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Konica Hexar RF
Leica-M mount (1999-2003)

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Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Konica Hexar RF

Konica Hexar RF and Konica M-Hexanon 50mm f/2 (21.2 oz./601g with film and batteries, but no lens). enlarge. You can get them at this link to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay); you also can get them from Adorama and OC Camera. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these, links, thanks! Ken.

 

 

March 2010     More Konica Reviews      LEICA Reviews

Leica Lens Reviews

Hexanon M Lens Reviews: 28mm   35mm   50mm   90mm

 

Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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I personally suggest Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.

 

This Konica Hexar RF is Leica-mount, manual focus rangefinder camera. It uses all LEICA lenses, as well as Leica-mount lenses from Konica and others.

The Konica Hexar RF is a great camera on its own, but sadly collectors have bid the used price up to levels that make it silly to buy. For the same price, you can get a real used Leica, which is a superior camera, or even better, for much less money, get a real Contax G2, from which most of the Konica Hexar RF is copied.

Unlike the original Konica Hexar, which was completely new and entirely different from this or any other camera, this Konica Hexar RF is merely a less-expensive copy-and-paste from a few other existing cameras.

To make a Konica Hexar RF, all you do is:

Start with a Contax G2 body.

Replace the lens mount, viewfinder and rangefinder with any manual-focus Leica lens mount and rangefinder made since 1980.

Thus we have the Konica Hexar RF, which is a more cheaply made version of the cameras from which it is copied. It's a photographic equivalent of the Any Car. This Konica doesn't use the excellent Contax G2 viewfinder LCD; instead it uses the goofy LEDs from a Mamiya 6.

Everything is a little cheaper and more crude than the Contax G2 from which most of it is copied. TTL flash exposure was removed, for instance, and the exposure compensation dial is smaller has no deeper center detent, making it nowhere as efficient as the Contax.'

Sadly, the Konica Hexar RF also wastes the first few frames of every roll as does the Contax G2, too.

On paper, the Konica Hexar RF sounds incredible. You get titanium top and bottom covers, retain the great chassis, metering system, film advance and controls of the Contax G2, and address the G2's only shortcoming, which was its flaky autofocusing with the 90mm lens.

The Konica Hexar RF has an 0.6x viewfinder with the same distracting 28mm & 90mm, 35mm & 135mm and 50mm & 75mm combined frames and pieces as most Leicas these past 30 years.

What's better than Leica's finders is the larger eyepiece window for better visibility. The Konica's framelines are always clear and visible, a little betteer than LEICA. The Hexar's 0.60x finder retains the 135mm frame, which Leica's 0.58x finders omit. The Hexar finder is a little dimmer than the LEICA, and has the same rangefinder spot flare as most LEICAs made from 1980-2005.

The Hexar RF's 0.60x finder is wonderful for 28mm and 35mm lenses, and pretty puny for 90mm and 135mm lenses.

The viewfinder and rangefinder are copied directly from LEICA, and as such, the Konica Hexar RF is completely compatible with lenses with auxiliary viewfinder optics ("eyes") for the LEICA M3. For instance, the superb LEICA SUMMICRON 35mm f/2 for the M3 and the 135mm f/2.8 lenses work perfectly with the Hexar RF. They don't with the CLE or Zeiss Ikon.

Sadly, all this mention of Leica does not transfer any of LEICA's or Contax' quality to the Konica. Even the Konica's fonts are cheaper-looking. By comparison to either any LEICA or the Contax G2, this Konica is a crude contrivance. Since it sells for about the same as a real LEICA today, or a more than the superior Contax G2, it's tough to recommend buying one. If you already have one, it's a great camera, just that when you have both in your hand, you'll realize that the Konica is just a shadow of the cameras it copies.

To Konica's credit and LEICA's fault, the Hexar RF came out three years before the LEICA M7. When the Hexar RF came out, LEICA's most advanced camera was the manual-exposure LEICA M6 TTL.

The Hexar is as wide and as deep as a LEICA. The Hexar is taller.

At Photokina in September, 2000, Konica announced a millenium edition, which was 2,001 units in titanium with a Konica 50mm f/1.2 lens. The numbers matehecd on camera and lens.

 

Konica Hexar RF

Top, Konica Hexar RF and Konica M-Hexanon 50mm f/2. enlarge.

 

Konica Hexar RF

Bottom, Konica Hexar RF and Konica M-Hexanon 50mm f/2. enlarge.

Serial numbers started at 1,440,001. This is camera number 6164.

 

Konica Hexar RF

Rear, Konica Hexar RF. enlarge.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

 

Film Speeds

Read DX, or set 6 ~ 6,400 manually.

 

Film Loading, Advance and Rewind

Pop-open back with film window; copied from Contax G2.

Electronic motorized advance, only (no lever).

The Hexar uses an IR film positon sensor.

2.5 fps.

Power rewind (only).

LCD counter on top left LCD.

 

Exposure

Center-weighted meter.

TTL, Read off curtains.

Easy exposure compensation dial on top, but no center detent.

Compensation warning LED in finder.

