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  • Give it Your Best Shot • Luminar 4 September 25, 2020
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Past Article Calendar

September 2020

70 years of Minolta

The 1970s

Minolta SR-M

1970 Minolta SR-M

35mm SLR SLR system with a built-in – or more accurately, built-on – non-removable motor drive. This ran at 3 frames per second. A 250-exposure bulk film back was avaiolable, and the camera had no TTL metering.

Minolta 16 MG-S

1970 Minolta 16MG-S 16mm camera

16mm subminiature with shutter-priority auto exposure from a built-in CdS meter.
Minolta Hi-Matic E

1971 Minolta Hi-Matic E

35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera Automatic exposure with programmed electronic shutter, and for the first time, automatic parallax correction of the viewfinder image coupled to the rangefinder action.

Minolta 16 QT

1972 Minolta 16 QT 16mm camera

The end of a long line of 16mm subminiature cameras for Minolta, this model had selectable shutter speeds and a built-in match needle CdS meter.

Minolta Hi-Matic F

1972 Minolta Hi-Matic F

35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera Automatic exposure with programmed electronic shutter. A downgrade compared to the E, with a slower lens.

Minolta SRT-303

1973 Minolta SRT-303/102

35mm SLR Camera with full information viewfinder showing shutter speed, metering and also the aperture through a ‘Judas Window’ secondary prism visible below the word Minolta.

Minolta XM/XK

1973 Minolta XM/XK 35mm SLR System

The world’s first 35mm SLR model which combined automatic electronic-shutter aperture priority exposure with an interchangeable finder. Titanium foil focal plane shutter speeded 16 seconds to 1/2,000th. The hot shoe for flash slips over the rewind knob. This camera was first released with the Finder AE, a CdS module. A silicon-blue version called the AE-S finder was introduced for the later motorized version (see below) and after this date, most XM/XK bodies were also sold with the new AE-S finder, and called the XM AE-S or XK AE-S.

Leitz Minolta CL

1973 Leitz Minolta CL 35mm Focal-Plane Shutter Rangefinder Camera

35mm interchangeable lens focal-plane shutter camera using Leica M mount, manufactured under mutual technological co-operation with E. Leitz GmbH. This camera body is more often seen without the Minolta name, branded as Leica CL, and fitted with Leica lenses (40mm f/2 Summicron-C). The standard lens was 40mm, unlike the usual Leica 50mm, and only one additional lens – a 90mm f/4 Elmar-C – was offered.

Minolta Pocket Autopak 50

1974 Minolta Pocket Autopak 50

110 Pocket Instamatic format Camera 13 x 17mm on 110 film. Minolta’s first 110 camera. The 110 format was introduced by Kodak as Pocket Instamatic in 1972, and intended to replace both the earlier Kodapak 126 Instamatic format and the fading popularity of 16mm subminiatures. Much greater precision was built in to the cartridge, compared to 126, with a view to allowing high-end cameras and systems to be developed using the newly improved emulsions.

Minolta XE-1/XE-7

1974 Minolta XE-1/XE-7 35mm SLR Camera

Minolta’s first 35mm auto-exposure SLR camera with fixed pentaprism. It has aperture priority auto only. Editor’s notes: this camera was developed jointly with Leitz, and uses the Copal-Leitz electronic shutter. The chassis, shutter and many parts of the XE-1 formed the basis for the Leica R3, the first auto exposure Leica reflex and successor to the manual Leicaflex SL2 (it was no longer called Leicaflex, just Leica, as the ‘R’ indicated reflex). The XE-1 is regarded as one of the best engineered SLRs ever made. It had a polycarbonate prism top housing. This can be removed easily giving access to calibration screws for the CdS TTL metering.

Minolta XM/XK Motor

1976 Minolta XM/XK Motor 35mm SLR Camera

World’s first TTL AE exposure motor drive camera. The maximum speeds was 3.5 fps and it was capable of selectable 1, 2 or 3 fps operation. Like the SR-M, it was built as an integrated motor and body, which can not be separated.

Minolta 110 Zoom

1976 Minolta 110 Zoom

13 x 17mm format 110 film fixed zoom SLR with externally metered auto exposure. Editor’s note: the lens, 25-50mm f/4.5, is equal to a 50-100mm on full frame 35mm. The unusual aspect of this design is that the light for the porro mirror SLR viewfinder was diverted from the optical path in the middle of the zoom, between lens groups, rather than betwen the lens and film. This system was already in use in many ciné cameras.

Pocket Autopak 450 E

1976 Minolta Pocket Autopak 450 E

13 x 17mm format 110 film. Minolta’s first 110 camera with built-in flash.

Minolta XD-7

1977 Minolta XD-7/XD-11 35mm SLR

World’s first 35mm SLR camera with multiple exposure modes. Editor’s note: the XD-7 offered Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. Since Minolta lenses were not fitted with an auto diaphragm mechanism capable to moving to a preset aperture, Minolta added an index lug and later on a minimum aperture lock to the MC lens design, which already had one metering lug on the aperture ring. All aperture rings were designed, with MC metering, to use a constant interval of degrees between stops (this had applied since 1965, before MC was introduced). The extra lug and lock allowed the lens to be locked at minimum aperture (say f/22 or f/16) and the position of the MD index lug told the camera body the relative position of maximum aperture. The auto exposure mechanism then moved through an arc of degrees matching the required stop down to reach the target f-stop. Because the system was inherently inaccurate, Minolta devised a very clever silicon-blue metering process. The mirror of the XD-7 does not lift until the lens has stopped down, and the meter cell continues to read the light as the aperture closes. If it detects too much or too little light, the shutter speed that has been pre-set (Shutter Priority) will be adjusted or over-ridden to get good exposure. The XD-7 was capable of compensating for faulty lenses. If you forget to set the lens to the minimum aperture (made easier with later MD lenses with a lock) and used Shutter Priority, you would get you set shutter speed if the set aperture or a wider one allowed it, or an over-ridden shutter speed (faster) if not. It had, in effect, a hidden program mode.

Minolta XG-E

1977 Minolta XG-E 35mm SLR

World’s first SLR camera with touch-sensor meter switch. Editor’s note: the XG series was similar to the XD, but had a polycarbonate body shell in place of metal, and modes limited to aperture priority and manual. The focusing screen was also a dimmer standard type, not the Acute Matte first seen in the XD-7, but many users preferred this as it gave a more realistic viewing image. The ‘touch-sensor’ referred to is the shutter button itself. Many cameras have had metering activated by slight pressure. The XG-E had a shutter release with two metal rings separated by an insulating annulus. When conductive finger skin touched and bridged the two rings, the metering circuit was turned on, without requiring first pressure on the release. This principle patented by Minolta became the basis for the ‘Senstrip’ found on the grips of later cameras.

Minolta Hi-Matic SD

1978 Minolta Hi-Matic SD 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

Minolta’s first 35mm camera with built-in pop-up flash and date imprinting.

Minolta Hi-Matic AF

1979 Minolta Hi-Matic AF Autofocus 35mm Leaf-Shutter Camera

Minolta’s first 35mm AF leaf-shutter compact.

Minolta 110 Zoom Mk II

1979 Minolta 110 Zoom SLR Mk II

The second generation 110 SLR incorporated true TTL exposure metering, and the lens was extended to 25-67mm and increased by a full stop in aperture to f/3.5. It also had a very good close-up facility. The 1980s and 90s saw the development of the final Minolta manual focus SLR system, the rise and fall of the Disc format, and the introduction of the AF SLR system.

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15 comments to 70 years of Minolta

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