The Koni-Omega Rapid

Koni-Omega Rapid 200

A friend of mine, John Mickevich, posted a picture of a new-to-him Koni-Omega he just received and it made me think I should write up mine. The basics of the camera system is that it’s a 6×7, medium format rangefinder. It has a somewhat unusual dial focusing system, and an extremely unusual film advance and cocking mechanism that’s been likened to a pump action shotgun. This is by no means a subtle camera and it weighs enough you could defend yourself with it. There’s a couple downsides to the system I want to get out of the way before we get on to the good stuff. First off is the system itself. There are four rapid models: Rapid, M, 100, and 200. Lenses are compatible across the entire model line but that’s about it. The M and the 200 are almost the same camera with the exception of the face plate and the 200 has framing markings in the rangefinder for the 135mm portrait lens (which you will probably never find). The plain old Rapid is the odd duck out, it’s back doesn’t interchange with the rest of the system. The 100 is like the M and the 200 in that the backs interchange, but the backs have two pieces on the M and 200 allowing mid-roll changes. The 100 does not have the second piece so no mid roll changing with the 100. The Rapid also doesn’t do mid roll changes. That’s the weirdness with the system. Next is the matter of close focusing. The Koni-Omega’s don’t close focus, even with the 180mm best you’ll get is a half portrait. There is a macro set available but it is so labor intensive to use (ground glass focusing insert!) you might as well just bust out a large format camera. Like with all rangefinders you’re not looking through the taking lens so remember filters, throw away lens caps, etc. Finally it is possible to not have the back tightly pressed against the camera when you turn the locking mechanism and everything will function fine only light will leak all over your film so mind that as well.

On to the good stuff! Did I mention it’s sharp? I originally got this setup because it’s supposed to rival Hasselblads! Granted it has a slight advantage in film size and it’s a rangefinder so there’s no need for pesky lens tricks like retro focus which increases resolution. Using the camera is a ton of fun too. It’s name is Rapid and it was meant to focus fast and advace/recock fast. There’s even a sports finder for it! Don’t forget price. There’s a system on eBay at the moment, two cameras, all three lenses, backs, dark slides, instructions, etc for $350 which Is about what I paid for mine a decade ago. The lens lineup is nice too. There’s a 60mm wide, 90mm normal, 135mm portrait, and a 180mm tele. The 135mm portrait lens is super rare and very expensive when they do surface. They’re all very sharp but not super fast topping out at F3.5. Have you ever seen a camera with three accessory (cold) shoes? Well, here you go! Why would anyone want three accessory shoes? One for your wide angle view finder, one for a shoe mount light meter, and another for flash. Flash brackets are available for this system too. If you’re Koni-Omega or lens tries to die on you, send it to Greg Weber. He CLA’d one of mine and a couple backs. He did a fantastic job though it wasn’t cheap. He’s the only only repair person I know of who has the jig to make sure the camera is shimmed correctly for precise focus.

All in all it’s a great camera. Compact of it’s format, great line of lenses, affordable. I stopped using mine when I got a Fuji GW690 and a Bronica SQa. Generally I like the SLR more for people work or using filters and it’s necessary for my next adventure into montaging. The GW690 is just awe inspiringly sharp and it’s 6×9. I think I’ll take the Koni out for some shooting this year. I’ve been meaning to for a while and she’s a great little camera. This one pictured is actually a M with a 200 faceplate because the 200 is black (M is silver) and that’s more professional.