Konica Kristmas: Return to Auto S1.6


Time for another Konica post. This time it is for a camera I already owned and have used before, the Konica Auto S1.6. Saying that I have used before is an exaggeration. I used it a couple of times only, then got carried away with other cameras and forgot all about it. Well, a little bit anyway. It turns out I first used that camera at a fertility festival and it has phallic shaped statue photos. So every now and then a bot or something reports the post for indecent photos. I am not taking it down though…it’s culture. Anyway, here is the camera.

Just over a year ago I decided to use it again. My belief is you have to keep using your cameras on rotation or they might stop working altogether, seize up, plus it is fun. So I loaded it up and took it out for a walk. About a hundred meters from my house the neck strap slid through the eyelets and the camera crashed to the ground. 😦

I looked it over and I couldn’t see much damaged, just a couple of scratches to the plastic around the viewfinder. Phew, Lucky. So I reattached the strap…with plenty of testing and carried on with my walk.

I managed to take two shots before I found the camera had not escaped unscathed. The film was not advancing as it should. I took it home and rewound the film in a dark bag. Then I loaded a spare film to watch what happened. There is a part inside the spool that was spinning on advance, but the main spool wasn’t turning causing the film to jam in the take up compartment. I tried loading it a few times and the same thing happened each time. Bugger.

I didn’t feel comfortable taking the camera apart myself, plus I was visiting a more technically minded friend soon (before Covid times). I took this camera along and asked, pretty please, if he would take a look at it. He agreed. I said not to worry about the skin as I could replace it with something else…though I would be disappointed if the truth be told.

Roll on a year or so and my friend said he hadn’t been able to fix it. I decided to sell a couple of cameras and get it CLAd. The camera was posted back to me and just to be sure it really didn’t work, I loaded a film…it didn’t jam.

I asked my friend again, are you sure you didn’t fix it? He said, he couldn’t get it to work at all. Strange. I used a dummy film and used it to the end and rewound it, reloaded it and did it again. No jamming. I checked all the shutter speeds, they were fine. I checked all the apertures, fine too. I put a battery in and tried the light meter, fine. The only thing that was an issue was the wind-on lever was a bit loose but all in all it seemed to be working as it should.

Time to test with a fresh roll of HP5 and a much better strap. Once home again I developed the film.

It really was working. The photos seem fine, the meter was obviously working on auto as I mainly used that setting, with a few ones on manual to compare the results.

While using the camera I could see the rangefinder wasn’t aligning properly. That wasn’t an issue for shots at infinity, but with the bicycle wheel shot you can see clearly the carpet is focused. I actually tried to focus on the wheel. Well bugger, so close but no cigar. Of course I wasn’t going to leave it at that, I did a little research and found this video.

I decided to take off the top as I could clean the insides at the same time. To be fair the viewfinder was pretty clean and I could clearly see the second image. But here is a handy video, what have I got to lose? I had though it was broken before.

I couldn’t get the black rangefinder cover off due to a stripped screw, but there was access to the horizontal and vertical alignment screws. So I left that cover on in order to avoid unnecessary damage.

I then focused the camera on a house in the distance, the infinity alignment was off. I turned the screws as per the instructions in the video until infinity focusing was perfectly aligned in the viewfinder. Then I carefully put it all back together. I then loaded a Fuji 100 film and went for another walk, trying to capture images that would demonstrate the focusing at a variety of distances.

Here are the results.

With the last few shots I added a flash, just because I haven’t ever done so. I didn’t know the sync speed so put it on 1/60th at that point.

Well, they aren’t too shabby eh?? Sharp and well exposed. Yatta!!

My friend said he didn’t fix it, but he did. Well done him, he is cleverer than he thinks. Plus I managed to fix the focusing myself. AND to top it all off the wind on lever is now perfect, the result of taking the top cover off I suppose. What a super result!

If you want to know more about the history of Konica and this camera, check out Mike Eckman’s post here.

Oh…as a bonus piece of information, while doing this I finished the book “Magnum Contact Sheets“. I wondered how to make a contact sheet using my files and a Mac. I found an app called “Contact Page Lite“. It worked beautifully for me. I tried it with the first film posted here.

Here are the results, this is one jpg. The app makes a PDF, I converted it in Preview so I could upload it here.

I don’t know when I will use it again, but still…good to know.

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6 comments

  1. Looks like this Konica is a winner! I have an S2 and like it a lot — when I culled my camera collection it was one of only two large rangefinder cameras I kept. (The other is the Yashica Lynx 14e.)

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