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Minolta Autocord

Wes Massengill , Feb 06, 1998; 11:33 p.m.

I see lots of dissussion and sales on Yashicas, Rollis and others, but not much on the Minolta Autocord. These cameras were once considered good medium formats many years ago. Please advise any comments, etc. regarding these cameras.


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Don Roberts , Feb 07, 1998; 12:01 p.m.

Wes, I sarted my photo career in 1956 with a Minolta Autocard RA. It had a 75mm Rokkor which was an excellent lens. I still think some of my better photos were taken with that camera over the years. I now have Rolleis, Bronicas, Pentax 6x7s, Nikons, etc. and I would love to have that old Autocord back. As I recall the best feature was the focusing lever below the taking lens which may also have been a weaakness as I see mention of broken levers in used equipment posts.

Kip Babington , Feb 08, 1998; 06:45 p.m.

I too had a Minolta Autocord many years ago and thought the focusing lever under the lens was a neat idea, but as I recall it was fairly stiff (at least on my unit.) I think the Minolta got traded for a YashicaMat with a built in meter (which I don't think the Minolta had.) I still have the Yashich and it has done yeoman service over the years with nothing but a shutter CLA at some point. On the whole I remember the Minolta as a decent performer, but haven't really missed it.

Mats Tegmark , Feb 09, 1998; 09:06 a.m.

I second the first answer. The Minolta Autocord is an excellent camera, great optics, and very reliable. I bought one used for USD 100 in Santa Barbara two years ago, and it has served me perfectly since then. It is true that the focussing lever was broken, but I easily fixed a new one myself. The second answer stated that the Autocord didn't have a built in meter. Well, mine has one. It isn't TTL, but it is battery powered and sits on the left hand side. It gives you an EV indication of the reflected light equal to the 75mm coverage, which you then transfer to the aperture ring. Both shutter speed and aperture are shown in a convenient window above the viewing lens. The meter has proven to be very accurate even when using slide film. I assume that I have one of the later models made. The shutter is a Citizen-MXL, with speeds from 1 sek. to 1/500. The slides aren't as constrasty as those from my P67, but the the sharpness and colors are great. Often I find this to be an advantage. Mine came with close-up lenses, even those are great, as long as you compensate for parallax. My concluding view on this camera: If you can get hold of it, buy it.

Nolan Woodbury , May 18, 1998; 11:57 p.m.

I've been shooting with a Minolta Autocord for a few months now, after starting with a Rollei MX-EVS TLR. I find the view screen on the 'Cord to be much brighter, and love the focusing system. I now have 3 of them (plus the Rollei, and 3 more Yashica's: an old "A" model,a "D" and a Yashicamat) and I must say, I prefer the Autocord over all of them. Much better than the 124G that I tried. Superb lens,superb construction, and a quality feel. Even when I move up to higher priced, more versitle MF camera equipment, I'll keep the Autocord.

Jeffrey Goggin , Jan 29, 1999; 07:25 a.m.

As a lark, I bought an Autocord for $79.50, including shipping, from an eBay auction last summer ... mine doesn't have a meter but it will accept both 120 and 220 film, and judging by the serial number, it's close to one of the last ever made.

Without a doubt, it has proven to be the single best piece of photo gear I've ever purchased, especially on a value-for-the-money basis. In fact, after putting 50 or so rolls of film through it, I found myself so smitten with the 6x6 format that I decided to retire my Minolta 35mm system to the back of my hall closet and replace it with a modern 6x6 SLR system instead.

Unfortunately, the $2,500 I've since spent putting together a used Bronica SQ-Ai system doesn't produce results significantly better than those I routinely achieve with the Autocord. Sure, auto metering and interchangeable lenses are nice features to have, as is the ability to use a graduated ND filter for landscape work, but for most of what I shoot, the results simply aren't any better than those produced by the Autocord. (Of if they are, then *I* can't tell the difference...)

