I’ve written a bit about 126 cameras before; for this session I chose the Minolta Autopak 400X.
Launched in 1972, the 400X’s claim to fame is its selenium light meter. It automatically selects between 1/45 and 1/90 shutter speeds based on available light. A mechanical system turns the viewfinder red if there is insufficient light.
I loaded an old Kodacolor VR cartridge and took it to Deerfield Fair last week. We shall see what returns from the lab.
Many cameras leave an impression with me. I either want to use them again immediately or I really dislike them. The X-7A was neither. It feels like a perfectly adequate SLR with a few slightly odd controls. It didn’t annoy me, but I didn’t love it either. The on/off switch is odd, and I often found I’d left it in the wrong position. I liked the fact that the meter works in manual mode, unlike my XG-series cameras.
Results were mixed. It seems to have a slow shutter. Half of my images came out like this:
This week’s film was Lomochrome Purple, which I developed at home with a Unicolor kit. It’s supposed to have interesting color shifts, and it did not disappoint. At slower shutter speeds, the images were fun.
Back on the shelf with it. It will probably end up on the Repair or Sell pile. I’m very happy with the Lomochrome however.
The Minolta X-7A has been hard for me to pin down. It’s a consumer level manual focus SLR from sometime in the 1980s. It appears to be an alternate version of the X-370, which in turn was a down rated version of the X-570. It features aperture priority automation as well as a full manual mode. Unlike most of its XG-series cousins the meter functions in manual mode, indicating both selected and metered speeds in the viewfinder.
Its most unique feature is the controls. The on/off switch is a large slider to the left of the viewfinder, and the shutter speeds are shown in a window to the right.
I don’t remember where I got mine, but it was probably eBay. I’ve already run a short roll of FP4 this week and have a roll of Lomochrome Purple loaded now.
I like the 16P. Of my subminiature collection, it is my favorite so far. My Minolta 16 is completely manual, but the settings are easily disturbed. The 16MG has a coupled selenium meter with a match needle, but there is still no way to know exactly what the camera is doing. You simply align the pointers, and the camera chooses an appropriate shutter/aperture combination.
The 16P is all manual. It has a fixed 1/100s shutter speed; aperture is adjusted with a thumb wheel on the back. The scale lists f-stop numbers, but the ASA wheel adjusts a series of pictographs (sun, clouds, etc.) to assist with correct exposure. I can interpose my brain in place of the meter. I believe I would not have gotten some of this week's images with an automatic camera, but I could adjust manually for proper exposure.
My only complaint with the 16P is the shutter release. It is very light and easy to trip, and it doesn't have a lock. I know I wasted a few shots. I eventually learned to wind immediately before shooting. It's a minor quibble.
The Minolta 16P is the third variant Minolta’s 16mm subminiature line featured on this blog. (See Minolta 16 and Minolta 16MG.) Produced from 1960 to 1965, it was a budget minded contemporary of the original 16. Unlike its fancier sibling, it does not fold. It has a single, fixed 1/100s shutter speed.
Aperture is manually varied from f/3.5 to f/16 via a thumb wheel. The camera is marked with weather symbols to assist with proper exposure. The scale is printed for films up to 200ASA, so that’s what I’ve loaded into it.
Mine was an inexpensive eBay impulse buy, and I haven’t run a roll through it yet. It will be a big change from carting around the Bronica.
The Weathermatic 35DL was a mixed bag of results. The good news is that the seals proved watertight. My excursion to the water park left it unscathed. The outdoor shots came out nicely. The flash, however, was another matter.
I’m not sure if the problem was in the flash unit or the metering, but all of my indoor exposures were very dark with odd color shifts. They took a lot of post-processing in order to be usable.
The verdict? It’s rugged. It will be one of my go-to cameras for hazardous outdoor shooting such as the beach or hiking in the mountains. I just won’t be using it indoors.
There really were lights at the water park, I swear.
The Minolta Weathermatic 35DL is a big brother to the Weathermatic A reviewed back in week 7. It’s a fully automatic, water- and weatherproof 35mm point and shoot. Everything from advance to flash is fully automated and motorized, with no options available. The DL stands for Dual Lens; a button on top switches between standard and telephoto lenses.
I’ve been carrying it for a few weeks now with a roll of Portra 400 loaded. I did have occasion to take it to an indoor water park, and the seals seemed to hold up. We’ll see what the photos look like soon.
The Uniomat is a bit of a contradiction. It feels heavy yet delicate to me. The film advance is a smooth, single stroke lever. The meter moves an orange pointer in a window on the top plate, and the exposure ring adjusts a green needle to match it.
The shutter fires easily, with a smooth press and a neat mechanical “ZIP” sound. The rangefinder was clean, bright, and easy to focus. The meter functions as designed, yet it’s design makes it very hard to meter for a specific portion of a scene.
I like it, but its bulk keeps me from carrying it as often as I might.
My Tri-X was a disaster. It was the last of a batch of unknown expired film I found at a flea market. There was nothing usable. I loaded up a roll of Portra 400 at the RISD museum and set the ASA for 1600. Interestingly the roll performed wonderfully inside without a flash, but my later excursion to Salisbury Beach on a cold grey afternoon did not fare as well.
These were developed at my local pharmacy minilab and were not pushed during development.
At one point I had a 4 week review rotation on this blog:
Medium format & larger
Point & shoot, instant, toys & oddities
Special occasions and my G.A.S. derailed it.This week begins a new cycle, so I have a rangefinder for you.
The Minolta Uniomat is a beefy rangefinder manufactured from 1960-65. It features a selenium meter and a coupled exposure system. Adjusting the exposure ring varies both aperture and shutter speed simultaneously. It features a 45mm f2.8 lens and was also sold in the US as the Ansco Anscoset.
At $40 I probably paid more than I should have, but it was my first good thrift store find and a RANGEFINDER. It came with a ratty leather case which I have patched together with mismatched duct tape. All it really needed was a new neck strap.
I’ve loaded a roll of expired Tri-X black & white, and have a photo walk scheduled in Providence.
I have to amend my original post. Since then I’ve added a Minox to the collection, and it is substantially smaller.
With that said, the Minolta 16 is a fun shoot. Small wheels on the end of the case adjust exposure and shutter speed. They are easily jiggled and must be checked before each shot. Closing and opening the case advances the film to the next frame, but there is no stop. If you close the camera again without exposing it, you lose the frame.
I carried it in my pocket to a horse show at the Big E and on a field trip to Providence.