Tag Archives: hi-matic 7s

CCR Review 8 – Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

The Hi-Matic 7s, where to start on this sweet fixed lens rangefinder. It truely is the underdog when it comes to the rangefinder explosion of the 1960s and today is barely seen with everyone clamoring for Yashica Electros, Canonet QL17 GIIIs, and Olympus 35SP, and while these are all great cameras the Hi-Matic 7s is a true sleeper. The slightly upgraded version of the Hi-Matic 7 (the second camera in the Hi-Matic line) features the same meter as Minolta’s SrT line of single lens reflex cameras, a hotshoe, and the Safe Loading System (SLS). This also happens to be the very first camera that I ever got as my own camera. That junky 110 camera I got from McDonalds doesn’t count.

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s
Great performance and good looks at that!

The Dirt
Maker: Minolta
Model: Hi-Matic 7s
Type: 35mm Rangefinder
Lens: Fixed, Rokkor-PF f=45mm 1:1.7
Year of Manufacture: 1969

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

The Good
Being really an outlyer camera in the fixed lens rangefinder market the cost of these cameras is relatively low while the more cult classics fetch large prices, this will give you solid performance without breaking the bank. It’s also a fully mechanical camera, so that pesky battery only powers the meter, so you can use the camera on the fly with the Sunny-16 rule, or use a shoe mounted meter or just your smartphone. Speaking of the shoe the camera has both a hotshoe and a PC socket and with a leaf shutter you can sync the flash at any shutter speed. And then there’s the optics, the Rokkor glass is super sharp, and with a nice wide f/1.7 aperture you can use this camera easily in low light. The camera also has a bright viewfinder with good focus assist and bright composition lines, because like all rangefinders the viewfinder is offset from the lens.

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

The Bad
The weak point for this camera is the battery, like many camera of its age the Hi-Matic 7s takes a mercury cell so many times if you can find one the battery may already be removed and you cannot purchase these cells anymore. However you do have a couple options if you want to power the meter. The first is of course just placing an alkaline or silver oxide cell in camera that will power it but there is a voltage difference of .2 which doesn’t really equate to much but may throw off the metering or blow a circuit somewhere. Next option is a Wyne cell, but they don’t last long and require you to drill a hole in the battery cover. The final, and best option in my view is C.R.I.S Camera Repair which sells adapter units that will step down the voltage of modern batteries. Then there’s the weight, the Hi-Matic 7s is not a light camera, it has a good heft to it, and has a fairly large presence. But don’t let that slow you down, I guess i was just really feeling it after several hours doing musket drill with a bayonet fixed.

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

The Low Down
This is a great camera to pick up to get into using rangefinders, inexpensive and good quality results. Plus it can seriously take a beating and still work. Mine wears a dent where I dropped it, the back stayed closed, even the lens avoided damage, just this one ding up at the top. As a learner camera I wouldn’t say it’s a top one to get, the meter, if you use it, is only in Exposure Values (EV) so I didn’t really learn anything about exposure, mostly because I used the meter well until the battery died. But for a first camera, it was great to figure everything out even if I left it in auto.

If you want to hear more about the Hi-Matic 7(s) check out: Episode 122 of the Film Photography Podcast or Episode 3 of Classic Camera Revival!

Fort York National Historic Site in Toronto, Ontario
Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – Rokkor-PF f=45mm 1:1.7 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 3 – Rangefinders

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A favoured camera of the street photography group, the rangefinder, is one of those niche cameras that is often associated with brands like Leica. However while none of us have a Leica to present this episode we have some fine (cheaper) alternatives to the Leica that are sure to get your attention. The main feature of the rangefinder is that the viewfinder is often off-set from the taking lens, and uses a super-imposed image that you ‘line up’ to get the focus. However, composing takes a bit of work. The first rangefinders were produced by Kodak back in 1916, but really got popular in 1925 with the first Leica camera.

The cameras featured on this episode are:

Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – The Upgraded version of the Hi-Matic 7, this beautiful fixed lens rangefinder has a Rokkor 45mm f/1.7 lens, hot shoe and an auto exposure system from the SRT line of SLRs. But since it takes a mercury cell is no longer usable. But being mechanical the camera still works like a charm!

