■ Autoreflex T3 (1973-1974)
The Autoreflex T3 is as large and solid as its predecessors, but it’s a camera that is much more evolved. While the Autoreflex T2 was an improved version of the Autoreflex T, whose design flaws had drawn some criticism from photographers, the new features present in the Autoreflex T3 were introduced without any urging from camera users. Almost all the controls of the T3 were redesigned and the end result was a camera whose operation was quieter, smoother and generally more pleasant.
The shutter release button, always a source of commentary with the Autoreflexes, was greatly improved. This required a wholesale redesign of Konica’s patent mechanical trap-needle automatic exposure system. In Konica’s previous SLRs, the spring which actuated this mechanism was coupled to the shutter release button, making it hard to press. In the Autoreflex T3, the necessary tension is provided by energy contained in the tensioned shutter and film advance mechanism. The result was a shutter release button whose travel was very short and smoother than many other SLRs available at the time: to release the shutter it now took only half the force and a third of the travel (2mm) needed to do so on the T2. In addition to sheer ease of operation, this improvement considerably reduced vibration at lower shutter speeds.
The list of new and improved features on the Autoreflex T3 includes:
- a redesigned self-timer lever serving as a DOF preview and auxiliary exposure lock button,
- a lock collar at the base of the shutter release button, with a meter switch (switched to the ‘ON’ position when the film is advanced) and a battery tester,
- a thicker and soft rubber covered film transport lever,
- a smoother and quieter wind stroke,
- a film advance and armed shutter indicator,
- an enlarged film pressure plate and longer film guides contributing to greater film flatness,
- a dampened shutter action,
- a magnified exposure counter,
- reinforced neck-strap lugs,
- improved light baffling around the film gate,
- a slot to hold the end of a film box placed on the back of the film gate.
One major new feature of the Autoreflex T3 is its multiple exposure function, offered by Konica for the first time. In order to cock the shutter without advancing the film, one has to hold a button at the base of the shutter speed dial while operating the film advance lever. The Autoreflex T3 (and its later version, the T3N) is Konica’s only SLR model to offer this feature. The Autoreflex T3 also featured a removable hot-shoe, the first Konica model to have one.
The viewfinder of the Autoreflex T3 is much brighter than that of its predecessors and displays more information. It is equipped with either a central field of microprisms or a split-level focusing aid inside a ring of microprisms. The latter is less common and its presence is indicated by a round silver colored sticker placed on the back of the body, to the left of the eyepiece. The light metering system on the Autoreflex T3 was improved in order to accommodate a larger range of film speeds going from 12 to 3200 ISO. The Autoreflex T3 and the T3N are the only Konica SLRs with such a wide film sensibility range.
At the time of its introduction, the T3 was an SLR that left very little to be desired and was quite popular with many professionals. It is universally recognized as technically the most advanced of Konica’s mechanical SLRs. The T3 exists in chrome version and a black one (less common). The many features of the Autoreflex T3 made it a great commercial success.
The Autoreflex T3 was introduced along with new standard lenses, the 50/1.4 and the 50/1.7, which replaced the earlier 52/1.8 and the 57/1.4 lenses. This also coincided with the introduction of a new version of Hexanon lenses, all of which, from that year on, had rubber-covered focusing rings (see section 3).
Also in 1973, a special series of 1500 units numbered from 0001 to 1500 was produced to commemorate the centenary of the company. These cameras, only offered on the American market, are sought after by collectors and often fetch prices several times higher than the cameras of the regular series.
a) On this model the symbol T3 is also engraved on the top of the body,
b) The DOF preview button and self-timer lever with lock is made of metal,
c) The prism housing is pointed and the flash mount is removable.
Autoreflex A3 (1973) - the same camera, but with no DOF preview button, no mirror pre-fire, no self-timer, no meter switch, and a viewfinder without shutter speed display and without auto/manual mode indicator.
● KONICA ●