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Konica Autoreflex TC 35mm SLR Camera Review

Film Camera Review: Konica Autoreflex TC

#FilmCameraReview - A manual focus autoexposure 35mm SLR film camera that is highly recommended for the beginner film photographer.

The Konica Autoreflex TC, produced between 1976 to 1982 by Konica of Japan, is a shutter-priority automatic exposure manual-focus 35mm SLR film camera. The camera, a small and compact plastic body shell built over a sturdy metal frame, is recognized as a camera body that can support the equally well-recognized and acknowledged Konica Hexanon AR series lenses.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Konica Hexanon 40mm F1.8

Konica began with the production of the series with the Auto-Reflex, the first focal-plane-shutter auto-exposure 35mm SLR camera, in 1965 and continued with the production and development of the series with the  Autoreflex T (1968-1970), Autoreflex A (1968-1971), Autoreflex T2 (1970-1973), ... Autoreflex T4 (1978-1979), and Autoreflex TC (1976-1982). The Autoreflex TC was also sold in Japan as the Acom-1.

Operationally, the Autoreflex TC is fitted with a metallic vertical-travel Copal Square shutter with a speed range from 1/8 second to 1/1000 second, plus B, with flash sync at all speeds up to 1/125 second, and accepts film speed range from ISO ASA 25 to ISO-1600. The camera has a built-in variable delay self-timer with a range from approximately 4 to 10 seconds.

    Konica Autoreflex TC and lenses

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Metering is TTL (Through-the-Lens) averaging with a coupling range from EV 4.5 (1/8 second at F1.7) to EV 18 (1/l000 second at F16) with ISO 100 / F1.7 lens, and from EV 3.5 (1/8 second at F1.2) to EV 18 with F1.2 lens. Exposure reading is turned on when the film forward lever is 'pulled' slightly away from the body, and turned off by a switch located by the thumb rest area on the back of the camera's top plane. This action will also pull the extended film forward lever back to its rest position.

In normal shutter-priority shooting mode, lenses are mounted to the Autoreflex TC camera body with the lens aperture index mark set to the 'AE' lock position. The camera is not fitted with a DoF (Depth of Field) preview, mirror lock-up, or a physical exposure compensation facility.

Design and Built

The Konica Autoreflex TC is only available in black. The top and bottom plates are made of one-piece plastic molds that are very resistant to wear. Over and above its predecessors, the camera is fitted with an improved, brighter viewfinder screen with split-image focusing and a microprism ring. On its own, the camera does come with neat and attractive design features that add to the appeal of the camera.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Konica Hexanon 40mm F1.8

Several iterations of the Autoreflex TC are available. The first features the Konica logo all in upper-case, a metal back lock, and different film guides from later models. Next was a version with the metal back lock turned into a plastic part, and finally, the Konica logo changed to upper-case capital and lower-case text, and the metal base plate, with the serial number stamped on the bottom, became a plastic piece with the serial number molded into the back and highlighted with white paint.

Basic Camera Features

The Autoreflex TC is more often seen with a new version of the 6-element, 5-group Hexanon AR 50mm F1.7 lens, developed specifically for the camera model. The design and optics of the lens have earned accolades and are acknowledged as one of the best 50mm lenses of the era. Another often seen lens with the Autoreflec TC is the Hexanon AR 40mm F1.8 pancake lens, another sharp and outstanding lens from the brand manufacturer.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Front

The front of the camera is rather a plain sight with the lens housing mount and its extension up to the pentaprism hump slightly off-center to the right of the front panel, the self-timer lever on its lower-left, and on towards the top of the vertical of the housing mount, the chrome-finished lens release button.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Top

On the left end of the top plane is the single-function film rewind crank, followed by the pentaprism hump and the built-in hot shoe. To the right of the hump is the shutter speed dial with a pull-up and turn film ISO speed selector dial, shutter release button, film frame counter, and the film forward lever.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Back

On the back of the top plane is the viewfinder eyepiece, and near the right end, the Power Off switch. The non-interchangeable and plain hinged film back occupies the whole lower portion of the back of the camera.

