Retro Review – Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

My rangefinder obsession continues undiminished. My Minolta Hi-Matic 7s is one I’ve had for quite a while but I just got around to putting a roll through it. I chose Ilford Delta 400 Professional black and white negative film, my first time shooting with it. First time camera with first time film produced some interesting results.

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The Hi-Matic 7s was produced in 1966 as a replacement to the Hi-Matic 7. The only real difference was the addition of a hot shoe. It has a Rokkor 45mm f/1.8 lens that stops down to f/22. Shutter speeds go from bulb up to 1/500th of a second, not the fastest but that’s not really what this camera is about. The meter in my example doesn’t work so I shot everything using the “Sunny Sixteen” rule with varying success.

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The Rokkor glass is very sexy. Great contrast, sharp in the center only falling off a bit wide open. The viewfinder patch and frame lines are bright and the finders parallax correction is decent from 6 feet to infinity. Closer than 6 feet is a bit off, something that I’ll be able to anticipate on my next roll. The film advance lever has the longest throw I’ve ever come across which takes some time to master. it’s easy enough to operate but it’s hard to move though a single frame in one motion.

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It’s a bit of a brick. Heavy, not super portable, but still smaller than SLR’s of a similar vintage. I picked mine up on Ebay from a vintage camera seller in Japan. Other than the meter it’s perfect and I got it for $50 including shipping. I did manage to shoot some nice shots of the inside of my lens caps too as rangefinders don’t look though the lens like an SLR. I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

Film is not dead! Don’t let your old cameras collect dust in the attic. Go get them, clean them up, get some film, and create art!

Scott.

Retro Review – Minolta Hi-Matic AF2

Retro Reviews are something new for WFLBC.com. I love film, I love old cameras, this is something I’m very excited about. First up, the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2. A 35mm fixed lens point and shoot from 1981.

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Minolta Hi-Matic AF2

This camera is very much a film equivalent to the modern Fujifilm X100 series of rangefinder styled premium point and shoots. 39mm fixed f/2.8 lens, auto focus, auto exposure, the only thing manual on this camera is film loading and advance. It has a large, bright, parallax corrected viewfinder with bright frame lines. There are 2 LED’s. one that indicates the need for the built in flash (which beeps like crazy) and one that tells you if you’re focused on something near or far. It also beeps if you’re out of focus which is kind of cool/kind of annoying.

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Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400

Auto focus is very accurate and quite fast for a camera of this vintage. The lens gives fantastic contrast making it perfect for street photography and black and white film.

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Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400 – with flash.

The shutter is very quiet, another good feature for a street camera. The leaf shutter makes a weird sound best described as a tiny robot sneezing.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400 – with flash

The little pop-up flash is impressive. It does its job well even in bright sunlight. Ilford HP5 loves this camera and the camera loves it back. Dark blacks and bright whites that border on overexposed when the flash is used. I like that look.

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Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400 – with flash

Color reproduction is great, even with Fujifilm drugstore film loaded up. I’m blown away by the sharpness of the lens. This camera will probably see some travel miles logged this summer. Montreal, a road trip to Alberta, and a weekend in BC’s Cariboo region.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Unlike a lot of cameras from this era the AF2 takes AAA batteries. Anyone who’s tried to resurrect an old film camera knows the pain of finding extinct batteries or using a modern equivalent that isn’t quite right.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

The Hi-Matic line reaches back to the 60’s with some great manual rangefinders. I have a 7s I’ll be reviewing soon. The AF2 is kind of stuck between 2 eras. Rangefinders were all but gone in the late 70’s aside from Leica and a few others. The AF2 isn’t a rangefinder but it looks and feels like one. It adds some 80’s electronics but sticks to manual film advance. It’s a bit of an odd duck but that’s typical Minolta.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400
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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Prices for the AF2 are all over the place right now. As more street photographers rediscover this little gem the price will certainly go up. Right now they’re anywhere from $10 to $100+. There are wide and tele lens attachments, just like the X100. It’s like Fujifilm used this thing as a template.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

You may wonder why I bother with film. My digital Fuji X Series cameras offer exceptional image quality, the ease of automatic and digital everything along with great manual controls, and all the cool retro looks of film cameras. Megapixels, instant gratification, and the ability to shoot thousands of images just to pick a few good ones have dumbed down photography to the point where it is losing its artistic appeal. Film is magic to me. Film is the unknown in an age where Google makes you think you’re a genius. 24 or 36 chances to create art and you can’t be sure you’ve done anything until the roll is done.

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Stay tuned for more retro reviews!

Scott.

Vancouver and Victoria circa 1935 – A short film from MGM

This eight and a half minute glance into our past is amazing. Thanks so much to Don Elliott (@RealDonElliott) for sharing it on Twitter.

I hope you enjoy it as much as  do. The Empress, the Provincial Legislature and the Marine Building are all fantastic landmarks to compare to our time. The world has changed a lot in 78 years but it’s nice to see some familiar places.

Enjoy!

Scott.