Pekka Buttler, 08/2022
The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications (measurements are based on the sample pictured above):
|Brand:||Konica||Lens name||HEXANON AR 52mm F 1.8|
|Focal length(s)1||52 mm||Angle-of-view2||45°|
|Maximum Aperture||f/1.8||In Production||1965–1974|
|Lens mount||Konica AR||Subfamily (if applicable)||––|
|Length3||42,2 mm||Diameter4||62,3 mm|
|Filter ring diameter||55 mm||Weight||229 grams|
|Lens element count||6||Lens group count||5|
|Aperture blades (S/R/C)5||6 S||Focus throw||210 °|
|Minimum focusing distance||45 cms||Maximum magnification||1:6,5|
|Has manual aperture ring||YES||Has Manual focus ring||YES|
• First off: everyone has a nifty fifty, but Konica has a nifty fifty-two.
• Due to Konica’s cooperation with German retailer Foto-Quelle, this lens can also be found rebranded as ‘Revue’.
• This lens’ ancestor is the Konica F 52 mm f/1.8 (1962–1965) and it was replaced in 1973–1974 by the marginally faster and wider Konica Hexanon AR 50 mm f/1.7.
History of Konica AR lenses
Konica is one of those names that will not ring any bells to those who’ve only recently started photographing, but for many years Konica was one of the ‘Great Japanese camera companies’.
After a short-lived and only moderately successful line of SLR cameras known as the Konica F-line (1960-1965), Konica hit pay dirt with the introduction of the Konica Auto-Reflex in 1965 and its new, Konica AR mount. The Auto-Reflex was at the time the first affordable system camera with integrated auto-exposure (albeit the exposure metering was not yet TTL). The Auto-Reflex was followed by a two lines of successful cameras – the more ambitious Autoreflex T-line and the more pedestrian Autoreflex A-line – before Konica (along with the rest of Japanese camera companies) stepped up the automation of their SLR cameras with the 1-series (FS-1, FC-1, FP-1, and FT-1).
But while Konica had often been at the forefront of automation (first shutter priority auto-exposure system, first SLR with integrated winder), Konica’s star had been waning, and Konica decided to not compete against the likes of Minolta, Nikon, Canon, and Pentax in autofocus technology. Instead Konica withdrew from SLR and SLR lens manufacture and focused on compacts and other optoelectronics. Two decades later Konica merged with Minolta to form KonicaMinolta, which subsequently sold its camera business to Sony. So, after a fashion, the DNA of Konica’s camera business lives on in Sony’s camera division.
Relevantly, the Konica AR mount had a relatively good and long (1965–1987) run, and stayed remarkably unchanged throughout. Hence, while Konica changed the design of their AR lenses during those years – moving towards lighter constructions, rubber focus rings, and a more modern look (for more detail, look here) – all AR lenses are physically entirely compatible with all AR-mount bodies.´
In something of a bold move, Konica introduced its first, flagship SLR (the 1960 Konica F) without a nifty fifty. Instead, the Konica F’s standard lens was the even faster Konica F 52 mm f/1.4. The nifty fifty was subsequently introduced in 1962 together with the follow-on models (Konica FS, FSW) in 1962. That lens was later converted from F-mount to AR-mount and the AR-mount version is the focus of this article.
That, initial 1965 AR-mount nifty fifty was manufactured in massive numbers (almost every Konica body came with one), and was subject to every whim and trend the Konica lens and industrial designers came up with. As a result, there are an extensive number of cosmetically and ergonomically distinct variants, and as I could not hope to offer anything beyond Andreas Buhl’s painstaking account, I’ll rather refer you there. Suffice it to say, that most 52/1.8’s have a chrome ring (such as the sample pictured below), all have metal focus rings, and some have an EE/AE lock feature.
n.B! The following applies to all Konica AR mount lenses.
This lens cannot be used natively on any current SLR or dSLRs. To use it in its native environment, you will need a Konica AR-mount film body.
Thanks to being a fully manual lens (manual aperture, manual focus), the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable adapter. Moreover, Konica AR lenses are so uncomplicated that a simple ‘dumb adapter’ will do the job perfectly. However, due to Konica AR lenses not being among the most numerously manufactured, special adapters (helicoid adapters, tilt/shift adapters) are not easy to come by and speed boosters are currently unavailable.
Using Konica AR lenses on dSLRs is possible, but difficult. Due to the exceptionally short flange focal distance of the Konica AR mount (at 40,5 mm, a lot shorter than that of any full-frame dSLR mount), any adapter will necessitate some optics to achieve anything near infinity focus.
1 Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’.
2 Picture angle is given in degrees (based on manufacturers’ specs) and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
> 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
< 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens
3 Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity.
4 Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers.
5 S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures.