Determining Age of Hexanon Lenses : LUSENET : Konica 35mm SLRs : One Thread

When buying Konica Hexanon lenses sight-unseen, such as from mail-order companies or private individuals advertising on the Internet, some identifying criteria are necessary to insure the buyer is getting what he thinks he is getting.

The Konica AR mount originated with the 1st AutoReflex camera in about 1965, and all AR mount lenses from that time forward will work properly with even the last 35mm SLR made by Konica. But from 1965 until 1985 when the last Konica SLR was introduced, virtually every lens went through a series of revisions. For example, a 135mm f/3.5 Hexanon made in 1965 is not at all the same thing as a 135mm f/3.5 Hexanon made in 1985. If one sees a Konica Hexanon 135mm f/3.5 lens advertised for sale at a good price, they need to ask some questions to identify what they are getting.

The earliest Hexanon AR mount lenses can be identified by a brushed chrome ring between the aperture (f/stop)ring and the focusing collar. The depth of field scale is etched into this chrome ring, and the focusing collar is made of machined metal with humps and splines as a gripping surface. There will be no button to lock the aperture ring into the "EE" autoexposure position. These lenses are quite sharp, but they are not multi-coated. The paint tends to wear off of the sharp splines on the focusing collar and aperture ring from simply rolling around inside a gadget bag, and is not necessarily an indication of how much use the lens has had.

Around 1970 with the introduction of the Autoreflex T2, the chrome ring disappeared from the lenses. Also the button was added to lock the aperture ring into the EE auto exposure position. But the focusing collars were still humped and splined metal.

About 1973 when the Autoreflex T3 camera was introduced, many of the lenses were changed to replace the metal focusing collar with a rubberized, checkered pattern. Generally speaking, lenses made after 1973 were multi-coated. Konica originally called their multi-coating process "color dynamic coating," and the process improved as time went on.

Around 1978 while the Autoreflex T4 was in production, all of the lenses were changed to show "AE" in place of the former "EE" on the aperture ring to denote the autoexposure position. By the time of this change, all lenses had the checkered, rubber focusing collars. And the trend was toward making the lenses smaller and lighter. During this time, some of the lenses began to take on the "UC" designation. UC is an acronymn which means "Ultra Compact," "Ultra Close-up," and "Ultra Coating."

On some of the very last lenses produced, the aperture ring locking button was replaced with a thinner metal catch which served the same purpose.

To summarize, the Hexanon lenses can be grouped in the following general catagories:

1. The oldest lenses have the chrome ring, a splined metal focusing collar, and no locking button on the aperture ring.

2. Newer lenses will have the rubberized, checkered focusing collar and the locking button on the aperture ring.

3. Newer still will have AE instead of EE on the aperture ring.

4. Some of the last lenses will have a longer, thinner metal catch in place of the button which locks the aperture ring.

Now, are the newer Autoreflex lenses "better" than the older ones? Not necessarily. But some will be about 12 years old while others are closer 35 years old. Even the oldest lenses are quite sharp, even by modern standards. But if the lens isn't multi-coated, it makes using the proper lens shade all the more important.

The lubricant inside a lens doesn't last forever. If the lens has been stored laying on its side for long periods, gravity can pull the lubricant away from the top side toward the bottom. This can cause the lubricant to get on the aperture diaphram blades and make them sticky. If the lens has been stored in a dark, humid area, it should be checked for fungus growth on the glass elements. So an older lens which has seen regular use may be in better operating condition than a newer one which has been laying around for years doing nothing.

But generally speaking, the lubricant in the newer lenses will be more fresh and the newer lenses will likely have a better quality of multi-coating.

There is nothing wrong with buying the older, all metal lenses - and some prefer them. Just ask enough questions about the lens to be shure you know what you are getting before you send a check off in the mail.


-- Anonymous, March 11, 1998


Another Characteristic of Lens Vintage

A significant lens design change occured about 1979 when the FS-1 camera was introduced with the electronically controlled shutter and the LED meter scale, which enabled setting f/22 apertures.

Prior to the FS-1, the analog Autoreflex metering system was not able to automatically set apertures smaller than f/16. Consequently, the Hexanon lenses manufactured prior to 1979 had a minimum aperture of f/16. The only exceptions I know of are the 55mm & 105mm macro lenses, and the super-long telephoto ARM lenses which lacked the EE function. Lenses in production concurrent with the FS-1 and later will in most cases have a minimum aperture of f/22.

For example, the popular 50mm f/1.4 was introduced as a standard lens for the Autoreflex T3 in 1973 - and this lens remained in production until Konica discontinued SLR production around 1986. If the 50mm f/1.4 is a T3 era lens, it will have "EE" on the aperture ring and f/16 for a minimum aperture. If it is a T4 era lens, it will have "AE" on the aperture ring and f/16 as a minimum aperture. If it is a FS-1 era lens, it will have "AE" on the aperture ring and f/22 for a minimum aperture.

