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Gear Review: Konica Hexar RF

Konica Hexar RF, The Rangefinder Ahead Of Its Time

The Hexar RF was introduced by Konica in October 1999. In my opinion, it is one of the most technologically advanced rangefinder up till today.

The Hexar RF had:

-          Aperture priority & AE lock

-          Shutter speeds up to 1/4000

-          Slow shutter speeds of 4 secs on manual, 16 secs on AE

-          In build metering

-          Build in motor, winds 2.5 fps

-          Auto re-wind at the end of the film roll

-          1/125 flash synch

-          Automatic frame lines

-          DX film loading with manual override

-          LCD film counter & battery indicator

-          Exposure compensation indications in VF

-          28/35/50/75/90/135 frame lines

-          Titanium plates for body

Before picking up the Hexar RF, I was previously using the Voigtlander Bessa R3A. I was looking around for an affordable M with AE capability as well.

The Leica M7 fitted the bill as something I was looking for but the cost of it was too high for me to bear at that point of time. I was then introduced to the Hexar RF by a good mate.

First impressions of the Hexar RF would be the convenience of film loading which is fully auto. One would just have to pull the film leader across the orange marker, close the back & the camera does the job.

The counter & film forwarding is highly accurate on the Hexar RF. It shoots to 38 frames on every single roll of commercially available film. It counts the film via infra-red.

Bring a spectacle user. The Hexar RF frame lines are easily viewed clearly as the VF magnification is x0.6. I’m able to see clearly the framlines from 28mm-135mm, something which is impossible for me to do on a Leica M with the standard x0.72 VF magnification unless I invest heavily on the ala carte x0.58 VF magnification.

The frame line display in the VF in my opinion is as bright as any Leica M. Shutter speed indicators in the VF are displayed in bright red lights & based on my experience, the indicators are brighter than what the modern Voigtlander RFs & Zeiss Ikon RFs offers.

The Hexar RF, like the M7 has the capability to shoot at shutter speeds in between the indicated speeds. One would know it is doing this when 2 shutter speed indicators light up in the VF, it means the Hexar RF would be firing off in between.

Batteries wise, the 2, CR2 batteries in the Hexar RF provides enough juice for a heavy user for 6 months. I think it is pretty impressive considering the fact that the camera utilises the batteries to forward/re-wind the film, metering, shutter firing off.

The Hexar RF is my weapon of choice for night street photography. I would set my lens aperture wide open, the camera does the job of the metering, film forwarding. The only thing I have to work on would be focusing & firing the shutter.

The shutter on the Hexar RF is pretty silent as well. Of course it does not sound like a mechanical M, the sound of the metal shutter on the Hexar RF probably sounds like those old compact film cameras.

I have never experienced focal shift on the Hexar RF. I’ve used the camera with Konica’s own KM, LTM lenses from Nikkor/Canon/Leica & of course modern M mounted Voigtlander/Leica/Zeiss lenses.

I would say, if you are looking for the M7 but find it a tad too expensive? Give the Hexar RF a try, I’m pretty sure you would love it. It might have been introduced in 1999 but up till today, it is still one of the more technological advanced film M bodies around.

Here are some images taken by my Hexar RF:

More links to information on the Hexar RF:

Dante Stella

Camera Quest

Review contributed by Gary Wang



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