Ever since I made the switch over from film to digital I have been screaming the odds about a digital rangefinder camera. So when Lecia announced its M8 in 2008 I was ecstatic, until I saw the $6 000 price.
Since then there have been a few other attempts by other manufacturers to get into this market with their “Hybrid” cameras, but these were never and will never be a true rangefinder. There is something very special about composing an image on a true rangefinder and a hybrid electronic viewfinder is never going to have that “soul”.
So when I heard the news that US start-up Konost has announced plans to launch a full frame digital rangefinder I was in my element. The Konost FF will take Leica M-mount lenses and it will achieve rangefinder focus through the use of a secondary image sensor. It’s not quite a traditional rangefinder, but it is pretty close.
The round window next to the lens holds the secondary image sensor and the image this produces is calibrated to the lens position and then electronically displayed as the rangefinder focus patch in the optical viewfinder. This drastically reduces manufacturing costs but still allows photographers to use an optical viewfinder and manually focus in rangefinder fashion by making sure the images are lined up with each other.
Inside the Konost FF will be a 20-megapixel full frame (36 x 24 mm) CMOS sensor. The camera will have an ISO range of 100 to 6,400. Other key specifications include a maximum shutter speed of 1/4,000 second and a 4-inch rear LCD monitor. While the camera currently looks a bit like the Leica T, the team behind it says that the design is not yet finalized.
Rangefinder traditionalists like myself will be really happy to know that the team working on this camera is planning to keep it as simple as possible with only minimum manual controls.
Konost currently has a working full frame prototype of the Konost FF, and it is not stopping there: it’s already looking at a smaller 12-megapixel, APS-C sensor camera as well.
The team is hoping that the Konost FF will go on sale early in 2016, but there is no word on pricing just yet. Let’s hope that it is very competitive and that they don’t go the Lecia route.