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Konica Hexar AF

  The Ultimate Available Light Fixed Lens Point & Shoot

The Konica Hexar AF is a wonderful available light candid camera,  yet deceptively simply and deceptively complex.   In some ways it has no peer, justifying its "cult" camera status as the ideal stealth street camera.   High points include a fast sharp lens combined with incredibly quiet and fast operation -- quieter and faster in operation than a Leica M6 !!     While some of the  controls are a pain, the Hexar AF occupies a unique place in cameradom: the most technologically advanced 35mm camera yet made with a fixed 35/2 or faster lens.    The original black Hexar and black Hexar Autodate have "stealth" film advance mode,   probably the quietest motorized film advance of any 35.  On second thought, in silent mode I can't hear the camera operate -- I have never found a quieter 35mm camera.  It would be great for film sets or courtrooms.

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Major Features

Details

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Viewfinder

Manual Over-rides

Negatives

Which Hexar AF is Best for You ?

Personally I prefer the original Hexar over the later Hexars:

  1. I love the super silent "stealth" film advance option.
  2. The original Hexar is likely to cost less than the later versions on the used market, though black is often a more popular color.   I have no proof of it, but I also believe more original Hexars were made than the later models, so it will be easier to find one.
  3. The original Hexar's black finish is much more in keeping with the stealth capacity of Silent mode film advance -- at the same time I don't much  like the "flashiness" of the later Hexars
  4. You can have Konica upgrade the original Hexar to all later Hexar features except auto-bracketing for only $30
  5. I don't have much use for the basic data back features offered by the AutoDate

 

The Lost Commands of Hexar

Many Hexar AF functions are completely inaccessible if you don't know the secret unlabeled commands.   It's kind of like having a secret password or secret handshake.    Woe to you if you buy a used Hexar without an instruction booklet.  Come to think of it, considering how poorly it's written, woe to you if you buy a used Hexar with an instruction booklet.  The guys who designed it must have had fun hiding the functions with no labels on the controls -- "Oh yeah, well look at this, I can do even better, they won't be able to figure this one out even if they have the instruction booklet...HA HA HA HA."   This section is not written to cover all the commands, just the hidden ones that I know of.  If you don't know what the "P, A, or M" on the Hexar's top plate most likely mean, take a photography class.      

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Note the metering and AF sensors in the traditional self timer position, built in hand grip

 

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The Hexar's body is about the same size as the M6, though slightly thicker. On the right, 3 fast lensed available light cameras:  Olympus RD, Hexar, Leica M6.


Oddly Konica has never seemed to do all it can to promote the Hexar AF -- many experienced photogs have never even heard of it, much less seen one.   Sure, you could special order it from Konica dealers, but strangely  enough I have never seen a new Hexar AF in a camera store --- and I have seen more than my share of  camera stores.    As a result  any Hexar AF is not that easy to find, whether new or used. 

Though strictly speaking not a rangefinder camera, the Hexar AF is definitely a modern updated version  of the fast fixed lens rangefinders of the 1970's,  such as the Konica S3, Olympus RD and Canon G-III QL.  

Please note I have referred to  all autofocus Hexar models as  "Hexar AF" to avoid confusion with the newly introduced "Hexar RF" interchangeable Leica M mount camera.  Konica apparently does not use the "Hexar AF" terminology.  


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Revised: November 25, 2003 Copyright  1998-2002  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.