The X-36 Auto is a big and powerful, thyristor-controlled handle-mounted system electronic strobe for the Konica SLR system with a guide number of 36 (metric) / 120 (feet) at ISO 100/21°. Flash power can be controlled steplessly, down to a guide number of 4.5.
For power supply, the X-36 Auto needs six AA batteries, the battery compartment is in the back side of the flash's head. The complete battery compartment is removable from the flash for easy loading. An external power supply was available as optional accessory, for use of the flash without batteries.
The X-36 Auto was delivered with a matching bracket, onto which the camera body can be screwed by the tripod socket. The mounting of the flash can be tilted in vertical direction, with click stops at 0°, 30°, 60°, and 90°. In horizontal direction, the handle mount of the flash can be turned freely in the mount ring.
The connection to the camera body is usually established by a fixed spiral cable with an insert for the hot shoe. This insert houses the hot shoe and system flash contacts as well as the light sensor for the exposure control of the flash. When mounted on the camera body, the sensor always points in the same direction as the lens, regardless if the flash is tilted or swiveled. This way, the automatic exposure control of the flash works with bounced flash also. On the right side of the flash's head, when seen from behind, is a shoe where the hot shoe insert can be fastened, when it is not mounted on the camera.
Beside firing the flash over the hot shoe contact, the X-36 Auto has an additional socket for a synch cable. On one side, it is plugged into the camera's X-synch PC socket, on the other side into the socket on the hot shoe insert's foot. A matching cable was available as an accessory.
On the rear of the flash's head, the on/off switch is located. Beside it, there is a button for test firing, which also serves as flash ready indicator and is lit when the flash is ready for shooting. The selector for exposure modes is also located on the rear, as is the socket for the optional external power supply.
On top of the flash's head is a dial, showing combinations of distances and apertures for correct exposure in dependance on film speed as well as flash distance ranges for the automatic modes. The scales are showing the values for full flash power. This dial is coupled to the optional wide adapter, it shows values corrected for the light loss when the wide adapter is mounted.
On the left side, seen from behind, the turnable regulator for flash power in manual mode is located. Beside it is a PC socket, into which the synch cable for another flash can be plugged for simultaneous use of two flashes.
The X-36 Auto was introduced contemporary to the FS-1, which was the first Konica body to offer system flash functions. It was offered until the SLR line was abandoned altogether. Despite the rather long sale period, it is very rare.
Automatic flash exposure
With the electronic bodies FS-1, FC-1, FP-1, and FT-1, the X-36 Auto system flash controls the camera's electronics by two additional contacts in the flash shoe. When the flash is in automatic mode, the camera automatically sets to a shutter speed of 1/100 s and to an aperture preset on the flash, if the aperture ring on the mounted lens is in AE position. On the flash, two aperture values can be set: 5.6 (green) or 11 (red). Exposure is controlled by a thyristor in the flash's hot shoe insert, which switches off the flash when the amount of light needed for correct exposure has hit the sensor. The film speed set on the camera is automatically communicated to the flash. After exposure, the camera automatically switches to normal AE mode until the flash is ready to fire again. Subsequently, the exposure control is once again taken over by the flash. The range of usable film speeds for automatic modes reaches from ISO 25/18° to ISO 800/30°.
For demanding flash photography, the Konica flash system is not sophisticated enough. You are better off with manual flash exposure control, as that leaves you with many more possibilities to influence the result. For correctly exposed snapshots on a family reunion, the Konica flash system is certainly good enough.
On the X-36 Auto, the automatic function can be switched off and the flash can be used in completely manual mode.
The automatic exposure controlled by the thyristor can also be used on manual bodies that do not offer the dedicated flash functions of the electronic bodies. Shutter speed and matching aperture must be set manually on the camera in this case. Because the X-36 Auto does not know the speed of the film in use, the film speed has also to be considered when selecting the aperture. The automatic exposure control of the flash is assuming an ISO 100/21° film. With an ISO 400/27° film and the green setting on the flash (aperture 5.6), you would have to set an aperture of 11 on the lens.
Use with wide angle lenses
The lighting angle of the X-36 Auto flash is 60° horizontally and 45° vertically – wide enough to properly illuminate the angle of view of a 35 mm lens. If the flash is to be used with a 28 mm or 24 mm lens, the wide adapter should be used, which was available as an accessory. This wide adapter diminishes the brightness of the flash and reduces the guide number to about 21 (metric) / 70 (feet) at ISO 100/21° at full flash power. This is about 12/3 f-stops light loss, so in manual mode you have to open the apertue by almost 2 stops compared to the setting without wide adapter. The dial which shows combinations of distances and apertures for correct exposure in dependance on film speed is coupled with the wide apapter – it shows values already compensated for the light loss when the wide adapter is mounted.
For the X-36 Auto, some optional accessories were available:
- Synch cable
- Wide adapter
- External power supply
- Remote release; is mounted with a matching ring on the handle of the X-36 Auto flash and connected to the camera body's accessory port by a spiral cable. With this part, you can release the shutter from the flash, making use of flash separated from the camera body much easier.