Konica FP-1 (1981-1983)

The FP-1 is a unique camera in the Konica range. Whereas all other Konica SLRs are made to operate in automatic shutter priority mode that can be overridden if need be, the FP-1 operates ONLY in program mode. In fact, the only variable Konica left for the user to decide is the film speed setting. The FP-1 thus handles like a P&S camera.

As all the exposure parameters are selected automatically by the camera, the controls have been reduced to a minimum: Besides the film speed dial, the film rewind crank, and the film advance lever, the top of the body sports only a shutter release button located at the center of a collar which serves as a shutter lock, meter switch, and battery tester.

The same minimalist approach can be seen in the viewfinder. Like that of all Konica’s electronic SLRs, it is very bright and clear with a split-image focusing aid within a ring of microprisms. The similarities end there, however, because the viewfinder of the FP-1 has only two LEDs – a green one indicating that the subject is within the camera’s exposure range, and a red one which lights up in case of over or under exposure.

The camera’s program mode chooses the shutter speed (from 1/30 to 1/1000 by increments of 1/3 of an interval) and the aperture value (f2.8, f5.6, or f11) depending on the quantity of light entering through the lens. One of the unfortunate consequences of this arrangement is that an aperture greater than f2.8 is mostly unusable on this camera. I say mostly, because one can override the automatic exposure system by setting the lens to a chosen aperture value manually. This consequence of this, however, is that the camera automatically switched to the default shutter speed to 1/100s. Quite limiting, but this is the only way to ‘fool’ the program of this camera.

As shutter speed and depth-of-field can’t be influenced on this camera, photography with a capital ‘P’ is greatly limited on the FP-1. Amateur photographers who seek a camera allowing them to take pictures on the go and who have no time to choose exposure parameters should be very pleased with the FP-1, however, the more so as le FP-1 is equipped with the same bright viewfinder and the same dependable metering and exposure system found in Konica’s other electronic models. On the other hand, the FP-1 has the same shortcomings as those other electronic models: no DOF preview, no shutter speed display in the viewfinder, no mirror pre-fire, and no exposure memory lock.

The FP-1 a unique and simply brilliant film loading system: After placing the film in the camera, it is enough to 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 identical system is present on the Konica FC-1. Incidentally, the FP-1 is one of only two Konica bodies on which the rewind crank serves to open the camera back, the other being the FC-1.

The FP-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. The FP-1s green LED blinks to indicate that the flash is charged and ready.

The FP-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 FP-1 impractical.

Characteristic features:

Large lock collar and battery tester with a large chrome colored shutter release button in its center. The film speed selector is located on the same axis as the film rewind crank. The name of the model is located on the front of the body.