This is a review of the Konica TC-X 35mm camera fitted with a Hexanon AR 50mm f/1.8 lens.
These pictures can also be viewed full sized here.
I purchased this camera for £7.70 mainly for the attached lens – the Hexanon AR 50mm f/1.8. The Hexanon range have a great reputation, although some research after I’d purchased the camera suggests that this is a slightly newer version which isn’t quite up to the standard of the original Haxanon series.
As it happens, when I received the camera I found that the lens actually had some fungus on the back element so the first job was to see if it could be removed. Fortunately I found I could remove the lens mount from the back of the lens by just removing 4 screws and the back element could then be extracted after a plastic ring was unscrewed. I found the fungus was on the inner of the back two elements which was a compound lens assembly, but only on the outside surface fortunately, so with a small amount of lens cleaning fluid I could wipe it off and it doesn’t seem to have etched the coatings or the glass.
With the lens clean I turned attention to the rest of the camera and found that the light meter wasn’t working. This was another simple issue, the contacts on the battery compartment just needed to be cleaned with a cotton bud and a little bit of IPA and the meter needle in the viewfinder started responding to light.
Other than a good coating of grime, which is to be expected with a camera of this age, everything else seems to be working as expected.
Konica TC-X DX Description
The Konica TC-X was the last SLR camera which Konica made. Or rather I should say it was the last SLR which Konica had made, because this camera was actually made by Cosina for Konica. It was produced, according to the Konica wikipedia page, between 1985 and 1987 and I suspect my model was one of the earlier versions because the lens has a silvered ring around the filter ring which was apparently removed in later versions.
It is a very simple camera both to use and in terms of its feature set.
It was the first camera body to be made completely from plastic which makes it very light, but probably resulted in it being viewed as quite flimsy at the time. Although we are used to plastic camera bodies these days, the better units are normally a plastic coating over a metal chassis, so even today I view some of the cheaper plastic bodies with suspicion.
Another first for the camera was it’s use of DX coding to read the film speed rating and because it was new, the camera also has the ability to select a film speed for non DX coded films.
Aside from these new features, the camera is actually quite limited in its specification. The shutter has no speed below 1/8sec, and although the exposure system offers shutter priority auto exposure, the display in the viewfinder is quite dated for a camera released in the mid 1980’s. There is a simple meter needle down the left hand side of the viewfinder which shows the selected aperture setting for the current shutter speed. I would assume that this camera was aimed squarely at the ‘snapshot’ market rather than the serious amateur, which is something of a surprise considering Konica’s history in camera manufacture.
I read another review of the TC-X which said that the viewfinder is very dull and I can concur that is the case. I only have one Konica mount lens, the 50mm f/1.8 which came with this camera, but the viewfinder is certainly not as clear or bright as an f/1.8 lens suggests it should be. As well as the aperture information in the viewfinder there is also a red flag which appears on the right hand side if the camera is out of Auto Exposure mode. The mode selection is carried out on the lens by the way – there is an AE setting at the end of the aperture scale which locks and sets the camera to Auto Exposure. When it’s unlocked the camera is in manual mode and the needle in the viewfinder just shows the aperture the camera suggests.
I don’t want to paint a completely dull picture about the TC-X however because there are some positives for the camera. For a start it is completely mechanical and so can be used without a battery if required. Obviously in that situation the metering and auto exposure wouldn’t work so it will be fully manual operation, but with the application of the Sunny 16 rule that shouldn’t be an impossible hurdle. In fact, if shooting colour negative film there is so much latitude that as long as you are sure the film is exposed enough (i.e. err on the side of over exposure) the shots will normally be ok. One slight oddity with the TC-X is that even though it’s a completely mechanical camera and doesn’t need the battery to work, it does need to be switched on because there is a mechanical shutter lock coupled to the on/off switch so the shutter won’t release without the switch being in the on position.
Another plus for the TC-X is the fact that the battery it uses is a very commonly available AAA battery, so you can pick one up almost anywhere.
The TC-X feels oddly nice to use. I expected the plastic body to feel flimsy, but in actual fact when using the camera it doesn’t flex or bend and is nice in the hand. The shutter has a very satisfying ‘clunk’ and sounds a lot more precise than I expected it to. Although the viewfinder is quite dark it’s ok to use in daylight, although a diagonal split image focusing aid would have been better than the horizontal one fitted. All in all not a bad first example of a Konica camera so I’ll add some of the better cameras that Konica made to my wish list.
Konica TC-X DX specifications
- Konica TC-X DX 35mm manual focus camera
- Limited shutter speed range of 1/8sec to 1/1000sec
- Fully mechanical shutter – runs without batteries
- Shutter release lock combined with on/off switch.
- Shutter priority auto exposure system
- DX coded film speed setting with manual override
- Self timer
- Suggested aperture data visible in viewfinder
- Red flag warning when not in AE mode
- Split image focusing aid in viewfinder
- Cable release threaded shutter release
- Light weight plastic body
- Tripod socket
- Hot shoe with flash sync.
- Flash sync at 1/60sec
- Hexanon AR 50mm f/1.8 plastic body lens with metal mount
- Single AAA battery for auto exposure circuit
- Body Ser No: 156499
- Lens Ser No: 7075784