Koni-Omega (1968)

I use here the name Koni-Omega to refer to a line of cameras made by Konica between 1964 and 1975. The names of these cameras varied somewhat, but they shared the principal traits for which I decided to include the Koni-Omega here. The technical differences between those cameras can be explored more in depth on the site of Peter Lanczak, who created the most extensive website devoted to Konica medium format cameras.

At first glance, the Koni-Omega looks like a portable X-ray machine. This is a misleading impression, for it is a 6x7 medium format rangefinder for 120 or 220 film, with interchangeable lenses and film backs. It was mostly intended as a press camera, which explains its somewhat disconcerting appearance and its extremely robust construction. But the area in which this camera was to know its greatest successes is wedding photography. This success is largely due to its silent shutter and to the high optical quality of its lenses, the strong point of any system.


Photo: Marco Badot. Reproduced with permission.


The Koni-Omega is equipped with a shutter cocking and film advance lever that operates a bit like a rifle bolt that one pulls out and pushes back rapidly. Of course, this produces a characteristic sound that must have taken quite a few people aback. In truth, I am at a loss to understand how this contraption could have proven so successful in wedding photography.

The Koni-Omega can host 4 different lenses. These are the 58mm f5.6, the 90mm f3.5, the 135mm f3,5, and the 180mm f4.5. All these lenses are equipped with a leaf shutter with M and X flash synchronization at 1s to 1/500s + B. Focusing is done by turning a large knob that shifts back and forth the entire lens assembly thanks to a rack and pinion mechanism. The Koni-Omega viewfinder is very large and bright. It has mobile frame-lines for parallax correction. The optical quality of the images produced by the Koni-Omega system is comparable to that produced by Rollei or Hasselblad cameras.

The Koni-Omega is a camera that one has to get used to, so different it is. It is very robust and heavy. It is also very intelligently designed and has a number of safety features (without dark slide in place, you can’t change backs, change lenses, or take a photo). The weak point of this system is that with time the film backs tend to develop spacing problems. On the other hand, it costs a fraction of the price of other medium format systems.