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Hexar RF - What a nice paperweight
Old 12-23-2011   #1
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Hexar RF - What a nice paperweight

Almost two years ago I bought a Hexar RF on this evilbay and it was totally out of order. Not a single photo was sharp and additionally the bayonet did not lock the lens. Tried to align the viewfinder myself but it was no success. Buried the camera deep in a cupboard. Last month it came out again and I sent it to Will van Manen in the Netherlands where I spent another 150 EUR for a repair. The bayonet is fine now, photos still unsharp. I've no nerve to invest more time and money in that wreck. So now it's in my office and makes a really fine looking 600 EUR paperweight that gets nice comments from my colleagues.

But that's not the story. The story is about the stupid mistake I made: buying legacy stuff.

One part of my job is to identify software applications in the large enterprise I work for, that are in danger of developing aging-problems. If applications can not be maintained anymore we kick them out and replace them. Legacy stuff is only acceptable if we can bear the maintenance risk. And what did I do: I bought a camera where everybody knows that there are almost no parts available anymore and repair is a problem.

The reason why I keep it on my desk is that it always reminds me of some basic principles.

Merry Christmas to all and I hope all the used equipment you bought works fine.
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Old 12-23-2011   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
The reason why I keep it on my desk is that it always reminds me of some basic principles.
I feel for you. I too had one of these which was no end of trouble. Shame, for the ergonomics are wonderful- it certainly had promise while it was still a repairable camera.
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Old 12-23-2011   #3
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I had the exact same issue, it's name was a Leica M though, shutter was as precise as a lottery ticket, and it jammed up more then jam (ok, bad pun), viewfinder was mediocre compared to more modern rangefinders (re: hexar rf) and it was utterly slow to operate, with the manual rewind and shutter button where it is... few Leicas are rotten eggs though, just like hexar rf's, mine (hexar rf that is) is ticking come rain or shine (well, winter in Sweden) no problems, works flawlessly.
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Old 12-23-2011   #4
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It seems like the number of things that could be wrong which would produce unsharp images are somewhat limited. Rangefinder calibration, pressure plate problems, lens mount to film plane distance, etc. I haven't worked on a camera as modern as the Hexar RF so perhaps I'm missing something but it seems like it ought to be possible to track the issue down.

1) Measure the distance from the front of the flange to the film plane. Is it correct?
2) Is the distance consistent across the film plane (ie is the mount or pressure plate unevent)?
3) Set the camera to bulb, look through the back with some ground glass and see what could be uneven. Check the rangefinder calibration against the ground glass.
4) ...etc.

Granted shutter repair, etc could be more tricky over time with the camera but this seems like something that ought to be solvable - not to diminish your frustration with the camera or lesson learned.
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Old 12-23-2011   #5
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I've been told by a repair facility that the RF can only be calibrated with a Hexar 50/2 mounted to the camera, and even then there are cheaply made parts in there which can just break. Once broken one has a paperweight, or a scale focus only camera. Albeit one with an apparently magnificent viewfinder.
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Old 12-23-2011   #6
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I find you story perfectly OK - like you, I work in IT and all my day is full of technology. Which cameras do I use? 20-50 years old. I just have enough technology at work. At my spare time I don't want to touch software or even hear the word "upgrade".

You can only regret eur600 not eur60 like me, but still better than burning on eur6000 camera. Fröhliche Weihnacht!
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Old 12-23-2011   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Legge View Post
It seems like the number of things that could be wrong which would produce unsharp images are somewhat limited. Rangefinder calibration, pressure plate problems, lens mount to film plane distance, etc. I haven't worked on a camera as modern as the Hexar RF so perhaps I'm missing something but it seems like it ought to be possible to track the issue down.
I don't think that the rangefinder is the primary cause because I set the lens to 5m at f8 and the tree in front of me was not sharp at all.

But as I said before I don't want to invest one more minute right now.
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Old 12-23-2011   #8
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Absolutely understood. I've been in the same place before.
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Old 12-23-2011   #9
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I feel for you. My Leica M's were the only cameras that required hundreds of dollars for maintenance and repairs; alignments, CLA, jams, etc. All my other Nikon and Contax cameras perform fine and even after years of slumber. So why is it that I am constantly clamoring to get another M lens for a system that keeps sucking money from my pockets from all directions?
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Old 12-23-2011   #10
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My Hexar RF went wacky too. Too expensive to fix. Parts hard to find. Replaced it with a $250 CL. Surprisingly, I like it.
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Old 12-23-2011   #11
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Whenever you buy legacy you also pay an "opportunity cost." Live and learn. Opportunity cost: the cost of an alternative that was forgone in order to pursue a certain action. In haste, many of us make the same mistake.
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Old 12-23-2011   #12
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Were all photos with Leitz / Leica lenses unsharp, M-hexagon lenses or all of them. There are shims under the bayonett mount of the Hexar RF to adjust for correct flange film-plane distance.
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Old 12-23-2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
Almost two years ago I bought a Hexar RF on this evilbay and it was totally out of order. Not a single photo was sharp and additionally the bayonet did not lock the lens. Tried to align the viewfinder myself but it was no success. Buried the camera deep in a cupboard. Last month it came out again and I sent it to Will van Manen in the Netherlands where I spent another 150 EUR for a repair. The bayonet is fine now, photos still unsharp. I've no nerve to invest more time and money in that wreck. So now it's in my office and makes a really fine looking 600 EUR paperweight that gets nice comments from my colleagues.

