Camera Reviews

Minolta Hi-Matic 7

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.

Minolta Hi-Matic 7

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.

Minolta Hi-Matic 7

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.

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.

Ruins

All sorts of fun details await at The Ruins, like this column topper that now serves as a bench.

A place to sit

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.

Headless

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.

Buick Eight

It was my time to find some old parked cars while I had this roll in the camera.

Delta Royale

Second Presbyterian Church is always a willing and lovely subject.

Second Pres

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.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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14 thoughts on “Minolta Hi-Matic 7

  1. Jim, fascinating stuff! I’m glad the effort has been made to save these pieces. A sort of interesting grave yard for old architectural relics of the past.

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  2. Lone Primate says:

    I found that stone with the words from the Preamble particularly affecting. You would think anything important enough to have them inscribed on it would last for ages. It doesn’t seem right, somehow, for it to end up like some Roman curio.

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  3. LP, if it helps, the stones stand at the end of Constitution Mall, with trees planted to represent each of the 50 states. It’s supposed to be an artistic statement!

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  4. Schuma says:

    Good read Jim! I was looking for articles on Hi-Matic 7 to help me decide which rangefinder to buy, size matter a lot to me, but I think I’ll check it out after reading your article.

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  5. David Wilkes says:

    I purchased a Minolta AL (c.1961) last year and it is very similar to the Hi-Matic albeit with a selenium meter,still working (!) and 1-1000th sec shutter.Like yours it is quite heavy at over 800gms but beautifully made and a joy to use just like the SRT 101 which I also own and that is heavier still!.I was so impressed with the first film,Ilford HP5 I immediately followed-up with a roll of Fuji Superia and the results were great.I now own over 20 old cameras and this has become one of my favourites.
    Thanks for your article.I read your site often and If I lived in the States I’d love to meet you.

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    • David, glad to have you along. I’ve seen the Minolta AL. I’m always hinky about buying cameras with selenium meters; too many of them have been used up when they reached me. But when you get one that works, there’s real freedom, because you never need a battery.

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  6. Pingback: Minolta Hi-Matic 7s (1966) – Mike Eckman dot Com

  7. DougD says:

    This one is like a familiar old shoe, my Dad bought one in the early 1960s and it was our “good camera” until the late 90s. My first photography lesson was reading the manual, and I remember taking my first ever photograph with it, of my parents standing in front of our house.

    Sadly, the shutter mechanism broke imperceptibly so it did not expose a roll of film. Dad had it fixed but it happened again a year later and that was the end for our faithful Minolta.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting the archives; they get lonely. Funny, most people I encounter know the Hi-Matic 7s over the 7. Nice to know you had such a long, happy history with the 7, at least until the shutter failed after almost 40 years of service.

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