Konica Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5
The Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 is a two-touch zoom with two separate rings for focal length adjustment and focusing. It was introduced in 1985 together with the TC-X, and was often sold together with this body as a bundle. It superseded the older Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F4, which also was a two-touch zoom. The Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 is a small and very lightweight lens. The lens barrel is completely made out of plastic, no longer metal. Therefore, it has an awkwardly unbalanced feeling to it on the old heavy bodies up to and including the Autoreflex T3N.
The lens changes its overall length when the focal length is changed – the shorter the focal length, the longer the lens. As on almost every Konica zoom lens, the front element rotates when focus is shifted, making the use with polarizers and gradated filters a bit cumbersome.
The Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 was probably the last SLR lens that was introduced by Konica, before they abandoned the SLR line in 1987.
As far as I know, the Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 is the only Konica lens that uses aspherical plastic lenses, that have been a newly developed technology back then – the aspherical back element of this lens is not made out of glass, so that you should be extremely careful to avoid scratches when cleaning this element.
As the Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 was built only for about two years, no changes were applied to this lens, there is only one variation. All these lenses are of the latest style with plastic lens barrel, a smallest aperture 22 and the green AE mark with the rectangular AE lock button.
The Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 has a provision for close-ups. In normal use, it focuses down to 0.8 m (2 ft 71/2"), when set to macro mode on the focal length ring, the minimum distance can be shortened to 0.35 m (1 ft 13/4"). This enables the lens to do some nice close-ups, but the close-up function does not suffice for real macro shots.
When the lens was introduced to the market, the average quality of zoom lenses had already been dramatically improved copared to the standards of the 70s.
The Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 has good image quality for its time. Images are sharp and quite contrasty. There is some barrel distortion in the wide-angle range that can be seen with straight lines along the image edges and a very weak pincushion distortion in the telephoto range that is not too obvious even with straight lines along the image edges. Vignetting in the wide-angle range stays in acceptable limits. Because of the relatively slow speed, the viewfinder image ist a bit dark and precise focusing is often difficult due to darkened split-image or microprism. The pre-predecessor Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5 is said to be of better optical quality, but I never had a possibility to compare the lenses so far.
The lens was delivered together with a matching round plastic lens shade. However, this lens shade is too shallow and does not provide adequate protection – a common problem with zoom lenses covering both wide angle and telephoto ranges.
Zoom lenses in this focal length range and with comparable speed have been very popular at the time, many manufacturers sold these lenses in a bundle as the only lens together with their camera bodies. In my opinion, such a zoom lens cannot replace a fast standard lens, the limitations caused by the slower speed are too strong.
Although the Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5-4.5 was only built for two years, it can be found without difficulties, mostly in combination with a TC-X body. Sold for itself it fetches prices in the middle range, it is neither very cheap nor an expensive collector's item. If you want a zoom lens that covers the range from moderate wide angle to moderate telephoto with a decent image quality and low weight, this lens will serve you well. The optically better – especially concerning distortions – predecessor Zoom-Hexanon AR 35-70 mm / F3.5 is much more difficult to get and you have to pay higher prices for this lens.
|Angle of view:||63°-34°|
|Construction:||8 elements in 8 groups
back element is an aspherical plastic lens
|Aperture:||Fully automatic AE, smallest aperture 22|
|Closest focusing:||0.8 m (2 ft 71/2"), in macro mode 0.35 m (1 ft 13/4")|
|Filter thread:||55 mm|
|Length (at ∞ and 70 mm focal length):||59 mm (25/16")|
|Weight:||215 g (75/8 oz)|
|Lens hood:||Plastic, 55 mm round screw-in (delivered with lens)|