Konica Autoreflex T2 and 57mm/f1.2 lens

I don’t need any more cameras
I don’t need any more cameras
I don’t need any more cameras
Oops. I bought another camera.

I was browsing in Tynemouth Market and after buying a book at a stall, I was about to move on when I saw an ever-ready case (or as some call them, a never-ready case). Opening the case revealed a Konica SLR – a range I wasn’t familiar with. What really surprised me was when I saw that the lens was f1.2. Not f2, not f1.8, not f1.4, but f1.2.

I’d never had a lens that fast, and to be honest I’d previously sold a couple of 50/f1.4 lenses because I never got anywhere close to using them wide open, and the wider the aperture the higher the price, other things being equal.

The shutter was reluctant to fire on first examination, but I thought it might just need new batteries, so I took a chance and bought the camera for £30.

This is one chunky camera. With the lens, it weighs about 1250g, of which 450g is the lens. Thats a lot to carry to provide 35mm images – I think my Yashicamat 124G weighs a little less and provides 6×6 images. I do generally prefer lighter cameras, the Olympus OM range being my preferred 35mm SLR system these days. However, there is some reassurance provided by the size of the camera; it makes me feel that I’m about to do something serious when I lift it out a bag.

As you can see from the images, it’s far from perfect cosmetically, and has likely been dropped at some point, without actually damaging the functionality.

It turns out that the key to getting the shutter firing, was not to replace the batteries, but just to take the existing batteries out. The camera, which dates from 1970-73, provided shutter-priority automatic exposure. The batteries used were mercury PX675, which are no longer available. I have a battery adaptor to allow modern batteries to be used with PX625 batteries, but the 675 batteries are a different shape. They are the same shape as LR44 batteries, which had been fitted; however LR44s provide the wrong voltage. In addition LR44s apparently do not consistently differ in their output from PX675s, so you can’t just adjust the ISO setting to compensate.

Since I’m very used to using cameras without meters (relying instead on an external meter or a smartphone app), I was happy to just do without batteries. The batteries are only needed for metering and everything else works fine without them.

So what about that big, wide, lens? Will I be able to sell it for £500, as some auction site sellers are doing ? The lens can be adapted to mirrorless which expands the potential number of buyers. Well, as soon as I got the lens home and examined it carefully, I could see it has some fungus, which is circled in the image below:

I’d never actually had a lens with fungus before, so didn’t know what to expect. I decided to put a short roll of Adox HR50 through the camera to test it. That roll didn’t show any obvious defects so I put another roll through. Here’s some example results.

So have I used the lens at that massive maximum aperture? Only once so far. There are two practical problems involved in doing so.

The first is having the right light – not too much of it! I made some test shots in the garden on a day with some cloud cover, and even using the camera’s top shutter speed of 1/1000s was about half a stop too slow for f1.2 I’d need a neutral density filter to use such a wide aperture on a regular basis.

The image above was taken at f1.2 and clearly indicates the other problem – the razor-thin depth of field at that aperture. According to https://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html, the depth of field with a subject distance of 30cm and aperture of f1.2 is just 0.74cm!

Increasing the subject distance to 2metres gives a depth of field of 8.85cm

At a subject distance of 3 meters, the depth of field would be 20.1cm.

For the type of pictures I generally take, that’s not a very practical amount of depth of field. I appreciate that this type of lens appeals more to those making portraits – although even then I don’t see how you could the eyes and nose in focus at the same time.

On the other hand I can imagine that there might be a possibility for a type of image I haven’t explored much in the past, with a more abstract look.

So in summary:

  • I like using the camera a lot as a manual exposure outfit, without batteries. I’ve added a lens hood and a Tamron Adaptall adaptor for the Konica AR mount so I can use my existing Adaptall lenses.
  • It was definitelty worth £30
  • I’m not in a hurry to spend money to have the lens professionally cleaned, as the fungus doesn’t seem to prevent practical useage. I am trying to give the lens time under the sun or a UV lamp to see if that prevents further growth.

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