Konica Autoreflex Half Frame
The year is 1966. The world camera makers rush to design and introduce compact SLR cameras. Saying ‘world’ and ‘compact SLR’ would seem all-inclusive, which is not. The Brits, Italian, French, and Americans have all but abandoned the high-end camera lines. The only real players yet were Germany, both East and West, USSR and Japan. USSR and the DDR churned out mighty SLR cameras, none could be defined as compact. The West Germans did a bit better, producing more sophisticated, long-lasting, and less bulky. That left the Japanese makers to rule the arena. Prominent companies that do no longer exist or no longer make cameras, being Topcon, Miranda, Yashica, Ricoh, Minolta, Mamiya, Kowa, Konica, and Cosina, together with others who are still with us, such as Fuji, Pentax, Nikon, Canon, and Olympus all rushed to market with the new novelty. Then, as of now, there were more advanced camera makers in Japan than the entire world combined.
While each of the Japanese camera makers had its specific peculiarities, most models carried the same specs, at similar camera value class. Yet, in 1963 Olympus had created a whole new class with the ultra-compact SLR, half frame, Pen F line, (followed in 1979 by Pentax and Minolta, though using 110 format). At the heels of the Pen F, Konica had straddled both half and full-frame formats, introducing the Autoreflex. I am not aware of another 35 mm camera that can do that.
The camera is an early entrant in the Konica compact SLR line. My records show three earlier SLR models: F, FP, FP1, all of which I know nothing about. By their looks, compared to Autoreflex, it seems that the latter is the first serious attempt for market domination.
The camera is a refined product to look at and well balanced to hold, although on the heavy side. The streamlined design eliminates controls off the top, a reminder of the Werra. The only dial on top is the frame size selector, which falls into your thumb. the spool rewind is different from what we used to see, just a delicate fold-down lever that collapses into the camera top cover. On the front left is a round dial to control the shutter speed and the film speed, in the middle of it the light meter lens and an override button. Dial settings could be easily monitored while holding the camera pointing forward. The aperture dial is on the lens barrel. On the lens barrel, both sides are the lens release slide and the depth of field push button. I got confused by them, thought they are doing exactly the opposite. M / X sync ports and self-timer are at the right and left sides. One 675 battery is used for the light meter and EE function else can be used as a no-nonsense fully manual. A moonroof at the top prism allows light in as background to the light meter needle, and near to it is the meter control switch, On / Off / Check. An accessory shoe can be mounted on the eyepiece.
I like the frame size selector. In today’s technology, such function pales compared to what modern cameras do. Here you may change the frame size mid-roll, back and forth. There is a sequence to that: full to half wind/flip, half to full flip/wind. not much to remember. What it really does is change gears to pull the film as needed, and add a mask over the film plane. The full frame is landscape, half is portrait. I feel for the developing lab.
|Format||35mm & 35mm half frame|
|Model||Autoreflex Half Frame|
|Mode||Auto / manual|
|Weight||720 gr, Body only|
|Class average weight||570 gr, Body only|
|Filter size||55 mm|
|Lens mount||Konica bayonet|
|shutter||Focal plane vertical metal|
|Light meter||External CdS|
|Other||Battery off – on – check lever.|