Some people drive home from work, park their car somewhere on the street, go inside, do whatever they do, sleep, wake up, eat, and get in their car knowing it will turn on and get them to work again and again… Those people drive a Konica Auto S2. It’s a camera that will never be cool with the kids, never classic enough for the collector, but it will get you from point A to B.
OK, so it looks nicer than a Toyota Corolla or whatever other reliable car works with my car analogy, but I just wanted a cheap rangefinder camera to try out to see if I liked the experience. The lens is a bit wobbly and has been reported to be so on other reviews. The built in lens hood is missing (or maybe it was an accessory?). The viewfinder is bright, but not the brightest I’ve seen. The settings are a bit annoying to adjust individually. With all of these questionable qualities, I was wondering if I was getting a lemon. But… The lens. The Lens. The Truffula Lens! (OK so, I have a toddler and we quite enjoy reading The Lorax).
The lens is a 45mm f/1.8 Hexanon and I have always been impressed with the results–sharp with good contrast. I believe the ad for this camera was along the lines of, “The lens alone is worth the price”. Of course, this would have been directed to the consumer market and probably cost $800+ in today’s money. I paid $40 CAD two years ago and would gladly pay more if another came up near me. Maybe like $60?
I have only shot the Konica Auto S2 with manual settings, so I can’t speak for the Auto part of the name. The shutter is very quiet and might be one of the quietest I have used. That means nothing because I am biased. In fact, when I release the shutter, the camera whispers sweet nothings in my ear. Speaking of which, pressing the shutter always feels so inconsequential. If I continued with a car analogy, it’s like turning on an electric vehicle. The film advance lever is somewhere between good and bad. It does the job well, but I don’t feel emotions when using it… should I? Finally, the viewfinder is enjoyable to use, but I suspect focusing would be much easier if I didn’t wear glasses as the eye relief is not optimal for my frames. When there is a sharp or contrasting line near or on the subject, focusing is a breeze.
Last year, we visited Long Beach, WA for the 4th or 5th time. The location is beautiful and charming, and a perfect place to fly a kite. I brought with me the Konica and some Ilford FP4+. This film is excellent for enlargements as it is quite sharp and has fine grain. The contrast is quite pleasing as well. Since I can’t access the darkroom to develop and enlarge during this pandemic, I am learning how to digitize film with my dSLR. Here are some of the first I tried:
Aside from the excellent lens, the camera is good. I would recommend the Konica Auto S2 to someone wanting a camera that they can grab, go, snap beautiful pictures, and not worry about it throughout the day. If it were lost, the thought should be, “crap, I lost my film somewhere”.
Thanks for reading!