Point & Shoot

Konica Big Mini – Yeah, it’s not bad …

Konica Big mini

I bought the Konica big mini from a charity shop, I was so excited to have found a camera that I had read such positive reviews about in a charity shop. It was maybe all this excitement and hype that set this camera for a fall with me. It is a good camera, I’m just not quite sure it is the right camera for me…

I think the version I have is the Konica Big Mini 201, so really please consider the comments here as just based on this model. There is also a Konica Big Mini F which has a 2.8 lens and a couple of other varieties with a slightly different design and possibly other features.

The version I have has a 35mm 3.5 lens. With some fairly basic but not inconsequential features… Well, feature… That being the exposure compensation. All be it limited to -/+1.5ev and only available when the flash is set to off. To access the various modes of the camera there is a mode button, which unfortunately, is fairly hard to press. The button takes the Konica Big Mini through modes as follows: auto flash, flash on, flash off, flash off +1.5ev and flash off -1.5ev. Very simple, but actually that covers many of the likely eventualities for exposure compensation when using a compact.

Konica Big Mini

A positive start then. Well, yes, apart from the difficulty in pressing the Konica Big Mini’s buttons. It is also worth noting that the mode you set is reset when the camera is turned off, although the issue is partially resolved by the fact that the camera doesn’t turn off automatically. This would make for an ideal situation if the lens didn’t poke out so far when the camera was switched on. Whilst using the Konica Big Mini I have found myself switching it on and then carrying it around as such, which I suppose isn’t really an issue, it would just be nice if I could return it to my pocket without the worry of the settings being lost… A shame as it is certainly small enough to fit in the pocket comfortably when the lens is retracted.

Konica Big Mini

The viewfinder is ok for a compact, bright with clear frame lines and bright green focus confirmation and red macro focus indication in the form of a little flower. Although these get a little hard to see in bright light.

My main quibble with the usability of the Konica Big Mini is the shutter button. It takes a bit of a push to get it to fire and has no definitive click to its action. There is also no solid feeling of where the half press point is. Additionally to this, if it doesn’t obtain focus it doesn’t fire, which is fine, but you are left wondering if you haven’t pressed the button hard enough. Compared to the Yashica t5 which feels positively eager to take the photo, this camera feels borderline unresponsive.

Close up flowers by the house

The lens is nice and close focusing, this shot was taken at as close as I could get it to focus.

On the subject of focus, whilst on the beach, which is admittedly a slightly difficult arena for focusing systems, I found it nigh on impossible to get the shots I wanted. The Konica Big Mini really struggled to find my subject even when I was giving it a reasonably sized thing to lock on to (my daughter). This was the only time it really felt like it was struggling though, I just didn’t have the same issue with any other camera I shot with whilst on the same trip.

Connie on the Beach

Image quality wise. I need to run a roll of XP2 through it to feel entirely comfortable to give any real conclusive opinions so I’ll let you judge for your self for the most part. What I will say is that there does seem to be similarities between the Konica Big Mini and the Yashica T5. A vignette seems evident, and its wonderfully sharp… Although perhaps not as bitingly sharp as the Yashica T5.

Boats and houses in Aberdovey

Aberdovey

Tywyn beach

I mention the T5 as the two cameras are also held in comparison by the fact that they are both shot with by well known photographers. The Yashica by Terry Richardson, and theKonica Big Mini by Robert Frank. Now, if truth be told, I get a lot more out of Robert Frank’s photography, certainly the contents of “The Americans”, but of course none of those photos were taken with a Konica Big Mini. As far as I can tell, Robert Frank use of his Big Mini is far less documented than Terry Richardson’s use of a Y5. This perhaps explains why the big mini can be picked up a lot cheaper. Or perhaps it’s because the Konica Big Mini just isn’t as fun to use?

So yeah, as I say, it’s good… but it’s not all that! Given the option of the two it’s the Yashica T5 … but then there are lot’s more 35mm 3.5 (or faster) fish in the sea.

I did a little write up on cleaning the lens of this camera, so if you have bought one and its a little dusty in the lens, have a look here.

Cheers for reading

Hamish


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27 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    lee
    August 7, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Just discovered this site which looks really interesting and read this article. I’ve just found my old but never used Fuji DL Super Mini , with a fixed 28mm f2.8 lens, which I’ll put a film through. It’s a nice change from using digital SLR’s all the time. The styling of the Konica is very similar, in fact too much so not to be related.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish
      August 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      They have a similar shaped body to the lens. I think perhaps related by era rather than anything else though.

