Data sheet: Konica Hexanon AR 57 mm f/1.4

Pekka Buttler, 08/2022

Specifications

The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications:

Brand:KonicaLens nameHEXANON AR 57mm F 1.4
Focal length(s)157 mmAngle-of-view242°
Maximum Aperturef/1.4In Production1965–1972
Lens mountKonica ARSubfamily (if applicable)––
Length342,2 mmDiameter465,2 mm
Filter ring diameter55 mmWeight278 grams
Lens element count6Lens group count5
Aperture blades (S/R/C)56 SFocus throw255 °
Minimum focusing distance45 cmsMaximum magnification1:5,7
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:
• During the time of this lens’ production, Konica had an agreement with German retailer/rebrander Revue, leading to that Konica optics and cameras were also available under the Revue-name. If you find a lens saying “Revue” and “57 mm f/1.4”, it most likely is a version of this lens.
• Konica offered a dedicated lens hood for the 57 mm f/1.4, but these are today relatively hard to come by. Alternatively, one may use any generic 55 mm thread standard to short tele hood. I have the hood for the Konica 100 mm f/2.8 and it works perfectly on both its intended lens, as well as the 85/1.8 and the 57/1.4 (!)

History (when relevant)

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.´

Versions

Besides an early and seemingly very rare preset version, the Konica Hexanon AR 57 mm f/1.4 was produced in 4–5 versions. While the overall recipe (6 elements, 5 groups) stayed unchanged, ergonomic features (such as AE lock) were added and the lens’ casing was changed in every version, leading to that measurements regarding diameter, length and weight given in the specifications above reflect only the pictured version. For descriptions of the versions, see Andreas Buhl’s fantastic resource.

The lens pictured above (my sample) is of the newest type, meaning it was likely manufactured between 1970 and 1973.

Adapting

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.

Footnotes

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.