Previously, I got into the Konica SLR lens as they are cheap and plentiful. The only Konica SLR that I had, FT-1, wasn’t that great of a camera, so I shot only on the Olympus XA2. Over the years, I obtained more Konica SLR bodies (always came with a nice lens), but none of them were fully functional. These including the A3 and the FT-1. While I enjoyed the awesome Olympus XA2, the automatic mode that made the camera easy also blocks much creativity. I could never get a bokeh swirl in the background, and forget about shooting weird IR films. The fixed focal length also wouldn’t be great for anything outside of simple landscape and street photography. I didn’t bother with portraits or long telephoto shots. Heck, the camera cries when I try to shoot fast film, so there is no playing with Kodak T-Max P3200.
After years of hanging out in the analog subreddit, I learned a few things here and there. People seems to dislike some labs, or a certain film company (cough, Fuji, cough). Also, there is a legendary Konica expert who lives in Nebraska. After counting my pennies, I decided that I’ll trade in the A3 and repair the FT-1, as it seems like FT-1 is much lighter and smarter than the fully mechanical A3. Covid-19 and personal issues delayed the repair by a significant amount of time, but I received a fully operational FT-1, the first working SLR I have ever touched. Time to get shooting!
The great news is, I have a line of excellent Konica lens, including some wide angles and slightly tele lens. I did not use anything that is too long and do not own any fish eyes, but otherwise I’m not restricted creatively. Since there are no DX reader, I can trick the camera’s light meter for the settings I’m interested in. Not only that, there is also a +/-2 compensation dial that I use to deal with expired film. Heck, the camera can’t even stop me if I want to overexpose or underexpose – the light meter will just blink crazily on the “m” sign, indicating it is not responsible for the bad image. The camera can shoot continuous at 2 frames per second but I will never blow film that way, especially with the current prices. There is a 10 second timer useful for selfies but I have not used it. Konica SLRs come with shutter priority modes, which will adjust the aperture based on the shutter speed that is set on the camera. I’m primarily full manual shooter, but having shutter priority is a nice crutch that I rely on when I’m out in the streets. (General consensus seem to like aperture priority mode, but I prefer my images to be under/overexposed than to have motion blur.
Handling wise, FT-1 is amazing. Camera is light, viewfinder is large and bright. The split screen and microprism can be difficult to use for objects that are far away, but that isn’t a problem isolated to the Konica cameras. I have always wondered if the ISO button did anything as it looked flimsy, but there is some black magic involved to change the setting in the light meter automatically. The design is typical of a 80s DSLR, with silver top and black leather on the rest of the metallic body. The light meter is extremely accurate and I have not get a wrongly exposed shot. Finally, the motor driver is excellent, which will move the frame to the next shot automatically. However, there is no rewind button so manual cranking is required.
Konica is the only SLR system that I’ve used, and I’m extremely content with the camera body and lens selection. I do not understand the hype of Pentax and Canon over Konica, which is great because the prices are still affordable for Konica lens. Well… the really good ones (the one marked with UC) are not affordable, but all other Hexanon lens are still easy to find and can be had for a few dollars. I’m happy with my setup, and will continue to shoot the Konica FT-1 until it dies for good, maybe then I’ll upgrade to a more luxurious SLR line. Until then, all hail the Konica!