The Konica Hexar AF

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The Konica Hexar AF is a 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Konica in 1993. The camera has a fixed 35mm f/2 Hexar lens.

Just as I stated about the Ricoh GR1 in my review, the Konica Hexar also came from the same unique era in the 1990s when manufacturers such as Contax, Nikon, Leica, Ricoh, Minolta, and yes Konica put out high end “luxury” point and shoot cameras, forever changing the way the lowly point and shoot camera was perceived.

The Konica Hexar is one of the greatest “cult” cameras of all time.

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“Sunday Girls” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 developed in D76. Some Z sister love 🙂

AS A CAMERA

The Konica Hexar is an all electronic autofocus camera and relies on one 2CR5 battery for all its functions.

The camera features Aperture Priority, Program, and Manual modes. The shutter speed range is 30s to 1/250s plus T.

The 35mm f/2 Hexar lens is a fixed 35mm f/2 that closes down to f/22.

IS IT A RANGEFINDER OR A POINT AND SHOOT

Though the Hexar AF resembles a rangefinder camera, it is indeed a large point and shoot rather than a true rangefinder like a Leica M6 for example.

Don’t forget, back in the 1990s, point and shoot cameras were still considered “lowly” by elitist photographers. But even these folks knew what a great camera the Hexar was so they had to have it. So for those folks calling the Hexar AF a rangefinder probably made them feel better 😊

The Konica Hexar RF, a different camera, is an actual rangefinder. So remember…Hexar AF, point and shoot. Hexar RF, rangefinder.

IN THE HAND AND THE CONTROLS

While technically a point and shoot camera, the Konica Hexar AF is actually quite large in the hand. It’s roughly the same length as say a Leica M8 and almost as thick, but not as bulky as the M8.

The relatively large size of the camera may also be a contributing factor to it being perceived as a traditonal rangefinder.

Back in the mid to late 1990s when I used this camera most, I considered its large size an asset because I’m sure most people then saw it as a large, almost goofy point and shoot camera with the name “Konica” on it. This is mostly true for the black version. Surely it must be a cheap and “harmless” camera right? 🙂

That was back in the 1990s. Today, I believe people are even more camera savvy thanks in no small part to the internet and the resurrgence of interest in cameras and photography. In some ways it was better in the 90s wasn’t it guys? We had this thing all to ourselves 🙂

Ergonomically, I think the camera is excellent with a nice heft to the body. From the shooter’s perspective, the large dial on the top right hand side of the camera controls the aperture in half stops from f/2 to f/22.

Also on the top plate are from the Off/A/P/M mode dial, the up and down buttons, the self time button, the Select and MF buttons, and the tiny rewind button.

The body can be held in one hand if need be thanks to a nice right handed grip molded into the body. I’d take care that a strap is around your neck or hand if you do this because the camera can slip from your hand and drop, and you wouldn’t want that would you?

MY EXPERIENCES AND IMPRESSIONS OF THE HEXAR AF

I got my first Hexar AF in 1996 after reading an excellent and extensive review of the Hexar on a once great website called Photo.net but for some reason I can no longer find this review when doing a quick search for it.

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“Meditation” 1997. Konica Hexar AF, Fuji Reala. The Hexar AF is capable of brilliant color capture, especially with a film like Reala.

Photo.net was one of the first sites on the internet truly dedicated to photography. They had great articles and forums. I would contribute once in a while, but mainly decided to stay a lurker.

The reason I say Photo.net was “once great” is that sometime in the past few years, Photo.net has gone through a complete renovation and is almost unrecognizable.

To be fair, it may still be great, I don’t know, but I no longer visit. Just like being used to the low budget Craigslist layout, I was used to the old school Photo.net platform. I don’t know if they have new owners or not, but the new platform does not, to me, have that down home feeling of the old Photo.net and is harder to navigate.

I know there are “crazy passionate” (as I like to say) people out there to whom saying anything sounding remotely negative will set them off. One person got angry because I called a camera he apparently liked a “brute.” What I actually wrote was that it was “an awesome brute of a camera” 🙂

So to avoid that let me say, yes I understand if I took a little time Photo.net is probably as great as it always was. However, I haven’t had the time to expolore it.

Anyway, I’m drifting off topic here, so let’s get back to the Hexar AF. As I said, after reading that excellent review on Photo.net, I had to have it!

When I got it, I truly had the feeling that I had something special in my hands. Much like the way I suppose that someone in today’s world feels when they hold a Sony RX1 or a Leica Q, etc, etc. Twenty two years later, I still get a special feeling when I hold the Hexar and use it.

