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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Photo Of The Day: “Evil Bugster” Film Version

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Hmm, does this look familiar? If it seems like something I posted before, well yes, yes it is! It’s THIS picture.

Same VG “Evil” Buggy. Different camera. The previous was shot with a Canon G1X, digital point and shoot. This one was taken with a Minolta TC-1 point and shoot film camera. The film was Fuji Superia 400 color print film.

Other than the slight graininess of the film version and the art filter I used on the digital version (which caused the color differences), do you see any differences? If anything, it’s very slight. Some might prefer the G1X version, some might prefer the TC-1 version but to my eyes they’re nearly identical. The fact that I shot them both within the same minute from my car might have something to do with that, but photographically, I don’t see a lot of differences.

I’m re-testing the TC-1 because while I have a short write up on this classic film camera from a couple years back, I didn’t have any photos in that article and as I always say…Pics or it didn’t happen!

Anyway, being that I tend to favor film cameras it might surprise you that I was this close to saying save your money and stick with your digital camera but I won’t say it right now until I evaluate my next roll of film from the TC-1.

All I can say right now is, the TC-1 is a beautiful little camera, a classic, a Camera Legend. However, today, your digital point and shoot is likely to give it a run for its money and probably cost less too.

Happy Sunday and hope you get some great shots!

Photo Of The Day: “Evil Bugster” Canon G1X

"Evil Bugster" 2017. Canon G1X. Cape May, NJ.

“Evil Bugster” 2017. Canon G1X. Cape May, NJ. I added a photo filter to dramatize the image although the subject was strong enough that it probably didn’t need it.

I’m a big fan of the VW Beetle, especially the older ones although I think the New Beetle of 1998 and up were also superbly designed and beautiful to look at. Keep in mind, I’m just a fan of the car, I’ve never owned one!

Let’s face it, the most enduring appeal of the Volkswagen Beetle is the fact that it’s “cute.” Its iconic looks and appeal all boils down to that cute factor.

Being that I’m always looking for something a little different from the norm, I prefer Beetles which are harder edged, meaner, heck even “evil” and I found one recently while driving through Cape May, New Jersey.

Since this blog is about cameras, it may be best to turn away from the car aspect and focus on the gear. For this shot, I used a Canon G1X. Just got one shot out of the car window and prayed that it counted.

The G1X is a 14.3 megapixel point and shoot and a member of Canon’s highly regarded G series compact cameras. It was released in 2012. The G1X differentiates itself from it’s G series predecessors however due to the fact that it features a larger than normal 1.5″ CMOS sensor, which is nearly but not quite the size of the APS-C standard.

I’ve had this camera for a few months and have been shooting it regularly in the hopes of putting up a review for you. However, I have not been overwhelmingly impressed with it. Sometimes you listen to your instincts, but hope you’re wrong. The G1X is one of those cameras I was hoping to be wrong about.

The reviews have been generally positive for the G1X, and what pushed me over the edge was several postings on different web forums where the camera was praised with high enthusiasm. Also what sold me was the reduced prices these days on the G1X, since the G1X Mark II came out. I also generally prefer to weigh the opinions of real life shooters with the camera versus just a technical lab review. Power to the people! 🙂

Anyway, this isn’t my G1X review yet so I’ll keep it short. This was the first picture I truly liked out of many months of G1X shooting.

You guys know I work at a snail’s pace, but I always aim for fairness and accuracy over a highly emotive positive review. So just when I thought of chucking the G1X, I think I’m going to give her another chance!

As for the “Evil Bugster” I guess I don’t need to repeat that I love it! 🙂

Happy Hump Day good people and thanks for your visits and support as always, I do appreciate it!

The Smallest Nikon: Nikon S01 Digital Camera

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“Baby Nikon” The smallest Nikon camera, the S01 🙂

Probably not what you expected after going missing for a few days, but I’ve never really done what people expected of me 🙂

The Nikon S01 is a 10.1 megapixel point and shoot digital camera introduced by Nikon in 2012.

Though I can’t confirm it, it is probably the smallest Nikon camera ever made, film or digital.

I first saw the S01 at Best Buy some years back and thought it was a cool novelty and nothing more. In fact, the first time I saw it, I just walked past it.

Maybe a year later, I saw it again and I was intrigued enough to pick it up. I thought it was cool, but at nearly $100, it was a pass for me.

