Konica Hexar RF
Motorised, AE, M lensmount
For a couple of years prior to Leica releasing the M7, the only way to shoot AE with Leica M glass was to use the Konica Hexar RF. Aperture-priority autoexposure aside, the RF has other things going for it - a B-1/4000th shutter, 2.5 fps built-in & compact motor drive and an outer body shell made of titanium.
Jan 2006 - Konica stops making all cameras
The digital onslaught claims another victim. At the beginning of 2006 Konica announced they were completely getting out of the camera business:
This follows the news that in May 2003 the camera was discontinued in the USA: <LUG - v24/msg12103.html>.
R.I.P. the Hexar RF, along with any hope there'll be an upgraded "RF2".
Stephen Gandy's detailed photographs and text discussion:
- In the June 2000 issue of US Popular Photography Magazine (vol.64 no.6), at p.122 there is an in-depth 8-page test report on the Hexar RF accompanied on p.132 by test reports of the 3 Hexar lenses (the 28mm ƒ2.8, 50mm ƒ2.0 and 90mm ƒ2.8). Read this report to see just how useless magazine reviews can get.
- The RF meter is centre-weighted averaging rather than the semi-spot meter the M6 has. Some people just cannot cope with this.
- Outside of Hong Kong the Hexar RF is still sold in kit form, forcing
you to cough up for the camera body, 50mm lens, HX-18W flash and (most
importantly) wooden presentation box - whether you like it or not. At a
street price of $US 1300 (or worse, $AUS 2500!), this is clearly dumb. At
that price you would be better off buying a brand new M6 TTL and you won't
get saddled with the extraneous flash & 50mm lens with it incompatible
40.5mm filter size!
However, in Hong Kong this is no longer the case. You can apparently buy the RF since Q1 2001 as a body only for approx $US 1000 - a much more sensible proposition. Indeed, at such a price you would almost have to be nuts to not buy an RF if you are looking for a motorised M workmate.
And the news just gets better, in May 2002 Cameraland (NYC) started offering a few $US 700 "refurbished" Hexar RF bodies. On 7 May 2002, "Doug" from Cameraland (ph: USA 1-212-753-5128) sent me this following note:
We have 2 Konica Hexar RF refurbished bodies left @ $699.99. We have Konica Hexar RF 3 lens kits (Kit contains a refurbished body with a new 50mm lens, 28mm lens, 90mm lens and the HX-18W flash) @ $1499.99. All new 3 lens set @ $1699.99. Or finally the New konica Hexar RF set (Body, 50mm & flash) @ $999.99
Finally, see this April 2002 discussion at <Greenspun.com: #008u13> for alternative places to buy just the RF body.
- There is a bit of moaning about the 0.6 magnification viewfinder, and how much less accurate this is when compared to a 0.72 M6 or worse, a 0.85 M6 HM. In practice however, real-world photographers report that the focus works just fine, even for exotic optics like the 75mm M Summilux or 50mm Noctilux used at non-macro distances.
- In September 2002 there was a detailed online discussion at <Photo.net: #003iOj>, about how to DIY adjust the Hexar RF's viewfinder vertical and infinity rangefinder alignment.
- An anoying thing is that the slowest manual speed is 1 second, when on auto it can run down to 16 seconds. Why not 16 for manual as well?
- Compatibility with Leica M lenses. This has become such a controversial issue that a separate topic has been created in this FAQ to discuss it in more detail.
- For a short while in early 2001 there was also a small panic about how the RF would disengage its rangefinder when using Leica M lenses at closest focus distances, especially for lenses which physically allowed focus closer than 0.7m. After a bit of investigation it turned out that some Leica M bodies also did this, and in fact it turns out to be a "feature" of all rangefinder cameras. The closer you focus, the more wobbly the rangefinder response. Hardly surprising really.
- At the 2001 PMA show at Orlando Florida, Konica showed off the new, limited edition Hexar RF Limited. Apparently only 2001 of these will be made and they all come with an "interesting" 50mm ƒ1.2 M-Hexanon lens. N.B. the only way you can buy this lens is by buying the limited edition camera! For a photo of the camera with quasi-Noctilux, see p.60 of US Popular Photography Magazine, May 2001, (vol.65 No.5).
- Want to read what real-world Hexar RF users have to say? Then check out <Greenspun.com: #0055C5> to read the April 2001 thread on the greenspun.com Lecia forum.
RF mailing lists
For those interested in discussing Hexar RF cameras, in April 2001 a couple of mailings lists were created. You can find out more via the following address: