Vintage Minolta Cameras
Vintage Minolta cameras are cameras produced by the Japanese firm Minolta Co., Ltd.
Founded as Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shōten in Osaka, Japan, in 1928, the company eventually rebranded itself as Minolta in the early 1930s and would become one of the most prominent worldwide manufacturers of laser printers, fax machine, photocopiers and cameras.
In its formative years, Nichi-Doku relied heavily on technology imported from Germany – Nichi-Doku literally translates to “Japanese-German” - and by 1937 the company had produced the Minoltaflex, the first twin-lens reflex camera built in Japan.
Having reorganised itself as Minolta, the company flourished during the 1930s and 1940s and utilised the new developments coming from German photographic manufacturers such as Leica. The highly successful Minolta-35 was introduced in 1947, which used standard 35mm film and was based on the Leica rangefinder camera concept.
During the 1970s, Minolta began to work closely with Leica and in 1976 the Leica R3 was produced. Minolta supplemented the new Leica range with the R4 and R5 models. These cameras were marketed as affordable rangefinder cameras and helped Leica recover its losses from the disappointing sales of the Leica M5.
Minolta was one of the most innovative and successful camera manufacturers from the late-1950s up until the 1980s. They were the first photographic company to introduce multimode metering and in 1985 their Minolta Maxxum 700 was the first commercially successful autofocus SLR camera.
Minolta merged with Konica in 2003 and in 2006 announced that it was discontinuing manufacturing cameras and all photographic equipment.
Guide for collectors
Minolta cameras are relatively common and most models can be bought from $30 to $100 at Collectiblecameras.com and eBay.
Minolta-35 models are particularly sought after by collectors, but due to their simple construction, examples that still exist are plagued with very slow shutter speeds and badly worn shutter curtains. The early A and D models are considered uncommon and any Minolta-35 with a serial number below 0900 is also an extremely rare item. The model II cameras from the Minolta-35 series are the most common and typically sell for £200.
Additionally, the Hi-Matic 7s are fairly common and can be located on eBay for as little as $20 to $30. However, a black Hi-Matic 7sII is extremely rare and have reportedly been sold for over $300.
Another fine addition to any vintage camera collection is the higher-end models of the Minolta Autocord. However, Minolta produced a number of cameras in this series. According to Collectiblend.com, a 1957 Minolta Autocord LMX can fetch over $400 whilst a Minolta Autocord RG range from as little as $80. The website Collectiblend.com offers a comprehensive list of vintage cameras and price evaluations.
Typically, cameras sold from reputable vintage camera dealers and auctioneers, such as Photographica World and Photographica Auctionen in Germany, Westilicht Auctions in Austria and British based firms Rosebery’s and Bonhams, are in good condition and need little repair work. The same cannot be said from online sites such as eBay. Although eBay consistently produces the lowest prices, rarely do cameras that have been bought from eBay need no repair work to some degree.
A selection of Minolta cameras, lenses and accessories, including a 1981 Minolta X-700 and a chrome Minolta SRT-101bm, were sold at Bonhams in May 2007 for £84.
In May 2004 a lot featuring two Minolta bodies (SR-1 and SR-3), six Rokkor lenses and various Minolta accessories was sold at Bonhams, London, for a realised price of £141.
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