Camera Reviews

Another Konica Autoreflex T3

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Some old film cameras are so inexpensive that when one breaks, you don’t fix it — you buy another one.

My Konica Autoreflex T3’s light meter was dead on arrival. I shot it anyway, using a handheld meter — and then the photos I got back blew me away. See some of them here. The 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR lens that came with my T3 was outstanding. I knew I’d want to shoot that lens again. I also knew I would prefer a working meter, so I bought a second Autoreflex T3 body, fully working this time, for just $23 shipped.

Konica Autoreflex T3

The T3 is typical of early-1970s SLRs in that it is sturdy and heavy. But its shutter-priority autoexposure made it distinctly atypical. Other manufacturers were starting to build that feature into their SLRs at that time, but it was far from common. Yet Konica had offered it in its Autoreflex line since 1966.

Konica Autoreflex T3

The T3 is mechanical except for the light meter. The camera takes two PX675 mercury batteries, which have long been banned. I substituted two SR44 silver-oxide batteries, which are the same size. The SR44s have slightly higher voltage, which theoretically could lead to misexposures. But I got great exposures. Perhaps it’s because I shot Fujicolor 200, which has wide exposure latitude.

This. Oh my, this. This is why I wanted a fully working T3. That 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR is just sublime. Just look at the color and detail. The bokeh is like an impressionist painting.

Spent tulip

I shot most of the roll around the yard as spring flowers bloomed. Here are my Lily of the Valley. A fellow from Germany who follows me on Flickr commented that in German, these are called Maiglöckchen — little May bells. Perfect!

Lily of the Valley

This lens and film love, love, love red. These are peonies working on opening. The buds are always covered with tiny ants.

Potential peonies

I was less impressed with how purple was rendered. My grape hyacinths are more vivid than this.

Grape hyacinths

So are the petunias I keep in a planter on the corner of my front stoop. In real life, these are dark purple, almost black. At least this dusky purple is interesting.

Purple petunias

But the warm colors I got when shooting this doomed ash tree in my back yard pretty much make up for the inaccurate purples.

Doomed ash

I shot most of the roll at close range. There was just so much early-spring detail to focus on! Just to show that this lens does all right at a distance, here’s some construction equipment.

Rented cat

And here’s the front of my house, from about the same time I learned that all of my ash trees were dying. I’ve since had all 21 of those trees removed.

My humble home

To see more photographs, check out my Konica Autoreflex T3 gallery.

I’m putting the Autoreflex T3 into rotation — I will use it again. Its 50mm f/1.7 lens begs to be brought up close to a subject, set nearly wide open for shallow depth of field. I’ll bet it would go to town with some Ektar or some Velvia 50.


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Black Dog Books

Black Dog Books
Konica Autoreflex T3, 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR, Fujicolor 200
2014

Photography
Image
Photography

A stroll up Zionsville’s Main Street

I wanted to share more of the photos I took with my Konica Autoreflex T3. I shot about half of the roll on a walk along Zionsville’s charming Main Street.

The first half of Main Street is Zionsville’s business district. I’ve been there, camera in hand, any number of times but have yet to figure out how to really capture it. I got a couple shots, though, including this one of a book shop.

Black Dog Books

I like how the T3 rendered the gritty details of this depository door. The building doesn’t host a bank anymore.

Depository

I spent more time taking photos on the residential half of Main Street. It’s lined with older homes that look to have been built between the 1850s and the 1920s. This blue house looks like one of the older ones to me.

Zionsville house

I like the looks of this bungalow a lot. I’d love to live in a home with a wide front porch. I feel nostalgia for a time I’ve never known, one where people relaxed in the evenings on the porch and chatted briefly with their neighbors who passed by on the sidewalk.

Zionsville house

Is Grey the first name of the person who built this fort? If it’s his last name, I’m almost certainly not related to him.

Grey's Fort

I smile every time I see this little library. I wonder how often books get borrowed from it.

