Minolta Hi-Matic E
This is another of Minolta’s quite large but extremely well made compact rangefinder cameras. This one is of about 1971 vintage. It is very similar in size and shape to be much applauded Canon Canonoet QL17 GIII. Like the Canon it is equipped with an f 1.7 maximum aperture lens of 40 mm focal length. It is a truly superb lens very much in Minolta’s tradition and in every way at least equal of the Canon. The Hi-Matic E is something of an overlooked camera these days, I suspect because it is an auto-only programmed exposure device and it does not have the manual flexibility of the Canon. However, in practice I have found that the autoexposure system is excellent and I really haven't needed to employ manual exposure techniques. Indeed, when using the Minolta as a street-shooter the autoexposure really is a significant advantage because all one has to think about is framing and focusing. The focusing with the rangefinder is extremely quick and very accurate. From minimum focus at 0.8 m to infinity is less than one quarter of the turn on the focus ring around the lens barrel. It is beautifully smooth as well. The rangefinder patch is a yellow diamond shape in the centre of the viewfinder and very easy to see. The bright line frame markings are also provided in yellow and automatically move with the focus ring to compensate for any change in parallax when focusing close to the camera.
The automatic-only shutter is a Seiko ESF, which is very quiet and, on my camera at least has so far proven to be very reliable. The one major drawback with the shutter and the camera is that it is totally dependent on batteries. Originally, it would have been fitted with a pair of the PX 640 batteries which are no longer available. These were considerably larger than the currently available 675 size which I use. So I have had to make an adapter to fit into the vacant slot. Two 675 batteries sitting one on top of the other just about fills one of the two battery positions and in the other one I have cut a piece of brass tubing to the appropriate length and then filled it with molten solder. Once the solder had cooled I filed the ends flat and slotted it in place of the other battery, packing out the spare space with some modeling foam. The two 675 batteries provide the correct voltage and the solder filled brass tube acts as a dummy battery simply allowing the current to flow across the otherwise empty battery space. This has worked very well although I do need to change the batteries fairly frequently as the shutter and exposure mechanism uses a lot of power. Every time one presses the shutter button the "electro control" light illuminates to indicate whether there is sufficient available light. The shutter can manage exposures between two seconds and 1/1000th of a second.
It is not one of the most effective cameras to use with a flash as it uses a guide number based “flashmatic” system where the focus distance sets an appropriate f stop. There is a table on the back of the camera which can be used to ascertain the appropriate flash setting letter given a particular flash guide number and a certain film speed. One other slight problem when using flash is that if the flash lever is set to auto on the back of the camera and a flash gun inserted into the hot shoe the camera will automatically set a shutter speed of 1/25 of a second -- which is to my mind rather too slow for general use as it allows a significant possibility of blurring caused by ambient light. Alternatively, if the flash lever on the back of the camera is set to manual the autoexposure mechanism will continue to set the shutter speed as it would normally and under these circumstances the flash will synchronize up to full speed. Now this is very useful when employing fill-in flash, such as when the subject is strongly backlit and requires additional forward illumination. However, I do have to say that it is all horribly complicated! In any event, I very rarely use flash so I suppose that it doesn't matter to me terribly much.
So, having said all that the camera is a truly excellent one that can take fantastic pictures of the highest quality with great ease. It is beautifully made and a joy to use.
None required. It all works perfectly despite being over 35 years old.
|Specifications||Minolta A5 Made in Japan|
|Camera Type||35mm rangefinder focusing camera with between-the-lens shutter|
|Lens||Minolta Rokkor 40mm f/1,7|
|Filter Size||49 mm|
|Focusing Range||0.8 m to infinity|
|Shutter Speeds||2 seconds to 1/1000th second. No B setting. Automatic programmed aperture & speed selection only|
|Exposure Meter Type||Cds|
|Film Speed Range||ISO 25 to ISO 500|
|Viewfinder Information||Brightline frame, Fully automatic Parallax correction|
|Focusing System||Rangefinder focusing in viewfinder|
|Synchronization Flash||Built-in "X" synchronization - PC socket and hot shoe|
|Loading Film||Standard 35mm 135 loading|
|Advance Film||Single or multi-stroke, Built-in double exposure prevention|
|Battery||PX 640 x 2|
|Dimensions||125 X 90 X 60 mm|