Eric L. Woods

This Old Camera: Konica Hexar AF (Did not end as well as it started.)

Scroll down to content

Closing Update (3): Sending the silver one back. Seems to have the starting stages of a shutter issue Wilson encountered. In short focus and recompose does not always work. Half-press focus on subject, recompose, and when you go to press the shutter all the way down to take the shot and more often than not one of two things happen:

  1. Nothing.
  2. Camera starts over refocuses where pointed and then finally takes the shot.

Will also occasionally work as desired and simply capture the recomposed shot. Wilson already had to have his serviced for the shutter. For me this took the luster off of this fine camera. Going to find my similarly sized and functioning Contax G1/Planar 28mm and call it a day. Still waiting for three rolls to come back from the pair and I will miss that lens.

Update 1: Sample images added below.

Update 2: The black data back Hexar AF tested was a loaner (from my favorite local camera shop) to run a roll or two through “to see if I would like it”. I did. This resulted in my getting my own Hexar AF Silver copy, which is the last model sold I believe.

00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200123205231391_cover

Main differences between the two:

  • Part Silver.
  • Badging text swapped a bit to make the HEXAR name more prominent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Silent mode disabled. I found the instructions online to enable stealth mode, but I am not going to do it because:
    • They are long, quite specific, pedantic, and can brick the camera if you mess it up.
    • The camera is quiet enough as is so as not to make it necessary for me.
  • Smooth plastic body is replaced by a more typical baby elephant grain. Subtle difference, but I like it.
  • Has a multiple exposure mode.

Other than that they seem identical. And back to our original post…

This is not my first experience with a Konica. The first was quite the oddball, Darth Vader’s Helmet. Or the Konica AiBORG.

Konig AiBORG

As silly a camera as it is astonishingly competent.

Konica AiBORG

The second was the straightforward and also very competent Konica C35 AF2.

Konica C35 AF2

Other than a lack of pedigree, following, and any ability to override AF and AE this camera has near no shortcomings. It has one of the best lenses I have ever used.

Fujifilm X-Tra Superia w/ Konica C35 AF2

As much as I admire both of these cameras, for very different reasons, neither would be considered “special”. By that, I mean neither is following worthy or would elicit anything remotely resembling GAS. Which is good. It is good to have interesting cameras and competent cameras that can be acquired for $50 or less. But this Hexar AF is not that type of Konica.

Aesthetics

For starters just look at it.

00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200117203113439_cover

Looks the business. Will not trouble the odd duck AiBORG with such comparisons, but if you scroll up to the C35 AF2 you can readily see a massive upgrade in build and aesthetics. There are storied cameras of this era that carried big design names like the Giorgetto Giugiaro designed Nikon F3.

Nikon F3

With no exotic materials or external design influence of note that I could find, I would place the Hexar AF near the top of the list of my favorite designs.

Why not the RF?

While the Hexar RF (Photo credit KEH.com) is also a looker that has drawn my attention…

…it was always the AF that grabbed my attention. Why? In addition to it costing less while including an awesome lens…

AF

I have owned a few M mounts (Leica M3 and Voigtlander Bessa R2 previously) and the Leica CL is currently handling my manual focus M mount duties just fine. I do not feel the need for another. The idea of an as competent device with swift AF is very appealing to me.

AE

Very accurate based on my first roll.

Focal length

I have long been enamored with the 50mm focal length lenses on interchangeable lens cameras. But I do prefer the 35mm focal length for fixed lens cameras. It makes a great compromise between 28mm and 50mm.

Maximum Aperture

f/2 is very welcome. Very bright for a fixed lens. Most AF fixed lens film cameras of note are f/2.8. And also very sharp from what I gather and see on the internets.

Silent Mode

Usually silent in normal use. Downright inaudible in silent mode. You cannot hear it. At all. Amazing. The shot counter is the only confirmation that a shot was taken. Weird on a film camera.

Controls

Ok. This is where things get a little sideways. Studied the whole control scheme and it is as awkward as you have heard.

00000img_00000_burst20200120224607613_cover

Full manual exposure mode is a bit ridiculous. You do get +/- metering guidance in the viewfinder, but by blindly pressing two buttons to adjust shutter speed and spinning the aperture dial while looking through the viewfinder. Less than ideal since you must look at the top of the camera to confirm what shutter speed and aperture you have selected. I have already used it successfully, but with static subjects/conditions. Not usable otherwise.

Manual focus is even more ridiculous. You hold the MF button, preset the focus distance looking at the LCD to see the distance you are selecting, and then wait a couple of beats for the lens to adjust. It could theoretically be used to zone focus if, for example, you set the aperture to f/8 and guestimate the distance. You could, but there are many other cameras I would choose before this one to do that. Unlike the Contax G series, you do not get any camera AF assistance confirmation in the viewfinder, but through the top LCD. But that does not matter to me. If you do that you may as well leave it in AF mode.

But none of that matters for me. Why? All I needed to figure out was the silent mode. Other than that it is P and A mode using AF all day.  If I am completely honest I will likely be using P most often. Why? Hoo boy. Next up would have me overexposing like crazy in daylight because my default is wide open when possible.

 Top Shutter Speed is 1/250s

Yep. You read that right. In all honesty, I do not know what they were thinking here. Perhaps there was some technological limitation that they faced that we were never made aware of. The lower rent C35 AF2 shares this humble spec.

I will limit myself to 100 and 200 speed films outside and have at it inside. Not doing ND filters like I do with others like the Canonet since another less than optimal feature is…

Non-TTL metering

00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200120224706694_cover

Metering sensor is on the front so any ND compensation will have to be manual. Nope.

But you know what? Don’t care.

If I am honest every great camera I have owned or used has some limitation or other.

Contax T2: Small niggle, but you cannot force f/2.8 since it also indicates auto aperture. And that price. Out of control nowadays.

Leica M3: Personal preference, but a bit dear for a camera without inbuilt metering.

Contax G1/G2: A touch heavier than I would like. And I personally still have an issue remembering to set the aperture back to its widest setting after changing lenses. Solved by only keeping one lens.

Voigtlander Bessa R2: A bit “squishy” feeling in hand unlike most rangefinders regardless of price point or pedigree.

I will admit that none of these shortcomings comes close to 1/250s, but I point to the next reason as justification for dealing with it.

Shooting experience

Loved it. Everything I loved about my favorite high-quality point and shoot cameras with the added advantage of utterly silent shooting. Very fast focusing. It is hard to quantify. That elusive something that certain cameras have that others do not is definitely at play here.

Sample shots (Ongoing Gallery)

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Konica Hexar AF - Kodak Gold 200

Happy shooting.

-ELW

3 Replies to “This Old Camera: Konica Hexar AF (Did not end as well as it started.)”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: