Konica Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 splined metal focussing ring

Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2
early version

Konica Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 focussing ring with rubber inlay

Konica Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2
late version

Konica Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2

downLens data | downVariations | internal linkLens overview

The Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 is Konica's fastest lens in the line-up for the SLRs, together with its predecessor Hexanon AR 58 mm / F1.2. It was available in the late sixties contemporary to the internal linkAutoreflex T for the internal linkAR bayonet. With its widest aperture of 1:1.2 it is about half a stop faster than the standard lenses with 1:1.4 and about a full stop faster than the budget standard lenses with 1:1.7 and 1:1.8 apertures, respectively. For the old internal linkF bayonet, no lens with such a high speed had been available. Here, the internal linkHexanon 52 mm / F1.4 was the fastest lens in the line-up.

All variations of the Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 have a fully automatic aperture.

The lens has been available until the SLR line was discontinued altogether by Konica, therefore some different downvariations do exist.

Some sources consider the Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 to be the best lens of this speed ever made by anyone. I cannot judge this, because I have never used another lens of equal speed by a different manufacturer – certainly, the Hexanon does provide good image quality despite of its enormous speed, especially in respect of sharpness and contrast. No vignetting and no pincushion or barrel distortions are visible in the images. Sharpness is slightly weaker than with the internal linkHexanon AR 50 mm / F1.4 wide open, but still absolutely satisfying for a lens so super-fast.

In my opinion, the lens's colour renditions ist not particularly good. All samples of the Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1,2 that I have seen showed a strong, yellowish colour cast that was clearly visible even in the viewfinder.

To obtain the high speed, huge elements are necessary. Because of this, the lens is quite a lot heavier and bigger than other standard lenses with slower speeds. In addition, the lens needs bigger filters with a filter thread diameter of 62 mm due to its large front element.

Out-of-focus highlights at image edge

Out-of-focus highlights
at image edge
(enlarged detail)

In addition to the yellowish colour cast, there is another draw-back for the Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 as compared to the slower counterparts; the open diameter of the Konica AR bayonet is not wide enough to support the speed of the lens with its huge back element, the coupling for the widest aperture is obstructing parts of the lens's back element. This causes the circles of confusion of out-of-focus highlights to be clipped with wide-open aperture, so that they are no longer round. This can be quite disturbing with some subjects.

The difference in speed compared to a standard lens with 1:1.4 is about half a stop – this is nowhere near as important as it used to be at a time where the fastest colour film available was Kodachrome 25. In dusk or dawn or in closed rooms it still can be the decisive bit to enable for hand-held images without camera shake.

The Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 is much rarer than the other, slower standard lenses. Because of its rarity and because it is being much sought-after for its tremendous speed, it is rather expensive compared to other Konica lenses. In relation to a Hexanon AR 50 mm / F1.4 the average price will be about tenfold.

Regarding the high price, the heavy weight and the problematics with the yellowish colour cast and out-of-focus background highlights, a slightly slower standard lens will mostly be the better choice. To buy a Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 is only worthwile if you really do need the additional speed of this lens. Otherwise, you'll be better of with a internal linkHexanon AR 50 mm / F1.4 in all aspects.

Lens data
Angle of view: 42°
Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups
Aperture: Fully automatic AE, smallest aperture 16
Closest focusing: 0.45 m (1 ft 53/4")
Filter thread: 62 mm
Length (at ∞): 50 mm (2")
Weight: 460 g (1 lb 1/4 oz)
Lens hood: 62 mm round screw-in
Lens diagram: Lens diagram Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2
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