Minolta Hi-Matic F
by Karen Nakamura
The Minolta Hi-Matic F is a small coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera with program automatic exposure. Released in 1972, it has a very sharp Rokkor 38mm f/2.7 coated lens (4 elements in 3 groups). Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.
The rangefinder focusing mechanism is coincident image with a nice bright diamond shaped imaging area.
This unit's shutter is not working, most probably due to a loose solder connection. I ended up selling this camera on ebay (and yes, I noted all of the problems with it when listing it).
Separated at birth?
I'm convinced Yashica and Minolta must have been exchanging rangefinder design plans because the Hi-Matic F is a spitting image of the Yashica Electro GX. They have the same 'Atom' logo mark and even the battery check is in the same location.
The Seiko ESL shutter is entirely stepless from 4 seconds to an oddball 1/724 sec. It's not TTL metering but ATL (above the lens) - the silicon cell is located on right above the lens on the lens mount, but it does a great job. Because the silicon cell is right above the lens, you can use filters (including polarizing, etc.) without having to make filter corrections.
The camera uses discontinued 1.35v PX640 mercury batteries. I can get PX640s but they cost $15 each. There are alkaline PX640As, but they are $10 each at B&H. Instead, I'm using two LR44 1.55v alkaline batteries ($2-3 each) with a generous amount of tinfoil padding. It seems to work fine and it's what other people are doing with their Hi-matics.
I'm surprised that this camera came with a PC connector as this is usually reserved for high-end cameras. It also has a guide-number feature for telling it about the flash unit installed.
Apparently the soldering on the Hi-matics was bad and internal leads often separate from their connections. True to form, this Hi-Matic F's shutter is broken. The meter works and the battery-check functions fine. You can wind the camera and take a shot and it *sounds* like everything is working. When you point the camera to a bright area, it goes ZIP and in a dark room it goes ZEEEEP, just as it should. But the leaf shutter doesn't move.
This is most probably caused by a loose electrical connection. There's a Japanese web page that shows how to take it apart and fix it. The secret is that the top plate is secured by 4 hidden screws under the flash shoe:
|Camera Name||Hi-Matic F|
|Place of Manufacture||
|Date of Manufacture||1972~|
rangefinder (parallax marks)
Rokkor (4 elements in 3 groups)
distance = 0.8 meters (~2.6 feet)
Seiko ESL Electronic Shutter 4 sec ~ 1/724 sec.
X-flash sync at all speeds
cell mounted above lens
Lights on top of camera / rangefinder warn of under/over exposure conditions
EV 0.9- 17(at ISO 100)
f/2.7 - f/13
hot-shoe and PC cable connection.
|Film type / speeds||
Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ASA 25 to 400
x 1.35v PX640 mercury cells (w/battery check feature)
|Dimensions and weight||113 x 73 x 54mm ; 360 grams|
|Retail price||¥21300 in 1972|
Note: Copyright © 2005 by Karen Nakamura / Photoethnography.com Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place.
Minolta began making cameras in 1928 as the "Nichi-doku Shashinki Shokai" (Japanese-German Camera Factory) and in 1937 was renamed Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko Kabushiki Kaisha or Chiyoko for short. One man was the heart of the company, Kazuo Tashima. He ran the company from 1928 to 1972. Before the war, Chiyoko made medium and large format cameras and began making 35mm cameras after the war. They started using the Minolta brand in 1937. In the post-War period, they made a series of Leica clones, the Minolta 35 rangefinder.
In 1962, Chiyoko changed its name to Minolta. They are famous for the first SLR with fully coupled metering, the SR-7 and the first model with built-in motor drive (SR-M). They also produced the first camera with integral autofocus, the Minolta Maxxum 7000 (aka Alpha 7000) in 1985. I remember when in 1986, my dad brought home his shiny new Minolta 7000 and handed me down his old Pentax Spotmatic SPII (which still have). Ironically, the Pentax still sees more use than the Alpha because of its ability to run fully manually.
In any case, Minolta continues to make great 35mm SLRs as well as an increasing array of interesting digital cameras. In 2003, Minolta announced a merger with Konica, Japan's oldest camera manufacturer. Hopefully the merged company (Konolta? Monica?) will have enough financial resources to continue to produce high-end film-based SLRs and rangefinders.