But that's not the story. The story is about the stupid mistake I made: buying legacy stuff.

One part of my job is to identify software applications in the large enterprise I work for, that are in danger of developing aging-problems. If applications can not be maintained anymore we kick them out and replace them. Legacy stuff is only acceptable if we can bear the maintenance risk. And what did I do: I bought a camera where everybody knows that there are almost no parts available anymore and repair is a problem.

The reason why I keep it on my desk is that it always reminds me of some basic principles.

Merry Christmas to all and I hope all the used equipment you bought works fine.
If you ever come across a Gullwing Mercedes for $10,000 in almost any condition, please do not abuse yourself by keeping such an old, outdated automobile. I will happily pay you $20,000 for it, and you will be all the richer. For that matter if you come across a Leica M4 w/35mm f/2 lens, and pay $100 for it, I'll happily pay you $400 sight unseen.
See how I am willing to support your new found hypothesis on older equipment. Perhaps I can supply you with a list?
Merry Christmas to all of us.
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Old 12-23-2011   #14
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I was a bit annoyed to have to pay for a $500 overhaul for my M4, but very pleased that I could send it to a factory-trained technician who could get the necessary parts. Even as a legacy system the Leica M is very supportable.

On the other hand, I've spent several thousand dollars on depreciation of my digital cameras over the last five years. They are usually technically obsolete long before failure.
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Old 12-30-2011   #15
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+1

I bought my first HRF two years ago, and it works fine except for a slight vertical RF misalignment.

After reading so much about spares unavailability, I picked up a second body for small money as safety backup (and spares source). The second body works as fine as the first, and even shares the same glitch: Slight vertical RF misalignment. I love them both and would feel bad to have to cannibalize one of them for the other one day...

Now I am looking for a way to get the RFs aligned without too much ado. Can anybody here offer some advice?
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Old 12-30-2011   #16
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Hello Arjay, look at this:
http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/s...ead.php?t=1937

and this post:

http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/s...88&postcount=9


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Last edited by a.noctilux : 12-30-2011 at 10:08. Reason: more link
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Old 12-30-2011   #17
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Ive had three of them, all with minor maladies of some sort. Backfocus issues and misaligned rangefinders. Life s too short.

Its a shame, because in theory, its a great camera. I could just never find one that worked right.
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Old 01-02-2012   #18
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This thread cracks me up. Tell me about a camera that is perfect? Any brand has issues with some units here and there. I have had 3 Hexars, now down to two - never a problem, other than some RF misalignment, which I fixed myself in 20 min. But I had same and much more issues with Leicas or other brands. Sure, it's not as easy to find a place to repair one, but I dont think they break as often as some people tend to think either. Mine travalled with me half way across the globe and still do fine. I dont think Konica products are any worse than Leica or others, and I wouldnt hesitate buying one (doing some research/asking questions about that particular one prior to sale).
Any camera can be a paperweight. Hexars too. But when it works - it's a far greater camera to use than any Leica to me - I'm still sad that they are out of business - how many cool products they could have made if they still were around.
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Old 01-02-2012   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
I don't think that the rangefinder is the primary cause because I set the lens to 5m at f8 and the tree in front of me was not sharp at all.

But as I said before I don't want to invest one more minute right now.
Sounds as if that 'fixed' bayonet mount is off, causing all focused lenses to focus in front or beyond the plane of focus (film surface). Seems unlikely that the pressure plate suffered from lying in the cupboard and I assume the rear of the camera is undented as well?

Maybe the Hexanon 50/2.0 is necessary to achive critical sharp focus, but any other 50mm lens should be able to at least get the image close, not cause unsharp pictures of a tree when shot at f8.0.

Never been a fan of Van Manen (long story) but seems he should fix this under warranty if you asked him to fix it in the first place and paid him EUR 150 to do so? That's what you would do when having somebody in to fix software too, correct?
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Old 01-02-2012   #20
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I could never bond with the Hexar RF, so it had to go. It did not give me the feeling it would be reliable.

Asked a repairman here in Switzerland to adjust the RF vertically. Got it back with the comment that he cannot do better as the adjustment mechanism is not up to critical adjustment requirements (that is not stating a fact, just his opinion).

The camera seem to have been sort of quick shot of a company, which did not have long standing experience in the field of RFs. The whole story around the bayonet is just so awkward. Just like a lot of other consumer products no one really cares around mid-term to long-term service.

