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70 years of Minolta

The 1960s

Minolta Uniomat

1960 Minolta Uniomat

35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera Japan’s first 35mm leaf-shutter camera with a programmed shutter controlled by the light meter.

Minolta SR-3

1960 Minolta SR-3

35mm SLR Camera 35mm SLR camera with the ability to attach a coupled CdS exposure meter.

Minolta 16 II

1960 Minolta 16 II

16mm Camera Subminiature using 16mm film.

Minolta Hi-Matic

1962 Minolta Hi-Matic

35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera Built-in selenium meter and programmed auto exposure. This is the famous Minolta which went into space, but the poster text reveals the truth – NASA thought they were using an American brand… “Ansco Autoset selected to board ‘Friendship 7′ Mercury space capsule” .

Minolta 16 EE

1962 Minolta 16 EE 16mm Camera

Japan’s first 16mm subminiature camera with a built-in exposure meter.

Minolta SR-7

1962 Minolta SR-7 35mm SLR Camera

World’s first 35mm SLR camera with a built-in CdS exposure meter.

Sonocon

1962 Sonocon Minolta’s first 16mm camera with a built-in radio. Editor’s note: it would have been around 1962 that my father brought back one of the first Sony transistor radios from a business trip to Japan, a present with a value I did not really appreciate at 10 years old. This camera is rather funny, in the light of so many comments made about Sony maybe introducing an Alpha with a built-in Gameboy – etc! Sorry, the mind of Minolta beat you to it.

Minolta ER

1963 Minolta ER

35mm SLR with in-lens shutter SLR with fixed lens, shutter in lens, optional 35mm and 85mm auxiliary (front converter) lenses.

Minolta Hi-Matic 7

1963 Minolta Hi-Matic 7

35mm Leaf Shutter Camera World’s first 35mm leaf-shutter camera with CdS photocell in the lens barrel. Editor’s note: this was the start of one of the best performing lines of 35mm compact cameras made. For black and white users in the 1960s, the CdS cell placed inside the filter thread meant that no filter compensation was needed (in theory, had CdS not been highly red-sensitive). The lens hood when fitted also shaded the CdS cell. The coupled short-base rangefinder, rapid lever wind, auto meter coupled exposure and fast f/1.8 lens made this a highly desirable alternative to SLRs of the period.
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Minolta 16 PS

1964 Minolta 16PS 16mm camera

This camera saw the introduction of symbols for exposure setting, described on the 70th anniversay poster as ‘simple weather-mark exposure metering’ which is not a very accurate description, as the camera did not meter the exposure.

Minoltina P

1964 Minoltina P 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

Extremely compact full frame 35mm leaf shutter camera. Editor’s note: this was the period when two formats, Agfa’s ‘Rapid’ or ‘Karat’ 24 x 24mm system and the more common 35mm half-frame, were being heavily promoted as the solution for economy and reduced bulk in personal cameras. Minolta’s first response was to make something almost as neat as the 1949 Minolta Memo. This is the first camera to use the 38mm f/2.8 lens, a specification which became an industry standard over the next 30 years.

Minolta Repo S

1964 Minolta Repo-S 35mm Half Frame Leaf-Shutter Camera

18 x 24mm half-frame model with built in match-needle exposure metering. Minolta could not ignore the half-frame craze. We have the earlier Repo (30mm f/2.8 lens) in our collection; this official picture has the lens markings obscured but it appears to be an f/1.8 32mm.

Minoltina S

1964 Minoltina S 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

In its day, the world’s most compact 35mm rangefinder camera with coupled exposure metering.

Minolta Electro Shot

1965 Minolta Electro Shot 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

Minolta’s first electronically controlled autoexposure camera with CdS meter. Editor’s note: previous auto exposure cameras used a long travel of the shutter release, or an additional clockwork mechanism cocked by the lever wind, to shift shutter speeds or apertures mechanically. Some positioned a ‘stop’ which determined the result, other actually changed settings. This new method, electronic control of the shutter speed, removed the need for a mechanical linkage and the result was an aperture-priority auto metering system. The electron symbol was issued by the shutter maker, which I believe was Copal. Up to this date Seikosha had a virtual monopoly of shutter mechanisms, in Japan. Copal developed the electronic shutter, which they also made available as a separate unit to be fitted to studio cameras. Yashica also used the same model name, Electro Shot, for a series of cameras – and shared the same electron symbol.

