- Tamron 28-75mm 1:2.8
- Canon EF 50mm 1:2.5 Compact-Macro
- Canon EF 28mm 1:2.8
- Tamron 17-50mm 1:2.8
- Canon EF 24mm 1:2.8
- Konica Hexar AF
- Sigma 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM
- Minolta MC W.Rokkor - NL 21mm 1:2.8
- Canon BG-ED3 Battery Grip
- Canon 10D
- Sigma EF-500 DG Super EO ETTL
- Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II
- Sears 55mm 1:1.4
- Minolta X-370
- Canon EF 28-90mm 1:4-5.6 III
- Canon 400D (Rebel XTi)
Konica Hexar AF
Konica's Hexar AF wasn't even on my radar. But the seller was a photographer that knew how to make good photos and seemed to only use good tools. On his advice I took the Hexar under my wing for a while to see what it was all about.
Before I shot my first roll of 35mm film I did some reading. The auto focus Hexar seems to have a strong number of supporters who brag about it's quality fixed 35mm 2.0 lens, quiet operation, and non auto-everything shooting modes. Those same supporter also admit that some of the settings are not intuitive. I printed out a simple cheat sheet that explained how to accomplish the most common configurations and kept it with me when in the field. Looking at the buttons and the instructions I almost came to the conclusion that the engineers expected a Hexar owner to memorize a few simple steps to change settings. Then purposefully mislabeled the buttons to spite everyone else.
The feel while carrying the Hexar is not point and shoot in size nor weight. Being just a little bit bigger and a bit heavier, it feels like a real camera instead of a consumer electronic item. In fact, while under review, the Hexar traveled with me more often than not despite it being a bit bigger than a pocket camera. The grip section, however was not great. I expected a camera that gave away some size to pocket cameras to gain in grippiness. But as far as shape goes, the Hexar had a used-bar-of-soap feel to its grip area.
Fortunately we get to forget most of those nits when shooting and that's what I did. Under most circumstances, the Konica Hexar got out of my way and let me concentrate on making photographs. And it was, as promised, delightfully quiet. What the manual called 'Quiet' mode might better be labelled 'Even Quieter' mode.
Another delight after owning a Canon 400D (Rebel XTi) , was the size of the viewfinder. But size isn't everything, I'm told. And that big, bright viewfinder had a small issue. The brightlines move during focusing so that they are always accurate to the actual captured image. But that mean, at times, differing amounts of the viewfinder was outside the brightlines and, effectively, being wasted. Although this is a subjective rant, I did find it difficult to frame my shots quickly. Additionally, and this may be a blessing or a curse, the shutter speed is not indicated in the viewfinder.
When shooting it becomes obvious that the engineers thought some things out. The Hexar offers a Program setting that works well. The user sets aperture and a minimum shutter speed. The camera shoots at the chosen aperture and adjusts shutter speed between 1/250th and the user set minimum. Only when proper exposure cannot be attained within that range of shutter speeds does the camera automatically choose a more appropriate aperture setting. Brilliant. Perfect for when I wanted some control but also wanted the camera to take over as conditions changed so that I didn't miss a shot.
I have to admit it took a couple rolls of film before I felt comfortable configuring the camera quickly in the field. But the more I used the camera the more the design choices made sense to me. When I became acquainted with the Hexar it did a wonderful job of getting out of my way and letting me think about the photos and not the camera.
Despite some of those good choice, it seems a couple questionable ones were made as well. The first, a top speed of 1/250th might have been an engineering compromise not a design choice. But it did affect my photography on occasion. With ISO speed 200 film already loaded I found myself in full sun and without an ND filter. And not much chance of shooting any more open than f11. The other choice that might have also been considered a compromise was the cameras loss of memory when switching it 'off'. Some folks will appreciate this as a way to quickly return to the default settings. This reviewer is not one of those folks.
Personally I'm usually shooting in one of two modes. Casually with a small camera. Or more seriously with a DSLR. Despite the Konica Hexar AF many fine traits it wasn't a good fit for me. But, after getting to know the Hexar AF, I think I know why film shooters are so enamored with it. Point and shoot convenience while still offering a good bit of photographic control.
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