The full ±2 stop exposure compensation range isn't available in the last two stops of the manual ASA setting range. If you try something crazy like setting +1 stop compensation at ASA 6, the compensation dial won't turn that far.

 

Shutter

Konica Hexar RF

Konica Hexar RF. enlarge.

Vertical metal electronic focal-plane.

Manual: 1/4,000 ~ 1s and bulb.

Auto: 1/4,000 to at least 16 seconds.

Flash Sync: 1/125.

Self timer.

Remote release: standard cable release, yay!

 

Finder

0.60x.

About 83% coverage at 10 feet.

28mm & 90mm combined.
35mm & 135mm combined.
50mm & 75mm combined.

Preview lever.

Numerical LEDs for each shutter speed on left, 1/4,000 to 1/4 second. No slower speeds shown in finder!

No ± LEDs for manual metering; just blinking speed LEDs.

 

Flash

1/125 sync.

No TTL metering.

Using the Konica HX-18W flash, you'll get a ready LED in the finder.

 

HX-18W flash:

No bounce, no swivel, no TTL metering.

Two auto f/stops only (f/2.8 or f/5.6 at ISO 100).

Rated GN18, meters, ISO 100.

Rated to covers 28mm.

2 AA batteries

 

Weight

21.215 oz. (601.4g), with film and batteries, but no strap, lens or caps.

20.435 oz. (579.3g), with batteries but without film.

 

Power

Two CR2 3V lithium.

Rated 100 rolls of 36.

Battery indicator on top LCD, always shows even if power off.

When the battery dies, the camera is dead.

 

Introduced

13 October 1999.

 

Canned

October 2003.

 

Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

 

Overall

By itself, the Konica Hexar RF works great. It's easy, fast and fun.

Its biggest flaw is that it sells for an unreasonably high price used, making it a less attractive choice than other cameras if you're buying today.

 

Motor

The internal motor drive lets you shoot faster than a LEICA.

 

Trigger Pull

The Hexar RF's trigger pull is nice enough, with very small travel. There isn't much difference between what it takes to wake up or lock the meter, and to fire the camera.

The shutter button is inferior to the Contax G2 from which its copied. It's easy to make unintended pictures while trying to hold a locked exposure; there isn't much difference between the pressure to fire and the pressure to hold a meter reading.

 

Top LCD

The top LCD has no border around it. This sounds silly, but this makes it hard to read it unless you look straight down into it. The battery level, but not the frame count, shows when power is off.

 

Metering

Quite the opposite from the LEICA M7's meter that reads so fast it can get distracted by fan blades or computer displays, the Hexar RF's meter takes a noticeable fraction of a second to respond to changes in light. The Contax G2 is the best of the three.

In the sample I borrowed to review, the lens preview frames were sticky. Sometimes you'd have to jiggle the preview lever to get the correct frame to display perfectly.

The manual exposure meter is awful, just like the Mamiya 6. There are no ± LEDs for manual metering. All you have are blinking or steady full-stop speed LEDs. If one LED is solid and another blinking, do something until you only have one solid LED. This system lacks the precision to indicate perfect exposure; you can be a half stop off and not know it.

 

Finder

The finder frames and the subject have the same very mild barrel distortion as do the LEICA finders. The Contax' zoom finder has more distortion at the ends of its range.

 

Focus

Focus accuracy is always a matter between indivusual samples of camera bodies and individual samples of lens.

The Hexar RF, and the Konica M lenses, seem the same as any other low-maginification Leica-mount camera and lenses.

 

Hand

The Hexar is covered in nice rubber and it's perfectly sculpted.

It's the easiest and most pleasant to hold compared to the Contax G2's harder, smooth rubber not as well sculpted, or the LEICA's 1950s flat, fake leather covering.

 

Rewind

The Hexar pauses a moment near the end of rewind if you want to pull the film with the leader out.

If you want to pull a partially-exposed roll, press the R button under the read door catch, and it pauses likewise.

Otherwise, it sucks it the rest of the way in automatically.

 

Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

The Konica Hexar RF is a swell camera for shooting LEICA lenses. If you own one of these Hexars, you know how good it is, and its value has done nothing but increase with time.

Sadly, if you're familiar with the Contax G2 from which most of it is copied, it feels cheap by comparison, and with the very high price the Hexar RF fetches used today, I wouldn't suggest buying one if you don't already have one. I'd get either a G2 or any real LEICA.

When the Hexar RF came out, it cost half what a LEICA did. Today, it costs the same (used for used).

Ditto for the Konica lenses. They work fine, but if you're picky, oddly their optical performance is decidedly inferior to the LEICA lenses they imitate in outward appearance. I was quite disappointed: the Japanese are great at copying, but sadly, the optical inferiority of all the Konica lenses I tried as compared to the genuine LEICA lenses is quite obvious if you're picky.

If you own the Konica lenses, they of course can make fantastic images and their value has also done nothing but climb. However, if you don't already own them, considering that they sell used for about the same as the superior LEICA lenses, I'd get real LEICA lenses instead.

 

Acknowledgement

Many thanks to Scott in the great Republic of Texas for loaning me this lens to test. Thanks Scott!

 

A real review

Dante Stella

 

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Thanks for reading!

Ken

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