Rangefinder Genetics

As smooth as the drink

As smooth as the drink

As soon as I gave my Leica M6 to my son for his 25-th birthday, I missed it. That’s the way heart-felt presents should feel.

But a funny thing must have happened in one of my photo bags the other night. The Leica M6 and my Nikon F6 had a night of passion and today the illegitimate child was born:

From the valley of uncannity in Leica Land I present: the Konica Hexar RF!

From the valley of uncannity in Leica Land I present: the Konica Hexar RF!

Produced from 1999 until 2003 by Japan’s oldest camera maker Konica, it is an oddity among rangefinder cameras. Some features?
Here they come:

  • Leica M compatible *1) lens mount.
  • A viewfinder prone to flaring a bit more than the current Leica ones, but less than the ones before the M6 TTL.
  • The best motor drive on a Leica M compatible rangefinder camera, built-in. Don’t take my word for it, take Stephen Gandy‘s.
  • And to quote Stephen: “If you want Aperture AE with AE lock, a 1/4000th top speed, the best motordrive on any M mount camera, and the fastest film loading and rewinding, your only choice is the Hexar RF. If you want the best finder, your choice is the M6.”
  • The shutter and film transport are less noisy than I anticipated. A snick and a quiet whine.
  • I know I repeat myself, but the film handling is just as easy and convenient as with the Nikon F6. Pop a canister in, draw out the leader until it meets a mark near the take-up spool, close the hinged door (no taking off the bottom plate!), switch the camera on, a short noise and you’re ready for frame #1. Auto-rewind at the end of the roll pauses for a moment to allow you to take the canister out with the leader showing.
  • The top plate

    The top plate

    Apart from a latch to open the back, all dials and switches are here on the top plate. From left to right:

  • Shutter speed dial with settings for aperture-priority auto exposure (TTL) with or without auto exposure lock.
  • Shutter release surrounded by main switch, single shot, continuous and self timer.
  • ISO dial combined with exposure compensation. ISO can be set to DX, the camera reads the code from the film cartridge.
  • LCD display showing battery charge (always) and shots taken (when the camera is switched on). The camera takes two CR2 lithium batteries which are supposed to be good for 100 rolls of film. All camera functions require battery power, there are no mechanical shutter speeds. This ain’t your grandfather’s Leica!
  • Tomorrow, I’ll attend a street photography workshop in Nuremberg, the Hexar RF will play the role of the color camera, loaded with Kodak Ektar. We’ll see how that goes!

    *1): There’s some conflicting information about the rear flange distance and the rangefinder cam being up to Leica’s specs. I’ll report if I see focus errors that are not mine …

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    One Response to “Rangefinder Genetics”

    1. Street Smarts | Mostly Black & White Says:

      […] It’s the Arts … « Rangefinder Genetics […]

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