Konica Auto S2: Heavy, Impressive and, Worthy

Konica Auto S2: Heavy, Impressive and, Worthy

I wish I had an interesting story about how I came to own this camera. Truth is, I dont. This story just happens to be the same old boring one I keep telling: I walk into a thrift store, find a camera on the shelf, pay for it, and take it home. Of course, at the thrift store, I unlatched the leather case that contained the camera, took a partial look at it, verified a working shutter, and became excited about the prospect of owning another bulky rangefinder that may need some cleaning and servicing someday before it gets going, or so I thought.

When I started inspecting this camera after getting it home, however, a new story started to emerge. Boy was I wrong. The camera looked so new, I could have sworn it had never been used. The chrome parts were immaculate, the leather was still supple and bouncy, and the lens was pristine with a brilliant purple coating. Mechanically, too, everything seemed perfect. The shutter fired well at all speeds, the lever advanced gracefully, the viewfinder was clear with moving frame-lines, and the meter seemed accurate when compared to a digital camera.

From my initial examination, the most surprising observation of all, was how intact the light seals were. In all the cameras of this age that I've experienced, the light seals were always sticky powedery messes that were waiting to disintegrate at the slightest touch. I just seems the leather shell in which the camera had been kept, protected it from whatever harm the passing of time could have brought its way. Maybe, the original owner never really shot it. Lucky me, whatever the case.

Konica's Auto-S2 was manufactured in the mid-1960's. Like rangefinders of its era, it is huge and hefty. It comes with a fixed 45mm lens that has a maximum aperture of f1.8, which can be stopped down to f16 with a continuous, clickless aperture ring. There's a leaf shutter that fires at speeds ranging from 1s to 1/500s, with an additional bulb mode. It also seems there's a shutter priority auto exposure mode — something I did not really pay attention to until I started writing this.

A little needle and dial on top of the camera for displaying the light meter's choices, and a built in extensible hood for the lens were some cool novelties I discovered on this camera. Aside those, everything else was pretty standard. You had the ever-present film advance lever, a film rewind crank, and on the bottom there was a battery check button, as well as the usual button that disengages the film for rewinding.

Shooting with this camera, however, was not an ordinary experience for me. The first intriguing thing was how short the travel distance of the focus ring was. I won't be wrong if I estimated it to be less than 2cm radially. And, in making this short distance even more pleasant, there was a tiny lever by the lens to help you turn the focus ring quickly. All these factors, coupled with a bright viewfinder — which has moving framelines &mdash made focusing fast and quite accurate.

I ran a couple rolls of film through this camera, and I was amazed by the quality of the results. Pictures were quite sharp, and probably thanks to its heft acting as a stabilizer, I managed to get in some handheld shots at 1/15s. My fascination with this camera really grew after I saw the quality of my first scans. They were just nice.

Based on my experience, I've became a Konica convert. I'll encourage you to be one too. In fact, while researching for this writeup, I realized there was also a rather rare version of this camera, the Auto S1.6, which had faster 45mm/f1.6 lens. Seems like something worth having. But, for now, I now have my sights set on the much more widely available Konica Auto S3, which comes in a smaller package with a wider 38mm/f1.8 lens. I'm still hoping one drops in a nearby thrift store or flea market soon.