HOW I USE THE HEXAR

The Konica Hexar AF is a purely electronic camera that relies on a battery for all its functions and uses dials and lots of buttons for its controls. Generally a no-no for me, but the great thing is I use the Konica as it was intended, which is that I use it as a point and shoot.

So if you’ll forgive me, I will not delve much (if at all) into some of its more complex controls. For example, you can set up the Hexar for manual focus or hyperfocal focus or what have you, but for that you need to rely on pressing a bunch of buttons all of which you need a manual or look up online on how to do it.

It’s not that it’s so hard, but for me, I don’t or never needed to bother with that because I never intended to use the Hexar in any other way but point and shoot 🙂

I don’t mean that in a negative way. The fact that the Hexar is a point and shoot allows me the freedom to concentrate on the light, subject, composition, etc, etc.

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“Mr. Kodak” 2003. Konica Hexar AF, Kodak Ultra HD 400. The Ozarks, Arkansas. The Hexar AF’s autofocus worked well for this shot.

The great thing about the Hexar is that while it relies a lot on electronic buttons for a lot of its extraneous functions, it couldn’t be simpler to use, if you do as I do. Just turn it on, put it on A for aperture priority and control that nice large aperture dial, or (dare I say it) just leave it on P for Program mode, then it’s simple as pie. Just point and shoot folks, don’t overthink it!

AUTOFOCUS

The Hexar AF relies on active-infrared focus. In general, the AF is adequately fast and accurate. In low light situations, it may struggle if there’s no definable subject for the AF to latch on to.

Other times, it may seem like the AF is hesitating but this usually happens when the camera develops the dreaded “sticky shutter button” problem which we’ll discuss in “Issues” below. In general, the autofocus in the Hexar is very reliable even when the user themselves might be unsure it got the shot.

THAT LENS AND IMAGE QUALITY

It’s been widely said on the web for a very long time that the 35mm f/2 Hexar lens on the Hexar AF is a close copy of the pre Asph Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron.

In my limited time with the Summicron, I’d have to say I didn’t see it. Perhaps it was my copy of the Summicron but the Hexar lens appeared slightly sharper (probably more contrasty) than the Summicron, the bokeh less funky, which kind of makes sense since it is of a much newer vintage than the Leica. The Leica had more of a “look” to the images it produced though.

It’s also said that the Hexar lens may be closer to the 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor rangefinder lens. I don’t really see that either and I have the Nikkor. The Nikkor, like the Leica, has their own unique signature. And the Hexar does too.

For example, I would say the Hexar’s bokeh leans more towards neutral. Not bad, not great. Not unpleasant for most situations. The Nikkor has funkier bokeh that’s not exactly pretty, but adds to its “character.”

I’m totally convinced all these great old lenses earned their reputation as a result of the abberations and imperfections inherent in them, secondary to being a product of their time. In other words, a lens from the 50s or 60s as great as they were, will simply lack something an equivalent modern lens has, with all the advances made in coatings and computer design or corrections for optical errors.

But, and this is a big BUT friend…these abberations or “errors” are what make those old lenses produce such great images!! Whether it’s a look you love or a look you hate, these old lenses produces images that catches the eye. And again, I’m convinced it’s from their imperfections.

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“Snow Heart” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 developed in D76. The Hexar AF is capable of excellent sharpness and lovely tones in black and white.

That said, the Konica Hexar AF lens is truly great! It’s sharp from f/2 and very sharp stopped down slightly. There is some barrel distorion in the near focus range, but it’s generally not a problem for me.

The lens exhibited excellent tonality and reproduces colors superbly especially with a good color film like the old Reala or Velvia. I generally prefer b&w when using older cameras, but the Hexar is one camera I wouldn’t mind using with color film.

My subjective impression is that the 35mm f/2 Hexar lens has a much more modern signature than the lenses it’s usually compared to. And it kind of makes sense considering the Hexar AF is a child of the 90s.

The fixed 35mm f/2 Hexar lens has a nice nifty pull out metal hood built in. Nice touch!

THE FAMOUS SILENT MODE

The Konica Hexar AF had one other thing beside that fabulous lens that made it famous. It was the stealthy “Silent” mode. Though I told you I hated using those electronic buttons, this one is so easy I’ll tell you how to do it.

Keep you hand on the MF button, turn the camera on, you should see a letter on the top LCD. If you do see that “L” then that’s it! You’re in the silent mode.

In this mode, the camera is amazingly quiet when advancing film. In the 1990s used to take the camera with me to college downtown for night classes and sometimes I’d used it to take photos of friends making wacky faces in the classroom. I used to have to look twice at the film counter to make sure the camera actually took the shot. That’s how quiet it was.

