runs parallel with what was being mass produced at the time but ahead of the curve when it comes to function and form. Chunky just like your favorite dad sneakers but not nearly as comfy. Let’s face it, contemporarily speaking, this machine wasn’t built for comfort, it was designed to produce sharp contrasty images that would later evolve into the gold standard for any fashion editorial that resonated with the counter-culture youth. 


I never had any desire to own this particular camera but it just so happened that it came in a packaged deal from my guy in Japan. I figured why not take it for a spin and to see how she handles. The first thing that I noticed was just how clunky the plastic body felt. I realize the technology that was being initiated was not nearly where it is now and that there was a limit to how small parts could be produced. I mean, it really shows how much industrial design has evolved and championed over the years. Nowadays we carry a device in our pocket that serves as a mobile office, chauffeur, life coach, chef service, matchmaker, movie production, photography studio and a full blown mass-publication outlet. Honestly, if my phone knew how to scratch my back at night I think I would have spent the rest of my days in self-isolation way before the pandemic. 


Anyway, the camera, back to the camera. Aside from the chunky frame and the AA batteries only lasting for a few days due to the aged circuitboards, I’d say it’s a pretty good point and shoot that renders noteworthy results. It’s definitely not a dependable first choice if this is going to be used as your primary point and shoot due to its nearly forty year lifespan. Quite frankly I found it to be a bit irritating when I would frame a good shot only to find the shutter unresponsive. My advice, if you come across one for a reasonable price, jump on it but always pack fresh batteries. 


-Danny


REVUE® SLIMSHOT 2

The Revue® Slim Shot 2 Date is one of those obscure cameras that you can’t find very much information on and almost never see pop up for sale. In fact, from what I’ve gathered, not very many people are even aware of it’s existence. Like most of my camera consumption, this one too was discovered by chance and immediately purchased purely for its exterior characteristics. I liked how compact it is, the clamshell design and the no frills point and shoot approach. Not sure if the camera could produce a usable image, I purchased it and had it shipped over from the UK.


Upon receiving it I quickly became enthusiastic about shooting a roll though it but wasn’t too keen on the auto-flash feature that most compacts were equipped with from this era. Perhaps I’m vacuous but no matter what I tried, the flash fired under all conditions including bright daylight (I even tried to block the sensor). Aside from the uncontrollable light bursts, the camera was really fun to use and for someone who loves the vintage snapshot vibe, this would be a great little snapper to tote around. As for me; I like it, I want to love it, but I don’t think we’ll ever get there. Sometimes you have to let go so the right one can find you.


I also shot these photos with it.


-Danny


KONICA® HEXAR AF

The Konica® Hexar AF has been on my 2021 shopping list for a few months. I embarrassingly was lusting over it purely for vanity reasons but soon realized there’s more to it than just its exterior sophisticated sleek design. Its extremely minimal yet interestingly complex and the shutter is as silent as a meditation spell that one enters while transcending into a euphoric realm. It’s so silent in fact that there’s been a few frames that were muffled by the subtle street symphony of cars and people in a public space. In a newb-esque manner I had to double check the frame counter because I thought I missed the shot. It’s as if life is in iMax but the camera is on mute. It’s truly zen-like. 


Overnighted from Tokyo, the feeling that I got from holding this camera in my hands for the first time can only be expressed as a spiritual experience. I locked into a shooting position, placed my eye to the viewfinder and pressed the luxurious shutter. Not only did I feel like I was transported to a new dimension, the sheer luxurious feel of this camera will mentally catapult you into a new tax bracket. You enter a magical place when the light metering indicators illuminate on the glass as you frame your perfect shot. For me, this is the epitome of a well designed piece of machinery that also embodies the “X” factor, that indescribable hint of moon-dust that gets your blood pumping and imagination flowing in pursuit for capturing compelling photographs. It’s mind-boggling how this camera can be found for under $1,000 on the used market, especially when the lens has a reputation for being an autofocus equivalent to a Leica™ M body with the LeicaSummicron 35mm F2 lens mounted – with some claiming the Hexar lens is a legitimate Summicron killer.


-Danny


FRESH FROM JAPAN

This Yashica® Electro 35GX  was an impulse buy that I had shipped over from Japan. Made in the 70’s, this charming little rangefinder has a very desirable aesthetic that instantly reminded me of how much I love cameras and photography. Holding this manual shooter in my hands today made me feel connected to one of the things that I adore most. I felt romantic about what this camera has seen and whomever has owned it throughout the years. I thought about the places it’s been and how it has impacted peoples lives by freezing moments and creating memories that surpass time. I haven’t even shot with it yet and already know this will permanently stay in my collection purely for how it makes me feel.


-Danny


GOTTA BE QUICK

I wasn’t in the market for another Yashica® T4 Super D and definitely not willing to pay the hyper inflated price tag of $600-$800 that they’re currently selling at. But, when you come across a great deal it’s mandatory to be quick on the draw and pull the trigger as fast as you can. That’s pretty much how it went down last week when I was doing my bedtime scrolling ritual, aka, looking for deals. I stumbled upon this mint condition T4 for $200 shipped and purchased it faster than my 2G Wifi could handle. Within the first fifteen seconds of this gem being posted for sale I was officially the new owner and I don’t regret a moment of it. My advice to anyone who is lusting over one of these cool-kid shooters is to be patient. Eventually a deal will find you and when it does, be ready to pull that trigger.


-Danny