Konica IIIA (1958)

The Konica IIIA was the one before last of the famous Konica rangefinders from the fifties. It was also without a doubt one of the most innovative and original rangefinders of that decade, and this for two reasons:

Firstly, this camera has a very sophisticated viewfinder, which is very large and bright, well lit, and has a magnification ratio of 1:1. This makes it possible to view the scene through the viewfinder with the right eye while keeping the left one open. The perimeter of the frame in the viewfinder shrinks and extends during focusing, a system that corrects parallax and taking angle errors. This was one of the first cameras to be so equipped.


Konica IIIA with a Hexanon 50mm f1.8. (W)

Secondly, the Konica IIIA has an uncommon and very practical film advance lever, located on the front of the body to the left of the lens barrel. This lever has to be operated twice, once to cock the shutter mechanism, and a second time to advance the film. This system, bizarre-seeming at first, is very practical as it makes in possible to arm the camera and take pictures without removing the eye from the viewfinder.

The first Konica IIIA models are equipped with a Hexanon 48mm f2.0, a legendary lens, supposedly 'one of the best 10 lenses ever made by anyone'. The Konica IIIA was also available with a Hexanon 50mm f1.8 lens, excellent as well. Both lenses come with a very quiet shutter with flash synchronization from 1s to 1/500s + B, the Seikosha MXL.

The Konica IIIA is an elegant and very solid camera. Its weight allows for very sure handling. Its body is finished with extreme care and its operation is highly precise. The Konica IIIA quite obviously represents the very pinnacle of the first series of Konica fifties’ rangefinders. The magazine Popular Photography called it ‘one of the best 35mm cameras we have ever come across’.

The Konica IIIA has a cousin with built-in selenium meter, the Konica IIIM. The Konica IIIM was probably the very first Japanese 35mm camera to be thus equipped. The Konica IIIM had a Copal MXV shutter (which is easier to work on in case of need than the Seikosha MXL) and only came with the Hexanon 50mm f1.8 lens. This camera also has an accessory in the form of a half-frame mask. With this accessory in place to the rear of the shutter opening, in front of the film, the camera operates in half-frame mode (18mm x 24mm). It is quite rare to find a Konica IIIM with an operational meter, and exceedingly rare to find one with the half-frame mask to boot.