Konica Wide 28 & Kodak Tri-X

The Konica Wide 28, also known as Genba Kantoku, is a fully automatic 35mm film camera from the late 80s and was manufactured until 2001.

Its target market was the Japanese construction industry, designed to be used in tough environments. As such it is waterproof, dustproof, shock resistant and can be operated while wearing gloves. If ever they made a camera to be used aboard a sail boat, this is it!

I’d been looking for an automatic fixed-focal wide angle film camera for a while, but they’re not as common as the more street-friendly 35mm focal length.

I wanted something to run black and white film through for the odd landscape shot, or possibly pick up my love of wide-angle flash street photography, but when I stumbled across the Genba Kantoku I realised this could work well in rough conditions aboard our boat.

I was fortunate to grab a copy quite cheap after the vendor sent me a video showing me its good working condition.

The Konica Wide 28 is a chunky beast, but its appearance is deceptive. Not only is it light (350g with the 2CR5 battery), it feels good in the hand. This is a one-handed camera, leaving the user to decide whether to turn the flash on, off or auto. The only other option is infinity focus. Loading the film is straightforward and it couldn’t be more simple to use.

Of course behind all this lies a very sharp 28mm f3.5 lens (5 lenses in 5 groups) with a minimum focusing distance of 0.5 meters.

The flash works well. Very well.

I’ve yet to try this for strobe street but I suspect it could be a lot of fun. The shutter ranges from 1/4 to 1/250, but being fully auto the camera decides what speed to use based on the readings from its cadmium sulphide metering cell.

You can find a more detailed breakdown of the specs in Ray Yee’s review on the 35mmc blog here.

The photos here were taken on the last part of our passage from Sulawesi to Lombok. We had a lot of overcast days and very little wind, which is why I wasn’t able to capture breaking waves over the bow, something I had envisioned doing with the Konica but, with hindsight, am glad we didn’t encounter.

Of all the auto compact cameras I own, this is one of the most fun to use and is definitely a keeper.

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