Rangefinder Sneak Attack!

Six months ago, I publicly declared I would declutter and sell off my unwanted gear. It never happened. For those knowingly shaking their heads, I would like to go on record as saying it was not my fault. No, the blame lies squarely at the feet of people selling fully-functional classic rangefinders too cheaply and a guy from the Pacific Northwest. Okay?

It is not as if I took no steps to sell gear. I created a list of sell items and even put them into a separate box so they would get no sympathy or support from their siblings. All this happened right after I wrote that post. That was also when I began to wonder if I was being remiss in conducting the Vintage Minolta Love Project without ever mentioning rangefinders. After all, I had a representative camera from each camera type except 110 cameras and rangefinders. (I explained my reluctance to buy a rangefinder in this post.) But, as time passed, the lack of any rangefinder in the lineup seemed to be a slight.

After a while, I decided, with some nudging, to buy a Minolta Hi-matic. Since the VMLP is as much a historical review as it is about fulfilling wishes and playing with toys, naturally, I did background research on Minolta rangefinders. And that is when the trouble began, bringing the decluttering to a halt.

I prefer smaller cameras, and the camera that most fit my idea of good ergonomics was the Minolta 7sII. The 7sII I bought was in excellent condition and came at a great price. I enjoy using it and will definitely use it a lot. Unfortunately, learning about other rangefinders was unavoidable and enabling.

Minolta Super A and my little red wagon, 50mm f2 lens
Minolta A, Minolta Hi-matic 7sII

The Minolta Manual, by Cooper, published in 1959, provides concise but detailed information about Minolta cameras available in 1958. Minolta released its first SLR, the SR-2, in 1958. At the time, Minolta was making only a few other cameras— the Autocord was the only TLR, and the rest were rangefinders except the Minolta 16 and the Autowide. The oldest rangefinder mentioned was the Minolta 35, a Leica analogue. The Minolta A, a consumer-focused model, and the Super A (a rangefinder with interchangeable lenses) were released in 1955. The Minolta V2 (1958) was a beast with a top shutter speed of 1/2000! Naturally, on reading about these cameras, I was intrigued—especially since I love the Hi-matic 7sII.

Most of these rangefinders are scarce. The Minolta A is easy to find, usually with a stuck shutter. Well, spend enough time on eBay, and things appear. The Minolta A showed up first as an “untested, no returns” item, for which I made an offer much below the asking price, and the seller agreed. I never intended to buy both models. Super A models are so rare, I never expected to even see one for sale. Also, they cost a fortune, so I purchased the questionable Minolta A.  As the sly forces of cluttering would have it, the very next day, a Super A appeared, also “untested, no returns.”  Encouragingly, in communicating with the seller, he agreed to take it back if it did not work.  Even better, he accepted an offer for a lower price. So, since one does not pass on unicorns, I ended up with both. Aside from the Minolta A’s non-functioning rangefinder, both work!

My guilt for not having a rangefinder in the VMLP has been totally erased. But, I really need to get back to decluttering. And this time—by Grabthar’s Hammer, by the Sons of Warvan—I will succeed!   


  1. “No, the blame lies squarely at the feet of people selling fully-functional classic rangefinders too cheaply and a guy from the Pacific Northwest. Okay?”

    Well, if we’re going to go THAT route, I blame you for getting the 28-85mm Rokkor zoom! 😉

    (Oh yeah, that Minolta A and Super A looks cool.)

    1. Author

      Blame accepted! We’re both happy, so no harm, no foul?

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