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Film Fridays: Konica Hexar RF review

Photo: 35mmc.com

Years after selling off his Leica M7, 35mmc's Hamish Gill once again began to feel the desire to shoot with an automated M-mount camera creep into his conscious. So when the opportunity to pick up a near-mint Konica Hexar RF for a reasonable price presented itself, he jumped on it. And then wrote a review of it.

By most measures, the Hexar RF is a more advanced camera than the M7, but as Hamish notes, that does not necessarily make it a better camera. Still he finds plenty to like about it and plenty of things that set it apart from its German competitor (like a film window!). And though it scratches the automation itch, hesitations about long-term reliability keep him from singing its praises too loudly.

Read: Konica Hexar RF review

About Film Fridays: We recently launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we'll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at 35mmc.

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Antsl

I was always disappointed by the release of the Konica Hexar RF. As an early adopter of the Konica Hexar 35/2, I had hoped Konica would extend this range with another fixed lens Hexar, preferably with a 24mm f2 or a 50mm f2 lens option. By comparison to the fixed lens Konica Hexar, the RF just seemed to be too clunky.

I really did love the awesome autofocusing capabilities of the Konica Hexar 35/2. As someone who regularly made photographs in very low light, I found focussing with the original Hexar to be moderately fast and incredibly reliable, and I knew I'd never get the same results with the RF.

Some people have mentioned that the Fujifilm X100 series of cameras seems to have been inspired by the Konica Hexar... I wish it had been. I would dearly love to have a full frame digital version of the Hexar, with the same, rangefinder type autofocusing system that camera had, rather than relying on contrast detection that is never that good in low light conditions.

4 weeks ago
amateriat
amateriat

When I gave up on SLRs in late 2001, I had two choices going forward: go digital or get with rangefinders. I went for the latter and wound up with a pair of Hexar RFs and trio of M-Hexanon glass (28, 50, 90), and that's how it's stayed for the better part of 20 years. I've had exactly one tech hiccup between the two, and that occurred just a few months after purchase (and handled under warranty). Some several hundred rolls of film later, all is still fine, which, given Konica's design principles at the time comes as no surprise.

1 month ago*
kevoname

I had one of these before. Great camera but the shutter was very LOUD.

1 month ago
WayangFotos
WayangFotos

Philip Jones Griffiths was using a Hexar 20 years ago. He said he preferred it to his Leicas.

1 month ago
BobT3218

There's a bit of one-upmanship going on here :)

1 month ago
fotolapsa
fotolapsa

The usual rubbish posts...if I was shooting film I would....

1 month ago
StaLeveler
StaLeveler

Good for you 👍

1 month ago
apestorm

These always looked cool.

I was about to lambast hamish for his never ending gas but now i sort of want one even though i have 3 m mount cameras already.

1 month ago
marc petzold
marc petzold

I could never afford it, back into it's heyday, same as the Hexar 35/F2 Konica. But i have a few Konica Lenses, and my FC-1 SLR.

1 month ago
calte
calte

The most beautiful camera ever made, happy to have one, even I don't shoot film anymore and the shutter wheel is loose. The compact Konica rf lens is still in use with my Fuji Xpro2.

1 month ago
turvyT

I haven't used this one, but the Konica Hexar is a wonderful 35mm fixed lens sister, lens quality is unbelievable. I think it was an important inspiration for the Fuji x100 series (although Konica ended up being owned by Sony).

1 month ago
AbrasiveReducer

Considering how many Hexars were sold, I doubt it was an inspiration to Fuji.

1 month ago
Imagingfix

The x100 is more like the Fuji 645 and 670 from the 80's on (until digital)

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

turvyT:

KonicaMinolta is still an industrial company, it just doesn't make consumer cameras any longer.

Yes, since Sony does own the patents and rights to this body, it would be cool to a Sony M mount rangefinder based on the Konica Hexar RF.

1 month ago
User3397642960

OK, I won’t believe it either!

1 month ago
Imagingfix

This was my most desired camera I never bought! I worked in a camera shop when these were current product, but I had three cameras and couldn't come to sell one (or two) to make a place for the Konica RF. A classic

1 month ago
Thomas Kachadurian
Thomas Kachadurian

This was the last 35mm film camera I held on to. For me, the best M-mount camera made. I don't know how they've aged, but it was the bees knees back in the day.

1 month ago
Gesture

Original DPR content please.

1 month ago
entoman
entoman

Does that mean you don't want articles pointing to LensRentals blogs either?

It's pretty damn hard for dpr to produce the normal level of content now, with very little in the way of new gear being launched, and only very limited opportunities to cover anything else in the pandemic. I'd rather have original content too, but in the absence of it, at least dpr are linking to other stuff that is of interest.

1 month ago*
il_alexk

@entoman

Feels like the content generated by DPR these days degrades and not necessarily due to the quarantine. And it shouldn't be that way.

There is always an option to do a comparison of existing technologies, no need to wait for a new camera. This can be done IN ADDITION to other types of posts, Here are a few ideas for such reviews that will undoubtedly generate more interest and feedbacks than all these "I liked to shoot film" posts.