Somehow I ended up with one in 2014 as a gift. Now that I like!

Toy Camera?

“Toy Camera” 2014. The Pentax Q original shot by another “Mighty-Mini” the Nikon S01 🙂

As I said, I consider this camera a novelty so I’m not going in too deep with this one. It might be a “quick review” or “mini review” but not a full review. In fact, if anyone did a full review of this camera, I would say you’re nuttier that I am! 🙂

There are some cool features on it though, such as a touch screen, and some cool creative filters, but the S01 is pretty much an auto point and shoot digital with no manual controls.

The touch screen is something many of us have come to enjoy, after using smartphones and tablets all these years.

The good news is that it’s there on the S01. The bad news is that it’s clunky to use and not iPhone fast. Not the most refined touchscreen out there.

The camera comes with 7.3gb of built in flash memory and has no slot for SD card upgrades. It comes with no charger, only a USB cord to charge via your computer.

The picture quality is decent to good. Don’t expect too much out of it in that area. This camera is all about size and perhaps cuteness 🙂

Nikon S01 Soft Filter Effect

“Soft & Dreamy” 2015. Nikon S01 using the “SOFT” filter effect.

In fact, if you’re already walking around with a smartphone, which seems like 90 percent of the people out there, then the camera on your phone is probably better than the S01.

Again, you don’t get the S01 to use as your main or secondary or even your third camera. You get it if you love cameras, as I do, and if you get a good shot out of it, even better!

If seeking one for your collection, prices are trending at $25-75 on the used market. Nikon replaced this camera with the S02, which is technically a little bigger, but roughly the same small camera.

The Nikon S01 is cute, sweet, and fun. It may not be the greatest picture taker and it’s certainly not a Camera Legend, but it’s the smallest Nikon out there and I’m happy to have it in my collection 🙂

The Best Point & Shoot Camera In The World





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The Sony RX100 (as well as the RX100II and RX100III) has the great distinction of being called “The Best Point & Shoot Camera In The World.” And it has been since the introduction of the first model in 2012.

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“Save Me” 2014. Sony RX100, ISO 1000 in available light.

This is not a title to be taken lightly. The last camera that was universally known as “The Best Point & Shoot Camera In The World” was the legendary Contax T3 of 2001. The last great point and shoot from the film era.

The Sony RX100 feature a larger than average 1″ 20.1 mp sensor, a 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 Zeiss lens, and excellent image quality in stills and HD video.

The latest “III” version features a wider and faster 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens, electronic viewfinder and tilting screen.

Personally, for a point and shoot of this size I could live without the wider, but shorter ranged lens and the EVF. I chose the Mark I version because I got it cheap 🙂

Anyway, they are great little cameras that can take near DSLR shots in a wide range of lighting conditions.

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“New New Yorker” 2014. Beautiful Pau loves her first New York experience. Sony RX100, ISO 2000 in available light.

I found the AF to be very good and accurate even in less than ideal lighting conditions. The color palate is very “Sony” and consistent with other Sony cameras, which means skin tones should be nice. And of course, the camera is very pocketable.

I personally just leave the camera on aperture priority and auto iso. It’s a point and shoot after all and it does a fine job most of the time.

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“The Peace Keepers” 2014. Sony RX100, ISO 125.

If you want the best of the best, get the RX100III. But if it’s going to be your secondary or “fun” camera, I’d save the money and seek out the original which should run you about $300 either used or if you’re lucky, “new old stock.”




It’s hard to imagine that a camera could dethrone the mighty Contax T3, but the RX100 series, while an entirely different animal (Film vs digital, fixed lens vs zoom) was able to become the CM Punk of the camera industry. That is…”Best In The World.”

Note: Yes, I know this digital era, the era of millions of “disposable” cameras. And for these digital cameras, they’re only as good as their last megapixel and they know it 🙂

Some of my Instagram followers stated to me that the 16mp APS-C sensor Ricoh GR is actually “best in the world” and they may well be right! Then others will say it’s the Nikon Coolpix A. Of course, there’s the Sony RX1/RX1R, but that’s in another league! Oh yes, we can’t forget the Fuji X100/X100S/X100T, you catch my drift. In reality, the digital cameras we have today are so damned good, there is really no “best.” You just have to find the one that’s right for you.

Right now Amazon has the best selection of the Sony RX100. Everyone and their mothers buy from Amazon and you can never go wrong with them.

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