You might say, why were you taking your camera to class anyway? Just to take photos of your friends making wacky faces? No friend, I actually took it with me because after class was over, I was free to walk around the streets of New York City. The wacky faces arose out of classroom boredom 🙂

Of course, in a truly quiet “you could hear a pin drop” room you may hear it, but for the majority of the shooting situations you may be in, the Hexar’s silent mode will impress.

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“Sunday Girls” closer crop. My eldest would usually mess up my attempts at taking a candid shot of her by making silly faces but here she had no clue that I took the photo 🙂

Again, I always like to put it in today’s perspective and in the age of high quality cell phones and point and shoot cameras, the Hexar’s silent mode is kind of a moot point. Yet, when compared to some of today’s cameras, especially the DSLR cameras with their mirror slap, the Hexar in silent mode may be more silent and that’s impressive, especially for a film camera.

THE COOL FILM REWIND CATCH

One really cool thing I like with the Hexar is that when the camera rewinds the film down to “1” it gives you quite a pause, not sure how long, maybe a second more or less, but just enough time that you can twist the back door key open and catch the film before it goes into the cannister.

This is an awesome feature for me as I love to shoot half a roll in one camera and one roll in another.

ISSUES

The Konica Hexar AF has a top shutter speed of 1/250 which some may find limiting. How would this be limiting for you? Well, let’s say you want to shoot a model outdoors in bright sunlight. Let’s say you want to shoot wide open to get some background blur. The top shutter speed of 1/250 severely limits your ability to do the above.

It also limits the use of faster film in bright daylight. It’s almost impossible to get bokeh in bright sunlight with this camera, even with slow film as the lens begs to be stopped down in bright light.

In bright light, many cameras will already be begging for more than 1/250th of a second so you really have to use slower film and find a way to work around it, maybe use some ND filters.

For me, it’s not a problem because I’m not shooting in those conditions. I’m usually doing the opposite which is shooting in low or subdued light so the camera will rarely ever need to go to 1/250 for me.

The main issue I have seen with the Konica Hexar AF is that they tend to develop what’s known as the “sticky shutter problem.”

Let’s say you press the shutter button. Nothing happens. You press it again. It may focus or not. Eventually it focuses. Maybe not. Either way, you’re not sure what happened.

You most likely have the sticky shutter problem if you experience this. I know I have. In fact, my Hexar does this now.

From what I can gather, it seems most people think it’s a matter of the parts being worn from time and use and apparently there is a simple fix for it which will require you to disassemble, clean and reassemble parts of the camera. It’s said to be easy but I haven’t tried it yet. The tutorial can be found easily on YouTube.

But…

Be forwarned. Some say it’s just a temporary fix and eventually the problem comes back and that you do eventually need to have it professionally repaired as some of the parts may need replacement. With Konica out of the camera business, I’m not really sure if there are many parts to be had.

Since mine is working intermittently, I’m living with it as is for now.

Some people have also complained of faulty electronics, ie camera dying for no reason but I’ve not heard much of this and have not experienced it myself. I’ve had two of these cameras. But that’s not to say it couldn’t happen. These cameras have been on the market for more than twenty years and if they’ve never been maintained, something is bound to happen sooner or later.

Other than that, and the odd off focus shots which happens with any camera, the Hexar is generally very reliable, but then again it IS an over twenty year old camera from a manufacturer who no longer makes cameras for general consumption so be forwarned.

BOTTOM LINE

The Konica Hexar AF is one of the greatest cult cameras of all time and justifiably so. It’s got a great lens and great ergonomics if used as a point and shoot.

The camera does rely on a lot of dials and tiny buttons if you want to delve into more of its feature set, but if you’re content to focus on getting the picture and letting the camera do the work, it’s the simplest electronic camera to use. And it delivers excellent, sharp images beautifully and easily.

The photos on this page do not illustrate all that the Hexar is capable of. I do have a ton of photos from this camera that sit in photo albums that I just haven’t had the time to scan, but I will continue to add photos to this review as time allows.

The Konica Hexar AF is a Camera Legend that is still very much in demand by photography enthusiasts and I wholeheartedly endorse it. It brings me back to a great time in life and won me over by delivering great photos time after time. Even today the Hexar continues to produce wonderful results and it’s a keeper in my book.

PRICE/AVAILABILITY/WHERE TO BUY

Though the Hexar AF has been long discontinued, it’s still relatively easy to find. Prices are trending from $450-800 US Dollars.

The Hexar was made in several different fits, Black, Silver, Classic, Rhodium. They’re all the same camera, just a different trim. The Black model appears to be the most common. The Classic and the Rhodium seem to fetch more on the used market.

