Using the Hexar in any mode other than program requires a lot of button pushing and/or dial fiddling. Asone reviewer aptly put it, the camera is both “deceptively simple and deceptively complex”. One could get used to using the manual modes, but I didn’t feel like committing. Therefore, I shot a roll of HP5 through the Hexar mostly in auto mode where, by all accounts, the Hexar does its best work.
While visiting the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, I sat near a herd of deer to test the silent mode, the Hexar’s main claim to fame. A doe wandered over to me to see if I would let her have some of my ice cream cone (I wouldn’t), and I pulled out the Hexar, engaged the silent mode, and shot away.
Now, granted, these deer—being the type that will approach you for a lick of your ice cream—are somewhat used to noise and humans. However, they are still skittish, and the Hexar definitely did not phase the deer. The camera was quick and quiet, and I didn’t have to mess with settings or flash in her face to get some nice shots. I would say that the Hexar has to be one of the best cameras for street photography. Or taking pictures of deer. Or any stealthy activity, really.
The way I see it, the Hexar is the perfect camera for a specific purpose: it’s a point-and-shoot camera that you can have confidence in (“point-and-shoot” here meaning a camera that is meant to be used in program mode and quickly). The Hexar’s focusing system is very reliable and excels in low-light environments. The fixed 35mm lens is fast, very sharp, and can lend a beautiful depth of field without any effort on your part.
The camera’s leaf shutter allows for sharp pictures even at relatively low shutter speeds. On the downside, the Hexar has a max shutter speed of 1/250. I was concerned about this limitation and saw the effects in some of the pictures that I shot. A few were blurry despite having been taken in decent light, and in many of the shots that I took in direct sunlight the highlights were blown out. A higher-speed film would help with the former problem while a lower-speed film would help with the latter. Hmm.
I felt that the camera’s capabilities were mildly trapped between its low shutter speed and lack of a built-in flash, and because of this, I find its place in the analog world to be a bit confused. Still, and importantly, if you are looking for a dependable, discrete, and simple shooter, I can see how you would grow to love this camera. The Hexar, like anything with a soul, has its contradictions. I say that’s a good thing.
Katie Lobodzinski is a film hobbyist and staff writer at Victory Camera. You can find her photos here: katiesue.com