The Collection - September 2012

Foggy Dew

Golden

Parking

Kodak 35 RF – The coupled rangefinder version of the original Kodak 35, this ungainly looking camera was introduced in 1940 but don’t let the weird looks fool you, it’s a solid camera with legendary Kodak optics backing it up.

kodak35

k35-02

k35-01

Olympus 35 SP – Another cult favourite of Olympus with both a centre weighted and spot metering system built in, and a 42mm f/1.7 Zuiko lens to back it all up, this compact rangefinder is very user friendly with wickedly sharp optics!

olympus35sp

oly35sp-01

oly35sp-02

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Voigtlander Bessa R – The only interchangeable lens rangefinder on the show today, the Bessa R, gives all those folks who are fans of the Leica Thread Mount (LTM/M39) a camera with TTL metering and easy loading! While not actually from the famous Voigtlander name, but rather designed and built by the Japanese company ‘Cosina,’ the the Bessa R is a solid contender.

bessa-r

bessar-02

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Of course, this is far from a complete list of rangefinders out there. In addition to the iconic Leica lineup there are some other good cameras to look at.  Such as the Yashica Electro 35G, Canonet QL17 GIII, Konica S3, and Olympus XA.

The Darkroom
A topic that will get any traditional photographer going for hours (thankfully it didn’t for this episode) is developers! Even today there are still a pile of different developers available for black and white films, and they come in two different varieties. First being powder which you combine with water to create a stock solution which can be used on its own in many cases or diluted down with water. Second is liquid, which can be mixed into a stock solution (like Kodak HC-110) or diluted straight with water into a one-shot working dilution, such as Rodinal.

Some of the developers mentioned in today’s show include.

  • Rodinal – The oldest commercial developer still in production today, however it’s known as Blazinal, Adonal, or Agfa R09 One Shot. Produces incredibly sharp images but does enhance grain.
  • Pyro Developers – These are staining developers that produce amazing tones, fine grain, and sharp images. They do leave almost a sepia stain on the negs. Two types are mentioned, Pyrocat-HD and PMK Pyro, both are avalible from Photographer’s Formulary.
  • Diafine – This unique two bath developer (don’t mix the two baths) will produce ultra-fine grain, and increase film speed, sharpness, and resolution. Oh and the stuff lasts forever!
  • Kodak Xtol – A powdered fine grain developer from Kodak that produces good sharpeness and fine grain. It’s also one of the more environmentally friendly developers out there being based on Vitamin C. The downside is that you have to mix it up 5 liters at a time. A jerry can is a good idea for storage.
  • Caffenol – a developer that you can mix up yourself and you can make it in so many different ways. At the core is instant coffee, then you add additional stuff to change the results. Best part there’s nothing really dangerous that mixes in with it, just don’t drink it. Co-Host Alex did a good experiment with Caffenol a year or so back.
  • Kodak HC-110 – One of the more interesting developers because of the alphabet dilution table, and introduced without much fanfare. You can mix it up as a stock solution and dilute from there, or just dilute straight from syrup. If you want that ‘Tri-X look’ HC-110, Dilution B.
  • Kodak TMax Developer – Designed for use with the T-Grain (TMax) films, but don’t let that scare you, this is a fantastic developer that makes most film (even Tri-X and Plus-X) sing! There’s a little more grain but you do get nice sharp negs.
  • Ilfosol 3 – A general purpose film developer designed for use with slower films with great results especially with Pan F and Delta 100

If you want to try mix up your own developers you can find a pile of great recipes online at the Unblinking Eye. Also check out the Massive Dev Chart to get starting developing times. If you’re just starting out with film developing a good one to start with is Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-11, as it’s cheap and works with almost every film out there! And more importantly don’t be afraid to experiment and find your favourites that get the results that you want! Just note that if you order liquid developers from US distributors you may not be able to ship them across the border, you may even face some restrictions with powder as well. New York City isn’t that far away and totally worth the trip just to see the awesomeness that is B&H!

If you are in the Toronto area be sure to check out host, John Meadow’s first gallery show: The Silver Path. Running from the 10th of April to the 19th. Check out his site for more details: johnmeadowsphotography.wordpress.com/the-silver-path-film-photography-by-john-meadows/!

Looking for a place to get this chemistry, check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, or Film Plus if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Rediscovering an Old Friend

Sometimes you just look up and see your first camera sitting there, the lens still shining as if new, and it begs you to be used. Well that happened recently, my very first camera, religated to my third shelf (were I place seldom used cameras, ones that work but have something off with them, or just cannot get the film anymore…), the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s, a five dollar garage sale find. All mechanical, the battery for the light meter long dead, but everything still works. So I dicided to take it out for a trip.

Because I can.

Golden

Foggy Dew

Parking

Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – Rokkor-PF 45mm 1:1.7 – Silver Tone 100