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06-04-2017, 08:35 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Fulton County, Illinois
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My Only 35mm Rangefinder -- The Hi-Matic 7s

If you think of small, virtually pocketable, cameras when you think of 35mm rangfinders, then you may not be acquainted with Minolta's Hi-Matic 7s, which has to be at least as large and heavy as the average 35mm SLR ever made with a metal bodied normal lens attached. That is exactly what it would be mistaken for, if viewed from a distance, if one didn't notice that there is no viewfinder prisim bump on the top of it. If one prefers solid, heavy SLRs to lighter more compact ones, and if one mainly shoots with a normal lens, the Hi-matic 7s could even appeal to one as THE walk-around camera to have.

I've had my copy for a few years, having snagged it cheaply at a thrift store. It was clean and worked. The meter originally used a mercury battery, so I shot a roll or two with it manually, either using the sunny-16 rule or an external meter, and the results were pretty good. At the time I was using the local Walmart or Walgreens for c-41 development. I've been thinking of getting rid of the camera, however, and thought that, before making up my mind, I should give it another try. This time I subbed for the original large 625 1.3 (or 1.35) volt battery with a much smaller 645 1.4 volt hearing aid battery, which needed some non-conductive spacer material around it to keep it from sliding around in the battery compartment. The meter seemed to work just like it should, and its reading seemed similar to an external meter, so I left that meter in the house to give the 7s internal meter a good workout.

Before continuing a few specs--
--The fixed mount lens on the 7s is a Rokkor-PF f/1.8 45mm, with 55mm filter threading.
--The small CLC light metering cell is mounted on the upper front part of the lens collar, so it would read through any filter attached.
--The Seiko-LA shutter offers speeds between 1/4 and 1/500 sec, plus Bulb
--The metering system can be set for ISOs from 25 to 800.
--The light meter needle in the viewfinder reads EV (exposure value) numbers, and if one has the aperture and shutter rings set to A for Auto, a picture should be possible so long as the needle doesn't point in the red ranges at the top or bottom of the scale.
--When using manual mode, one simply adjusts the aperture and shutter rings on the lens so that the correct (meter reading) EV number shows in the window on the aperture ring. Then, by turning both rings together, one can select ANY of the aperture and shutter speed pairing shown to get the correct exposure. That's pretty handy.

I did scrimp on the film for the test, as I'm trying to use up some older stuff. The film used is 8-year-expired Fujicolor 200, shot at ISO 125 to make up for possible sensitivity loss. Surprisingly the colors came our very natural looking, and I see no evidence of fogging. The film was developed by Dwayne's Photo, in Kansas, with only very slight tweaking of highlight intensity by me on most (but not all of) the scans. The metering for the Auto and Manual shots looks very good, based on the scans which I just downloaded. I'll see if the negatives prove the same when they arrive by mail. All of the shots were taken in early spring, before any of the large trees had started to bud.

Sample pictures:




Retro decor at Slaw Dawg's Diner, Astoria, Illinois
Auto Exposure mode, needle read EV 9




Illinois River Bridge, at Havana, Illinois
Auto Exposure mode, needle read EV 14.5




Tulips, at home.
Manual metered mode: f/2.8 1/500 (went for widest aperture possible for the metered EV)




Oscar The Donkey, still in his brown, shaggy winter phase, at home.
Manual metered mode: f/5.6, shutter speed unrecorded, but probably about 1/250th.




Derelict animal shelter, at home.
Manual metered mode: f/8, 1/125.




White oak tree crown, at home.
Manual metered mode: f/8, 1/250.


Really the only serious downside I've found with the Hi-matic 7s through this test roll is a deficiency in close-up capability. The closest focus distance possible is 3-feet, hopelessly too far back for taking pictures of small flowers with a 45mm lens. I took about 5 such shots on the roll, and only the tulips picture was less than disappointing. The rangefinder focus system, which offers a small yellow diamond-shaped window in the viewfinder in which to align two views of a portion of the subject to obtain focus, seems to yield excellent results.

Dang it! I keep planning on paring down my camera collection, and then something like this happens...


Last edited by goatsNdonkey; 06-04-2017 at 09:06 AM.
06-04-2017, 08:55 AM   #2
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I wish more cameras had EV markings.

I love rangefinders. It's definitely a different shooting experience than a SLR and I find I work and shoot very differently with one as compared to when I take my Pentax out. It's more fluid and natural to me than the "hunting an image" mentality, that I have anyway, with a SLR. I currently have a pair of Olympus: an XA and a 35RD and am still thinking about adding a Leica and a Zeiss ikonta IV.
06-04-2017, 09:17 AM   #3
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Location: Fulton County, Illinois
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QuoteOriginally posted by skierd Quote
I wish more cameras had EV markings.

I love rangefinders. It's definitely a different shooting experience than a SLR and I find I work and shoot very differently with one as compared to when I take my Pentax out. It's more fluid and natural to me than the "hunting an image" mentality, that I have anyway, with a SLR. I currently have a pair of Olympus: an XA and a 35RD and am still thinking about adding a Leica and a Zeiss ikonta IV.
I'm so pokey at taking pictures, that nothing about using this sort of camera really slows me down. My other rangefinder is medium format, a Koni-Omega Rapid M. It's pretty big and has no metering. It does take a few interchangeable lenses, but I only have the "normal," a 90mm I believe it is. As for EV numbers, I've read about using them for years, but I can never keep enough of that system in my memory to utilize it. But on this camera using the metered EV nos. is as easy as pie.
06-12-2017, 04:41 AM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Rockaway Beach NYC
Posts: 6,683
I prefer larger 1960's Japanese rangefinder models. Later models are more
miniaturized, but these compact rangefinders often have difficult ergonomics.
The compacts also seem to be more sought-after and command higher prices.
Even most later models used mercury batteries, so there's no benefit there.

Your Minolta 7S is very good. The larger Yashicas have quite a following.
I liked my Konica S2 and meterless Ricoh 300 and Walz Envoy cameras.

Chris

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