Konica Auto S1.6 versus Auto S2

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by andy_collins|1, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. Who has had experience with both of these cameras, and how would you compare them? I've read a number of posts
    that indicate that the 1.6 is inferior to the S2 but no one ever said how it is exactly. I think that the Auto S2
    is a phenomenal camera and built like a tank on top of it all. The lens on that camera is simply amazing and
    produces some of the best quality pictures I've ever seen. I wonder what your experiences with the Auto S1.6 have
    been in comparison...
  2. I once owned a S1.6 but I have to admit that I never used it .. It is identical to the S2 except for the slightly more powerful lens (f/1.6 vs f/1.8). I think this was Konica's attempt to compete in the "lens power war" in the early- and mid-60s (the Yashica Lynx with the f/1.4 lens was one of the winners, I think there also was a Mamiya with an f/1.5 or f/1.4 lens).

    The lens of the S2 has an excellent reputation, and I think a fraction of an aperture stop more lens power is no reason to switch to a lens of which little is known, let alone the price.
  3. Some posters have said that they thought the S2 lens was slightly better than the lens in the S1.6, but I have both and except for a bit less depth of field at f1.6 vs. f1.8, I haven't been able to tell any difference. In all fairness, though, I haven't photographed any resolution charts to make quantitative tests. I seldom take pics at apertures wider than f2.8 and usually use f8 to f11 and at those settings both lenses are incredibly sharp. The Auto S1.6 does have a hot shoe where as the S2 is "cold shoe." I have one of the last Konica Auto S2's and it came with a collapsible lens shade. The S1.6 and original S2 did not come with the shade although it was available as an accessory.
    If camera age is a deciding factor, remember that the S1.6 was produced for a shorter time so the last S2's made will have a few less years on them than the last S1.6's. Regardless, if you're looking for one you might want to budget in a CLA to play it safe.
  4. The Mamiya, don't remember which model, had an f1.5 lens. Reighing speed champ until the Lynx 14.
  5. Mamiya/Sekor Super Deluxe 1.5 is the camera, and I know nothing about them except I got outbid by someone for one a couple of years ago.
  6. I have a S1.6, which I had CLA'd this year. It's razor sharp, really. It's a great little camera. I have a lot of experience with rangefinders (Canonets, Leica, Oly SP, Oly RC, Russian cameras, Ricohs). This is one of the sharpest lenses I've ever seen, and the speed (f1.6) is really nice. Mine was an almost unused sample, so I'm not sure how hard it is to find another in this condition. Here's a sample: [​IMG] Reed
  7. Wow Reed, that's very impressive! The reason I ask about the S1.6 is because I happened to find one on the bay for $10. The meter isn't working properly, but the shutter works at all speeds and apertures so I'll just meter manually, which I do with most of my classics anyway whether the meter works or not. Your picture is most encouraging and now I'm really looking forward to using it soon.
  8. Well, if it needs work, send it to Greg Weber (gweber@webercamera.com). Mine was a little more costly to get done than I hoped, but he really made it like new. Including replacing a lens element (which had a mark on it) for free! A real craftsman.

    Anyway, I hope yours doesn't need anything! They're really a cut above many of the other rangefinders out there.

  9. $10 and all that's wrong is the meter is inoperative? That's a good deal. I paid 30USD for mine. Meter is stuck in battery check mode. My old S2, that I bought new in 1974 still has a working meter. Counter won't reset to zero anymore. It just resets to 26. Otherwise, it's in great shape.
    ] likes this.
  10. Reed--I've bookmarked that site. Thanks!

