The FT-1, introduced in 1983, was the last SLR model that has been built by Konica themselves. The fully mechanical TC-X, that was introduced a little later, was built by Cosina for Konica.
The FT-1 is a further developed and improved camera compared to the FS-1, that had been built since 1979. Like the FS-1, the FT-1 has a built-in motor drive and is electronically controlled, but many weak spots of the FS-1 ahve been eliminated, especially the electronics of the FT-1 are not as delicate as with the earlier series oft the FS-1. The most important changes over the predecessor model are summarized below.
The operation is similar as with the predecessor model. Different from the FS-1, an additional possibility for exposure compensation up to +/-2 exposure values in automatic exposure mode has been integrated. In addition, a possibility to lock the metered exposure value has been re-integrated, which was known from the older mechanical Konica bodies but had been dropped in the earlier electronic models.
The FT-1 has a switch to chose between single and continuous exposure mode, so accidental exposures are almost ruled out.
The self timer of the FT-1 has been moved to the camera top, beside the shutter speed dial, the blinking indicator for the self timer is still positioned on the camera front.
The shutter speed dial has no limitation in turning and can endlessly be turned in any direcition. From B to 1/1000 s is just one click stop. Shutter release and self timer are not mechanical either, but electric buttons. The shutter release needs only a soft touch almost without pressure, so that the danger of camera shake caused by the shutter release travel is eliminated. Thus, on a FT-1 – like on all electronically controlled Konicas – no normal cable release can be used. A proprietary, electric cable release from the Konica accessory program is needed, that is screwed into the socket on the right side of the camera body (seen from front)
Nothing has been changed in the viewfinder of the FT-1, compared to the FS-1. It is very bright and clear, the mat screen is equipped with a split image rangefinder and a microprism ring. Indication of aperture values is done with light emitting diodes (LEDs) on the left side of the viewfinder. The LEDs are only capable of indicating whole aperture values, but the light meter does work with intermediate values and sets these on the lens accordingly if the lens is set to auto exposure (AEC) mode. All warning indicators for over- and under-exposure, low battery, and manual exposure mode are done with LEDs as well.
The light meter of the FT-1 is different from the earlier models, it is now metering with a silicon pin photo diode (SPD) cell. The coupled range is slightly smaller than on the FS-1 and begins with 0.7 EV (compared to 0 EV on the FS-1). Like the other camera bodies of the »F« series, the FT-1 can also set a smallest aperture 22 in automatic exposure mode.
The FT-1 has the same dedicated flash system as the FS-1, FC-1, and FP-1. With the dedicated flash unit Konica X-24, the camera automatically sets to a shutter speed of 1/100 s and to aperture 5.6 or 11, depending on the switch setting on the flash unit. Exposure is controlled by a thyristor in the flash unit, that switches off the flash when the correct amount of light for proper exposure has hit the thyristor. After exposure the camera changes to normal exposure mode until the flash signals that is is once again ready. Then the exposure control is taken over by the flash once more. This was an advanced solution then, but for demanding flash photography it is not sophisticated enough. Here you are better off with manual flash exposure control (without dedicated flash possible anytime), as that leaves much more possibilities to influence the result. For correctly exposed snapshots on a family reunion the flash control of the FT-1 is certainly good enough. A big draw-back of the X-24 flash on a FT-1 is that it is very close to the optical axis of the lens – causing red eyes in many shots.
The FT-1 has the same ingenious film take-up system as the FS-1. Put the film cartridge in the camera, pull the film tip to the other side, close the back – ready. The camera takes the film tip automatically and transports the film to the first frame. No simpler and faster solution possible. Without any annoying fiddling. The system is quite fool-proof, you have to deliberately try to make a mistake if you want the camera not to load the film properly. This system was outstanding at the time.
The back of the FT-1 is interchangeable – but as far as I know, there were no alternative backs available in Konica's accessory line-up.
The FT-1 was available in chrome or black.
