Big and heavy. That’s how it is with most fixed-lens rangefinder cameras.
When I started collecting cameras again I thought I might build a rangefinder collection. This was the first one I bought. When I picked it up, the first thing I thought was “brick outhouse.” If I were to put a neck strap on it and hide it under my bed, if someone broke in I could swing this sucker around and knock them out cold.
The Hi-Matic 7 started rolling off Minolta’s assembly lines in 1963, offering not just the aforementioned robust construction but also a six-element 45mm f/1.8 Rokkor-PF lens set in a Seikosha leaf shutter with a top speed of 1/500 second. It takes film from ISO 25 to 800. It also offers manual exposure and shutter-priority autoexposure. All that makes this a mighty useful camera even today. The cold accessory shoe is the only throwback, but the Hi-Matic 7 offers an X-sync flash contact; just connect your flash via cable.
This is a mechanical camera, but the meter needs a dreaded, banned 625 mercury cell. I use a PX625 alkaline cell, different voltage be hanged, and always get fine exposures on negative film.
By the way, if you like fixed-lens rangefinder cameras, also check out my reviews of the Konica Auto S2, the Yashica Electro 35 GSN, the Yashica MG-1, the Canonet QL17 G-III, and the Canonet 28. If you’re a Minolta fan you might like my reviews of the Minolta X-700, the SR-T 101, the SR-T 202, or the XG 1. Or just have a look at all of my camera reviews, listed here.
The first time I shot this camera I didn’t have a battery, so I taped a Sunny 16 chart to the back, loaded some Fujicolor 200, and headed to the park.
Holliday Park is on Indianapolis’s Northside. John Holliday founded The Indianapolis News in 1869 and, with the fortune the newspaper brought, built his estate on this land along the White River. After he and his wife died, all 80 acres were donated to the city to be used as a park and a place to study nature. Today, the park has expanded to 94 acres and includes a large playground, hiking trails, picnic shelters, a nature center, and these ruins.
The Western Electric Company owned one of New York City’s first skyscrapers, the St. Paul Building, built at 220 Browaday in 1898 to 26 stories. It came down in 1958 to make way for an even taller building. Its entrance facade, with its statues of Indiana limestone, was moved here.
All sorts of fun details await at The Ruins, like this column topper that now serves as a bench.
Four statues of Greek goddesses that once stood above the facade of the old Marion County Courthouse were moved here, as well. Only two have survived vandalism and the elements.
The next time I shot the Hi-Matic 7 I had a battery, so I installed it and relied on the meter. It seemed accurate. I got wonderful exposures, again on Fujicolor 200.
It was my time to find some old parked cars while I had this roll in the camera.
Second Presbyterian Church is always a willing and lovely subject.
To see everything I’ve shot with this camera, check out my Minolta Hi-Matic 7 gallery.
Normally when I show you photos I took with an old camera I tell you all about the camera’s quirks and failures. Not this time — the Hi-Matic 7 was a pleasure to use. The shutter fired smoothly, the film advance worked easily, and the focus and aperture controls moved with precision. This camera yielded photos limited only by my skill and ability. My Sunny 16 shots were uniformly underexposed, but I helped them look better in Photoshop. When I relied on the meter I got perfect exposures. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Post script: While at Holliday Park, a fellow shooting with a vintage Leica camera approached me, interested in my old Minolta. An immigrant, he barely spoke English, but our wide smiles were all the communication necessary as we looked each others’ cameras over.