This Old Camera: Konica AiBORG

Updated with pics below.

Photography and good common sense have little to do with one another. Film photography especially so.

Case in point I love this Darth Vader’s helmet looking Konica AiBORG even though:

  • Have shot exactly 5 frames and have yet to complete one single roll so I do not even know if this thing works yet.
  • Came covered with inscrutable hieroglyphs and ridiculously tiny buttons of many colors laid out in a manner defying any manner of control scheme logic I have ever seen. One review acted as a high level instruction manual which helped and I even took to perusing the pictures in a Japanese manual.

Why do I love it? Welp before I bought it…

  • It is a film camera.
  • Winged logo marking (later learned it’s light marks when the middle focus point is activated along with the lights left and right of it. All wonderfully pointless.).

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  • Came covered with inscrutable hieroglyphs and ridiculously tiny buttons of many colors laid out in a manner defying any manner of control scheme logic I have ever seen. I love the inscrutable.

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  • Some say ugly, but I love the way this thing looks. Fell for it the moment I saw it on Southeastern Camera’s shelf. Visited it every time I entered for a couple of months.
  • It is a power zoom, by vertically toggling the joystick on the back, with autofocus from 1991.
  • Built in flash.
  • It has a power button controlled plastic eyelid.

Appreciation has grown since purchase because…

  • An at times pointlessly robust feature set that ranges from the actually useful to the absurd to the “it does what now?”. For instance:
    • Useful:
      • Time lapse where you can set the duration between and number of shots.
      • Infinity focus for shooting through a window or landscapes… or landscapes through windows?
      • +1.5EV and -1.5EV for well, you know.
    • Absurd:
      • Has a TV mode for taking pictures of old timey tube TVs without bars between. If you can still find one anywhere.
      • Portrait mode that zooms in for a head shot depending how far back the subject is. I imagine the engineers got in to the strong snuff that night.
    •  It does what now?
      • Bouncing ball icon mode. Six shots metered such that an object in motion will be exposed several times.
      • It will put a date stamp on the photo if you wish. I remember this from the 90s and I do not like it. Not new, but as a standard feature surprised me.

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  • 5 horizontal focus points selected by a horizontal toggle on the back joystick.
  • Zooming makes quite the racket, but this thing focuses and takes a shot so quickly and quietly that 2 shots will be taken before you realize if you are not careful.
  • It is fun to look at and fun to use. Granted this may just me, but I love the goofy controls.
  • These folks had to have had a sense of humor to make this thing. It has blue sparkly plastic.

I’ll report back when I actually finish a roll and get it developed. In all honesty it does not matter. Even if this is a film placebo device not producing a single shot I will definitely be keeping it around. See. No common sense. Now for some shots of Darth Vader’s point and shoot.

Am I necessarily recommending anyone else get one? Heck no. Unless you are similarly afflicted as I am. Either way here are some more shots of the camera. Below is an update and pictures taken with the camera since I have had my first roll with it developed.

Update:

First off kudos to Southeastern Camera because when I returned with the camera to turn in my my first roll they provided me with the full manuals in English. Much more helpful than the Japanese translation I had been struggling through.

Next up the shooting experience. There isn’t any. It is so 80s-tastic automated, quirky, and the viewfinder so pinhole-ish that you would get the same shooting experience by punching a croissant through with a pencil and peering through the hole while mashing the right side. The shutter fires if you look at it funny. The zoom makes a monumental racket. When changing focus points left and right through 5 points it lets out a bit of a noise as it moves the whole focus mechanism at the front likewise. That may sound like I am complaining I now realize. But no. For those reasons I more I love this oddball. You pick it up, put it to your face (then slide it across your face to find the tiny viewfinder hole), aim the odd focusing icon at your object, and then mash the button with no earthly idea whether or not you were successful. I love it. Shoot with it often or even again? Perhaps not often. But I will keep it always.

But here is the kicker. This things has it’s pleasant surprises. One main one is that every single blind exposure I took came out. Almost all in focus and even the few that missed were close enough. I did not expect that. Whenever I feel like a blind aiming exercise in film this will be my camera. Check out this multishot (bouncy ball icon) picture.

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Makes no sense. I love it. About sums up the camera.

Here is to a link the full album and below are some of the shots from the first roll. Happy shooting.

-ELW

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