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70 years of Minolta

History Poster

IN 1998 Minolta published, for their 70th anniversary, a large poster featuring all the landmark cameras from their own museum and employee collections. Many of the cameras shown – all fairly small on the poster – were well used and worn examples. The original image-files for the poster, which we have archived, are of poor quality. They are Japanese inkset CMYK sharpened for pre-press, with very dark gamma. This page re-creates all the information from the original poster, complete with the photographs. This page has been updated so that each period now appears as a separate section – simply select the next page to move on after reading each one. Page 1 is 1928-39, Page 2 1940-1959, Page 3 1960-69, Page 4 1970-79, Page 5 1980-89, and Page 6 is the 1990s. If you know the period of the camera you want to see, go straight to the page.

In order to access all the content here, which includes high quality images of many historic cameras, you need to be a Subscriber to Photoclubalpha.

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1928

The Minolta Co. Ltd was established by Kazuo Tashima in November 1928, under the name ‘Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shoten’

Nifcalette

1929 Nifcalette Folding Camera

Minolta’s first camera. 40 x 65mm on 127 film with scale-estimation focusing.

Nifca Sport

1930 Nifca Sport Folding Dry-Plate Camera

65 x 90mm image, with a standard tilt and shift lens.

Arcadia

1931 Arcadia Folding Dry-Plate Camera

Compact camera using the first ever Japanese-made shutter.

Minolta Semi

1932 Semi Minolta Folding Camera

45 x 60mm on 120 film, Minolta’s first diecast folding camera and the first use of the Minolta name.

Minolta

1933 Minolta, Strut-Folding Dry-Plate Camera

65 x 90mm image, the first Minolta camera entirely manufactured in Japan.

Baby Minolta

1934 Baby Minolta Bakelite body Roll Film Camera
[private]
40 x 65mm or 40 x 30mm on 127 film, with a Bakelite body and pull-0ut lens.

Minolta Vest

1934 Minolta Vest, Strut-Folding Dry-Plate Camera

40 x 65mm or 40 x 30mm image on 127 film, the first Bakelite body collapsing camera manufactured in Japan.

Auto Minolta

1935 Auto Minolta, Strut-Folding Dry-Plate Camera

65 x 90mm image, the first press camera with a rangefinder to be manufactured in Japan.

Minolta Six

1935 Minolta Six, Collapsing Bakelite Body Camera

60 x 60mm on 120 film, collapsing Bakelite body.

Minolta Auto Press

1937 Minolta Auto Press, Strut-Folding Dry Plate Camera

65 x 90mm image, the first ever press camera with built-in flash synchronisation system manufactured in Japan. Editor’s note: at Icon, we owned and used an Auto Press during the 1990s. It was equipped with a rollfilm back as well as plate holders. The flash synchronisation worked, and the 105mm f/4.5 Anastigmat lens was sufficiently good to permit one commercial studio shot to be completed using the camera, though contrast and light transmission were both low. The camera has a folding sports finder (the wire frame) as well as an optical coupled rangefinder and an optical viewfinder. It was a copy of the German Plaubel Makina.

Auto Semi Minolta

1937 Auto Semi Minolta Folding Camera

60 x 60mm on 120 film, rangefinder and automatic film wind-on spacing (incorrectly described on the poster as ‘auto film rewind stop’). Note the spelling ‘Tiyoko’ in place of the later ‘Chiyoko’.

Minolta Flex

1937 Minolta Flex Twin Lens Reflex Camera

60 x 60mm on 120 film. Minolta’s first twin lens reflex camera.

Minolta Flex Automat

1939 Minolta Flex Automat Twin Lens Reflex Camera

60 x 60mm on 120 film, first self-cocking (shutter) twin-lens reflex to be manufactured in Japan.

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