Time of production 

Konica placed a production code on most photographic equipment it made starting from the middle 1950s. This code is formed of two digits – a number followed by a letter. The number indicates the year of production while the letter stands for a month of that year. On most Konica equipment, that code is to be found on a little sticker, commonly referred to as the Sakura sticker, Sakura being Konica’s in-house film brand. At first this sticker had the shape of a thin elongated ellipse but in the mid-1970s it changed to a much larger rectangle. This sticker is usually located on the inside of a camera’s film door, usually near the hinge. On Konica’s two motorized SLRs, the sticker is found under the battery housing. The Sakura stickers have a metal foil surface and the code is punched onto that surface, so it is sometimes difficult to see.

On Hexanon lenses, the code was applied – probably using some form of rubber stamp – on the baffle surrounding the lens’ rear optical element. It is stamped in white, and this makes it stand out against the black baffle.As a result, production codes on Hexanon lenses are easy to see, in contrast to the codes punched on the Sakura stickers. The stamping is not always neat, indicating that Konica’s commendable quality standards did not always extend to code stamping. Fortunately, it is a rare occurrence to come upon a lens whose production code is illegible.

For some reason the stamping of production codes came relatively late to Hexanon lenses: Konica’s F-mount lenses have no code. On AR-mount lenses production codes are to be found only on lenses made from 1972 onwards. This means that the first two Hexanon lens versions (A and B-type) are not coded. The code was introduced a couple of years after the production of the third Hexanon lens version (C-type) began, thus about 60% of them are coded. The great majority of Hexanon lenses of the fourth lens version (D-type) are coded. The few lenses of this version that aren't are the ones which also exist as Hybrid lenses. The latter were the first Hexanons to appear as a D-type lens, about a year before the production code was introduced. All lenses of the fifth Hexanon version (E-type) are coded. In the extremely rare event when a D-type lens (with the above mentioned exception) or E-type lens shows up without a code, I think it likely someone simply rubbed it off, not realizing what it was.

Below are four tables showing 1) the basic Hexanon lens versions; 2) other Hexanon lens types; 3) a timeline depicting the production of Hexanon lenses over the years; and 4) a key to deciphering the production code.

The first two tables are a guide to the parameters of different Hexanon versions and types. Please bear in mind that there are occasional exceptions to the general rule in certain categories, like the 55/3.5 macro lens, which appears mostly as a D-type lens, but has a smallest aperture opening of f22 (f32 when used with its dedicated macro adapter).

The third table is a timeline showing when and for how long a given version or type of lens was manufactured. Please note that the progress of time on this table moves from left to right. If a given lens category is depicted above or below another one, this does not mean to imply it was made earlier or later. Also, the relative right-to-left positioning of the yellow, orange and red 'EE' markings bear no relation to any specific year, as any of the three can be seen on lenses made from 1968 to 1974.

The production spans on this table have been determined – and in some cases estimated – on the basis of dozens of Konica lens and camera brochures, technical data sheets, and instruction manuals published between 1965 and 1985, in conjunction with a database of 12,000 Hexanon and Hexar lenses. For more on this database, see Section 5.

Having used the third table to determine the decade and year in which a lens was made, you can move on to the fourth table, which presents the key to the production code letters, each of which stands for a specific month of the year. For more on this key, see Section 5.