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DIY Hexar RF Eyepiece

Regular readers will recall that I recently lost the eyepiece for one of my Hexar RF bodies. After a couple of days unsuccessfully trolling the usual internet outlets for weird camera junk, I decided to build my own replacement eyepiece. Unlike a lot of cameras, the standard rear eyepiece of the Hexar RF is not just a clear piece of glass, it’s the last element in a reverse telescope (Note to camera designers: crucial bits should not come susceptible to random unscrewing!). Unfortunately, the diopters for the Hexar seem to work in tandem with the eyepiece, so the -3 and -4 diopters I got from KEH were pretty much useless. Using the eyepiece off my other body and a formula my dad gave me, I figured out that the eyepiece has a focal length of just about 52mm.


ep1.jpg

A little poking around on the internet located the good folks at http://www.surplusshed.com/. I highly recommend them over Edmund Optics. For one thing, they are significantly cheaper – like $4 for a lens instead of $20. For another, they have a convenient lens finder that locates your lens based on focal length and diameter. A quick search for 50mm-ish lenses around 15mm in diameter located a number of potential candidates. At $4 each I figured better safe than sorry, so I ordered a couple of extras on either side of 50mm. When my order arrived a few days later, it turned out that the 51mm was just about perfect. Next came the task of mounting it on the camera.

Once again I called on the ingenuity of my father (one of the benefits of temporarily living at home). After tossing a few ideas back and forth, he disappeared into the garage. Thirty minutes later he presented me with this:


ep2.jpg

A strip of copper sheeting was soldered into a cylinder sized to fit over the original screw threads on the body. One end was clipped and bent down to a narrow diameter in order to hold the lens in place. The lens was positioned on top of the threads. The copper cylinder was glued down to hold the whole works in place. Although dad was in favor of painting the copper, I’m thinking about leaving it shiny. Who else has a copper and black Hexar RF?

So, how does it work? Dandy. Comparing the repaired Hexar with my other one, it’s pretty clear that focusing accuracy and viewfinder brightness are undiminished. Eye relief remains the same as well. The replacement lens is not quite as flat as the original equipment. This increased curvature results in a slightly different focal length outside the center portion of the lens requiring dead center eyeball position to hold the whole field in focus. Having used it like this for a few days, I don’t notice the difference when actually photographing. I’ve always been pretty careful about centering my eye, so perhaps other users would have more of a problem with this

I’m quite pleased with this repair. It’s piqued my curiosity about the possibility of building a VF magnifier for the Hexar. A .9 VF would give me a reason to go buy that Noctilux I’ve always wanted.

Update 12/26/06: The copper sleave that I was using to hold the lens on ended up scratching my glasses. Since a couple of months of use demonstrated that the lens indeed worked, I decided to super-glue it on as a more permanent solution. A couple of drops of glue around the edge of lens seems to be holding it in place just fine.

8 Comments

  1. Bill A. says:

    Matt,

    Does 51mm fit just inside the tube, or on top of it? I wonder if an empty diopter ring from another camera might be used to hold it in place.

    Bill

  2. Bill A. says:

    Sorry, typo…. should have said “does 15mm fit inside, or on top?”

  3. matt says:

    15 sits on top. I think inside is something like 12mm. I worried about securing a lens actually inside the threaded tube, but you could probably rig something.

  4. Anthony says:

    Your dad is cool.

  5. Matt says:

    Yeah, he’s the man.

  6. [...] October 25th, 2006 I lost the eyepiece to one of my Hexar’s yesterday. Unlike a lot of cameras in which the standard diopter is just a clear piece of glass, the eyepiece of the Hexar forms an integral part of the RF. Without it, you can’t see through the viewfinder. Of course, only Hexar eyepieces fit. And of course, since the Hexar RF is a long out production camera originally made by a company that’s changed hands a few times now, locating a replacement part is a pain in the butt. This is one of the downsides to using abandonware. When it gives up the ghost, you are pretty much on your own. I’ve emailed Greg Weber, the only recognized Konica repair resource in the states and asked on photo.net where, oddly enough, somone else had just lost the same piece off their Hexar. I’ve also bought up KEH’s supply of corrective diopters for the Hexar thinking that if those don’t work for me perhaps I can trade them. If the Hexar RF didn’t have such completely brilliant ergonomics, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble, but it’s the best designed camera I’ve ever used, much better than an M in many ways. The other day I was looking over Sean Reid’s review of the new M8 and thinking how much they could have improved its ergonomics by adopting the shutter speed dial off the Hexar. Using the Hexar’s exposure compensation dial would have been a good idea as well. Heck, why didn’t they just stuff a sensor into all those Hexar bodies that Sony has got sitting in a warehouse in Germany? But that’s a topic for another day. Update: Folks looking to replace the eyepiece on their own Hexar RF, should look at this post, in which I detail building your own replacement eyepiece. With some tinkering this could also be a good way to get diopter correction or an increased mag VF. For those wanting to buying a diopter, check out KEH and http://www.photostop.net/Hexar.html. Posted by matt Filed in Cameras [...]

  7. [...] This is something like the third major rewrite of this review. I still get at least an email a month from someone who found the site via either this review or the Hexar AF review, so interest in the camera must still be high. If nothing else, prices keep going up. I paid $900 for my first Hexar RF with a 50 Hex. A recent check of KEH had an EX rated body only example for $800 . That’s better appreciation than a Leica. This despite the fact that Hexars are nearly unrepairable due to lack of parts. When I lost the eyepiece lens on one of mine last year, I had to super-glue on over-sized replacement from an optics warehouse. It works, but pretty it isn’t. Since then I’ve adjusted the RF on one of mine and fixed a loose motor-drive mode selector switch on the other, and I’m considering buying a third as a spare. Why bother keeping this abadonware running? To find out, read on. Raxeh is Hexar spelled backwords! [...]