I was always interested in photography and always wanted a nice camera to learn with. As I grew up, I always seemed to have nothing but really poor quality point-and-shoots since I simply couldn't afford anything better. That all changed in April 2012 when I took a trip to Berlin and was at my uncle's house. On the way out the door, my cousin was carrying down a large leather case that looked rather antique and in fact looked like an old camera case. I have no idea why I guessed camera first, but I did. My cousin answered in the affirmative and told me that it was my uncle's old SLR camera, a Konica Autoreflex TC to be exact. I asked if the camera still worked and if there were lenses and he said of course it worked but no one used it any more and it was a cheap, old SLR. There were even three lenses: a Konica Hexanon 40mm F1.8, another Konica Hexanon but this one a 28mm F3.5 and a Tokina 60-120mm F2.8. I didn't know anything about photography, other than that old cameras were somehow cool and mysterious. Since I was always interested in photography, though, this was my shot to finally get into it and what a way to start! After getting back to Vienna, I went ahead and dove straight into the Internet and looked up everything I could possibly find about Konica Autoreflex cameras and the Hexanon lenses. As it turns out, these lenses, particularly the primes, are among the sharpest lenses in the world. I've not been able to find any definitive proof, but I've seen it mentioned on Wikipedia and other places that Hexanon lenses were the standard by which the Japanese government measured all other lenses. Not too shabby, Uncle Klaus! It's also said that you buy the Konica SLR cameras not for the cameras but for the lenses.
Today, however, Hexanon lenses are still in high demand by those who know what they're looking for. Not only that, but they fit a great deal of other bayonets since they are based off the Nikon F-bayonet. While one can mount a Hexanon lens (provided it's the AR mount that most people think of when they think Hexanon) on any Nikon, you can't focus to infinity. In the recent past as I've searched for more information about these lenses, it seems that they have become quite popular among micro four-thirds camera users since they apparently fit those cameras quite well (I've honestly not spent much time looking into this) and are perhaps even seeing a resurgence. Why do I think this? Well, I sporadically look through eBay Austria/Germany and I've been noticing sellers start mentioning the M43 standard and the more popular M43 cameras in their titles, so perhaps the market is growing.
What does a Hexanon lens go for? The prices vary wildly - but you can easily expect to lay out anywhere between €10 and €300 for a single lens. It simply depends on what lens it is and what condition it's in. The most common lenses are those in the 50mm range (50mm, 52mm, etc.) with very wide apertures (F1.8 or larger), as well as the 40mm F1.8 pancake lens that I have, so if you look around on eBay anywhere in the world you'll most likely find these lenses all over the place. In this case I would almost say it's a buyer's market simply because the supply is so large. If you're looking for something a bit more unique, like a 24mm F2.8, expect to pay in the upper price range (this evening I found a few going for close to €300). If you look in the USA, the prices are pretty similar - just swap out the € sign for a $ sign and you're good to go. Like I said, it varies greatly.
The lenses themselves are nothing short of fantastic, though. Prime lenses are always going to be sharper than any zoom lens (my Tokina is rather soft but still pleasing in a way) but to pick up a lens that is thirty or forty years old and make photos with it is really a great feeling, especially when the photos are as sharp or even sharper than a digital SLR (I also have a Nikon D5100 - not the bee's knees but still nice) equipped with a prime lens. When I look at photos that I have made with my Hexanon lenses, people are rather taken aback when I tell them they were shot with an old analog camera (OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration...).