By Richard Baker
Getting rid of an old camera is like abandoning an old friend. For the last 10 years I have been photographing with my $50 Zorki-4. I have other cameras but I probably use this one the most because the camera is built like a Russian tank and rolls around the bed of my truck, or falls off the seat, or even occasionally takes a tumble from the door to the ground, and still works.
I would never treat a decent camera in such a way. The Zorki is rewarded by neglect, and harsh treatment. It is always available. If I run across anything happening in the world I have only to reach about the floor of my truck and my trusty pal will be there.
Years ago, I made a pact with my wife. Any time I acquire another camera, I must get rid of one. If not, like The Blob, the house would soon be overrun with photo equipment. I decided to make a huge upgrade, a top professional camera, a 1950’s Konica III, one of the best cameras of the time. In today’s money the camera cost about $1200, a small fortune in those days.
The Konica III is absolutely beautiful: gorgeous design, impeccable metal work, lovely machining, and a lovely, firm, confident weight in the hands. The camera is compact and with all the controls easily accessible. The 48mm f2 Hexanon lens is remarkably sharp. With six elements in five groups, images are tack sharp. Since acquiring the camera I often find myself just sitting around and holding the jewel in my hands.
After all these years the pebble grain leatherette on the body is immaculate. There are no scratches anywhere. All the controls are easily available. The film advance is especially unique. The advance is on the front of the body. Two strokes are required to cock the shutter and to advance the film. Some people do not appreciate this innovation. It works great for me. I can shoot pictures without taking the camera from my face.
The lens has an EV ring. Once the shutter and aperture are adjusted for the correct exposure, the ring locks the two together. When you move the EV ring the locked shutter/aperture combination move together so you maintain the correct exposure throughout a wide range of settings. I prefer to move each control independently. Fortunately the EV ring is simply removed. (Japan Vintage Camera has a YouTube video on the process.)
Opening the camera back to load film is tricky. The back opens like most cameras with a little C ring to move to the O position. You must then push down on the C ring to finish the process. Once the film is loaded and the back closed, move the ring to the C position to lock the door shut. If you forget to move the ring and leave it in the O position, the door will spring open if you set the camera down.
With the camera loaded I took off to a gay pride event to test it out. I enjoy photographing at such events because the people are always happy, pleasant, and they do not mind having their pictures taken.
As you can see, the camera takes beautiful pictures, snappy bright images. If you are a collector or just want a nice solid camera, this might be the choice for you.