Konica Hexar RF

| No Comments
Leica Mount Cameras:

Leica-mount Lenses:

Konica Hexar RF
by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Hexar RF is a Leica M bayonet mount compatible auto-exposure rangefinder made by the Konica Corporation (now Konica-Minolta). It features an excellent rangefinder comparable to the Leica M6/M7; faster shutter speeds than any M Leica; high flash sync than any Leica rangefinder; built-in motor-drive; and of course auto-exposure which wasn't available until the Leica M7.

Until the Leica M7 came out in 2003, it was the only auto-exposure Leica M compatible camera available new on the market (except for used Minolta CLEs). Even now, it is the only Leica mount camera with a built-in motor drive on the market. It is also the only one with a self-timer. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

In contrast with the ancient horizontal travel cloth shutter on the M7, the Hexar RF has a contemporary, vertical travel metal focal plane shutter. This allows a maximum speed of 1/4000 sec. and a flash sync of 1/125sec (compared to 1/1000 max and 1/50 flash sync of the Leica).

Rangefinder: The rangefinder on the Hexar is very good. It's almost as good as the Leica M7 although it's a tad darker and not as contrasty. If you never used a Leica, you'd think it was brilliant. If you regularly use the M3, M7 or new MP, you'll be a bit disappointed. The viewfinder magnification is 0.60x which is lower than the standard Leica 0.72x finder.

I found the viewfinder of the Hexar to be pretty busy,with shutter speeds on the left with a little LED christmas-tree. Another problem with the finder is that the shutter speeds become invisible if your eye is too far from the finder eyepiece or off-center. You need to be much more careful about centering your eye than on Leica finders.

Motor-drive: The main "negative" of the Hexar is that it has motor-drive built-in. There is no manual wind lever and rewinding is automatic (about 13 seconds for a 38 frame roll). With the mode dial set to the 'C' continuous firing mode, it can shoot at 2.5fps. The motor-drive and the metal focal plane shutter makes it slightly noisier than the Leica. This also means that the Hexar RF is dead in the water without its two CR2 batteries -- which can be hard to find in small towns. You can't even remove the film. At least the Leica M7 can operate at 1/55 and 1/90 without batteries and you can rewind your film even if your camera is totally dead.

Film Efficiency: One thing that should be mentioned about the Hexar RF is that it manages to consistently squeeze 38 frames from a 36 frame roll. It does this by using an optical film advance detector. It uses both frame 0 and frame 37 which are normally wasted. But as a result, the Hexar RF rolls are hard to store in regular film binders which are 6 frames x 6 rows =36 frames. I use 6 frames x 7 rows film binders which are slightly harder to find.

The Hexar RF supports mid-roll film exchange. When you rewind the film, it will pause very slightly at the end of the roll before sucking in the film leader. If you open the rear door at the slight pause, you can take the roll out with the leader exposed. This is also handy if you develop your own film. Because the RF using an optical advance detector, it's frame accurate for mid-roll exchange. Very nice not having to waste a frame "just in case."

Auto-exposure: The big thing about the Hexar RF is of course the aperture priority auto-exposure feature. Until the M7, it was the only new Leica-mount camera on the market with TTL AE (the Minolta CLE was discontinued in 198x). The metering pattern is a bit strange. It's basically center-weighted but is a horizontally wide oval.

You can either choose the AE mode where the metering is not locked, or AEL (AE lock) where holding down the shutter button half-way will lock the exposure value at the current point. Or you can operate it manually and the meter will still work (the current speed will be solid and the suggested metered speed will flash) unlike the Minolta CLE where the meter would not work in manual mode.

Surprising Features:

  • It has a standard screw-in cable release socket on the side.
  • It has a 10 second self-timer with a little LED on the front that flashes a countdown. The Leica M6/M7/MP doesn't have a self-timer to my chagrin.
  • You can rewind mid-way through a roll by pressing the rewind button with a pen tip
  • When rewinding, the camera will stop for 1 second between --1-- and ----. This allows you to open the camera and remove the roll with the leader out. This makes it easier for those of us who develop our own film.
  • Battery life is excellent. Expect over 120-150 rolls of film per the two CR2 batteries. This is better than the about 60 rolls from the M7 with the two CR1/3N batteries and manual wind.


Body Construction: Surprisingly, the top and bottom covers are made of solid titanium (stamped sheets). Thus you'll find Hexars with chipped paint but rarely a good solid ding. Paint doesn't stick well to titanium. The main body casting is from solid aluminium which was then anodized. Very solid.

Bottom Line: The Hexar RF is about $1100 on the used market with a standard 50mm lens and useless flash ($7-800 for the body only); which puts it at about 1/3 the price of a new Leica M7 + Summicron (~$3500).