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MODERN DIGITAL ALTERNATIVES

So you say you’d like a camera like the Konica Hexar but you prefer digital? Well, they never made an equivalent of the Hexar AF in digital form, so you’re out of luck there.

The closest modern equivalent I would say is the Sony RX1 series. Though I’m sort of bias towards my film cameras, I would say the RX1 and its reiterations are superb.

And since Sony bought out Konica/Minolta oh so many years ago in 2006, you could say the Sony carries that Hexar lineage, even though the lens on the RX1 is a Zeiss lens. But hey, that ain’t a bad thing is it? 🙂

The Sony RX1R II

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It’s A Thin Line…Between Black & White!

“I, Angry” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Lightroom mobile app b&w “High Contrast” preset.

In keeping with my pledge/attempt to be more active, here’s a posting for today.

Cell phone digital black and white photography has arrived. Actually it’s been here for a while, but I’ve just never completely accepted it. Until now. Maybe 😊

“Kid” 2010. iPhone 3G 2mp and Hipstamtic app. I’ve been experimenting with cell phone photography for quite some time, going back to around 2001. It started out as a novelty, the early phone cameras were horrible but today the cell phone cameras are good enough for prime time.

In the days of film we had no choice but to shoot…film! 😊

But then in the mid to late 1990s a little thing called “digital” happened. Suddenly we got instant gratification and especially for photographers, things never looked better. Or so we thought 😊

In those early days of digital, color photography was already somewhat lacking so digital black and white was nothing more than novelty.

As the nineties turned into the 2000s, better and more capable cameras appeared and those of us experimenting with digital b&w were saying hey, this digital b&w thing might work!

“Little Girl With The Pink Balloon” 2011. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. I almost never do the novelty selective color thing, but here’s proof that I too fell for it at one time 🙂

I got my first copy of the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp in 2006 and that camera (which I’ve reviewed and praised often) made me totally accept that digital b&w had arrived and was more than acceptable to me as a person who shot b&w film exclusively for years. It was finally good enough, indeed more than good enough for me.

Flash forward to today. Cell phone photography rules the world. Cell phone cameras have gotten so good I often tell people these days that they could easily do away with the traditional small sensor digital point and shoot and just use their phones instead. And indeed, that’s my recommendation.

“New York Smiles” 2013. iPhone 5.

According to reports I have read, sales of digital point and shoots have been on the decline for years now, primarily due to the popularity of cell phone cameras for general photography.

As great as all this progress is, one thing I’ve not been convinced with or have not been converted to is using the cell phone for b&w photography.

“New Year’s Day.” iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app. I hate to use the same U2 line that I’ve been using for almost thirty years, but “nothing changes on New Year’s Day” 🙂

But now I think we are crossing this bridge too. Most of the b&w photos in this article were taken using my “old” iPhone 6s Plus with some of the popular mobile photography apps being used by today’s photographers such as Lightroom, Snapseed, and Argentum, the last is exclusively for black and white photography.

“Cold, Cold World” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus with Snapseed b&w filter.

“Freakzilla” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum app.

In comparison to b&w film, I don’t believe any of them can quite match the look of true monochromic film images, but then again, what digital camera really does? I’m sure some will say the Leica Monochom can, but to me, even after looking at many, many samples from the Leica MM it still looks like digital b&w images. Superb digital, heck maybe even “film-like” (at times) images to be sure, but on the whole, still quite digital. I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There are many “crazy passionate” people (as I call them), who would probably be angry that I said Leica Monochrom images look digital, but I have the ultimate answer for that…

Is the Leica Monochrom a film camera? Or is it a digital camera? The answer is that it’s a digital camera, and there you have it 🙂

So back to the b&w cell phone apps. In many instances a lot of the popular presets appear too dramatic, too dark and contrasty. There’s apparently a lot of people that like that kind of look I guess. I do too, but not all the time. Other filters can appear too flat at times. Keep in mind, most of the popular apps offer you the option to edit the image, tweak the filter to your liking.

My workhorse film is Kodak Tri-X and in my opinion, this film does not natively produce such dark and contrasty images. There are films out right now that do offer that kind of look. I would say off the top of my head Japan Camera Hunter’s JCH 400 is one of the newer films that offer that dark and contrasty dramatic look.

Though none of the apps are perfect, overall though I’m quite impressed with them. I hate to say this, but my iPhone and these apps may replace my beloved GRD!! No, the camera’s not for sale, not yet anyway 😀

“Cool Car” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.

Another amazing thing to consider is back in the mid 2000s, before Lightroom came out, many photographers including myself were using Photoshop to tweak every picture to our liking. If you’ve been posting photos online since the early 2000s, you know what I’m talking about.

