Konica FC-1 (1980-1981)


The FC-1 is a relatively obscure camera. To all intents and purposes, it’s an FS-1 without the built-in winder. The two cameras’ controls are very similar. Just as with the FS-1, the FC-1’s large shutter speed dial turns continuously in either direction, but it is mounted flush with the front of the camera body, where it can be turned with the tip of the forefinger, in contrast to that of the FS-1, whose shutter speed dial is flush with the back of the camera and is most easily turned by the thumb. On the FC-1 the shutter release button was moved to the center of the shutter speed dial to make room for the film advance lever. To make this possible, the film speed dial was relocated to the left of the body, where it sits on the same axis as the film rewind crank.

The absence of the winder, and of the batteries needed to power it, makes the FC-1 a much lighter camera than the FS-1. Instead of four ‘AA’ alkaline batteries, it uses four 1.5v alkaline or silver oxide button batteries placed in a little plastic tray that slides into the camera. This ~6v current only powers the camera’s light meter, electronic shutter and exposure system. The lack of motorized film advance gives this model greater autonomy as well: the small 1.5v batteries that power the camera have an infinitely longer life than the ‘AA’ batteries in the FS-1. The problems having to do with the FS-1’s electronics having been eliminated, the FC-1 is also a more dependable camera than the FS-1.

The missing battery compartment also means the FC-1 does not have the ergonomics of the FS-1. It’s compact and lightweight, and handles more like a TC or a T4. To my mind, this is an aspect that makes it one of the Konica’s most interesting cameras. The handling of the FC-1 will please those who like the feel and operation of a more traditional SLR, while giving them the benefits of an advanced electronically controlled shutter and metering system. On the other hand, this more traditional appearance and handling is probably the main reason why the FC-1 was somewhat eclipsed by the FS-1 and the FT-1 with their innovative film advance systems.

The FC-1 has a unique and simply brilliant film loading system: After placing the film in the camera, just place the end of the film flat on the take-up spool, close the film back, and crank the film transport lever three times until it blocks. This is done with no need to depress the shutter release button. At this point, the film has reached frame no. 1 and the camera is ready for operation. This is the simplest and most ingenious manual film loading system I have ever come across.

The FC-1 has exactly the same bright viewfinder as the FS-1. Aperture values, as well as all other indicators, such as over or under exposure, manual operation and battery condition, are indicated by means of LEDs. Like Konica’s other electronic SLRs, the FC-1 also has a metering and exposure system that is more precise and dependable than that of Konica’s older mechanical SLRs. Unfortunately, a number of features present on Konica’s older mechanical models are missing on the FC-1. These include DOF preview, shutter speed display in the viewfinder, mirror pre-fire, and exposure memory lock.

The FC-1 was also designed to work with one of two dedicated flashes – the X-24 or the X-36, a feature it also shares with Konica’s other electronic SLRs. Placing the flash on the hot-shoe automatically sets the camera’s shutter speed to 1/100s. At this point, the user has to choose the desired aperture setting on the flash - either f5.6 or f11. During exposure, the thyristor on the flash unit will adjust the intensity of the light burst in keeping with lighting conditions. This ‘semi-automatic’ mode is present on all Konica electronic SLRs. Although it is satisfactory enough for casual flash use, it is not up to demanding flash photography. For the latter, manual flash operation gives more control and predictability over the results obtained.

The FC-1 can be used with a number of other accessories besides the above-mentioned flashes. Konica made an auxiliary winder (Winder F) to be used with the FC-1 (and the FP-1). This winder is much smaller than the one used with the Autoreflex T4 and takes only four AA batteries, instead of six. Like Konica’s other electronic SLRs, it has a little electronic port on the front of the housing into which one can connect things like a shutter release cable, a shutter release button for left-handed users. An interval timer or a radio remote control can also be connected, but the lack of motorized film advance makes the use of such accessories on the FC-1 impractical.

Despite its resemblance to the FS-1, the FC-1 shares a number of traits with the model that followed it – the FP-1. The FC-1 and the FP-1 are to only two Konica bodies on which the rewind crank serves to open the camera back, as is the case with the majority of SLRs made by other makers. Other aspects the two models have in common include the film advance system, the film speed selector dial located on the same axis as the film rewind crank and, of course, the auxiliary Winder F. 


Characteristic features:

Large black, continuous movement shutter speed dial with shutter release button in its center. The film speed selector is located on the axis of the film rewind crank. The name of the model is located on the front of the body.