Camera History – Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

The Konica Autoreflex T, launched in 1968, was the first camera with fully automatic exposure control through the lens (TTL). Both features, in their own right, already existed before: the fully automatic exposure control with built-in light meter on the Konica Auto-Reflex, the exposure metering through the lens on the Topcon RE Super / Super D and the Spotmatic series from Pentax. But the combination of both was new. Back then, fully automatic exposure control was a very advanced feature of SLR cameras, other manufacturers were still unable to offer this option a decade later, and until the end of the 1970s fully automatic exposure control was not a matter of course.

For more about this iconic camera and a visual journey around it continue after the jump….

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica (コニカ Konika) was a Japanese manufacturer of film, film cameras, camera accessories, photographic and photo-processing equipment, photocopiers, fax machines and laser printers. The company merged with its Japanese competitor Minolta back in 2003, with the new company named Konica Minolta.

The Autoreflex T is the camera that established Konica firmly on the map of SLR manufacturers in the late 1960’s. Solid, dependable, refined, with full manual or EE auto exposure. In addition to the automatic exposure with shutter speed priority, there is a button for depth of field assessment, a fairly bright viewfinder image and a mirror lock-up feature (can be activated by using the self timer switch on the front).

Like all the “big” cameras from Konica’a Autoreflex series, the  T model is quite large in its dimensions and, especially compared to modern camera designs, quite heavy. The Copal Square-S metal focal-plane shutter is also quite loud, I wouldn’t use it in a church to shoot a wedding. The T is built like a tank, weighing almost one kilogram with the 1.8 Hexanon lens, extremely robust, tolerates rough treatment without complaint and works reliably even in very cold conditions.

Konica Autoreflex T2

In 1970 the Autoreflex T (marketed in Japan as FTA, in Germany as Revue Autoreflex TTL) was replaced by the improved Autoreflex T2 (the model shown here). As the upgrades were only minor, however, the change is not reflected in the designation on the camera, the Autoreflex T2 (NEW FTA in Japan) also bears only the inscription Autoreflex T – therefore the two models are often confused. The T2 can be easily identified by its on-off switch on the top enclosing the shutter button  (on the original T the switch was on the back side) and the distinctive double-row corrugated shutter speed dial.

The Autoreflex T2 / New FTA is available in chrome-black and black only, the chrome-black version is much more common.

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

The Autoreflex T came with one of Konica’s legendary Hexanon prime lenses. The optical quality of most Hexanon lenses is regarded as truly superb, particularly the older fixed-focal length (prime) lenses, like this 52mm f/1.8.  Hexanon lenses were used by the Japanese government as the standard against which all other lenses were measured.

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

I own the camera with the serial number 322130. I saw it advertised on a local add portal, someone living just a few streets away was selling stuff from an inheritance. Unfortunately, the seller could not provide any history to the camera, regarding where it was bought and who had owned it. He wanted 49 EUR for it, I offered 30 (about 36 USD) and he accepted. For an iconic SLR camera with a prime lens,  in a great shape (as you can see from these photos) and supposedly in working condition, this is not a bad deal. And definitely will get myself a film and take it for a spin onto the Streets of Nuremberg. I also found and downloaded a vintage owners manual from the web. And in any case this huge, almost 50 years old Japanese SLR is a nice deco object.

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T2

There is a little caveat operating the T2 today. Like many cameras from this era, the Autoreflex T2 uses mercury oxide batteries for the light meter (2x type PX675). These batteries are no longer allowed to be produced for environmental reasons and are becoming increasingly scarce. The use of silver oxide batteries or even alkaline batteries of the same size (SR 44 or LR 44 – mostly used in hearing aids) leads to incorrect measurements because these battery types have different voltages. Getting the light meter recalibrated does not make sense economically. You can compensate by adjusting the ISO by a step or two (depending on the film you use) or simply use an external light meter to determine the correct exposure.

Konica Autoreflex T2

Konica Autoreflex T Specifications 

  • Produced 1968-70 (T) and 1970-72 (T2)
  • Film type 135 (35mm)
  • Picture size 24mm x 36mm
  • Weight 26oz (737g) body only; 34oz (964g) with F/1.8 52mm lens
  • Lens Konica bayonet mount Hexanon AR 1.8/52mm (6 elements in 5 groups)
  • Filter size 55mm
  • Focal range 18″ to infinity
  • Shutter Hi-Synchro Copal Square S (metal focal plane)
  • Shutter speeds B, 1-1/1000
  • Viewfinder SLR
  • Exposure meter Center-weighted battery-operated TTL dual CdS metering with match needle
  • EV Range 1.5 – 18 @ ASA 100
  • ASA range 25-1600
  • Battery two PX675 (for light meter and EE function)
  • Self-timer

All photos were taken by me with the Olympus PEN-F and the mZuiko 25mm F/1.8, the macro shots with the mZuiko 60mm 1:2.8 Macro.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip into camera history!

Wish you a great Thursday!

Marcus

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24 comments

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing your film photos, and interested in seeing what this Konica can do in the hands of a great photographer. To pay for our film photography hobby, we buy and sell some film cameras, but have never owned or tested any of the Autoreflex series.

    For composed photos, I really prefer film. (I’ve never developed good digital skills). Like this Konica, my Nikon F2 – a lucky $25 score by my husband a few years ago – is a big heavy boy to lug around, but is still my favorite. It’s really tough and paired with 28mm lens, very forgiving of many of my amateur mistakes!

    1. My Ilford HP5 400 arrived today. Can’t wait to take the cam to the streets. I got myself two more cams for 30 bucks each, a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex from 1954 and a Voigtländer Vito B from 1955. Both in pristine conditions. I will have so much fun shooting film again 🙂 Glad you share the passion, Marsi! Thanks so much for commenting! Marcus

  2. This camera looks beautiful. There is something to be said about the metallic components of the older cameras. I just pulled out my first SLR, a Nikon FM10. It’s nowhere near the age of yours but is quite the beauty. I hope you get tons of enjoyment out of your find. 🙂

  3. €30! Well spotted 😺. I love the fact that you can pick up these great old cameras with amazing glass so cheaply. Though….1kg…..😱😂

    1. Thanks, Andy, appreciate your kind words! These are incredible machines, the built is just different from what you get today. No wonder those camera function perfectly after 40 or 50 years of service. I’m sure those modern day DSLRs are dead meet after ten years max….

  4. I miss the simplicity of my Olympus OM-2. We got through photography school together, and many years after that. Then I (foolishly?) sold it for my first digital. If I knew then what I know now…

  5. Such a beautiful piece of history. About mercury battery problem, did you look at the internet for some kind of voltage transformer for small batteries? I know that some of them can “do the trick” with smaller batteries.

    1. Thanks, Daan. I checked about the batteries. These transformer / adapters are available for the smaller PX625 (that are for example in my OM-1), but seemingly not for the larger PX 675 that are in the Konica.

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