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“Dreamtime” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, 50mm f/0.95 Canon “Dream Lens.” In the days of film, people “dreamed” of the day when they could have something easy like digital black and white on their cameras. They got it. They probably never dreamed of having it so easy on their phones. They got that too. But now that the dream has come true, do we really want it? 🙂

Flash forward to today. The cell phone camera and all the apps and filters available for them can virtually do all the work for you! And most offer some level of control, allowing the user to tweak the levels to their liking.

This is nuts!! I used to spend hours trying to get images to my liking and now we have filters that produces almost the same end result immediately? As I said, nuts!

I have friends who still think they need a little digital point and shoot which they see as a “real” or proper camera. Coming from a traditionalist mindset, I can understand this. But in all honesty, for most of your point and shoot needs, I think your phone might be all you need. Most phones today shoot fast, and they are really perfect for street photography.

To be honest, the cell phone cameras are getting good at almost every kind of photography! They are in constant use by everyone, nearly everywhere. Ironically, by being so “in your face” all the time, the cell phone cameras are perhaps the most stealthy, inconspicuous cameras you can use. Plus you have nearly endless editing options with the apps available. And let’s not forget to mention, the ease of uploading photos and videos for sharing to friends, social media or what have you.

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“Strike A Pose” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020, manually tweaked in Photoshop.

As great as all that sounds, one thing you won’t get just yet is any props for your phone shots. I’ve said it here before, everybody knows how easy it is to get a shot with your phone and probably the most uncool thing to say to another photographer is…Hey, I shot this with my phone! 🙂

But just because it’s easier to shoot with a phone, does that necessarily mean it’s no good? I’ve said it before, it’s in human nature to want things the opposite of what you have. If it’s too easy, we want it hard. If it’s too hard, we want it easy. You can’t win with human beings 🙂

But with an open mind, you can begin to appreciate that a cell phone camera can be used like any other camera. Sure, the phone makes getting the shots easier but the actual photography, ie, the subject, the light, the composition still remains exclusively in the eyes of the photographer.

Some people worry that they won’t have the same level of control on their phone cameras. With today’s phones, depending on your phone and/or the apps installed in it, you can have almost complete photographic control on the camera in your phone. In most instances though, most of today’s phone cameras can deliver consistently excellent results. So much so that you needn’t really worry about fiddling around with the settings, as much as you’d want to. Cell phone photography is all about getting the picture, and in that way, it ironically stays truer to the original goal we all have of getting the shot than most cameras do.

“Brother Fro’s Ramen” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus and Argentum app. Brother Fro mentally debates whether he wants that ramen or not 🙂

“Empty” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.

“Calm Before The Storm” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.

And yes, should we finally get to the cell phones Achille’s heel, a thing we like to call “Bokeh?” We all know that’s a weak point for cell phone cameras. But with the recent “portrait mode” fad with the fake bokeh, heck the cell phone cameras are heading into DSLR territory! I’ve seen some really bad results but I’ve also seen some impressive results. I’m no fan of fake bokeh, but in some instances it’s getting scary good.

I know you truly traditional photographers out there, I’m not moving you one inch. You’re not convinced! Hey, it’s ok 😊

But for me, I see it. Cell phone has taken the world by storm and it’s been here for a while now, but I finally think I have to accept that cell phone b&w photography has arrived and it’s only going to get better. Keep in mind, the photos in this article only shows results from an iPhone and some modern apps. There are other phones and other apps out now that shoot b&w just as well or better. There’s also cell phones out there right now such as the Huawei P9 or Mate 9 that have a Leica Monochrome sensor in them. I haven’t even tried these yet, but I’m going to try to procure one for review.

“Playland” 2017. Rye, New York. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.

So am I going all cell phone for photography? No. I won’t be giving up my digital point and shoots or DSLR for black and white just yet. I certainly won’t be giving up shooting black and white film.

As much as I have grown to hate developing and scanning it, I’m going have to chuck it up and do more of it. Film is the last organic thing left in photography.

“Morning Stretch” 2009. Zorki rangefinder (I forgot which model) and Jupiter-8 50mm f/2, Kodak Tri-X developed in T-Max developer.

Why bother shooting film if it’s such a chore? I don’t know about you, but I love the art! To paraphrase someone famous, I shoot film not because it’s easy, I shoot film because it’s hard (compared to digital). I love torturing myself 😊

Aside from the art, I do love the tactile feel of working a fine piece of machinery and manually controlling it. Many of our readers here, I know you do too.

