Konica FP-1

Konica FP-1

The FP-1, introduced in 1981, is the only SLR camera with program mode ever built by Konica – all other Konica SLRs are either completely manual (with the old »F« bayonet) or have shutter priority AE, where the shutter speed is set manually by the user and the camera sets the aperture accordingly.

The problem is: the FP-1 has only program mode – there is no possibility to change shutter speed or aperture for the user. Demanding photography is not really possible this way, because the user can't influence the exposure or depth-of-field – the FP-1 is in use just like a fully automatic point-and-shoot camera.

It is possible to attach an external motor to the FP-1, the internal linkKonica Auto Winder F. This winder is rather big and not very fast (about 1.5 frames/s). The Auto Winder F fits the internal linkFC-1 also. The internal linkAuto Winder AR, made for the internal linkAutoreflex T4 does not fit on the electronic bodies of the »F« series.

Like the other bodies of the »F« series, the FP-1 is a camera with an electronically controlled shutter. It needs electic power for any function, without battery it is not possible to trigger the shutter.

The camera controls are very sparse because of the missing adjustment possibilities. There is only a on / off switch, a self timer, the winding lever, and the film speed dial around the rewind crank. Shutter release and self timer are not mechanical, but electric buttons, the shutter release only needs a gentle touch with very low pressure, so that the risk of camera shake is low. For remote release of the FP-1, no normal cable release can be used. Like on the other electronic bodies of the »F« series, an electric remote release is necessary, that fits into the accessory socket on the right side of the camera body (seen from front).

The viewfinder of the FP-1 is bright and clear, the mat plane is equipped with a split-image rangefinder surrounded by a microprism ring. As all camera settings are automatically selected by the program anyway, the viewfinder indications are extremely simple. Only a green and a red LED show whether or not a correct exposure is possible within the range of shutter speeds and apertures the program can choose from.

The exposure program of the FP-1 controls the shutter speed in small steps of 1/3 exposure values in the range between 1/30 s and 1/1000 s, but it can use only three aperture settings – 2.8, 5.6 or 11. So the program cannot benefit from fast lenses with a maximum aperture wider than 1:2.8. If another aperture is desired and the aperture ring on the lens is moved out of the »AE« position, the camera automatically sets to a shutter speed of 1/100 s, leaving no choice for different settings.

When a Konica system flash of the types X-18 Auto, X-24 Auto, or X-36 Auto is used with the FP-1, the camera sets automatically to a shutter speed of 1/100 s and to the aperture set on the flash unit – depending on the switch setting on the flash either 5.6 or 11. Exposure is controlled by the flash's thyristor, that switches off the flash after the amount of light necessary for a correct exposure has hit the sensor. For demanding flash photography this is not sophisticated enough, but for correctly exposed snapshots at the family reunion the flash control of the FP-1 is good enough. With other flashes the camera automatically sets to a shutter speed of 1/100 s as soon as the aperture ring on the lens is moved away from the »AE« position, the exposure has then to be determined manually by the aperture setting in this case.

Quite ingenious is the film loading system of the FP-1, taken over from the FC-1. Put the film cartridge in the camera, pull the film tip to the other side, close the back, actuate the transport lever several times until it blocks – ready. The camera takes the film tip automatically and there is no need to fire the shutter until the first frame is reached. A very simple and fast solution, without any annoying fiddling. The system is quite fool-proof, you have to deliberately try to make a mistake if you want the camera not to load the film properly.

The back of the FP-1 is interchangeable – but as far as I know, there were no alternative backs available in Konica's accessory line-up.

The FP-1 was available only in black.

Different from the mechanical predecessors, the FP-1 does no longer use mercury oxyde batteries. As power supply serves an easily obtainable alkaline battery of type 4LR44 (Eveready 537) or silver oxyde battery of type 4SR44 (Eveready 544). These last a long time, but without or with empty batteries, a FP-1 is doing nothing at all, no photos can be taken. Therefore it is a good idea to always have a fresh battery with you.

The door of the battery compartment is a bit fragile. When opening it for loading or removing of batteries, you should be careful not to damage the door.

Beware:

The actuator for the coupling of the aperture mechanism is built differently on the electronic cameras of the »F«-series (internal linkFS-1, internal linkFC-1, internal linkFP-1, and internal linkFT-1), the mechanically stressed parts are weaker than those in the mechanical bodies of the »Autoreflex«-series. This can lead to strong wear of the parts in the camera body together with the Adaptall-2-mounts of external linkTamron lenses and can destroy the aperture coupling mechanism in the long run.

The reason for the heavy wear seems to be the rather strong tension of the aperture springs in the Tamron adapter, there is too much stress for the new mechanism of the »F«-series. Maybe the problem became evident only after the production stop of the Konica SLR boedies, because Tamron never changed their Adaptall-2 mounts.

With only once-in-a-while use of the Tamron Adaptall-2 mounts on the camera bodies of the »F«-series quite likely nothing will happen - I have taken a lot of photos with my FS-1 and Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses without having any problems ever. But beware: with regular use you could damage your camera.

On all mechanical Konica SLR bodies, theTamron Adaptall-2 mounts can be used freely without problems.

Differently from most Konica SLRs (except the internal linkFC-1 and the internal linkTC-X) the back of the FP-1 opens when pulling up the rewind crank, not by a separate mechanism at the side of the camera.

All in all, the FP-1 is a quite exotic camera. A SLR, that has no adjustment controls at all is at least unusual. It was not a big success – people who did not need to take any influence on exposure settings rather did go for automatic point-and-shoot cameras than for a SLR, because they were more handy and cheaper. The FP-1 is thus quite rare today and difficult to find – but for more demanding photography, you would be looking for a different camera body anyway.

More pages on the FP-1:

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