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Minolta AL

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by steveandthedogs, Nov 19, 2015.

  1. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Minolta AL

    First appeared in 1961, together with the A5, and was the last of the heavyweight Minolta rangefinders. The A5 was basically the same camera without a lightmeter.

    The AL was the first of the Minolta A series to have an integrated meter, which read off the top housing but was not visible in the viewfinder. In this camera, it was not initially working, but this turned out to be poor connections around the lens, more or less sorted by a bit of judicious fiddling.

    The brightline finder moves together with the focussing ring, so there is no need to worry about parallax problems.

    The lens is a Rokkor PF, 45mm with a 40.5 mm thread. It starts at f2 and goes down to f22 – better than a lot of similar rangefinders. The shutter runs from 1 sec to 1/1000, again better than the majority of other rangefinders of the period. Film speeds run from 10 – 800 ASA.

    Little quirks – the film counter is on the bottom, the rewind lever is an odd semi-circular folding lever which is nevertheless easy to use. There is an ASA/DIN converter/reminder on the back. Oh, and the case top separates from the bottom, meaning you can use it without a big floppy thing hanging around.

    In use – a very pleasant piece of kit, very bright viewfinder though the rangefinder spot is not so good, being pink against clear. Seems accurate enough however. The wind-on lever has rather a long throw, but is quiet, as is the shutter. Very similar to the Yashica Minister III, though with a faster lens and shutter. Along with about about 120 extra grammes, despite being slightly smaller. The lightmeter is clearer however, being a match needle rather than an illegible EV readout.

    The results are good, quite sharp and contrasty. It seems to be overlooked in the Minolta world, with people going either for the AL-f, A5 or the Hi-matics. This is a shame in some ways, they are missing a good little camera; on the other hand, this keeps prices relatively low.

    Would I buy another if this one died – definitely.


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