But, if I want easy digital b&w (and I do sometimes want EASY) then I think I can do it with my phone! But it’s a love/hate thing. Just as the song said, “It’s a thin line between love and hate.” I love it because the results look pretty good. I hate it because something that used to give me a lot of pride, because it took a lot of work, is now too easy.

“Z Ten” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with native iPhone b&w filter.

“Nap-Kin” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app. Buenos Noches!

In closing friends, today, there really is a thin like between black and white. As the famous wrestler Ric Flair once said, “Whether you like it or not, learn to love it” I may not love it yet, but I might end up following his advice on this 🙂

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Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar Test Images

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“Sunday” 2017. Baby basking in the Sunday morning light with her YouTube nursery rhymes on her iPad. Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer.

Many of you who read these pages would probably know that I’ve always been a huge fan of Rollei and in particular the Rolleiflex TLR cameras. My favorite of course is the glorious Rolleiflex 2.8C with the Schneider Xenotar lens which I wrote about here.

Even though I’ve shot my many various Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords which were f/3.5 models, I admit I have a peculiar fondness for the 2.8 models.

It may even be some kind of unconscious snobbery, but I (as I’m sure many of you) have a thing for fast lenses and in the world of Rollei TLRs, f/2.8 is IT.

Now this is not something exclusive to the Rolleiflexes or TLRs, it’s everything! I mean, think of how many of you will perceive a 70-200mm f/3.5 zoom lens versus a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom? Of course, many will gravitate towards the f/2.8 version. That half stop means alot!! At least in the mind 🙂

But the fondness for fast lenses is not just something we want for no reason. For me at least, I prefer shooting in natural or available light, sometimes in less than ideal conditions. A faster lens would allow me to choose a faster shutter speed, minimizing the chances of blurry images. When you’re shooting at f/2.8 and ISO 400 film in dim or available room light, believe me, you’re going to want all the light you can get. There is a method to our madness, a reason after all!

With that in mind, and being that I already have the 2.8C model, I’ve always kept the 3.5F Rolleiflexes out of my mind. The 3.5F just like the 2.8F is also a top-tier model. Both also offer the option of either the Planar or Xenotar lenses.

However the problem for me was that these cameras are also nearly as expensive as the 2.8 models and if I were going to pay that price, I’d just get the 2.8! Now I got the 2.8 fairly cheaply back in 2008. I wouldn’t be able to get one these days with my current finances 😦

So how did I come across the 3.5F? Maybe a little luck and like I said many times before, the cameras come to me! I was looking for something else entirely when I came across an ad for a Rolleiflex 3.5F in what was described as “user” condition. The party said he was selling for his uncle. I asked for detailed pictures and negotiated a price of $200 which was all I could afford at that time.

When I got the camera, I got the sinking feeling that this might be a piece of junk! It looked a little shabby, but I felt I could clean it up. The main thing that troubled me was the shutter didn’t have a reassuring sound. It seemed all the speeds sounded almost the same, and very weak at that. TLR’s generally have soft, quiet shutters anyway, but this one somehow felt different. On top of that the camera didn’t feel as robust as I’ve been used to from my other Rolleiflexes.

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“Brother Fro” 2017. Gotta love the hair on Brother Fro! Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer.

I came to the conclusion that the shutter speeds were not accurate, but I decided to pop some film in it and give it a try. Not expecting much, I just shot randomly around the house using my usual “kid test” that I’ve mentioned before. I didn’t think I’d have anything worthy of posting for you good peeps! I said might as well try some film in it before I put it on the shelf while saving up for a CLA.

When I developed the roll, I said…WOW! This lens is SHARP!! It may even be better than my beloved 2.8C.

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“Sunday” 100 percent crop of the top image. Unaltered, sorry for the dust! But note the detail on the baby’s shirt and the fabric. It’s probably better seen on a computer versus your smartphone.

It’s not all positive though. I believe I was right about the shutter speeds not being accurate. They all appear to be a little slower than their rated speed. How much I can’t determine. Many of the images that should’ve been good were underexposed.

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“Kodak” 2017. Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer. An example shot showing the typical underexposure I experienced testing this camera. Admittedly, this is a bit of a tough lighting scheme and I’m probably to blame for my “guesstimation” exposure. But note the studio light to the right and the spoon on the table to the left. They are sharp. Oh, as a result of my imperfect development, somehow the word “Kodak” from the film strip is etched into this image, and seemingly in the right place for it! 🙂

But the ones that came out sharp, man they were sharp! And contrasty too. This lens made a better impression on me than the 2.8F Planar I tried back in 2004.

