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Favorite Classics Cameras My Rangefinders

My Rangefinders
by Margaret

All the rangefinders you see on this page were manufactured in the 60s through 70s. I'm attracted by rangefinders because of its' compactness and features. Most P&S nowadays are completely automatic and only the higher end models offers "some" sort of manual control. I'm not implying that one should go out and get an old rangefinder to replace their P&S...don't get me wrong. Each type of camera has its advantages and disadvantages.

Basically, I buy inoperable rangefinders to tinker with, use, and collect. For serious shooting, I honestly would not depend on a 30-40 year old camera. But for snap shots, I definitely would because they are fun to use and I can control the camera and not the camera controlling me.

My grandmother gave the Hi-Matic 7s and the Minister III to me. She said that the Minister took a winning picture in a photography contest in Hong Kong. Grandmother said that the last time she used this camera was in 1989 and was put in the drawer ever since. So this is a memorable piece of equipment and has a story behind it. Amazingly, these two cameras work fine except for foggy rangefinders, which are common for this age of equipment.

All these rangefinders are similar in terms of lens, aperture and features. My most favored rangefinder is the Canonet QL17 G-III, but for my second choice, I would go for the Auto S1.6. The Auto S1.6 has a fast Hexanon f/1.6 lens and a CdS metering system. The camera could be manually overriden so even without batteries it can operate. The Auto S2 might be easier to find, I believe it's similar to the S1.6 except for the slower lens. The oddball in this collection has to go to the Electro 35. Firstly, it uses a hard-to-find PX32 battery. Secondly, it's completely automatic, you won't know what shutter speed it chose as it uses LED lights to indicate "SLOW" or "OVER" exposure. I've gotta admit that the Electro 35 does look quite nifty though.

I hope you find this chart below useful to compare these various models. The price range for these cameras below are somewhere between $20-$50 used so it's quite reasonable. Of course the better working/cosmetic condition will fetch for a higher price.

Hi-Matic 7s
Auto S1.6
Electro 35
Minister III
Lens Canon SE
45mm f/1.8
45mm f/1.8
45mm f/1.6
45mm f/1.7
45mm f/2.8
Shutter Copal-SV
B, 1 to 1/500
A, B, 1 to 1/500
A, B, 1 to 1/500
B, Auto, Flash
B, 1 to 1/500
Aperture Auto, 1.9 to 16 1.8 to 16 1.6 to 16 1.7 to 16 EV: 2 to 22
Meter Selenium Shutter Speed Priority EE Metered Manual w/ EV System, CdS CdS EE, Manual CdS Complete Auto Metered Manual w/ EV System, Selenium
Closest Focusing 2.6ft/0.8m 3ft/0.9m 3ft/0.9m 2.6ft/0.8m 2.6ft/0.8m
Self Timer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery --- PX625 PX625 PX32 ---

Minolta Viewfinder/Rangefinder Cameras
Minolta Hi-Matic Rangefinders
Compact 35's of the 70's