The name ‘Konica’ is a shortened version of Konishiroku Photo Industry Co.Ltd., Japan. Konishiroku was the world’s oldest photo manufacturer, even older than Kodak and was founded in 1873 to make photo-sensitive materials.
It subsequently started making cameras and after the second world war, came out with a line of excellent rangefinder cameras and very good SLRs.
The Konica F introduced in 1960 was the world’s first SLR to have a top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec and came with a selenium exposure meter. It also introduced into the market, the Konica bayonet mount. The Konica F also offered a fast flash synchronization speed of 1/125 sec.
In 1966, the first of the Konica Auto Reflex cameras appeared. The Konica Auto Reflex was the first focal plane shutter SLR with automatic exposure control by way of Shutter Priority. It was also the first SLR whose picture format could be mechanically switched from full frame to half frame. The Autoreflex T followed in 1968 and omitted the half frame switching system of its predecessor. Both the Autoreflex and and the Autoreflex T required considerable pressure to activate the shutter release and this was a common criticism voiced by users of that period. Nevertheless, the Autoreflex T was the first focal plane shutter SLR with TTL metering, automatic exposure control using Shutter Priority. The Autoreflex T was followed by the T2, T3, T3N and T4 (in 1978). The T4 was similar to the Autoreflex T C which was a compact SLR with a fixed pentaprism offering split-image rangefinder and microprism collar for full focussing.
In 1979, the Konica FS-1 became the first SLR not to have the customary film advance lever; instead once the shutter was pressed, the film advanced automatically. Loading of the film was automatic also. The FS-1 was followed by the FC-1 and the FP-1.
Konica’s last SLR was the FT-1 in 1983. The FT-1 offered both automatic and manual exposure control and automatic film transport.
Konica’s lenses were known as Hexanon lenses and offered good optical quality. At one time, there were as many as 23 lenses in the Hexanon range.
Konica apparently gave up the manufacture of SLRs to concentrate on film and video. As it turned out, film also had a finite life and was soon overtaken in the 21st century by digital technology. Konica merged with Minolta in order to gain competitive strength. However, the partnership did not last long and Konica Minolta withdrew from the camera industry in the early part of the 21st century.
H. S. Billimoria