I was hunting for a better RF (short for rangefinder) ever since my Bessa R3M's shutter got stuck one fine day. Its normal now but I kind of want to have another spare body just in case I need to send the Bessa for service.
I also wanted a RF with AE mode rather than full manual. The reason is that if I mount a wide angle lens onto it (like 21mm), it could function as a Point n shoot film camera too (like the GR21). Of course there are contax G series RF which even have AF but that means I need to invest in new lenses which will not be affordable to me. So I want to stick to M mount as I already have a collection of M lensesSo my choices were quite limited.
Minolta CLE (small and affordable but not very well built, so it might not last that long)
Leica M7 (too expensive! and I hate the film loading mechanism of Leica)
Zeiss Ikon by Cosina (also expensive, more than 2k SGD brand new so its not really within my budget. I don't want to spend more than 1k SGD on a film RF body which I mainly used for fun, hoobyist shoot)
Another Bessa R2 or R3 (a bit bored with Bessa and as mentioned, I'm a bit concerned with the reliablity of the camera too.)
And finally the Konica Hexar RF. Which itself is a very well built cam.
I was looking around on e[vil]bay and when the $US was so low since last week, I took action and got one used from ebay at a very attractive price of $800++ plus shipping.
I got it since last friday and I have to say the initial impression on the cam was WOW. Heavy like a brick and feels like handling a Leica :P hehe. But there are lot of technologies in this camera that is not found on a Leica M6. Such as motorized film advancer and winder. LED batt indicator and frame counter. Centre weighted metering with AE and AEL mode. Shutter speed indicator in the viewfinder, exposure compensation dial in 1/3 steps up to +/-2. And of course, burst mode and self timer mode. These are features seen often in DSLR but if you are into RF, you would know its quite rare to see all these features in a small, dense packed body like an RF. (Even the latest Zeiss Ikon does not have a motorized film advancer and winder and it cost a bloody 2k SGD!!)
So everything is perfect until I checked the focusing patch and found it to be misaligned vertically. Hard to explain this to layperson. Just simply; there is a problem with getting accurate focus when using this cam. At first I thought it was just vertical misalign (which would not affect the accuracy, just a nuisance). Until I mounted a lens and found its also horizontally mis-align... jialat..
So on the same night I received my camera. I popped off the top part of the cam and performed surgery on the used Hexar. Re-aligning the focusing patch of an RF is a very tedious job as I need to measure the distance of 1m to the film plane and move 2 little screws in the camera to align them correctly. After that, I still need to shoot a roll of film to confirm everything is alright.
I loaded an Ilford XP2 400 as a test roll. I chose this film because its sharp and I mounted my VC 50mm f1.1 so I could have a very shallow DOF to check if my alignments were correct. Finished the roll yesterday and sent it for developing and scanning today and was glad its spot on accurate :D.
Its been a while since I'm so ever happy with a purchase. The last serious camera I am very happy with was the Hasselblad 500CM and the last digital camera was my Sony a900 (I found out I actually didn't wrote about my a900!).
Buying the Hexar also means I would give the Fuji X100 a pass. I still prefer my M lenses and I prefer film over digital anytime. And I already have the Nex-3.. so I just can't justify why I would need the X100... Damn Fuji!! why they never announce it sooner!!! :P
*Photos posted on this entry are some of the shots from my XP2 test roll. You can see more here. The Nokton is really a very sharp lens!! :P