Why didn't the Hexar RF do better? The Hexar suffered mainly from bad marketing:

  • Konica should have clearly stated the KM mount was the same as the M mount. This would have increased sales of both the Hexar and the M-Hexanon lenses
  • Konica should have emphasized the titanium top and bottom covers. Even now, most Hexar RF owners don't know that their cameras are titanium. The solid titanium Hexar uses is much better than the thin titanium coating on the "titanium" Leicas.

Unfortunately, the Hexar was discontinued in late 2004 and many are waiting to see what Konica-Minolta will come out, hopefully a digital version of the Hexar RF / Minolta CLE.

Hexar AF: The Hexar RF is based on an earlier point-and-shoot called the Hexar AF that Konica came out in 199x. The Hexar AF is fixed-lens, auto-focus, motor-wind high-end point and shoot with an excellent Hexar lens. Its claim to fame (and the reason it's still $300-500 on the used market) is that it is practically silent. It has a stealth mode which reduces the camera's decibel level to almost nothing. They achieved this using a in-lens leaf shutter, which unfortunately they had to take out in the Hexar RF to achieve interchangeable lens capabilities.

The Flangeback Issue
Konica would have sold a lot more Hexar RFs except for the "flangeback" issue. When they first came out in 1999, Konica was coy about what they called the "KM Mount" on the camera. It looked identical to the Leica M mount, but Konica wanted to sell their own Hexar lenses and didn't want people buying Leica lenses to use on their Hexar RFs. Lenses are, after all, where the camera manufacturers make all their money.

Some early users in the West found that their Leica lenses didn't focus accurately on their Hexar RFs. Konica was coy about whether it was calibration problems or an incompatibility. This caused a rumor to go around that Hexar RFs were in fact incompatible with Leica M mount lenses. Konica did nothing to stop this rumor. Ironically, this had the effect of killing the sales of the Hexar RF rather than promoting the sales of Konica lenses.

In Japan, oddly, this rumor did not exist and people happily used their Hexar RF cameras with their Leica, Canon and Nikon Leica-mount lenses. To this date, Konica has not said whether the KM mount is the same as the M-mount.



Technical Details

Camera Name
Bessa R3A Hexar RF Zeiss Ikon M7
Voigtlander Cosina Konica
Cosina Japan
Leica Camera
Place of Manufacture
Japan Japan
Date of Manufacture
2004~ 1999~2004 2004 2002~
Focusing System
Coupled rangefinder
1.0 x magnification factor
36mm base length
36mm effective baselength
Parallax compensation 40/50/35-90 selectable framelines
Coupled rangefinder
.60x magnification factor
68.5mm base length
41.10 effective baselength
Parallax compensation 35/50/28-90mm. selectable framelines

Coupled rangefinder
.74x magnification factor
75mm base length
55.9mm effective baselength
Parallax compensation
28-85/35/50mm. selectable framelines

Coupled rangefinder
.72x magnification factor
69.25mm base length
49.86 effective baselength
Parallax compensation
35-135, 50-75, 28-90mm. selectable framelines

Lens Mount
Leica M bayonet mount compatible
Vertical metal focal plane
1 sec - 1/2000 sec + B & X (1/125sec)

Vertical metal focal plane
4 sec - 1/4000 sec (manual)
16 sec - 1/4000 sec (auto)
+ B & X (1/125sec)

Vertical metal focal plane
1 sec - 1/2000 sec + B & X (1/125sec)

Horizontal cloth focal plane
4 sec - 1/1000 sec (manual)
32 sec - 1/1000 sec (auto)
+ B & X (1/50sec)

Metering System
TTL manual and AE
EV 1~19
TTL manual and AE
EV 1~18
TTL manual
EV 0~19

TTL manual and AE
EV -2~20

External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/125 sec X flash sync
External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/125 sec X flash sync
External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/125 sec X flash sync
External hot shoe
PC cable connector on rear
1/50 sec X flash sync
SCA and HSS (M7 only) flash AE
Film type

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 25-3200

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 25-5000
Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 25-3200
Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 25-5000 (DX)
ISO 6-25000 (manual)
Battery type
Battery Life
2 x 1.5V SR44  2 x 3V CR2
140 rolls

2 x 1.5V SR44
1x 3V DL 1/3N

2 x 3V DL 1/3N
4 x 1.5V SR44

Dimensions and weight
135.5 x 81 x 33.5mm
139.5 x 80.0 x 35.0mm
138 x 78 x 32 mm

138 x 79.5 x 38 mm

Retail price
~$600 new ~$1000 new w/ Hexanon 50
~$1500 ???

~$2695 new

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

Leica LSM to M Mount Adaptors

  • Stephen Gandy sells all 3 adaptors (28-90; 35-135; 50-75) for $100 as well as rear M caps for 3 for $40


Leave a comment