New Hexar : LUSENET : Konica 35mm SLRs : One Thread

Maybe this is not news to those who are interested, but we know more details on this camera, which they're calling the Hexar RF. I muddled through the German press release at Konica Germay's website and here are some details: It is indeed coming out soon, though just when I can't tell. It's a titanium-bodied, manual focus, interchangeable lens rangefinder with automatic (aperture priority) and manual exposure. Focal plane shutter with speeds from 1/4000 to 16 seconds (stepless) in auto mode, bulb and 1 -- 1/4000 in manual. Flash synch is at 1/125. Metering is centerweighted TTL.

The lenses offered are a new range of M-Hexanons: 28/2.8; 50/2; and 90/2.8. The mount, as you might have guessed from the name, is the Leica M mount, which apparently means you can use Leitz M series lenses with the camera. It's not clear to me whether the lens coupling is mechanical, as with the Leica M, or electronic, as with the Contax G. Since it's manual focus, I presume it's a mechanical coupling. The viewfinder has automatic brightline frames for the following focal lengths: 28mm, 35mm, 50 mm, 75mm, 90mm and 135mm. These are the Leica lens focal lengths, so it does seem the intent is to create a camera compatible with the Leitz M lenses.

The camera is otherwise more like the Contax (or the current Hexar) in that it's electronically controlled. The viewfinder has LED displays of shutter speed and exposure compensation. Film advance and rewind is motorized; the press release states that it will rewind a 36 exposure roll of film in about 13 seconds. It will fire the shutter in continuous mode at 2.5 frames per second. The camera is powered by two CR2 batteries that are claimed to be good for 140 36 exposure rolls of film.

As with the current Hexar, there is a dedicated, separate flash unit, the HX-18W, which as the name indicates has a guide number of 18 with ISO 100 film. The flash can cover up to 28mm lenses without any additional attachments. The basic camera kit includes the flash and the 50mm lens.

It sounds to me like this is an excellent marrying of some of the best features of the Leica M and Contax G. The idea of being able to use Leitz M lenses with a new body design is very attractive, and the up-to date electronic features add to its convenience and range of function. I would have preferred manual wind and rewind personally, but as long as the motor isn't too noisy I could live with it. (I wonder whether Konica has reintroduced the Silent mode that was such an attractive feature of the original Hexar? Probably too much to ask.) Several of my major beefs with the current Hexar have been addressed to my satisfaction -- TTL metering makes using filters a breeze (except for polarizers, of course), and the focal plane shutter gives a much more usable flash synch speed. I find ghosting very difficult to avoid with the current Hexar, which has a maximum synch speed of 1/60 in Program mode. Finally, having access to an array of focal lengths makes the camera infinitely more versatile. I hope Konica's new M-Hexanons are as good as the 35/2 on the current model, which is simply a terrific lens. Maybe the M-Hexanons aren't as fast as they could be -- this is a complaint I hear about the Zeiss G lenses for the Contaxes -- but if that's a problem, use one of the fast Leitzes. I'll wager the M-Hexanons are a darn sight less expensive than the Leitzes.

Speaking of price, something I saw on said the price was expected to be US$2,500 for the basic kit. I hope that was the list price! Street prices are usually 40% or more below list. If this camera is in the same price range as the Contax G2, that would be wonderful. Hope springs eternal that all those point & shoots, copiers and digital things Konica sells will work to subsidize the cost of the Hexar RF.

This is rather a big gamble for Konica, it seems to me, given that we are on the verge of digital really taking over from film. I hope that the realization lives up to its promise, but in any event, the folks at Konishoroku are to be congratulated for this effort. I can't wait to try one!

-- Anonymous, October 19, 1999


New Hexar RF

Thank, Nick

Excellent report.

I queried Konica (USA), who told me they're planning for December availability here.


-- Anonymous, October 20, 1999

New Hexar RF

There's a copy of the (Japanese) sales brochure for sale on eBay. The listing shows an illustration of the Hexar RF body. It's item 191525712.

-- Anonymous, November 01, 1999

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