15 Minutes With A Koni-Omega

I noticed recently that one my favorite cameras hasn’t been used in over eighteen months. I figured it was time to pull it out of the cabinet and load it with film.

The Koni-Omega Rapid is large 6×7 medium format rangefinder camera. The Koni-Omega line of cameras has gone through several variations with different features depending on model. Originally designed to be a press camera, this 6×7 camera seemed to be popular with wedding photographers throughout the 70s.

There wasn’t much of a lens selection; 58mm/60mm, 90mm, 135mm, and 180mm. These lenses were branded Omeganon and Konica Hexanon. I don’t know if there was a difference between the Omeganon and Hexanon lenses. I bought my Koni-Omega Rapid with 90mm Omeganon. I wasn’t really impressed with the camera at that point. When the shutter on the lens died, I had no intention of having it repaired or replaced. One afternoon about ten years ago I walked into a camera shop on Mass Ave. in Boston and I saw a 90mm Hexanon in the case for $20. I bought the lens, and after a couple of rolls of film I fell in love with the camera. The Omeganon must’ve been a lemon.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Big and bright viewfinder
    Grabbing focus with that big bright rangefinder is easy
  • Large negative size
  • Large comfortable handle
  • Leaf shutter in the lens
  • Easy to find 120 film
    there are 220 film backs available for some models and 220 film isn’t so readily available
  • Built like a tank
  • Three accessory shoes on top of the camera

Cons

  • Big and heavy
  • A little awkward to handle
    The shutter release is on the left hand, the focusing is done with the knob on the right hand
  • Only have ten shots on a roll of 120 film
    there are some models that can accommodate 220 roll film
  • No built in light meter
  • Limited lens selection

I normally use this camera when I want a big negative. Typically I take this camera to the mountains, or on trips when I want lots of detail. I have managed to pull a lot of beautiful images with this camera. The lens is sharp and it renders colors and contrast very nicely.

This camera is fast, I figured it was a natural choice for a quick photo shoot. Hana was so generous with her time and I’m so happy she was willing to help me prove I could do a quick photo shoot and get high hit rate with this camera. I shot ten frames and eight of them I like. The two that didn’t make it in, I admittedly missed focus. I have a lot of practice with this camera, but it’s dead simple to use anyway.

Conclusion

This is a well built camera, they’re pretty cheap on the used market, but your unlikely to get it repaired if it were to break down. The film back is likely to have spacing issues if you find a really old one. So test the back with a cheap roll of film and if necessary, buy another back. It’s unlikely that you could get it repaired. There are a ton out there on the used market.

There aren’t a lot of features on this camera, so I think it’s a perfect starter 6×7 kit. If you find one cheap, buy it. It’s a fun camera.

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