    Mike--Actually I think it was $10.95 and yes, the inoperative meter is the only problem. Like I said though, I can live without the meter since I'm usually fairly skeptical about the accuracy of a lot of the older meters. My Wards am551 (Auto S2) is completely functional with an accurate meter though, and if the S1.6 is as much fun to shoot as my am551, it'll get a lot of use.
  11. I have never layed eyes on the 1.6 version, but I am a long time admirer of the S2. I bought mine brand new at a PX in Vietnam in 1966 for $35; still have it and it still works like new. I have no idea of the years it was in production, but mine came with the sliding lens shade, and I thought that all of them did. I liked the fact that the CdS sensor was in the lens barrel so automatically compensated for filters. I learned early on that with a scene having a lost of bright sky that one tilted the camera down about 30 degrees and half-depressed the shutter release to lock in the exposure and then re-framed. I think that the S2 provided more bang for the buck than any other camera I can think of, and I own over 100 cameras. It is more convenient to use than any of my Leicas, including the M6 classic. More convenient than any of my Retina's or Voigtlanders. Huge VF/RF with brightline and parallax correction. A great design.

    I wonder how all of you are coping with the non-availability of 1.35v mercury batteries.
  12. Greg converted mine to take modern batteries. However, as Andy said, I find the meter to be a little off.

  13. Like many rangefinder CDS meters, the coverage resembles older SLR's with averaging metering. Pointing camera down slightly and locking in a reading always worked for me. My S2 was my first 35mm camera. I learned using my dad's Mamiya Sekor 1000TL which had a spot meter of sorts. Not as tight as true spot, but near bottom of frame. Using the S2 required me to change my metering habits a bit. I probably learned more about compensating for backlighting and other special metering situations with my S2 than I did with any other camera.
  14. The Konica Auto S1.6 has a fantastic lens. It is very sharp with deep colour saturation and great out of focus image rendition (bokeh). I have owned both the Auto S2 and the Auto S1.6 and the Auto S1.6 is a great improvement in the out-of-focus image area (bokeh) as compared to the S2. The bokeh is not quite as nice as my 1962 Rigid 50 Summicron-M, but what is?

    I always found the S2 very sharp, but a bit harsh, rather like a '60's Nikkor. Konica fixed that in the S1.6. Both the S2 and the S1.6 are very sharp lenses, I can't see a difference in sharpness and I shoot mostly Kodachrome and project through a Leica Pradovit with a 90 Colorplan.

    The viewfinder in the Auto S2/S1.6 is the best I have tried amongst the Japanese compact rangefinders. It has a magnification of 0.6x, so for a glasses wearer like myself I can see all of the framelines and the area outside at a glance, something I can't do with my Leica M5 or M2!

    I also really like the Konica thin grey framelines - they are just like the ones in my M5/M2. I find the thicker framelines with rounded corners on the Hi-Matics (and the Leica M3) are a bit annoying.

    The only thing I can fault the Konica Auto S1.6 on is it's plastic lens mount, but that is the same as the Auto S2 anyway. If the camera gets a sharp knock on the lens the mount can break and the only option is to get a used one from a dead camera.

    The Minolta Hi-Matic 7s and 9 are better built, having a brass lens mount, but the Rokkor lenses are not quite in the same league as the Auto S2/S1.6 as far as I'm concerned. Internal coatings on the Rokkors of that period were very soft too, and in a humid country like New Zealand where fungus is a big problem, that's an issue. Don't get me wrong, I'm still very fond of my Hi-Matic 7s!

    I have tried various Canonets as well. They have a perennial problem in that they used an alloy lens mount which when it was machined seems to have retained the cutting fluid, resulting in shutter blades always getting oil on them. We have tried all kinds of solvents, drying the mount on a light bulb for half an hour, etc, but it still keeps coming back. I also was never terribly impressed by the Canonet lenses either, I had two compact GIII-17's and some of the older 45mm lensed ones, which I liked better. But the Hi-Matics and the Konica Auto's are clearly superior.

    I agree with Kerry that the Auto S2/S1.6 gives you more bang for your buck than any other 35mm film camera available. And I second Greg Weber as a repairer. He's a great guy and very fair to deal with. He does great work. I had a phase of using Autoreflexes, the T2 being my favourite, but the lenses on the Auto S2/S1.6 just seem better than any of Konica's SLR optics, so I have gone back to Nikon F/Leicaflex SL when I want an SLR.

    I am interested in trying a Yashica Lynx 1000. Has anybody compared the lens quality/ viewfinder eye relief of one of these to the Konica RF's?