Little library

I finished my stroll along Main Street quickly; it’s only half-mile long.

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Camera Reviews

Konica Autoreflex T3

Hi and welcome to my film-photography blog! If you like this post, subscribe to read more in your inbox or reader six days a week.    Click here to subscribe!

It’s a shame, really, that camera collectors don’t love Konica’s 35mm SLR cameras from the 1960s and 1970s as much as they do those from competitors such as Canon and Pentax. If my Autoreflex T3 is typical, they were wonderful SLRs – well built and great to use.

Konica Autoreflex T3

It’s surprisingly not widely known that Konica was the first to offer autoexposure in a 35mm SLR, and that they did it in 1966 with the original Auto-Reflex. Konica chose a shutter-priority system: the camera selects an aperture based on the shutter speed you set. The Autoreflex T3 carried on the tradition when it was introduced in 1973. By then, most other SLRs offered a coupled through-the-lens light meter, but still made photographers set both aperture and shutter speed until a needle in the viewfinder indicated proper exposure.

I prefer aperture-priority shooting, but it’s academic as my T3’s meter is dead. A little searching of the Internet’s old-camera forums revealed not only that the T3’s number one failure point is the electrical connection between the battery and the meter, but also that repairing it is difficult.

Fortunately, the T3 otherwise all mechanical and, as far as I can tell, all metal. It shoots all day without batteries when you set exposure manually. But if you come upon one with a working meter, you can drop two zinc-air 675 hearing-aid batteries in and get shooting. (The camera was built for 675 mercury cells, which were banned long ago.) Two LR44 or SR44 cells, which are the same size as the 675s but have a slightly different voltage, would probably work just as well.

Konica Autoreflex T3

For 1973, the T3’s specs are pretty fat. Its metal focal-plane shutter operates from 1 to 1/1000 sec. You can set ISO from 12 to 3200. The T3 came with no accessory shoe, but the hot shoe attached to mine was a common add-on. When you attached a flash to it, the camera synched it to the shutter. The T3 features a self-timer, mirror lockup, depth-of-field preview, and (refreshingly) a multiple-exposure lever.

I had but one complaint with the T3: its focusing screen offers only a microprism. I prefer the precision of split-image focusing. Worse, my T3’s microprism is faint, making it useless to my middle-aged eyes. I was left to twist the 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR lens’s focus ring until the image looked sharp in the viewfinder. Typical of 50mm lenses, the focus ring has a long travel under 10 feet and a very short travel from 10 feet to infinity, making it hard to be sure of proper focus on far-away shots. To cover any focusing sins, I shrunk the aperture as much as I could to broaden the depth of field.

A T3 weirdness is that its lens is wide open until you press the shutter button, at which time the blades close to whatever aperture you chose. I think every other SLR I own (that doesn’t require you to stop down to meter) leaves the aperture blades at whatever aperture you set.

I had New Year’s Eve to myself, and it wasn’t too cold in the afternoon. So I loaded some Fujicolor 200 into the T3 and drove up to Zionsville, which is just northwest of Indianapolis in Boone County. An old highway bridge and a newer pedestrian bridge cross Eagle Creek on the east edge of town. Here’s the pedestrian bridge’s railing.

Rusty shadows

Graffiti covers the piers under the highway bridge. This self-confident lion was a delightful find down there.

Selbstbewuβter Löwe

A State Farm agent in town uses an old Ford fire truck to advertise his business. Here’s a detail shot.

Ford F-500 fire truck

A little snow fell the week before Christmas, but it had all melted. That’s the typical central-Indiana winter cycle. That’s why this winter shot finds a bare lawn in front of this cheerful green home.

Zionsville house

I moved in close to this chain and set the aperture wide to see how the Hexanon AR lens performed with shallow depth of field. Not bad.

Chain

See more photos in the Konica Autoreflex T3 gallery.

I like this camera. I’d probably like it more, and use it again someday, if the meter worked. If you come upon a T3 with a working meter, scoop it right up.

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