The Konica Big Mini series is a premium line-up from Konica. These cameras are known for their sleek design while still being decent performers. The last of the line-up was the Konica Big Mini F. As the name suggests, the Big Mini F has a wider aperture of f2.8 compared to f3.5 of its predecessors. The Big Mini F also has a metal front shell as seen on previous models. Despite its reputation, the Big Minis don’t get talked about very much.
The Konica Big Mini F is a gorgeous minimalist camera, its design can not be mistaken as one of the cheap looking plastic cameras from the 90s. The lens cover is a clear sheet of glass which exposes the lens even when the camera is turned off, while this makes the camera pleasing to look at, but you’ll risk smudging or even worse, scratching the lens. The build quality is substantial, the finish of both plastic and metal surface have a premium feel to it. The ergonomic of the Big Mini F is great, the camera feels secured in my hand thanks to the boxy body and the rubber grip. It’s secured enough so that I can hold it in one hand without the fear of dropping it. The camera control layouts favor right-handed operation, the control layouts are shifted to the right. As a result, one-handed shooting is a pleasant experience with the Konica Big Mini F.
At the top of the Konica Big Mini F there’s the power switch and the shutter button. The shutter button on the Big Mini F is not that great, it’s extremely shallow and unresponsive like its predecessors. It’s big, but there’s no sense of half press and there’s no satisfaction of releasing the shutter due to its shallowness.
On the back of the Konica Big Mini F the controls buttons are laid out neatly along with the always on LCD display. The buttons on the back are unfortunately also hard to press, they are tiny and mushy. You must press it in hard with the tip of your thumb to trigger the buttons. The viewfinder is big and bright, there’s no info displayed in the viewfinder, only bright lines for framing.
The Konica Big Mini is a P&S at its core, so you won’t get much control over it. The shooting modes on this camera are usual on a typical P&S, with an additional exposure compensation of ±1.5. Being the last release, the Konica Big Mini F is equipped with an advanced active infrared autofocus system. This means the camera can focus faster, more accurate especially in the dark where lighting is insufficient. The camera has a good range of shutter speed from 1/450-4sec which should be good enough for daily use. The lens on the Konica Big Mini F is full of characters, it’s sharp and contrasty. The images rendered with this lens are dreamy with a subtle swirl-blur on out of focus areas.
Shooting In Daylight
The Konica Big Mini F lens in daylight produces sharp images, strong contrast and pleasing vignette. You may want to avoid direct light because this camera produces very ugly flare, it has the typical rainbow flare you may see on many plastic lenses. All of the images below are were with Ektar 100.
Shooting In Lower-light
Thanks to the active focus beams, the camera performs well in low light. Focusing still remains fast and accurate. It also prefers opening the lens to a bigger aperture than slower shutter speed. You can tell when it opens wide, there’s a significant chromatic aberration along the corner, but the center is still quite sharp. All of the images below were shot with Fujifilm Fujicolor 200.
One thing the Konica can do and does very well is close up shots.The Lens on the Konica Big Mini F can focus as close as 35cm. Close-ups shots exhibit even more contrast and rotating blur, which make the subject stand out even more.
Konica Big Mini F Conclusions
Should you own a Konica Big Mini F in 2020? The answer is probably that you shouldn’t, unless you really need that f/2.8 aperture which can be justified since the camera does open up to that aperture. But even then you might want to take heed of the warnings here.
When I bought this Konica Big Mini F it was at the price of a Olympus Mju II and in perfect condition. Nowadays, it’s impossible to find one for under $350 in good condition, and you will have to source one from Japan. Fortunately though, you can buy the previous model the BM-201 and the BM-301 or even the Big Mini A4, these easier to find models go for a reasonable price, just as stylish and should perform similarly.