The Inimitable Konica Auto-Reflex!

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by capitalq, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. As promised, here are some images from what I consider to be one of the finest SLRs ever made: the Konica Auto-Reflex which debuted the AR-mount in 1966. I've already posted pix of the exemplary Autoreflex T3 and clearly there's a fanbase here of all things Konica so I won't go into the storied history of this make or the list of innovations they brought to bear. Suffice it to say that the true claim to fame of this clockwork camera is that it was the only SLR ever made that could shift mid-roll between full and half frame, and the first SLR that offered shutter-priority automation, and (I think) one of the first to offer a copal shutter.
    This camera exudes quality and craftsmanship from the nifty little lever that slides from full to half frame, to the cool front-mounted shutter speed dial, to the forward thinking plastic insert on the prism head to allow you to see the meter in low light. It was as good as if not superior to any 'traditional' SLRs being made in the 60s, and it was, in my opinion, superior to the the Olympus Pen F. Don't get me wrong, the Pen F is a gorgeous camera but there you're restricted to half-frame only and the lens selection is limited (and pricier) than the AR-mount Hexanon glass. And because it can take the full range of the superb Hexanon glass, the image quality from the Auto-reflex is better than any other pocket half-frame camera. Shame that they released this camera just as the half-frame format was dying out. Just another one of those events in history that conspired against Konica...
    Frankly, it is humbling to consider what was capable and available 40 years ago. The Auto-reflex is a well-made precise all-mechanical instrument that takes superb photos and is a lot more fun to use than any newfangled plastic wonder from the digital age. Here are some test shots I took at a playground using APX100 pushed to 800 (pleasantly surprised that the image quality was not really affected that much by the 3 stop push).
    As always, comments and contrary opinions are welcome.
  2. Here's the little slide lever I was talking about...
  3. And here's what the lever does to the back of the camera. Note the shutter curtains that retract when the camera is shooting in full-frame mode...
  4. Here's a detail shot of the shutter/ASA dial. You will note that unlike the subsequent Autoreflexes, this first effort was not TTL metering.
  5. And finally, a shot of the lens which completes the outfit...
  6. Here's a shot of some monkey bar rings.
  7. Detail on the rings...
  8. Unlike most of the other half-frame cameras I have, I really cherish the ability of the Auto-Reflex to let me control the focus through the VF.
  9. This fountain jumped out at me. Perfectly normal to have a water fountain at a children's park, but the industrial design caught my eye...
  10. Some detail...
  11. And here's one of the little people who was enjoying the park on a lovely Fall day...
  12. My Auto Reflex does not get out too often. When it does, I like to use the 28/1.8 UC Hexanon as a standard lens. Many years ago I found a 47-100/3.5 Hexanon at Olden Camera in NY. This lens was made for use on the Auto Reflex in half frame mode. The rewind mechanism is a weak point on the Auto Refkex because of the gearing it uses. Rewinding should be done gently. Did you take those pictures in full frame or half frame mode?
  13. Jeff - Will keep that in mind about the rewind lever -- I want the camera to be in working order 40 years from now. Would love to get that 47-100mm Hexanon lens (I have no Hexanon zooms). I often use a Tamron 28-70mm lens which allows me to get interesting portraits on the fly but it's not as nice as Hexanon glass. These were all taken in 1/2 frame mode (as you can see by the line down the middle).
  14. Nice write-up, Capital; I've not laid hands on an Auto-Reflex but always admired them from afar. I've never had much time for the half-frame format, but the sheer ingenuity and build-quality of the Auto-Reflex wins my admiration. Fine presentation of the camera and you've demonstrated the quality of that Hexanon lens in fine style. Thanks for a great post.
  15. Thanks, Rick. It's true that I've fully embraced my role as a half frame evangelist. I've seen some of the exotic/esoteric gear you've collected and think you would really enjoy this camera. You, of all people, could squeeze some remarkable images from it.
  16. Very Sharp definition those Hexanon lenses! If I see another Reflex I'm not passing it up!
  17. The two main reasons in favour of half-frame were : 1/ more pictures per film 2/ smaller cameras. These kinds of small cameras mostly for unsophisticated shooters were killed by the advent of smaller full-frame cameras, first the rolleiflex 35 and the minox 35, and then a lot of compact P&S with AF 35mm cams.
    I own a couple of half-frame cams, and enjoy especially shooting with my fujica-drive : a little spring-motor driven fully automatic P&S cam with a selenium cell (still working OK). But my minox 35 is both smaller and lighter in my pocket.
    I enjoy also my AutoReflex T (but it does not half-frame) : because its Hexanon lenses are excellent, I do not mind that it feels big and heavy :)
  18. Paul - Big and heavy is good. It's reassuring. I just love the feel of old SLRs. It's like driving a vintage car -- it puts you in a different state of mind. Never played with a Minox (sounds cool), but I think I like changing glass too much. So many cameras, so little time...
  19. Chuck - Please don't. You won't regret it.
  20. Nice looking camera! Neat detail shots. Top notch results as always.
  21. I just bought one of these for just $25 from a guy on Craigslist. I had belonged to his grandfather. I even got the box, case, warranty card, cap, coldshoe, and a good battery. It's in almost mint condition and everything seems to work as it should. It will need new door seals, but that should be a breeze. A lovely instrument indeed...

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