Recent Rokinon/Samyang lenses purchased (one I have not even reviewed yet) are so good they impacted my film shooting time… temporarily.
The wonderful rendering of these lenses satisfied my “film look” side. Briefly wondered if I was done with film. Ha! Not really. That film itch came back with a vengeance. Before jumping to one of my film crew I decided to stop by my local camera shop.
Questions asked: What do you have in recently that is slightly awful, but capable?
Wilson: (Digs in the display, the lens comes off. Puts it back on.) What about this?
Immediately checked many boxes on the first inspection during Wilson walkthrough. First thoughts.
- Medium format. Thought it was 6×6 at first, but was even happier to find out it was 6×7. More on that later.
- I love the press camera form factor.
- All of one. The kit included film back and lens.
- Quite the looker and felt solid in hand.
- Says Konica and two of my favorite cameras are Konicas (C35 AF2 and AiBORG for wildly different reasons).
- Rangefinder. I like rangefinders.
- Plunger film advance dealie? Shutter on the left? Odd and I like it.
- But for $175 all in could it be any good?
Thank you Wilson.
Next up was hitting the internets to get a little background (camera-wiki) and instruction on how to operate it.
The view through the finder was bright and clear with a well-defined focus patch.
There is a built in dark slide operated by a knob that actuates with a solid, reassuring click.
It has three cold shoes for flashes and a series of accessories. I will likely never use these.
Focus is done by the camera body not the lens. Makes for a very small normal lens.
Distance markings are on the focus knob.
Shutter speed and aperture are controlled by dials on the lens.
No internal metering, but that is fine with me.
The lens hood is built-in and reveals the DOF markings when pulled out.
A test drive was in order to answer some questions before I get too attached. Used one of my favorite films, Lomography 800.
- Is the lens any good?
Yes. More than good. It is excellent. No surprise since I love the lens on my Konica C35 AF2. Sharp, excellent contrast, colors, focus fall off, and bokeh.
- Are there any light leaks?
Nope. Not a one. A relief, but given the bank vault-like build it is what I expected.
- Does the rangefinder focus accurately?
Yes. This camera focuses perfectly. I find this amazing. So many things go into focusing a rangefinder accurately and this camera nailed focus in every single shot of my test roll. As an added bonus I found the finder pleasingly bright and the focus patch large and clear enough to focus without issue. I rank it in the top tier of rangefinders I have owned and still own. I purposely took this shot to test the focus. It captured the inside of the garage exactly where I focused.
Here I focused on the open sign, recomposed, and got the exact shot I expected.
So that is that. An excellent camera for an amazing price.
What’s more, the field of view, and framing and depth of field reminds me of a favorite of mine. Another 6×7 camera.
Better than the Mamiya RZ67? No. Different beast.
But at the end of the day, a camera is ultimately a light-proof box that keeps a lens the proper distance from the film plane and actuates a shutter. Light does not care about size, build, brand pedigree, aesthetics, rotating back, SLR or rangefinder. Focus accuracy and the quality of the lens is all that really matters.
And in my brief experience, the Koni-Omega is a match for any camera I have owned in this regard.
Don’t get me wrong the Mamiya RZ67 is awesome with amazing lenses.
But it is also a beast of a camera. It required a small trunk to carry all lenses and finders…
…and stayed in the bag in favor of less girthy options. which is why I sold it. The eye-level finder with meter for it alone rivaled the size and weight of the Koni-Omega even though the Koni-Omega is also capable of amazing results and fits easily in any bag I have on me.
Let us discuss the cost. $175 for this copy. Not a fluke as they can be found on ebay for around that price all day with lens. That is a great value.
While acknowledging that this camera does not have the same pedigree and lacks features such as inbuilt metering it is a fraction of the cost of other small-ish 6×7 cameras like the Mamiya 7 and Makina 67. Both the Mamiya 7 (II in this case) and lens (80mm f/4 in this case) and Makina 67 w/built-in 80mm f/2.8 Nikkor cost well into 4 digits, far more than what I paid for even the RZ67.
While I am at it I will throw in another comparison. The Fujica GW690…
…I had also had a 90mm f/3.5 lens, was also a rangefinder, and also lacked inbuilt metering like the Koni-Omega.
But being a 6×9 it was considerably larger and while not as expensive as the cameras above it was still considerably more expensive than the Koni-Omega. Personal taste, but I find the all-metal Koni-Omega more solidly built. It passes my zombie apocalypse melee weapon in a pinch test easily. It even has a handle seemingly built for the task.
In the end, I sold off the GW690 due to the low shot count per 120 roll (8). 6×6 and 6×7 are my goldilocks 120 cameras. Had 645 cameras (Pentax 645 and 645N), but found that they did not have the surface area necessary to distinguish themselves enough to sufficiently outperform my better 35mm cameras. Personal preference.
So why did I bring up all of these other more expensive medium format film cameras?
Now that I have had the opportunity to test it the price of the Koni-Omega baffles me. In a good way. This camera w/ lens costs less than most decent vintage lenses. Once in awhile the used camera market gifts a rare affordable gem.
And the Koni-Omega Rapid is one of them.