As a result, I'm having some difficulty justifying the added investment and am seriously rethinking my direction. That a $79.50 camera can be seriously considered as an alternative to a $2,500 one is perhaps the highest praise I can offer the Autocord...

Murray Twelves , Feb 02, 1999; 02:14 a.m.

I have one of the last Minolta Autocords, a model CdS-III, which sounds just like one described above. It has a zone-type meter, whose area of sensitivity is represented by a circle in the finder. I've found it fully up to the task of metering accurately for slides; as such I have never felt a need to use my handheld meters with this camera. I have also been very pleased with with the results I have gotten on transparency film, which is 95% of what I have used the camera for.

My Autocord is beautifully made, and I have managed to find a number of Minolta accessories for it. Unlike other reports posted here, and in other places, the focusing on my camera has always been light, with just the right amount of drag, and silky-smooth. I would suspect stiff focusing on many of these cameras has been more the result of old organic lubricants breaking down with time.

I'm really pleased to find a forum where we can talk about this camera, which some have called the TLR next best to the Rollei.

Peter Hardman , Feb 02, 1999; 05:40 p.m.

I'm glad I read this thread.

I bought an Autocord (an RG from about 1964 I think) last year at a camera fair for 45UK pounds, and it's a super camera, notwithstanding the fact that the slow speeds have to be excercised a few times if I want to use them, and there is a minor scratch on the front element. It takes pictures that are at least as good as the 'proper' TLR (Mamiya) that was to replace it, and on which I've spent too much money!

The screen is much brighter, and the focussing lever seems much better placed than the Mamiya.

I know a dealer who's had one sitting in a cupboard for quite some time - perhaps I'll trade some of the Mamiya kit for a backup!

Norman Hesford , Mar 04, 2000; 08:55 a.m.

I just thought that I would assure you that Autocords as still being bought and sold. I picked one up some 6 months ago (along with an MPP Microcord) and have about 6 films through it. I've been very pleased with the results - even when enlarged to 12x12 there is very little loss of quality. The aperture and shutter settings are quirky but straightforward and the focusing lever is positive and accurate. The only slight problem with mine is the shutter release button, which only operates with a cable release (not a significant problem). The viewing screen is a bit dark for indoor work but fine outdoors. It came with 2 sets of close-up lenses (with built-in parallax correction) and a lens-hood. I just wish I had a case for it! Regards Norman Hesford (UK)

Jeffrey Goggin , Aug 12, 2000; 08:56 p.m.

I just returned from a week's vacation where I decided to use one of my three Autocords -- a 12/24 Autocord III -- as a "point-and-shoot" camera instead of my usual Hi-Matic 7SII. I like the convenience of shooting 35mm but not the teeny-weeny transparencies it produces and since the Autocord will sync at all shutter speeds, I figured "sunny f/16" and fill-flash would cover me in most situations.

To make it easier to handle, I mounted it on a Minolta Power Grip 1 I had lying around and mounted a 320x flash on top of the handle. The end result wasn't all that heavy, was surprisingly well balanced and in a perfect world, perhaps a bit bulkier than I would have liked. That said, I loved being able to shoot with it down near the ground and/or upside down over my head and after a few days, actually started getting accustomed to the reversed image. After a dozen rolls of film to practice with, I also reached the point where I could advance the film and cock the shutter using just my thumb very quickly ... not quite as quickly as a winder but impressively quick nonetheless.

I did have one roll developed while I was away, just to be sure I was coming close to getting an acceptable exposure without using a meter, and the results were impressive. In the end, though, I decided there was enough room for a meter in my small walk-around bag and I found I used it often enough to justify carrying it around.

I did receive a few funny looks, especially while I was loading film, but overall, the idea, silly as it was, proved quite workable and I'm sure that I'll try it again someday. Although I'm sure most of these cameras are used on tripods all their life, they can be handheld with just a little bit of practice and the rewards are worthwhile.

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