      You will have to share some photos taken with it with me… It is a camera that intrigues me!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    lee
    August 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    I’ll try and make a point of using it and I’ll get back to you. They were expensive when they were launched but not a sales success, probably due to the limited exposure control above all else. There are some very nice posts of images from them on the Internet,. If I dont get on with it I might sell it, I’d really like a Contax T3 but their rarity it making them expensive these days, but for me, the best 35mm compact produced, and just that bit more usable with the 35mm lens over the 40mm lens on the T2, as well as the problematic error issues on the non repairable T2.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      skinnie
      December 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      If you plan on sell it, please drop me a mail =)
      If I can’t get my hands on Super Mini I guess I will buy a Big Mini

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Urban Hafner
    September 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Man, I really don’t like this camera! I haven’t had much success with it. Like you said, it’s a bit sluggish. There’s also no half-press on the shutter button (the Olympus mju series cameras are great in that respect) and when you want to take a picture you have to press really, really hard. Then lens however is really nice. But then I haven’t gotten many well exposed shots because the meter isn’t that great. Oh well, on to the next camera.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Hamish
    September 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I think it is just that it doesn’t fire if it doesnt think its got focus, most cameras of this type seem to fire regardless and with DOF being so broad you just don’t notice it missed, or where you do you assume user error.
    Shots like the one of the boats above I found no issue with at all (from memory), it was just those odd situations where it didn’t want to fire that it just felt unresponsive. A shame really as size wise, features wise and lens wise its a great little camera!

  • Reply
    Week 35: The Konica Big Mini is not my favourite camera | 52 rolls
    September 20, 2013 at 11:54 am

    […] in week 35 I tried out the Konica Big Mini. It’s one of the better from the 90s. For some reason I got really excited and bought three. In week 35 I shot a roll in two of them. A roll of Fuji […]

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Shreck
    October 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    “There is also no solid feeling of where the half press point is. Additionally to this, if it doesn’t obtain focus it doesn’t fire, which is fine, but you are left wondering if you haven’t pressed the button hard enough.”

    I remember reading an instruction manual of this camera. Isnt there a small led light in the viewfinder that indicates focus point is set!?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish
      October 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Yeah, but its hard to see.
      Have a go with one … you will see what I mean!

  • Reply
    Konica Big Mini BM-301 | 6500K
    February 13, 2014 at 2:05 am

    […] of the camera and do not anticipate that being an issue, knock on wood. Photo by toshiQi on flickr Nice review at 35mmc Informative review at BKSPicture Nice photos on the lomography review Review by the Japan Camera […]

  • Reply
    {Two Rolls In} Konica Big Mini | Shoot With Personality
    April 27, 2014 at 12:50 am

    […] at 35mmc.com reported problems with the focusing system in a specific situation, but I haven’t encountered that so far (since I haven’t exactly been to the beach with […]

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Emily
    May 26, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Hey

    This is a bit of a longshot, but I was wondering if you had this still, and if you ever thought of selling it? It was the camera of my childhood and it’s just my favourite thing.
    If you are, drop me a line on my email.
    Thanks! and sorry for the random comment

    Emily

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Not too random! I gave it away though … sorry 🙁

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Emily
    May 27, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Aww, no worries. Thanks ever so much for getting back to me x

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 27, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Are you on twitter? The chap who has it says he might be interested in selling it …

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Emily
    May 27, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Oh yes I am!
    Eatonet
    Tag me and I’ll have a word. Thanks so much!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Wiama Daya
    December 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Hello there, my big mini always skip some frames, especially when i remove the battery, do you reckon what might be the issue? Thanks

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I’m not sure. I can’t remember if it is one of those cameras that automatically winds the film on a bit when you first put batteries in it… I know some cameras do that. Maybe thats it? Have you tired taking the batteries out and putting them back in when you haven’t got a film in it to see what it does?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    John
    October 1, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I also have the Big Mini (the BM-300) and the Yashica T4, There is no doubt that the t4 optics is better but for me the Konica is alot more responsive. My Yashica T4 takes bit to extend the lens and than shoot. The Konica has much less delay. I wonder if theres something wrong with Yashica T4. Does yours take picture instantly?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 1, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Yeah, it’s very fast indeed! The big difference is the feedback the shutter button feels like it gives – it just feels like it’s responding to you whereas the Konica button feels spongy and can lack a response when focus isn’t gained

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Daniel Pakes
    December 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Hey I have just bought this camera but unfortunately it came without a battery could you tell me which one I would need and where I can find it online? Thanks

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      December 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      CR123A – try the small battery company

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Manfredi
    July 7, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Hi Hamish! Sorry if i’m a little bit off-topic but i would just ask you how you scan your negatives. For sure you’ve already wrote about it in another article, but I can’t find it! Thank you (and sorry for my bad english!)

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      These were just a local minilab – I use AG at the moment, but have also just bought a scanner of my own so will be experimenting with that at some point

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Manfredi
        July 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

        Thank you for your reply! 😉

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Redefgh
    October 11, 2017 at 3:42 am

    Hi Hamish, sorry for the off topic. Could you please tell me what film did you use on this post. I really like the color and tones.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Portra 160, or maybe 400, I can’t remember

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