Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/11/28

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Subject: [Leica] Pellicle mirrors and the RT
From: Mike Johnston <>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 10:15:32 +0000

Mark R.: >>>A EOS RS or a camera with a pellicle would seem to be an
ideal cross in effect between an SLR and a Rangefinder camera. You might
feel like you were shooting a Rangefinder camera with no blackout and
vibration from mirror flap.
You have a nice groundglass which flashes when the flash flashes! My
worry is with strong backlit situations which for me are common the
bounce around effect of shooting through an angled semimirror. The
results would seem to be unpredictable. I wouldn't mind the slightly
slower effective film speed and a slightly darker groundglass. A used
EOS RS at a good price would be tempting.<<<

A Canon EOS RT was the first camera I ever bought as the result of
reviewing it; I used it for a bit more than a year. The "cross between
SLR and rangefinder" is something I said of it too. You do see a
momentary darkening of the screen as the aperture stops down to the
shooting aperture, but the traditional gripes against them--darker
viewfinder image, slower effective lens speed--are just not issues at
all, and I did shoot in "available darkness" with the RT.

I never experienced any problems with backlight or any other situation,
nor did I ever suspect reduced sharpness from shooting through the beam
splitter--if anything, the RT was a bit MORE sharp than my other Canons,
I suppose because of the reduced vibration. Yes, this was the conclusion
of doing controlled trials and carefully inspecting slides and prints.

The only complaint I had againt the RT was that it was not as quiet as
it could have been. The metering cell was on a hinged piece behind the
mirror, and that had to flop down and out of the way before the shot,
and it was nearly as loud as a reflex mirror. Of course, you could
"pre-fire" this, so that the moment of exposure was very quiet. (You
could also set the camera so that the motor drive wasn't activated until
you let your finger up on the shutter button, so you could delay the
winding noise! Never did quite figure out what this would be valuable
for, but it was kinda neat.)

Also, the RT was the only camera I've ever used that had a shutter-lag
time shorter than the M6's! (8 ms vs. 18 ms.)

Business issues were something else again. Canon made the RT as a deluxe
version of the then-popular 630 body style in a run of about 10,000,
expecting it to be snapped up by art photographers, camera buffs, and
what Kodak calls "AdAms" (ADvanced AMateurs). It had a premium price of
$800 or so. I heard they expected it to be sold out within a year! By
the end of the NOS, it had taken six (?) years to sell out and was
discounted down to the low $300's. All that considered, I was surprised
to see the technology resurface again in the RS.

Incidentally, I liked the RT well enough that I had my cash ready and
waiting to buy an RS, but was put off at the last minute by the fact
that the RS has the booster permanently fixed to it, making it a larger
camera than I prefer. In fact, the regular EOS-1 body is a bit too big
for me. This is just personal--I simply don't prefer large cameras. If
the RS had been a pellicle mirror in a regular-sized EOS-1 body, I'd
probably be using it still. The RT was a fine camera for a realtively
early-generation AF.

- --Mike