1. Fuji Bayer vs Fuji X-Trans
2. Eye AF: Sony vs Fuji vs M43 vs Canon vs Nikon
3. Portrait lenses shootout
4. Wide lenses shootout
5. Etc.

1 month ago*
mxx
mxx

It's not as if we're paying for DPR content. Beggars can't be choosers.

1 month ago
il_alexk

@mxx They still need users coming back to read their posts. They can either focus on film shooting hipsters and lose the majority of their target audience or be smart and target all of it by reviews with more interesting value.

At the moment, considering a great amount of alternatives on the internet, DPR staff needs us more than we need them. ;)

1 month ago
Halftrack

Gotta remember that the people here in the comments are almost certainly not DPR's core readership. For every regular commenter there are probably ten people who regularly read the articles but don't comment, and 100 who only read an article occasionally, if they happen to be shopping for a new camera. And for every person who complains about a particular article, there are likely 1,000 who were fine with it and didn't feel the need to say anything.

Going by the average quality of comments from this place's most active commenters, I'd say it's very sensible for DPR not to pander too much to its most vocal minority.

1 month ago
four under

@il_alexk
Why do you assume people that shoot film are hipsters?

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

I owned one from more than 6 years, and and shot thousands of images with it.

Durability isn't problem. No I didn't take it out in a sandstorm or hiking at 10,000 feet.

1 month ago
Henning W

Well, I had mine (2 of them) in a sandstorm in western Egypt and at 15,000ft. in the Andes in Peru and they worked fine. On the other hand, adjusting the rangefinder was even harder than on Leicas and the viewfinder/rangefinders weren't as good. They and the Fuji/Hasselblad XT-1/Xpan used many of the same internals and were very nice and reasonably reliable machines. If I were still shooting film sufficiently I'd have kept a Konica and the Fuji XT-1.

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

H:

I just wanted to be clear that I'd not tested mine with really harsh conditions. Never took it to the jungle either.

My copy focused very accurately out of the box, purchased at the end of 2001.

And I never directly compared the VF to a Leica M, so I can't comment on any differences.

I liked the Hexar RF, but I don't really shoot film any longer. The high ISO possibilities of digital cameras, circa 2009-12, really changed things for me. And now such cameras are no longer $5000 bodies.

If I had the money, and more importantly the money for 3 modern Leica M lenses, I probably still not purchase the Leica M10 because it's not a good enough high ISO body for my purposes. (Right the SL2 is good, and the Panasonic S1, which would probably work well with the new f/1.25 75mm, is extraordinary for higher ISOs.)

1 month ago
vscd
vscd

If you like excellent range finder quality for small prices with Leica grade lens, check the Konica auto s3. Fixed lens, but 38mm f1.7...with awesome sharpness and central shutter. Full sync up to 1/500 and very small.

1 month ago
Heritage Cameras
Heritage Cameras

...with automatic balanced daylight and fill-in flash too. I can't remember if the S3 was the first camera with this feature, but it was certainly advanced for its time.

1 month ago
TonyC5D
TonyC5D

Selling on Ebay UK for about £700 body only up to mint with 50mm f1.2 lens around £2000.00 ie silly money!

1 month ago
Kandid
Kandid

I fear very few were interested in such cameras even when they were first introduced......

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

Kandid:

I bought one new, had it for years.

1 month ago*
jeffharris
jeffharris

This is the first time I ever heard about an M Lunt Konica. That looks like a Voigtländer lens, too.

My first 3 “real” cameras were Konica hand-me-downs from my father and sister.
A Konica II (bought in Japan during the Korean War) and Konica AutoS2 (a handsome camera!) rangefinders, and an Autoreflex T SLR and several primes.

Our family had lots of Japanese friends and they said at the time, in the early 70s, that Konica was considered second to Nikon.

It’s a shame that Konica disappeared.

1 month ago*
Gesture

Konica II
Superb design. One of the best looking cameras ever. Seen design heritage in cameras like late film era Contax G and, I think, some Fuji cameras.

1 month ago
brownie314
brownie314

You can buy old, high quality film gear now. But - it is starting to be the case that you can buy old, still highly functional, digital gear that was uber high-end when it was released for not very much money now - on par with old film equipment. I am thinking of the D700 and some older 5D series (or even 1 series) cameras. When I am tempted to dip my toes in the film world - I remind myself that I can buy older, pro equipment for pretty cheap now too.

1 month ago
PazinBoise
PazinBoise

Funny you say that, I just picked up a D700 on eBay.

1 month ago
entoman
entoman

brownie - You'd be taking a big risk if you buy an old pro DSLR. Most of them have had extremely heavy use, so while they may be fully functional, reliability could be a problem.

Also, particularly in the case of cameras that have been used to shoot video regularly, there are likely to be a lot of dead pixels on the sensor.

You're better off buying a high-end amateur/prosumer model. It will have suffered far less abuse, and for the same price as you pay for that ageing pro model, you could get a newer prosumer model with a much better sensor.

1 month ago*
Gesture

I had fun several years ago going through the history of digital cameras.
It's fun to buy for $50-60 cameras like the Minolta Dimage 7 or Olympus E-20 that were offered at $1K plus.

