Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:

Konica Auto S

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Konica Auto S is a coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera produced from 1963-1965. It had several unique features for the age: shutter-priority automatic exposure and a CdS meter. In fact, this is a historic camera because it was the first auto-exposure 35mm camera.*

* not quite true since I've seen an earlier selenium based Polaroid auto-exposure camera, but Konica hedges this officially by calling it the first auto-exposure camera using a CdS metering cell.

Together with its very bright 47mm f/1.9 lens, the Konica Auto S broke new ground in rangefinder design. You can view this camera as a milestone model as it started to bridge the gap between high-quality rangefinder and point-n-shoot cameras. After auto-exposure, the only thing remaning was auto-focus.

The Auto S gave birth to the S2 and then Auto S3, which has been called one of the best compact rangefinders of the 1970s, along with the Canon GIII QL17.

I bought mine at an antique store in Stillwater, MN in early 2004. It was almost new in the box, unfortunately without the instructions. And the aperture appears to be stuck. I'm sending it to Russia ( to see if Oleg can unstick it.







Interesting quirks

The Konica leaf shutter ranges from 1 sec. to 1/500 sec. The camera has auto-exposure but its not TTL metering as the CdS cell is located on the camera body. There's a switch for Hi / Lo sensitivity below the CdS cell. The camera can either choose the aperture for you, or you can select it yourself. The aperture selected by the camera is visible in a saml window projected in the display. In this camera, the window (the small rectangular strip to the left of the meter) appears to be pushed in and is floating around the inside of the top cover, which can't be good.

One of the flaws of the Auto S series design was the plastic battery cover. OK, batteries leak and spew acid or alkaline material, and sometimes weld battery covers shut. But plastic is just such a bad choice for a battery cover that words can't express it. Luckily, this camera was not heavily used and the battery cover is more or less pristine.









Technical Details

Camera Name
Auto S Auto S3
Konica Konica
Place of Manufacture
Japan Japan
Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Coupled coincident image rangefinder

Lens use helicoid focusing

Coupled coincident image rangefinder

Lens use helicoid focusing


47mm, f/1.9, Hexanon lens (x elements in x groups)

Minimum focusing distance = 0.9 meters (~3 feet)

Left focusing (infinity on left side)
Filter Thread: 49 mm
Built-in telescoping hood

38mm, f/1.8, Hexanon lens (6 elements in 4 groups)

Minimum focusing distance = 1.0 meters (~3.3 feet)

xxx focusing (infinity on xxx side)
Filter Thread: 49 mm


Copal SVA shutter 1 sec. - 1/500

X-flash sync at all speeds

Copal shutter 1/8 - 1/500

X-flash sync at all speeds

Metering System

CdS cell mounted on camera right body
Shutter priority auto exposure + full manual

Needle in viewfinder gives current aperture

EV x- xx(at ISO 100)

CdS cell mounted above lens on lensmount
Shutter priority auto exposure

Needle in viewfinder gives current aperture

EV x- xx(at ISO 100)

f/1.9 - 16 (stepless  
Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

ASA 10 to 200

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

ASA 25 to 800

Battery type
1.35v PX625 mercury-silver 1.35v PX675 mercury-silver (675 silver-mercury willl read 1 stop high)
Dimensions and weight
138 x 82 x 75mm
115 x 77 x 60mm , 410g
Retail price
¥19,500 (1963)  
Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place. This may result in your account being cancelled. I also reserve the right to file claim for civil penalties.



About Konica

Konica is Japan's oldest camera manufacturer. It was founded in 1873 as the Konishi-ya and it sold photographic supplies. It was renamed the Konishi-honten in 1876. In 1902, they built their own factory called the Rokuoh-sha. The company was reorganized in 1921 and called the Konishiroku Honten.

In 1936 they incorporated as the K.K. Konishiroku, then in 1943 they became Konishiroku Shashin Kogyo K.K.. In 1944 they merged with Showa Photo Industries.

The first Konica brand camera was the Konica I which came out in 1948. It was a coupled-rangefinder 35mm camera with a 50mm f/3.5 non-interchangeable-lens.

Konica's heyday as a camera manufacturer was during the period 1950-1970s when it came out with quite a few 35mm rangefinder cameras and their own line of 35mm SLRs. Wedding photographers in the 1970s fondly remember the Koni-Omega. However, despite electronic SLRs such as the FS-1 and FT-1, Konica did not successfully make the step up to auto-exposure, auto-focus SLRs in the 1980s. In the last two decades of the 20th century, they were reduced to mainly making point-and-shoots (the Hexar and Hexar RF were the two exceptions).

In Japan, Konica is famous as a film manufacturer. They started making film in 1929. However, most of their films were not exported or extensively marketted outside of Japan.

In 2002, they merged with Minolta and became the Konica-Minolta Corporation.


On the Net


Cult of the QL17:


Copyright © 2002-11 by Karen Nakamura. All rights reserved. This page and its images may not be reduplicated in any form. Use in ebay auctions strictly prohibited, violaters will be reported. Please do not jeopardize your feedback ratings by engaging in copyright violations, it is a violation of Federal and International Copyright law as well as ebay terms of service.
Last modified: Friday, 07-Jan-2011 15:26:49 EST , [an error occurred while processing this directive] .