I’m going to try another roll in it. Maybe shoot some street with it. I think this lens would be great for that. Will keep you all posted. Till then, Happy Sunday! 🙂

***BLACK FRIDAY AND CYBER MONDAY DEAL ALERTS***  Cell phone cameras have gotten incredibly powerful these days. If I were in the market for a phone right now, it would have to be the Huawei Mate 9, seen below. In addition to the beautifully huge 5.9″ screen and all the other goodies you would expect in a modern smartphone, the crowning glory is the unique Leica dual cameras built in, one of which is a 20mp MONOCHROME sensor!! If you know how much a Leica Monochrom rangefinder camera cost with its unique monochome sensor, then you know what a bargain this is. And this weekend, the phone is only $399 ($100 off) through our affiliated link. Check it out if you’re a b&w or Leica fan!

Huawei Mate 9 Only $399 This Weekend

As much as I love the Huawei Mate, I would have to think the Apple iPhone X is this year’s hottest phone gift. It’s probably the hottest smartphone of 2017! Check the link below and seek out the best prices. Hope you score a deal on the ultimate Apple gadget!

Apple iPhone X

For you traditional photographers, and I know you’re still out there, the hottest camera of 2017 has got to be the Nikon D850. If there’s one camera that can do everything, this is it! Check the link below and compare prices today to score a deal on this year’s Ultimate Camera gift. Your loving photographer will love you for it!

The Nikon D850:The Ultimate Camera Gift

The Fuji Instax Square might be this year’s “got to have it” photography gift! It combines a digital camera with analog prints. The printer is built into the camera! And at $229.95 and up, it’s affordable! I’m tempted to get this one myself!

The Fuji Instax Square $229.95

If you really love your significant other, and I mean REALLY love them, this would be that “above and beyond” gift! It’s the Fuji GFX 50S Mirrorless Medium Format camera. It offers image quality beyond reproach. Your loving photographer should not be asking for anything else after this one, and if they do send them to me and I’ll set them straight! 🙂

Fuji GFX 50S

***MORE INSANE DEALS***

Now if you’re NOT into photography, how about music? Here’s an awesome deal on the hot new RolandFP-30 88 Keys Digital Portable Piano. Only $479 with the code “Cyberdeals”

Roland FP-30 88 Keys SuperNATURAL Digital Portable Piano, Black

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Camera Body, Black  – $898 after $600 Instant Rebate + 4% Adorama Rewards

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 Mirrorless Camera with 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 Lumix G Power OIS Lens, Black   – $998 + Free 45-200 Lens

Happy Father’s Day 2017

Happy Father’s Day to all you great fathers out there! While Father’s Day is generally a celebration of you, Daddy, any photographer/dad out there knows the best aspect of being a father is to be able to take photos of your greatest accomplishment life which are your kids. They are what makes you a Father in the first place 🙂

In celebration of this, here’s some photos of my beloved. While I have tried to shift to other subjects in recent postings in order to not “bore” folks who may not like kiddie photos, it’s the photos of my babies that inspire me most so please allow me today to indulge a little. In fact, it’s my tribute to these hard working kids because they are the ones who allow me to create reviews for you by being the main subjects for my camera testing 🙂

Thank you and once again, Happy Father’s Day to all you happy Papas out there and I hope you get some nice cameras and/or lenses today!!

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Any Father’s Day tribute should start with Dad! This is a shot of my late Dad with Baby Zoe from 2008. Pentax K10D, Pentax  SMCP-FA 35mm f/2 AL lens.

 

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“Munchkin In The Tree” 2015. Canon EOS-1D Mark III, EF 135mm f/2L.

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“Spring Fashion” 2013. Contax IIIa, 50mm f/2 Sonnar, Kodak Tri-X 400 deveoped in D76.

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“Cheeri-O” 2016. Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic.

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“Ho Hum Day” 2011. Nikon F100, Kodak Tri-X, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX…yes, the APS-C digital lens!

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“Sunday Girls” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 in D76.

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“Nine Degrees Of Separation” 🙂 2016. Iphone 6s Plus.

GRD Love: The Original Ricoh GRD Revisted

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“Moose” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp 🙂

It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!

Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂

Here’s a link to my original review The Original Ricoh GR Digital Review.

That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.

Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!

Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp

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“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂

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“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.

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“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!

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“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.

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“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

From time to time, we’ll pass along deals and news we are receiving from our partners. You hate ads? Skip this. But if you are in the market for any of this stuff, here are some great deals! Thanks for supporting Camera Legend, we do appreciate it!

If you’re in the market for a Ricoh GR of any flavor, click on the photo above and search accordingly. If you’re an Olympus shooter, now is the time to save up to $200 with Olympus Instant Rebates

Just some samples of what you’ll find and the amazing savings…

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera with ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R & ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lenses Regular price $799, now $599

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom Lens Regular price $999, get it now for $899

Need a laptop? Here’s a steal of a deal on a great laptop!

