Camera Geekery: The Konica Big Mini

Looking for a bargain compact? This could be the answer. There are tons of choices out there when it comes to a cheap compact camera, but none of them have gained a cult status quite like the Konica Big Mini…Read on…

The Konica Big Mini was released in 1990 and has set itself a place in modern camera history with its ease of use and fantastic optics. The lens on this camera can really give the bigger boys a run for its money. The Big Mini comes with a fantastic 35mm f3.5 Konica lens, which by rights this camera should not have. The lens on this camera is very sharp and has excellent contrast rendering. It often surprises people how good the lens is in this camera, it certainly did for me the first time I used one. I shot a lot of black and white in these cameras and found that I would have to label my images so that I didn’t mix them up with my Ricoh Gr1 (perhaps that is me though, I am a bit forgetful at times).
The controls are simple and easy to use, the camera is basically automatic and there are no manual controls. This might put some people off, but that shouldn’t as the camera is a point and shoot after all. This is a great little camera to take as a back-up camera. I found that this camera is also great for taking to gigs, events or parties. You are not going to be worried about damaging a camera that cost less than the drinks bill for the evening.

There were couple of different models available, though there is not a great deal of difference between them, the 301 has the date back and the 302 does not. Apart from the Big Mini F, the F came with faster f2.8 glass and an exposure compensation setting. The price is still higher for these too. The F comes in a fancy brushed silver finish and looks fantastic. Yet, it is still an inexpensive camera that has everything that you could possibly need.

The viewfinder is nice and bright and has an LED to let you know about the flash and if you are too close. But that is not an issue really either, as there is a close up button on the top of the camera so you can get that little bit closer to your subject (though you may deafen then).

The Big Mini has a deceptively good flash on it for such a small camera and is fast too. The only real complaints that I have about the camera are as follows:
It is a noisy little beast, they are not what you could call a stealth camera, the advance makes a lot of noise.
They are pretty fragile. The Mini has a habit of dying, but at the end of the day they are so cheap that you can just buy another. The main problem seems to be the ribbon that connects the control panel on the back of the camera. Make sure you take good care of this bit.
Er, that is it. I love this little camera and have had a lot of good times using one.
So, give the Big Mini a try, you are going to see why this camera can stand next to the big boys.


Unfortunately I no longer source these cameras. They are too hard to find now.