So when evaluating a Hexanon lens, check to see whether it has "EE" or "AE" on the aperture ring and whether the minimum aperture is f/16 or f/22. AE and f/22 mean "newer," and EE combined with f/16 mean "older."


-- Anonymous, March 11, 1998

Autoreflex A

Dear sir(s).

I'm a new owner of a used Autoreflex A and I decided to sent the camera for service since it had a problem: the aperture didn't change from f8 to f16. The lens (52mm/1.8 and 50mm/1.4mm) are working fine so I told to the engineer to focus in the body mechanism and he agreed with me. I got the camera after 20 days with filed aperture lever (this one which sets the aperture on the lens) the EE mode doesn't work anymore properly (it stacks sometimes in an aperture value that it is not the right) and the aperture settings are working now from f8 to f13.5 and not at f16. I complained to the engineer who said "sorry bring the camera back to re-repair it". I don't believe him since he has no parts (the lever) so he could probably make the things worst. After all I found another repair shop and the man said that he has a damaged Autoreflex T for spare parts which has the same parts with Autoreflex A and insists that he can repair the camera I have. So I'm wondering about the equality of the two models and the new adventure.

Can you suggest any solution?.

I also want to ask you if the newer 50mm/1.4 works properly at f1.4 in Autoreflex A. In mine camera doesn't and I suppose that the camera is old model and doesn't support the f1.4. When I'm pushing the release button the newer lens stops down at f1.8 I think.

Thank you in advance for the responce.


-- Anonymous, March 12, 1998

Autoreflex A Repairs

Hi Dimitris,

Sorry to hear you are having trouble with your camera. Not being a repair technician, I should first say that I can offer an opinion - but not an expert opinion.

The Autoreflex T has a button on the front of the lens mount for stopping down the lens to shooting aperture. The Autoreflex A does not have this feature. This "depth-of-field preview" feature on the T model requires additional mechanical linkage inside the camera's lens mount which is not present in the model A. But the parts of the linkage inside the lens mount which transmit the maximum aperture of the lens to the metering system are "probably" the same.

A difference between the model T and the model A, which is not obvious, is that the model A's light meter is less sensitive than the model T. The T's meter can measure about 3 EV lower than the model A. So the autoexposure shutter speed coupling range will be wider on the T than the A. I don't have a copy of the owner's manual for the Autoreflex A, but it "probably" has a chart showing the limits to which the light meter can couple for autoexposure at the len's maximum aperture (smallest numbered f/stop). This will vary depending on the film speed (ISO number) setting and the shutter speed being used.

If your camera's metering f/stop scale, visible inside the viewfinder, shows a f/1.4 position - the camera should provide autoexposure capability at f/1.4. With ISO 100 film, the shutter speed range at which the light meter can couple for autoexposure at f1.4 will be "approximately" 1/15 sec. to 1/500 sec. With ISO 400 film, the shutter speed coupling range for f/1.4 will be "approximately" 1/60 sec to 1/500 sec. So the higher the film speed you are using, the more the lower limit of shutter speeds you can use for autoexposure is raised. This is not a design flaw of the Autoreflex A, but simply a characteristic of all camera light metering systems. The more sensitive the light meter, the slower the shutter speed you can use at maximum aperture.

The 50mm f/1.4 was introduced in 1973 along with the Autoreflex T3 camera. Prior to that, the f/1.4 standard lens was a 57mm focal length. But both comply with the specifications of the Autoreflex (AR) lens mount, and should work equally well within the limits of the camera's metering sensitivity.

In summary, I am saying that your camera "may not" have needed repair to begin with. Because the model A's light meter is relatively insensitive to low light, it is normal that it will not couple to f/1.4 at slow shutter speeds. At higher light levels, it should couple at f/1.4 within the range of shutter speeds appropriate for proper exposure with the film speed being used.

If you plan to do a lot of very low-light photography, you may want to use a hand-held light meter and the manual lens settings on your camera. But for the price of a hand held light meter, you could buy another Konica model with a more sensitive built-in meter.

And if your camera really is broken, you may find that the repair costs exceed the cost of another fully functioning Konica camera body.

I suggest you contact Greg Weber, who can check your camera to see if it is performing within specifications - and can give you a repair estimate if it isn't. His E-mail address is listed on the Dealer's Page.

Good luck,


-- Anonymous, March 12, 1998

Not quite true- chrome ring

I have a 57/1.2 Hexanon AR (1970-71) with both chrome and a lock button.

-- Anonymous, March 25, 1998

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