Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 early EE version

Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR
35-100 mm / F2.8
early EE version
(upper rubber ring missing)

Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 late AE version

Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR
35-100 mm / F2.8
late AE version

Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8

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The Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 is a two-touch zoom with two separate rings for focal length adjustment and focusing. It was introduced during the period of the internal linkAutoreflex T3 – when zoom lenses of this focal length range were still in their infancy. The Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 is a huge and very heavy lens with a huge front element. The diameter of the filter thread is 82 mm! The lens does not change its overall length when focal length is changed, but the focusing point is shifting. After every adjustment of focal length it is necessary to re-focus – hence the designation Varifocal instead of Zoom. Probably it was not possible to get the constant speed of 1:2.8 with good image quality over the focal length range without this compromise.

You have to get used to this characteristics – when you have it in use for the first time, you will probably be turning the rings on the lens quite a lot, without really making the shot. But once you got accustomed to first setting the focal length and then go on to the focusing every time, the lens can be used just like any other.

Different from all other Konica zoom lenses, the front element does not rotate when focus is shifted.

At the time the Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 was introduced, the Konica lenses already had their final appearance with the rubberized focusing ring. Early versions still have the yellow EE mark, but most carry the green AE mark already. When some years later eventually a smallest aperture of 22 was introduced for the electronic bodies of the F series, the Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 was no longer being offered. Therefore only few downvariations of this lens exist.

Because of the varifocal construction, the closest focusing depends on the focal length – approx. 0.27 m (105/8") at 35 mm focal length and 1 m (1 ft 33/8") at 100 mm focal length. Over the complete focal length range, the rule applies: the longer the focal length, the longer the closest focusing distance.

The Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 has an astounding good image quality for its time. The images are sharp and contrasty. There is only weak barrel distortion in the wide-angle range and very little pincushion distortion in the telephoto range, which is not even too obvious with straight lines along the frame edges. The vignetting in the wide angle range also stays in tight limits. Because of the fast speed, the viewfinder image is sufficiently bright, precise focusing usually is no problem.

Despite the huge, not recessed front element, the lens is not especially sensitive to stray light. The use of a matching lens hood to avoid loss of contrast because of stray light is recommended nonetheless, if you can find one in the huge size needed. Originally, a matching rectangular metal lens hood with velvet lining on the inner side was supplied with the lens. Due to the large front element diameter, this lens hood is huge.

Lens hood Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8

Lens hood Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR
35-100 mm / F2.8 with case
to the right a hood for 24/28 mm lens for size comparison

Beside the lens hood, the lens came with the Konica-typical case and a big metal lens cap for the front.

Case Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8

Case Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR
35-100 mm / F2.8

Front cap Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8

Front cap Konica Varifocal Hexanon AR
35-100 mm / F2.8

The Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 cannot completely replace a fast standard lens, if only because of its huge size and heavy weight – the lens is simply too big and heavy to carry it with you all the time. Another problem is the huge filter size, which makes the filters needed very expensive.

The focal length range from moderate wide angle to moderate telephoto makes the lens a real all-rounder. Compared to the more frequently used 35-70 mm lenses, the greater telephoto range is a real advantage, if you look for versatility.

The Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8 was very expensive when new, therefore it is a rare lens, and not easy to get. Because of collector's interest it fetches quite high prices. Because of its size and high price, it is not first choice as a user's lens nowadays. If you have one, use it – you can definitely get good results with this dinosaur.

Variations
Lens data
Angle of view: 63-24
Construction: 15 elements in 10 groups
Aperture: Fully automatic AE, smallest aperture 16
Closest focusing: 0.27 m (105/8") at 35 mm focal length
1 m (1ft 33/8") at 100 mm focal length
Filter thread: 82 mm
Length (at ∞): 140 mm (51/2")
Weight: 1.100 g 2 lb 613/16 oz)
1.090 g (2 lb 67/16 oz)
Lens hood: Metal, 84 mm rectangular clamp-on
Lens diagram: Lens diagram Varifocal Hexanon AR 35-100 mm / F2.8
More pages on the Konica Hexanon and Hexar lenses:

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