Konica-Minolta – formed in 2003 with the merger of formerly independent Konica and Minolta companies – was one of the biggest manufacturers of film material, cameras, and fotocopiers in the world up to 2006. Konica has been world's fourth largest film manufacturer for decades, behind Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa. Until the merger, both Konica and Minolta still made analog and digital compact cameras in large quantities. Minolta also made analog and digital SLR cameras. The digital Konica-Minolta SLR models were successors of Minolta models. On January 19th, 2006, Konica-Minolta suddenly and inexpectedly announced to move out of the photo business for good, after they had launched a restructuring program for this business only a couple of months earlier. So they did until end of 2006. The film business (films, mini labs, laboratory machines) was closed completely. The camera business was sold to Sony, who were particularly interested in Konica-Minolta's digital SLR technology. So a long history of manufacturing cameras, lenses, film and other consumables has finally ended in 2006.
The well-established company – founded back in 1860 under the name Konishi Honten and part of the photographic business from the very start – has had a big share in the development of photographic technology for decades and could outshine many of the competitors with spectacular inventions more than once. Some outstanding examples are one of the earliest 35mm SLR with fully automatic exposure (Auto-Reflex, 1965/66), the first point-and-shoot 35mm camera with auto-focus (C35 AF, 1977) or the first 35mm SLR with built-in winder (FS-1, 1978/79).
Being one of the more important Japanese camera manufacturers, Konica also has made 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) cameras between 1960 and 1987. Although these cameras certainly belong to the the better products that left Japans camera workshops and some of them were extremely innovative, they could never keep pace with Nikon, Pentax or Canon in terms of sold items, at least in Europe. The Konicas always stayed underestimated and never gained a big prestige factor.
When the selling numbers of SLR cameras of all manufacturers decreased during the early 80s, Konica withdrew from this market and stopped the production of the SLR line in 1987.
Why these pages on Konica SLRs?
There is a simple answer to this question: Cause I like 'em ;-). But seriously: although Konica could only conquer a small piece of the market, the cameras did not need to hide behind their competitors. Today, almost 20 years after the last Konica SLR has been produced, one can say that they withstood the test of time. Of impressive quality are especially the old mechanical Autoreflex-SLRs, many are still working in everyday usage without ever having seen a service technician in 25 and more years – these cameras are nearly indestructable. The newer, electronically controlled models are not as sturdily built, but have proofed their quality, solid built, and reliability as well.
The biggest plus of the Konica SLR system is the outstanding quality of the Konica Hexanon lenses. The image quality of these lenses is mostly absolutely first-class, they don't fall back behind more prestigeous competitors like the Nikkors. Even 20 years after production of Hexanon lenses for the Konica bayonet ceased, many expensive, modern, and computer-aided design lens has difficulties to keep up to the image quality of these veterans. During their production period, the Konica Hexanan lenses have been the standard of the Japanese Industry Ministry, used to judge the quality of produced lenses from other manufacturers.
The camera bodies are good – but the main reason to decide for a Konica SLR are the lenses.
For me, there are sentimental reasons for the Konicas as well – my first own camera, that my parents gave me as a gift at age 14, was a Autoreflex TC with the outstanding Hexanon AR 40mm / F1.8 lens. A faithful companion, that has been with me many years in many places all over Europe on the motorcyle and that never let me down until today.
What do I find here?
On these pages are informations about the 35mm SLR cameras of Konica and about the Konica Hexanon and Hexar lenses as well as other system accessories that belong to this SLR system. Features, technical data, user's manuals, and a lot of images. Additionally, you'll find some personal reviews and opinions, and hopefully some useful tips – for example about the mercury oxyde battery problem or about second-hand buying or simple repairs that you can do for yourself. The emphasis is on the SLRs with the newer »AR« bayonet, I'm not too well informed about the first »F«-series SLRs with the early bayonet.
What you will not find here are informations or data about other cameras or lenses, not even about the rangefinder or point-and-shoot cameras from Konica or about Minolta cameras, which have been sold under the Konica-Minolta brand since the merger. You cannot buy or sell anything here. No cameras, no lenses, no accessories – I'm a user and certainly some sort of collector, but no dealer. As I'm not a camera technician also, you will not find a repair service here for your faulty camera.
The whole project is far from being ready now, I hope to be able to close the remaining gaps one by one. But this being a completely non-commercial, pure hobby projekt, please apologize when this does not happen quickly enough!
And now have a lot of fun rummaging these pages!