Minolta 24 Rapid

1965 Minolta 24 Rapid Leaf-Shutter Camera

24 x 24mm 35mm Rapid system (Agfa Karat) camera with built-in CdS metering. Editor’s note: the Karat or Rapid system uses normal 35mm emulsions, but in place of a single cassette into which the film is rewound after exposure, there are two identical cassettes. These hold a relatively short length of film, with no central spool, but a spring guide internally which helps the film wind into a cylindrical roll as it is pushed into the ‘take up’ cartridge and leave the ‘feed’ one (the one you buy). After completing 24 square exposures – equal to just 16 exposures on regular film in length – the take-up cassette is removed and sent for processing, and the empty one replaces it. This had disadvantages, not the least of which was that if you changed films, you could end up with slide film in a black and white cassette and have to label all exposed films manually. The film also tended to get scratched by the process, and the re-usable cassettes returned to the film makers by the labs had a variable lifespan. These cameras can not accept normal 35mm cassettes, but if you can obtain used Karat/Rapid cassettes it is very easy to load your own.

minolta-autocord-cds.jpg

1965 Minolta Autocord CdS

Twin-Lens Reflex Camera 60 x 60mm on 120 film, built-in CdS exposure metering.

sr-t-101.jpg

1966 Minolta SRT-101 35mm SLR Camera

Minolta’s first 35mm SLR camera with TTL, full-aperture exposure metering. The Minolta Club of Great Britain was founded by David Shaw of Japanese Camera Ltd, importers of Minolta to the UK, after the SRT-101 was introduced. Photoclubalpha.com is the continuation of this original Minolta Club and our Photoworld magazine bears the same name as the club’s original newsletter.

Minolta Autopak 500

1966 Minolta Autopak 500 126 Cartridge Camera

126 Cartridge camera with auto switch to Auto-Flash. Editor’s note: Kodak introduced the Instamatic format, also known as 126, in this year. Minolta was a partner with Kodak and launched the Autopak range to coincide with Kodak’s own camera. This model was considered a premium product, having much better build quality and a faster lens than other 126 Instamatic cameras. Summary execution is available for any playwrights, journalists, TV commentators or other idiots who refer to instant-picture cameras – Polaroid, Ektamatic, etc – as ‘Instamatic’. That includes Peter André.

Minolta SR-1s

1967 Minolta SR-1s 35mm SLR

35mm SLR with clip-on CdS exposure meter. Editor’s note: this is the strangest anachronism of Minolta’s timeline. There never was an SR-1 to launch the range, it started with the SR-2, and almost a decade later one year after updating to modern TTL metering with the SRT-101, this 1950s-style model with huge clip-on meter appeared. We have one in our collection. Just exactly how this got to be released when it was already at least five years out of date, we’ll never guess.

Minolta AL-E

1968 Minolta AL-E 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

Compact shutter-priority AE camera.

Minolta Autopak 800

1969 Minolta Autopak 800 126 Cartridge Camera

126 Instamatic format cartridge camera featuring automatic film wind-on with spring drive (the poster text incorrectly says ‘automatic film rewind’, which is not required with the 126 cartridge). Editor’s note: the 126 format can be considered similar to two Rapid/Karat cassettes joined together in a single plastic feed/takeup assembly which also included the film gate and focal plane rails. The film is 35mm, but not perforated normally, just a single sprocket hole is provided on one side only, for each frame. This allows a ‘Bantam’ sized frame, 28 x 28mm, similar to the old Kodak 128 rollfilm. The Autopak 800 with its auto wind-on, similar to Canon’s half-frame Dial and the later Russian Lomo Sport 35, was a very expensive high precision model. The lack of film plane accuracy provided by the Kodapak cartridges was the downfall of the system, as lenses such as the 38mm f/2.8 fitted to this model were almost unusable at full aperture. It was a matter of luck whether the film fell close enough to the focal plane for focusing to be correct, rangefinder or none.

Minolta Hi-Matic C

1969 Minolta Hi-Matic C 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

Compact shutter-priority AE camera with collapsible lens. Editor’s note: we have one of these. The lens pushes back against a spring action, and locks almost flush to the body for carrying. A press of the button pops the barrel out, where it is held in the correct plane by spring pressure. It is possible to push one side of the lens slightly when extended, causing loss of sharp focus, and over time the spring action weakens.


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