Busy Exploring with a New Camera

 Oops - looks like I missed posting for the past month. That's because I've been out and about testing and setting up an old 1960s Minolta A5 rangefinder camera.

I've had mixed results with rangefinders; a lot of these mid-60s Japanese cameras come with some electronics which means finding replacement batteries and then dealing with shutter mechanisms that are intimately involved with the light meter. No such problems with the Minolta A5 as it has no light meter and no electronics.

There isn't a lot of info on this camera online as regards making adjustments to get it ready for photography and there were some issues with aligning the rangefinder mechanism on this one. However the top shell comes off fairly easily (once you remove the film winders and a small screw; make sure you don't lose the shutter button which drops out) and then there is a mini optics bench clearly exposed which holds the main mirror of the rangefinder. There are five screws to play with; two adjust the rangefinder distance setting and three support the mirror and can be used to alter the up and down setting.

Once aligned and ready I put some film in and went in search of photographs to take. You need to carry a light meter for exposure (or look at the sky and apply the sunny 16 rules) and the rangefinder mechanism takes care of getting a pin-sharp focus.

The first shots looked good, very sharp and nicely exposed. So it was time to adopt this ideal street photography camera and go and take some real photos.

The nice thing about an old 60s rangefinder is that it is so self-contained. You get the one standard lens that it is permanently fitted with, in this case a Minolta Rokkor 45mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, and no zoom. So you get yourself into a good position for your shot and snap away. Not having a built-in lightmeter reduces the fuss over exposure. Take a good reading at the start, set up the camera, and get on with composing and taking your shots.

Here are a few shots from the first rolls. I'll post some more later.


Unknown said…
Really like old cameras. Fancied a Roliflex TLR but the prices have went up and so has the cost of buying and developing film. I always think b/w photography is so much more detailed than colour. Like the tree shadow in the last photo, very cool
Ayesongs said…
This one is quite unusual. they were pretty expensive cameras in the 1960s and so there seem to be few in circulation. Lovely to use though. It takes a combined speed and aperture setting via Exposure Values read straight from my old light meter. Then you can change speed and aperture together without messing up the exposure.

If you want back into film photography, try picking up an old Soviet camera. These have survived well. if you go for a Zenit, it helps to work the shutter with no film in the camera for a while to loosen up the old lubricants. The FED and Zorki rangefinders might need a wee tweak to the rangefinder alignment but that's just a quick job with an old sewing machine screwdriver, whereas the Minolta had to have the top case opened and various tweaks made to a complex light table thus revealed.

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