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.
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The Minolta Co. Ltd was established by Kazuo Tashima in November 1928, under the name ‘Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shoten’
1929 Nifcalette Folding Camera
Minolta’s first camera. 40 x 65mm on 127 film with scale-estimation focusing.
1930 Nifca Sport Folding Dry-Plate Camera
65 x 90mm image, with a standard tilt and shift lens.
1931 Arcadia Folding Dry-Plate Camera
Compact camera using the first ever Japanese-made shutter.
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.
1933 Minolta, Strut-Folding Dry-Plate Camera
65 x 90mm image, the first Minolta camera entirely manufactured in Japan.
1934 Baby Minolta Bakelite body Roll Film Camera
40 x 65mm or 40 x 30mm on 127 film, with a Bakelite body and pull-0ut lens.
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.
1935 Auto Minolta, Strut-Folding Dry-Plate Camera
65 x 90mm image, the first press camera with a rangefinder to be manufactured in Japan.
1935 Minolta Six, Collapsing Bakelite Body Camera
60 x 60mm on 120 film, collapsing Bakelite body.
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.
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’.
1937 Minolta Flex Twin Lens Reflex Camera
60 x 60mm on 120 film. Minolta’s first twin lens reflex camera.
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.