In the mid-70s, there was a strong trend towards smaller and lighter SLR cameras. Konica could not stand aside and introduced the Autoreflex TC in the spring of 1976. In Japan sold as ACOM-1, it is a completely new developed camera that is a lot smaller and lighter than all previously built SLRs from Konica – the F and the Autoreflex series. The body of the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 used many plastic parts for weight and cost savings, but the frame is still made of metal. The top cover with the prism housing and on later models the bottom plate also are completely cast from black plastic. This was quite daring at this time, but did not damage the success of the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1. The plastic used is very resistant and looks well even after long usage. With the leatherette used on the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1, Konica was less lucky. It tends to shrink strongly, which looks quite ugly on some cameras. Anyway, this is only a cosmetical fault and has no influence on proper function. The same leatherette was used later on the Autoreflex T4 as well.
The Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 was available only in black.
There are several versions of the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1: The early models have the old upper-case only Konica logo on the prism housing. Later models have the newer Konica logo with mixed upper- and lower-case letters. Apart from that, there were some more, less obvious changes over time:
The first change seems to have been the back snatch lock. While the upper-case logo was still in use, it changed from a metal part with leatherette inlay to a plastic part.
The next change seem to have been film guides inside the camera body, also while the old, upper-case logo was still in use. There are upper case logo Autoreflex TC / Acom-1 with both older and newer types of film guides.
The third change seem to have been the switch-over from old upper case logo to newer lower case logo on top cover.
Last change was the new bottom plate. So far a metal plate with a punched serial no. on camera bottom, it now became a plastic part with the serial no. moved to the back side of the camera and filled with white ink. There are Autoreflex TC / Acom-1 with lower case logo with both metal bottom plates and plastic bottom plates.
The Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 was designed as an entry-level model and was sold for a competitive price. It has limited features. The slowest shutter speed on the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 is 1/8 second (and B), it has no depth-of-field preview, and no multiple exposure provision. The Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 has been sold in large quantities and is therefore quite often offered for sale second-hand. The cameras are not as well-equipped as their predecessors, but as they are mostly very cheap, they are an incredible bargain and good value for the money. For normal everyday hobby photography or as cheap second body for using differnt films, the features suffice, as the slow shutter speeds are not used very often. As it is small and light, it is very well suited for travel photography, to take it with you on a hike or a bicycle tour.
The Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 has an improved and brighter viewfinder, which is equipped with split-image focussing and microprism ring.
Especially for Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1, a new version of the Konica Hexanon AR 50mm / F1.7 was developped. It is smaller and lighter than the earlier version, but it has no half-stop clicks any more for the aperture setting. This lens – one of the optically best 50mm lenses of its time – is a real jewel. From 1979 onward – with introduction of the FS-1 – the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 was also equipped with the FS-1's standard lens, the likewise legendary Konica Hexanon AR 40mm / F1.8 pancake lens.
Although many plastic parts were used, the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 is a rugged camera and takes abuse well. A new version of the Copal vertical travelling metal focal plane shutter, the CCS-M, was used in the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1. It is just as long-living and cold weather-resistant as the previously used Copal Square-S.
Like many other cameras from this era, the Autoreflex TC / ACOM-1 uses mercury oxyde batteries for the light meter (2x type PX625). These batteries are not manufactured any more for environmental reasons and become more and more difficult to get. The usage of silver oxyde or alkaline batteries of the same size causes wrong meter readings, because these batteries have different voltages. There are several possibilities to fix this problem. You can find more information on the subject of mercury oxyde batteries if you follow the link.