    I bought another Konica Auto S1.6 three weeks ago. I sold my last one when I bought my M5, but I just missed the Konica!

  15. Kerry--I agree that the Konicas are a great deal and do in fact represent great bang for the buck. As far as batteries, I've used Wein Cells in my am551 (I'll just call it an Auto S2, since that's what it is in disguise) with excellent results. Of course I use print film which allows quite a bit of latitude as opposed to slide film; I suppose slide film would really test the accuracy of the meter's exposure using that battery in comparison to how the camera was calibrated to respond to the voltage from the mercury battery. Peter--Thanks for the detailed feedback; it's most informative and answers all of my questions (all of those not answered by everyone else's helpful info, that is). I'm very pleased and excited to read just how enthusiastic you are about this camera, and this will be one of my weekend warriors to put to the test for certain over the next couple of days. As for the Yashica Lynx 1000, it's one of my absolute favorites. I do think that the viewfinder on the Konicas is nicer, but the lens on the 1000 is outstanding and the camera itself is very nice to handle. I like that the shutter speed goes as high as 1/1000 and that the aperture range is f/1.8 to f/22, the same as most SLRs of the time. If you can find one with a working meter, that would be nice although like I said earlier, I tend to meter manually anyway just because I'm not always sure about the accuracy of the older meters. My 1000 happens to underexpose a bit so I've learned to meter so that the needle indicates very slight overexposure, which yields beautifully exposed pictures. It's a wonderful camera, but I can see how the Konicas are nicer ergonomically. The lens on the Yashica is simply superb though. It'll be interesting to see what my thoughts are after I've really used the Konicas for a length of time, long enough to become really familiar with them. Here's a shot of the Lynx 1000 alongside the Auto S1.6; the Lynx is a bit smaller and more compact but feels very solid. The viewfinder also has the meter needle visible, which is helpful to speed up shooting.
  16. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the info on the Yashica. I will be most interested to read your views about the Yashica lens's bokeh/sharpness in comparison to the Auto S1.6. I have read elsewhere that the Yashica Lynx has a shorter-travel and crisper shutter release than the Konica, due to the trapped-needle auto exposure system on the Auto S2/1.6.

    The Konica Auto S1.6 is very good as a carry-everywhere, do-it-all camera. I carry mine with a Nikon SB-30 flash which is very compact, weighing only 92grams, but powerful, with a guide number of 16 metres/52 feet with ISO100 film. The SB-30 also has enough coverage for a 17mm lens! It makes for a great compact and powerful photo package. I have done lots of reportage with this setup, mostly because it really unsettles the newspaper pro's with their huge burden of DSLR's. The built-in shade on the Konica is great, you have to pay big bucks for this feature elsewhere, as in the later E55 35/50 Summicron-R's or the latest 50 Summicron-M. At serious events I used to take a Nikon F with a 20/2.8; 35/2; 85/1.8 and use the Konica when a 50 was required. Mostly just the 35/2 Nikkor AI-s and the Konica 's 45/1.6 sufficed. But it is amazing how good the pictures are, and how much you can achieve with just the Auto S1.6!

    The Konica's meter is usually easy to repair, the wires from the battery being the first thing to check (corrosion) or the CDs cell in the lens, which you can still buy brand new. I have piles of new PX675 mercury batteries, which I keep in the freezer. They last forever! With an O-ring (#111?) the PX675 fits snugly in the battery chamber.

  17. In many cases the reason for an inoperative meter on the Auto S2 /S1.6is the battery test switch under the bottom plate. It switches over from normal operation to battery test, and often the contacts are corroded so normal operation does not work anymore.

    Remove the bottom plate and the battery chamber. Disassemble the battery chamber and the leaf contact switch and clean the contacts. Sometimes the contacts are so corroded that cleaning does not help any more. I used to cut a strip from nickel-plated steel sheet, cut it to shape and resolder the wires.
  18. Thanks Winfried, I will try that. The needle appears to be resting in what looks like it should be the test mode rather than where the needle is resting on my S2.

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