New rangefinder, who dis?
A few months ago, around the time I started shooting film outside of work, I found a Konica Auto S2 in a closet. After messing with it a little bit, I realized the film winding lever was stuck and the shutter wasn’t open. I started by putting a new battery in it, but when that didn’t seem to work, I hit the all-powerful Google machine.
My research was pointing me towards a stuck self-timer, which is operated on this camera by a lever on the lens. From what I found online, it's fairly common for these to jam. The more I researched a repair, the more I lost motivation. The camera sat on my shelf for several months collecting dust, save for the occasional moment I would feel inspired, take it down, play with it for a second, maybe look through the viewfinder, and return it to its resting place.
Several days ago I had one of these instances. I took the camera down and pressed the shutter. To my surprise I heard a buzzing noise like an egg timer resonating from the lens. Holding the shutter button I examined the lens and saw the small lever for the self-timer moving, and eventually, stopping at the end of its path. There was then a click from within the camera. I tried the film winder and to my surprise, it had unlocked.
Giddy with excitement, I swapped the new battery back into the camera and started pointing it around my tiny, dimly-lit apartment, messing with the shutter speed and aperture (both of which are operated by rings on the fixed lens). The needle on the meter jumped and bounced as the lens moved over different colored surfaces in my kitchen.
I fired the shutter several times with the back open and everything seemed to be working. The film was winding, the aperture blades were opening consistently as I moved the ring on the lens, and the leaf-shutter was opening and closing at different speeds based on what the camera was set to.
My excitement brewing, I grabbed a roll of film and loaded it. I marked the film, closed the back, fired a shot, wound it and reopened it. To my disappointment, the film had only advanced about half as far as it should have, four holes (its supposed to move eight). I marked it again, closed it and repeated. This time the film had moved forward seven holes. I repeated again, and this time it moved forward the complete eight holes. I tried this two more times, each time seeing it move the specified amount.
I spent the next few days walking around my town with Fujicolor 200C loaded.
First off, let me say I’ve never been a huge fan of prime lenses for my professional work. I use them with my film cameras (two Minolta X-370’s), a 28mm and a 50mm. The KAS2 has a fixed Hexanon 45mm f/1.8 lens. This took some adjustment, being as how I prefer most of my shots to be on the wide side of life.
The other big adjustment was going from having a ring on the lens for an aperture and a dial on the body for shutter speed. Both of these settings are operated by rings on the lens on the KAS2. To me, it feels slow and clunky. I set the aperture, then adjust the shutter speed until the needle on the meter pointed to the aperture I had it set on. Basically, I operated the camera like it was in aperture priority mode.
I also had to keep reminding myself that what I see in the viewfinder isn’t what the lens was seeing, as it is on any SLR, film or digital. I kept having to remind myself to pay attention to the bright yellow borders in the viewfinder, as those are the boundaries of the image. Focusing, surprisingly, came somewhat easy, although it's hard to do in low light.
All in all, this camera is fun to shoot. It’s definitely a bit on the bigger side, commonly being compared to the Yashica Electro 35. In addition to being so large, it’s built like a tank. The construction feels solid and durable and it has a nice weight to it. The shutter is nice and quiet, which helps to make it less-threatening for street photographers than a loud, crunchy SLR.
For the most part, I’m relatively happy with the results. The images are nice and sharp and have good contrast. It seems like the viewfinder may be a little off, or I need to improve my aim (which is more likely).
Here’s a few samples, shot at box speed on Fujifilm C200 35mm film. These photos were developed and scanned by The Darkroom.
I’m definitely planning to keep playing with and experimenting with this camera, although I’m not quite sure that I’m at the point of making it a permanent fixture in my bag.
All photos (C) Brian Wells 2018. All rights reserved.