The Autoreflex A was introduced in 1968 as a simpler and cheaper alternative to the Autoreflex T. It superseded the Auto-Reflex P, that was offered as cheaper alternative to the Auto-Reflex. The extensive changes over the predecessor model are summarized below.
In the late 60's and early 70's, full-featured SLR cameras were still very expensive, valuable devices. On the other hand, compact cameras almost exclusively had fixed lenses with fixed focal lengths, that did not provide the versatility of today's compact cameras with zoom lenses. To close the gap, many manufacturers simply offered »stripped-down« versions of their SLR camera bodies as beginner's models and cheaper alternative. So did Konica. The simplest way to make the cameras cheaper was to leave out features that were not absolutely necessary, but costly. The Autoreflex A is a stripped-down, reduced version of the Autoreflex T with a fastest shutter speed of 1/500 s. Different from the preceding generation, even the stripped-down Autoreflex A has a built-in through-the-lens (TTL) light meter and offers the possibility of fully automatic exposure control. At the time of the Auto-Reflex, this was not yet the case: the stripped-down version Auto-Reflex P does not have a light meter.
The features of the Autoreflex A are substantially reduced compared to the full-featured Autoreflex T. The following features and functions available with the Autoreflex T were left out on the Autoreflex A:
- Fastest shutter speed 1/1000 s
- Depth-of-field preview lever
- Mirror lock-up (combined with the self-timer on Autoreflex T)
- On / off switch for light meter
- Battery test
The Autoreflex A was available in chrome-black only, a black version like with the full-featured »big sister« Autoreflex T was not being offered.
As the Autoreflex A does not have an on / off switch, a lid should always be kept on the lens when the camera is not in use, otherwise the batteries will not last long. If this is alwas done, the battery consumption stays within acceptable limits.
Like all its predecessors and successors from the »big« Autoreflex series, the Autoreflex A is extremely sturdily built and takes abuse well. The Copal vertical travelling metal focal plane shutter works reliably and exactly even in very cold temperatures and after a long time of use. All in all a real workhorse, that is still usable and suitable for everyday use after more than 30 years.
The Autoreflex A is, like all the »big« Autoreflex cameras, quite big and rather heavy – especially when compared to modern cameras. The Copal metal focal plane shutter is very noisy, the sound can be disturbing occasionally.
As a camera for normal use, I would not buy an Autoreflex A nowadays. The Autoreflex A is relatively rare and because of this, it is just as expensive or sometimes even more expensive than the much better equipped Autoreflex T. Compared to this model, the Autoreflex A offers no advantages, so there is no reason not to get the better features of the Autoreflex T or the more modern Autoreflex T2, which is just as cheap and a lot easier to find. The Autoreflex A is only interesting as a collector's item nowadays – but if you already have one, you can of course continue to use it.
Like many other cameras from this era, the Autoreflex A uses mercury oxyde batteries for the light meter (2x type PX675). These batteries are not manufactured any more for environmental reasons and become more and more difficult to get. The usage of silver oxyde or alkaline batteries of the same size (SR44 or LR44, respectively) causes wrong meter readings, because these batteries have different voltages. There are several possibilities to fix this problem. You can find more information on the subject of mercury oxyde batteries if you follow the link.
A detailed overview over technical data and features you'll find here.
In 1971, the Autoreflex A was superseded by the Autoreflex A2, which is based on the Autoreflex T2. The model change was not marked on the camera bodies, the Autoreflex A2 still has Autoreflex A engraved on the top cover – both models get mixed up frequently, because they are very similar and difficult to distinguish between. You can see the differences on the Autoreflex A versus A2 comparison page
Changes over the predecessor model Auto-Reflex P:
The Autoreflex A has a built-in through-the-lens (TTL) light meter and the possibility of automatic exposure control. Therefore, the widest aperture of the lens is coupled with the light meter. The Auto-Reflex P had no light meter.
Almost all camera controls have been modified: the shutter speed dial is now on the upper side of the camer, no longer on the front. The frame counter has been moved to the transport lever. The shutter release is smoother, its travel shorter, which is also true for the transport lever. The rewind crank is directly mounted on the shaft, there are no gears in between.