Christopher J Osborne

Konica Autoreflex TC

Konica Autoreflex TC with 28mm f/3.5 lens mounted Konica Autoreflex TC with original sales brochure Konica Autoreflex TC rear

In the 1970s and 80s the market for enthusiast cameras was dominated by the 35mm SLR (single lens reflex). And the 35mm SLR market was dominated the 5 Japanese brands that were collectively known as the "big 5" (Canon, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax). Below that was the next tier of Japanese brands, the best known of which were Fujica (better known today as Fujifilm), Mamiya (today known exclusively for professional medium format equipment), Ricoh, Yashica, and the brand represented here: Konica.

In many ways the cameras made by these second tier Japanese brands were more interesting than the cameras made by the first tier brands, if only because it was even more important for these second tier brands to differentiate themselves with their own unique selling points to tempt buyer who would otherwise go for the more famous brands. For example, one of Konica's unique selling points in the 1970s and 80s was the unusual standard lens they supplied with their cameras: the slightly wider than usual Hexanon AR 40mm f/1.8. This lens is still highly sought efter to this day. Konica also gave us the world's first 35mm SLR camera with a built-in motor drive.

The Autoreflex TC was one of Konica's more conservative cameras. It was made between 1976 and 1982 as a budget alternative to the Konica's high-end AutoReflex T3 model with a much lighter plastic body and a slightly cut down specification. But given it's position as the budget model in Konica's range, it never-the-less has a very respectable specification, complete with shutter-speed priority automatic exposure with full manual over-ride.

Konica Autoreflex TC brochure This example (donated to my collection by a friend) unfortunately didn't come with the afore mentioned 40mm f/1.8 standard lens, instead coming with a 28mm f/3.5 wide-angle lens. But it was still a very welcome addition to my collection, not least as I already had the original sales brochure. If we are to belive the brochure, the letters "TC" stood for all manner of exciting sounding things: Tomorrow Camera, Total Convenience, Total Control, Total Creativity. I decided to scan the Konica AutoReflex TC brochure as it shows the entire range of 1970s Konica Hexanon lenses, wich included some very desirable high-speed options. Just select the image of the brochure cover to download it.

One problem with the Autoreflex TC is that it is designed for 1.35 volt mercury batteries which are no longer made, but the batteries only power the metering system… the shutter is mechanical so this camera can be used quite happily with no batteries at all (if you don't mind using a separate light meter). Just remember that the shutter is locked until you move the wind-on lever to it's stand-off position. What's more, the Autoreflex TC can reportedly be used with modern 1.4 volt 675 hearing aid batteries with little problem.

Technical specification: Konica Autoreflex TC
Camera Type:35mm TTL (Through-the-Lens metering) AEC (Automatic Exposure Control) SLR (Single-Lens-Reflex)
Film:Standard 35mm 20 or 36-exposure cassettes
Lens Mount:Konica Bayonet (47mm diameter)
Flange/Film Distance:40.5mm
Aperture Control System:Automatically sets correct f/stop (or fractional f/stop) with all Konica Automatic Hexanon and Hexar lenses.
Shutter:Metallic, vertical-scanning Copal Square
Shutter Speeds:Convenient top-mounted selector for all speeds 1/8th second to 1/1000th second plus "B" (for time exposures)
Flash Synchronization:Electronic flash synchronization at all speeds to and including 1/125th second. Built-In Hot Shoe for use with cordless (direct contact) electronic flash units. Also features standard PC Outlet, conveniently side-mounted.
Self-Timer:Built-In Variable delay, range approximately 4 to 10 seconds.
Viewing System:Parallax-Free Single Lens Reflex System. Coated, eye-level pentaprism shows upright, unreversed image; apparent magnification O.91X with 50mm lens.
Focusing Screen:Konica 3-way focusing system has split image rangefinder plus microdiaprism and fine ground glass focusing.
In-Finder Readouts:"Control-Center" viewfinder shows vital data at a glance: exact lens aperture being set automatically; under/over-exposure ranges; match-needle indicator for semiautomatic operation. Automatically signals when in manual exposure mode.
Reflex Mirror:Oversize, coated mirror prevents image cutoff in finder even with bellows extensions at 1:1 magnification. Mirror design permits automatic operation even with extreme wide-angle lenses. Instant-return mirror action prevents image blackout after exposure.
Exposure Control System:Fully Automatic Exposure Control (AEC) system selects and sets correct lens aperture (or fractional aperture) automatically, based on information obtained from dual through-the-lens CdS cells located in pentaprism.
Film Speed Range:ASA 25-1600
Meter Power Source:Two 1.35 Volt mercury photographic batteries, photographic type (Mallory PX-13, PX-625, Eveready EPX-625, or equivalent).
Exposure "Memory" Lock:Memorizes and holds exposure reading to allow precise meter operation in backlit or spotlight situations; operates via shutter release.
Meter Coupling (Sensitivity) Range:With ASA 100 film and f/1.7 lens EV 4.5 (1/8th see, at f/1.7) to EV 18 (1/l000th sec. at f/16). With f/1.2 lens, EV 3.5 (1/8th sec. at f/1.2) to EV 18. Meter automatically turns off if shutter speed selected is beyond meter EV Range.
Loading:Konica Fast Loading system uses multi-slotted take-up spool to grip film securely.
Film Transport:Single-stroke lever automatically advances film, winds shutter, counts exposures, and prevents unwanted double exposures. Lever returns to "ready" position away from camera body to permit continuous operation at eye-level. Unique spring-loaded lever action keeps lever in "ready" position until "Off" switch is pressed.
Unloading:Oversize rapid-rewind crank permits rewinding within seconds; cutaway film cassette chamber allows dropout cassette removal.
Other Features:Meter/Shutter "Off' Switch locks shutter, turns meter off; unlocked by engaging Transport Lever. Standard 1/4" X 20 Tripod Socket. Hot Shoe has automatic "off" control to prevent electrical shock when PC outlet is "live".
Dimensions:Body Only 136mm x 90mm x 45mm (5.4" x 3.5" x 1.8")
Weights:Body Only 510g (18.0 oz.)