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Konica Auto-Reflex - 1965
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• First focal-plane-shutter SLR with automatic exposure

• First SLR with full/half-frame switch

• $299.95 with f1.4 lens in 1966 ($2019 in 2010 dollars)

Lots of web sites erroneously credit the Auto-Reflex with being the first SLR with automatic exposure, but that's way off, because the first was the 1959 Royer Savoyflex Automatic from France. The Topcon Auto 100 (shown in this app), with automatic through-the-lens (TTL) metering, was earlier, too. So one has to state the Auto-Reflex's claim precisely: It was the first focal-plane-shutter SLR with automatic exposure. Not TTL, though--there was a CdS cell on the front, as you can see on the photo below.

Note the shutter release that sticks way up. After you set the shutter speed with the round dial on front, surrounding the CdS cell, the shutter release has to close the diaphragm to the stop that the meter selected. Travel is smooth, but it takes a lot of pressure and it's a long trip.

Unlike its automatic-exposure predecessors, including the Topcon Auto 100, the Auto-Reflex was a solid, reliable camera aimed at serious photographers. Its focal-plane shutter allowed Konica to provide a wide choice of lenses, which they did. But superior TTL metering was already available in other cameras, and automatic exposure wasn't enough to make the Auto-Reflex a compelling choice. It was both advanced and obsolete from the day of its introduction.

The Auto-Reflex has a more unusual feature, though. It and the meterless Auto-Reflex P, which followed a year later, were the first and only SLRs that could shoot both full- and half-frame. A switch to the right of the pentaprism selects the format by adjusting the film advance, moving two baffles that crop the focal plane, and placing or removing two indicators in the viewfinder. You can switch at any point in the roll, making life difficult for film processors.

You can see the full/half switch and the shutter baffles in the photos below.

Konica Auto-ReflexKonica Auto-ReflexKonica Auto-ReflexKonica Auto-Reflex
Konica Auto-ReflexAd from Popular Photography, Nov. 1981, where Konica falsely claims in the 3rd paragraph that they made the first fully automatic 35mm SLR in 1967, even though Topcon had already done it a few years earlier with the Auto 100.Article mostly about Auto-Reflex from Popular Science, May 1966 (text unrelated to Auto-Reflex not shown)Article mostly about Auto-Reflex from Popular Science, May 1966 (text unrelated to Auto-Reflex not shown)
Article mostly about Auto-Reflex from Popular Science, May 1966 (text unrelated to Auto-Reflex not shown)

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