1 month ago
Richard Murdey
Richard Murdey

The cost and hassle of buying and developing film ... only to scan the negatives anyway ... is just not worth it. For 20 rolls of film & processing you could have got a D600.

1 month ago
entoman
entoman

Richard - Yes, it's expensive. But I think with respect you are mising the point. What is "hassle" to one person is enjoyment to another.

1 month ago
Halftrack

The thing is, film cameras have been a pretty mature technology for a while now. Sure there were advancements, but especially if you're into manual shooting the capabilities have all been there for decades. Digital imaging is still rapidly evolving though, and the finest gear available ten years ago has been totally eclipsed since then in every respect including the all-important image quality. Heck, a mere smartphone will absolutely trounce any ten-year-old camera on many levels. I could certainly see buying a lightly used digital camera that's a generation or so behind the current state of the art, but one that's ten or more years old is hardly more attractive to me than an old VCR.

1 month ago
Richard Murdey
Richard Murdey

@Halftrack,

Where the latest digital eclipses 10 year old digital, 10 year old digital already eclipsed 35mm film.

1 month ago
entoman
entoman

Another of the great names from history, it's sad that so many brands failed in the past - Bronica, Chinon, Contax, Konica, Mamiya, Minolta, Miranda, Praktica, Rollei, Petri, Topcon, Yashica to name just a few.

Sadly there will be some fanboyz who relish the prospect of competitor brands going under, but it's a great shame when any part of our photographic heritage is lost.

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

entoman:

Konica and Minolta merged. Then sold the camera consumer camera business to Sony.

But KonicaMinolta is still around, and it's likely doing lens engineering work for other companies.

Furthermore neither Minolta nor Konica failed.

The Contax name was owned by Yashica, which was part of Kyocera, and Kyocera exited the camera business, so hard to say that Yashica failed.

Mamiya is very much alive in the PhaseOne cameras.

1 month ago
Gesture

Yes. But I look at it the other way. Not only the contributions made by those entities, but how many post WWII entities are still in imaging, if not cameras.

Cosina and Toshiba were also early to the digital camera game.

1 month ago
Henning W

Gesture: Cosina never made nor makes any digital cameras. While the Epson RD-1 used Cosina body parts, Epson bought those and did their own thing from there.

1 month ago
entoman
entoman

HowaboutRaw - Yes I'm familiar with the history and relationship between Contax, Yashica and Kyocera. Likewise with the Konica, Minolta and Sony story. Some of the Minolta heritage lives on in the Sony a99ii. As far as KonicaMinolta is concerned I know they continued to produce 35mm film for a while but I was unaware that the company still existed.

As far as I'm aware the only vestige remaining of Yashica is the name, which was resurrected by a kickstarter company that produced one of the worst cameras in recent history - the Y35. So I regard Yashica as having failed.

I don't understand your reference to Phase One. What is the relationship with Mamiya. If Mamiya still exists, what is their contribution to Phase One?

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

entoman:

KonicaMinolta absolutely still exists.

It was making things like a specialized 3D scanner for the outside of a building say. This is just something outlier that I saw as demo at a trade show say 5 years ago.

It makes photocopiers an office manager would consider purchasing. So not machines you'd confuse with a multi-function printer/scanner/copier, though the photocopiers from KM can act as digital flatbed scanners too.

You can loot up KM on Wikipedia for, I'm sure edited, details. For example KM bought FedExKinko's in Japan and South Korea, then removed the FedEx name. So Kinko's lives.

It looks like KM gave the camera division to Sony, not sold as I said above.

Phase owns Mamiya and those Phase bodies use the Mamiya mount (I've been told but not tested). For a while during the Phase era there was a Mamiya medium format DSLR, but those seem to have been discontinued.

Right, the resurrected Yashica failed.

1 month ago*
Kelvin L

Oh Hamish, you wrote a Hexar RF review without one single mention of the lens flange to film plane specification! Oh, the flame wars on alt.photo and Leica forum! I think my eyes are getting teary. It's the onions dear, the onions...

1 month ago
Kelvin L

Wow, that site is still up. Mind blown.

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

Kelvin:

I had no problem focusing 3 Leica M lenses, and the kit Konica M lens, on my Hexar RF.

None, and the images shot with my sharpest lens, the Leica 75mm f/1.4, were astoundingly sharp.

Jon555:

Not sure why anyone would bring up the f/1.0 Noctilux as a lens to test focus accuracy with; it is a soft lens.

1 month ago*
Jon555

Most recent post is Feb 2020 on a new site:
https://themachineplanet.wordpress.com/

1 month ago
HamishGill
HamishGill

That’s funny it makes you weepy... it makes me sleepy...

1 month ago
Kelvin L

It was all we could fight about before things got pixel peepy.

1 month ago
HowaboutRAW

Kelvin L:

Oh, I read about the fight, on the interwebs, while I was still using the camera and scanning my film, or scanning the images that most interested me from my negatives.

I just couldn't see a focus problem, provided, as I say, a sharp lens were used--and it's not like my 2 film scanners were/are supper low resolution only. One is highish, and the other is very high res.

1 month ago