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 460 14″ FHD Ultrabook 2-in-1 Multi-Touch Notebook Computer with Stylus Pen Regular price $999, sale price $789. Save $210 on this hot notebook!

Photo Of The Day: “House On Greenwich Street”

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“House On Greenwich Street” 2009. Rolleiflex 2.8C, 80mm f/2.8 Xenotar lens, Kodak T-Max 400 in T-Max Developer in NYC.

About eight years ago I was down in Greenwich Village and just happened to walk by this amazing home that seemed almost completely covered in leaves. It caught my eye and it’s hard to miss. I grabbed my trusty Rolleiflex 2.8C and took a photo of it.

At that time I was posting to photo forums and I titled it “House On Mockingbird Lane” as a tribute to the spooky Munsters television show. That’s the first thing that came to mind since the eery house seemed to be in the process of being “eaten” by the growing leaves. I’m a big fan of these homes covered in leaves and this was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

It was many years later that I discovered the house actually belonged to the famous photographer Annie Leibovitz who was still the owner at that time! She has since sold the place, which I think consisted of three buildings and was called a “compound” by the local papers. As you may or may not know, Annie has photographed Kings and Queens, pro athletes and presidents. She has done it all in photography.

If you want to look at more pictures of the place, search for “755 Greenwich Street.” Quite awesome to see that place in person and then to learn that it belonged to a world famous photographer. That’s why I say…always carry a camera! 🙂

 

Photo Of The Day: “EyeZ”

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Always trying to improve my digital black and white images. Digital photography spawned from an attempt or desire to escape the giant shadow of film, but as they say “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Lots of people genuinely miss the look of film, but not the work involved to shoot, process and develop it, thus since the early days of digital, people have been attemting to create “film-like” images on this modern platform.

I’ve shot film for a long time and I’ve come to accept that you just cannot duplicate film completely, it’s got its own special thing, but digital black and white can have its own charm as well. I’ve so far resisted the urge to use popular software such as Silver Efex Pro, instead I try to tune each pic to my taste by playing with the levels, curves, etc, in Photoshop. I’m not quite happy with my efforts on the whole, but I’ll keep trying.

One thing I can tell you that works well for me is to use old or older lenses on my digital cameras in this effort. I find it gives me a head start. This one was shot with the original Canon EOS-1Ds 11mp camera introduced in 2002 and reviewed on these pages. The lens used was a Contax 50mm f/1.4 MM  Zeiss Planar. If you like using “alt” lenses as I do, that’s cool and you know it’s incredibly fun! I’m going to try to do an article for you on this subject. And as I said, I’ll keep trying to find the best formula for filmic digital black & white, even if such a thing might not exist. If nothing else, it’s a lot of fun! Have a great day good peeps and get out them cameras 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

From time to time, our media affiliates will send us deals they have going on and since I do not want to burden you good people with advertisement, I decide whether or not to tell you about it. And believe me, the majority of the time I choose not to plug it, much the chagrin of our media friends 🙂

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“Standing Strong” 2013. Fuji X-Pro 1, Canon 35mm f/1.8 ltm. I’ve used the Fuji X-Pro 1 for some time. It’s an outstanding camera with its native Fuji lenses, but is a pain to use with legacy manual lenses such as the Canon I used here. The Fuji X-T1 that I’m talking about in the article is a much better body for this purpose.

Just like you, I know no one likes it when you plug an ad or ask you to click a link, but you should know too writing and equipment reviews take a lot of time and cost money, most of which I spend on my own to give you the best info I can and I do this for free. No one ever sent me a piece of equipment to write about. But that’s ok, I love this thing, that’s why I do it and I can and will always remain objective.

If you buy anything through our links, I don’t get much, if at all, but every little bit adds to help this site grow. And it costs you nothing to do so. Especially if you’re planning to buy the stuff anyway, it’s a win-win.

Anyway, today we got some screaming deals!! Sometimes you get deals and sometimes you get duds. This is a real deal yes! Most of you will know that the Fuji X-T1 is an awesome and capable top end camera that produces amazing pics and it usually goes for $1299. For a limited time, you can now get it brand new for $799!! Ho! $500 off plus other savings through our partners. If you ever wanted to get the Fuji X-T1, this is it. Check out this and other Fuji Deals and if you do get one, drop back here and let me know how you liked it. I bet you’ll love it! Thank you very much, I appreciate your support.

Also a sale on the superb Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 HERE

And instant rebates on the hot new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.