The Konica Hexar RF is a 35 mm rangefinder camera which was sold by Konica. It was introduced to the market on 13 October 1999. and subsequently discontinued (apparently without official notice) some time before the end of 2003. The camera used the “Bayonet Konica KM-mount”, a copy of the Leica M-mount, thus sharing interchangeable lenses with those designed for Leica cameras and others compatible with them.
The original release of the Konica Hexar RF camera was accompanied by the release of three “Konica KM-bayonet mount” lenses for use on Konica RF cameras and others, such as Leica, with compatible lens mounts. These lenses were in 50 mm, 28mm and 90 mm focal lengths. [Reference: Wikipedia]
Since there is only one version, I have nothing to offer as far as purchasing considerations. If you want one – buy it.
On garden gnomes and parked cars:
My mantra on this website is “form over function” because I (erroneously) believed that too many reviewers focus on minute differences in image quality and miss the bigger picture that some manual focus lenses are difficult to use or have too many other flaws that cannot be overcome by image quality. I need to walk that back a little with regard to the Konica M-Hexanon 50mm f2 lens and apply different criteria. Let’s try “function first and then we will talk about smooth focusing, tabs, long focus throws and all the rest.”
To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I need to take you back to the early spring of 2020. The world was melting down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Store shelves were empty. While they weren’t social distancing to flatten the curve, some people were hoarding toilet paper and others were clogging the drains because they had to use coffee filters and Clorox wipes. The stock market was in shambles. I was testing lenses because, like everyone else, work evaporated overnight and I wanted to document some of the mess.
I went to the local supermarket with the Konica M-Hexanon 50mm f2 lens to take pictures of people shopping in markets with empty shelves. I was only able to shoot for a few minutes before I was chased out of the store. (Was the supermarket worried I was going to expose them for their empty shelves I wondered? Nobody in town had food or toilet paper.) I was hoping to shoot some people with empty carts and shelves but I didn’t get that far. Fortunately, I was able to get a quick series of empty shelves before being asked to leave. Although I had a few keepers everything wide open was soft* and looked like this (click for hi-res):
OOOF. Not good for something that is should be competing with its modern peers. This wasn’t an isolated incident. This lens just wasn’t right for me and in my opinion, this lens is best saved for shooting garden gnomes and parked cars and stopped down a bit if you do decide to disrespect the garden gnomes by photographing them with it. In real life, I don’t feel I can trust this lens with my time or photographic memories.
It is probably worth mentioning that if you go into the photography forums there are people who spar over whether or not these Hexanon lenses have focusing issues on Leica cameras. To be honest, I have no idea how to asses who is right or wrong. In this particular case, I can’t tell if this is a focusing issue or if it is soft. It might be of interest to note that this was repeatable at home when I could take all the time in the world to focus.
Does it have SOUL?
What do rice cakes, Kokomo (by The Beach Boys), watching paint dry, driving across Texas, standard poodles, and the Konica M-Hexanon 50mm f2 lens have in common? Correct. They are all excruciatingly boring. I mean if a lens is going to be this boring and have less soul than Milli Vanilli, it can at least be sharp right? Apparently not.
The images are fine I guess. Just fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. And that is about it. As long as you are stopped down a little you can make some just fine pictures. They look like pictures. You can document things. Maybe you can apply a vintage 10 filter in Lightroom and then #leica when you post them but you won’t look back on these images in 20 years, pat yourself on the back and say “Self you made some magic that day.” A lens needs a little Soul to make magic I am afraid. Please pass me a rice cake.
The most interesting thing about this lens is the inexplicable price it fetches on eBay these days (~550USD). The second most interesting thing is that it is routinely recommended in the forums as an alternative to some other very special lenses. Maybe I am in a coronavirus funk but I don’t get it. #ishouldhavelistentedtokenrockwell
Did I keep it?
I think you already know my answer. Honestly, if it was an inexpensive lens, let’s say $200 or free, I could get past the lack of SOUL and softness and keep it around to take with me on a rainy or windy hike if there was a high chance that I might drop the lens while swapping lenses and it would fly off a cliff and get smashed on the rocks below.
To learn more about which lenses I kept and which lenses I sold, learn from my experience, and to support this site, please check out my Leica Lenses for Normal People:The Recommended List.
Image Samples (click for hi-res)
Normally, I post some images taken with the lens at the end of the review but I didn’t have much shooting success the day I spent with it. Moreover, I was so disappointed when I got back to the computer, I didn’t feel inspired to go out and use it again. Why take this one out when there are other, more soulful, less expensive, and not much more expensive options? Regrettably, this is all I have.