I knew the Hexar story of course before I bought one. But sometimes the guts feeling is just a guts feeling

@Tom: As you got it serviced by WvM: What did you ask him to do? How can he possibly adjust the flange distance and send the camera back without doing a focussing sanity check? That seems to be beyond me. I'd ask him to fix that, actually.

Cheers
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P.S. The Hexar actually got replaced with its antipole: an M3. Serviceable legacy ...
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Old 01-02-2012   #21
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Quote:
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This thread cracks me up. Tell me about a camera that is perfect?
That's not the point. Even some owners of the most statistically unreliable stuff (cars, cameras, whatever) will never experience a problem. Individually your good experience is as insignificant as my own bad experience with the HRF (impossible to repair, and not for lack of parts...)

However, if you talk to professional camera dealers (those who cater to professionals) or pro level repair shops, or of you talk to long-time professional photographers who have tried to use this camera day in, day out for journalism or other pro work, you will find that the vast majority of these folks don't take the HRF seriously due to reliability issues. Statistically, the HRF is more likely to fail than the alternatives, though any individual's experience may not conform to the statistics.

IMO, the OP has found the best use for his HRF; a paperweight!
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Old 01-02-2012   #22
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Asked a repairman here in Switzerland to adjust the RF vertically. Got it back with the comment that he cannot do better as the adjustment mechanism is not up to critical adjustment requirements (that is not stating a fact, just his opinion).
THAT IS WHAT THE KONICA FACTORY TECHNICIAN TOLD ME HERE IN THE USA
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Old 01-02-2012   #23
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I am happy with my Hexar RF. I do not see any focusing problems or any other problems with this camera. I sold a Hexar AF to get a Hexar RF.
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Old 01-02-2012   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon42 View Post
I could never bond with the Hexar RF, so it had to go. It did not give me the feeling it would be reliable.

Asked a repairman here in Switzerland to adjust the RF vertically. Got it back with the comment that he cannot do better as the adjustment mechanism is not up to critical adjustment requirements (that is not stating a fact, just his opinion).

The camera seem to have been sort of quick shot of a company, which did not have long standing experience in the field of RFs. The whole story around the bayonet is just so awkward. Just like a lot of other consumer products no one really cares around mid-term to long-term service.

I knew the Hexar story of course before I bought one. But sometimes the guts feeling is just a guts feeling

@Tom: As you got it serviced by WvM: What did you ask him to do? How can he possibly adjust the flange distance and send the camera back without doing a focussing sanity check? That seems to be beyond me. I'd ask him to fix that, actually.

Cheers
Ivo

P.S. The Hexar actually got replaced with its antipole: an M3. Serviceable legacy ...
Untrue. Konica made the III, IIIa and IIIm in 1958 and they were serious competition for the Leica M3 at the time. They had a 1:1 viewfinder!
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Old 01-02-2012   #25
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However, if you talk to professional camera dealers (those who cater to professionals) or pro level repair shops, or of you talk to long-time professional photographers who have tried to use this camera day in, day out for journalism or other pro work, you will find that the vast majority of these folks don't take the HRF seriously due to reliability issues. Statistically, the HRF is more likely to fail than the alternatives, though any individual's experience may not conform to the statistics.
[Source Needed]

"Confirmation Bias;
Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias, myside bias or verification bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.[Note 1][1] As a result, people gather evidence and remember information selectively, and interpret it in a biased way. "

If you want to prove that anything you say has any sort of validity, you should do a survey with users, and sample size should be no less then 5000-10000 "signatures" for good or bad. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2012   #26
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Untrue. Konica made the III, IIIa and IIIm in 1958 and they were serious competition for the Leica M3 at the time. They had a 1:1 viewfinder!
... but no interchangeable lenses. To my knowledge they did not continue producing new models, apart from the late RF. That's what I meant.
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Old 01-02-2012   #27
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I just sold my M5 and still have a Bessa R and an M2, and somewhere I have a IIIc (left at a crawfish boil about a year ago and haven't gotten around to going to get it). I've been shooting with the M2 even though the R is a much better camera in my opinion.

Despite having an inferior rangefinder patch and being plastic, the Bessa R just works. It's louder, it has a faster shutter, a meter, superior rewind, weighs less, etc but it always works. My Leica's ALWAYS need work. It feels like every month or so the vertical alignment is off on my M2 (not a problem to fix, but a little annoying). There are some other issues that I fix on it but I can safely and reasonably attribute the majority of the problems to age (even though the whole RF assembly and viewfinder were recently replaced by DAG).

In short, I like my M2 despite it not being as reliable as a newer budget camera.
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Old 01-02-2012   #28
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Quote:
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[Source Needed]

"Confirmation Bias;
Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias, myside bias or verification bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.[Note 1][1] As a result, people gather evidence and remember information selectively, and interpret it in a biased way. "

If you want to prove that anything you say has any sort of validity, you should do a survey with users, and sample size should be no less then 5000-10000 "signatures" for good or bad. Good luck.
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