Power supply of the FT-1 are four normal AAA or AA alkaline or manganese batteries, that are quite cheap and easily available anywhere. The AA battery version (with a bigger battery case) is rarer than the AAA version. According to Konica specifications, a set of AAA alkaline batteries will suffice to expose approx. 20 films with 36 frames each, one set of AA alkaline batteries will do for approx. 40 films. An AA battery compartment for the FT-1 was available from Konica as an accessory. Without batteries, the FT-1 is disfunctional, it is impossible to take photographs. So you should always remember to take a set of fresh batteries with you!
It should not be forgotten to take the batteries out of the camera's battery compartment when not in use. Exhausted AA or AAA batteries tend to leak, the corrosion caused by the fluid contained in the batteries can make the camera unusable.
Problems can occur when working in very cold environment: batteries lose quite a lot of power in cold temperatures and this can cause camera failure. To solve this problem, there was a nice accessory available from Konica – the Remote Battery Pack for FT-1. It connects a battery compartment with 4 AA batteries via a long cable to the camera, thus enabling the user to put the battery compartment into a warm inner pocket.
The electronics of the FT-1 are much better than with the early versions of the FS-1, they are not especially delicate. But if something gets bust, repair ist getting more and more difficult, as new parts are no longer obtainable from Konica. Until about 2003, Konica provided service for the two models FT-1 and TC-X, but in the meantime this support has been discontinued.
As far as I know, there are two different versions of FT-1 electronics. These are not distinguishable by the looks from the outside, but can be distinguished by the way the camera reacts to closing the back: the earlier version immediately starts to wind, the later and improved version has a delay of about 1 second until it starts to wind the film (the camera has to be switched on for winding).
The electronics of the FT-1 are better protected than those of the FS-1. Despite this, warnings against the use of rechargeable batteries exist, especially against nickle cadmium (NiCd) rechargeables. They possibly can destroy the camera's electronics due to strong currents caused by inadequate voltages. This is true for all FT-1s, regardless of the version.
There is an extremely rare variation FT-1 Pro Half, which is set up to shoot half frame size (24 x 18 mm) only. This variation was not sold at retail, but given to important customers or as incentives to salesmen by Konica. As far as I know, only chromed FT-1 Pro Half do exist, no black ones.
The FT-1 has been built by Konica until the SLR line has been discontinued in 1987.
The actuator for the coupling of the aperture mechanism is built differently on the electronic cameras of the »F«-series (FS-1, FC-1, FP-1, and FT-1), the mechanically stressed parts are weaker than those in the mechanical bodies of the »Autoreflex«-series. This can lead to strong wear of the parts in the camera body together with the Adaptall-2-mounts of Tamron lenses and can destroy the aperture coupling mechanism in the long run.
The reason for the heavy wear seems to be the rather strong tension of the aperture springs in the Tamron adapter, there is too much stress for the new mechanism of the »F«-series. Maybe the problem became evident only after the production stop of the Konica SLR boedies, because Tamron never changed their Adaptall-2 mounts.
With only once-in-a-while use of the Tamron Adaptall-2 mounts on the camera bodies of the »F«-series quite likely nothing will happen - I have taken a lot of photos with my FS-1 and Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses without having any problems ever. But beware: with regular use you could damage your camera.
On all mechanical Konica SLR bodies, theTamron Adaptall-2 mounts can be used freely without problems.
Changes over the predecessor model FS-1:
The FT-1 has a different light meter with SPD cells instead the previously used GAs cells. The electronics are different from those of the FS-1. Most important changes in operation are the possibility of exposure compensation and the possibility to lock the metered aperture value. The self timer position has been shifted from the camera front to the top, besides the shutter speed dial. The film speed setting has been moved from the shutter speed dial to the rewind crank. The on/off switch is now around the shutter speed dial and has a separate position to enable exposure lock. The FT-1 has a switch to change between single and continous exposure. The motor of the FT-1 is fasten than the motor of the predecessor model.