The film back is secured by a pull-down latch on the left shoulder of the camera body.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Bottom

On the bottom, the film rewind release button, tripod socket, and battery chamber cover. The bottom plate comes with a curved recessed end designed to work with the curved end of the bottom edge of the film back as part of the film canister hold.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Film box


The film box, aside from the film canister hold design more often seen on autofocus compact cameras, is the standard layout configuration as normally seen on most other manual SLR film cameras. From the left, the film canister chamber, followed by the shutter window, forward sprocket gear, and a multi-slot take-up spool.

Film loading and Rewind

Film loading, rewind, and unloading are the normal procedures as done on most other SLR film cameras. The film is pulled across the film back opening and the tab end slotted into one of the inner slots of the take-up spool for winding with the emulsion side up, tensioned properly, and the sprocket gear aligned with the film edge perforations before the film back is closed

The two-blank shots requirement to bring the unexposed film to frame 1 applies equally, as is the use of the film rewind release button and the film rewind crank for rewinding the exposed film back into the film canister.

Viewfinder Readout

The Autoreflex TC is fitted with a bright 3-way focusing screen with a central split-image rangefinder, surrounded by an inner microprism and outer fine ground glass focusing rings. The viewfinder readout is supported by a display bar on the right of the screen and a red manual operation indicator flag displayed towards the top-left corner of the screen when activated.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Viewfinder readout

On the vertical display bar, the upper red zone is for underexposure and match-needle index mark for uncoupled lenses or accessories, an aperture scale bar for match needle exposure reading, and a lower red zone for overexposure indication. Acceptable exposure reading, when the lens is set to the 'AE' index mark, is indicated by a pointer needle within the aperture scale bar indicating the aperture that the shot will be taken with.

Konica Autoreflex TC, Konica Hexanon 40mm F1.8

Adjust the shutter speed of the camera to a lower setting if the pointer needle stays in the upper underexposure red zone, and the opposite when the pointer needle stays in the lower overexposure red zone. When shooting in manual exposure mode, set the aperture opening of the lens based on the value indicated by the needle pointer.

Recommended Shooting Mode

Konica Autoreflex TC, Aperture-priority shooting

The recommended shooting mode for the Konica Autorelex TC, in shutter-priority, is to simply set the lens aperture ring to the AE index mark, the shutter speed at the 'red' 125X speed indicator, frame, focus, and shoot away. Do this as long as the exposure needle pointer stays within the aperture index area of the vertical display bar, as this will cover most lighting conditions and film speed combinations.

Self-Timer

The self-timer is activated by rotating the lever in the clockwise direction to the estimated time delay duration (from 4 to 10 seconds) and actuated by the shutter release. The self-timer works in a mirror-up position, meaning that the camera can be used for vibration-free shots when secured on a tripod or a hard surface, and the shot is taken with the self-time actuation.

Automatic Exposure (AE) Lock

For backlit images or images with highlighted foreground, using the AE lock technique is the way to keep the preferred section of the image at the correct exposure. Do this by first moving in close to the subject, locking the exposure reading of the preferred section by half-pressing the shutter release, and without releasing the pressure off the shutter button, moving back to reframe the image before pressing the shutter release fully.

Battery

The Autoreflex TC was designed to be powered by a pair of 625PX 1.3-volt mercury batteries. Since these batteries are not available anymore, a pair of 1.4v hearing aid batteries with an appropriate battery adapter is a good source of replacement, or a pair of LR44 1.5v batteries, with the film ISO setting lowered by half a speed to account for the voltage difference.

Camera Body Weight

The Konica Autorectex TC camera's body weight is 510 grams without batteries.

Leatherette Skin Shrinkage

The chances of making this excellent beginner camera a featured choice may sometimes be marred by the leatherette skin that has a tendency to shrink. This is a known problem and worries not, the cameras are still good on the inside, and options for replacement pre-cut skins are available from camera service and repair shops or undertaken as a DIY project.

And Finally

With a lightweight body, a good selection of superb lenses, very affordable prices, and a 'loudish' shutter actuation and mirror flap, the Konica Autoreflec TC is still an enviable option for a fast start in shutter-priority photography and remains highly recommended as a 35mm manual focus 35mm SLR film cameras to hang around with.




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