Minolta Autocord – some camera history

The Minolta Autocord is modeled after the classic Franke & Heidecke Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex design. Minolta’s first TLR was made in 1937 (the first Rolleiflex appeared in 1929, the model RF IIIA appeared in 1937).

The Minolta Autocord model appeared in 1955. They produced a number of variants with or without an uncoupled light meter.

One particular thing about the Autocord design is the focus mechanism. The common mechanism to adjust focus is a large knob. Minolta decided to use unique single lever that pivots below the taking lens. An interesting design as the hand that is used to holds the underside of the camera can be used to adjust focus. This frees your other hand to adjust shutter speed/aperture … or other things like hold a flash, light meter or just winding the film.

BUT, because of this design, and the type of metal used, there are many Autocords for sale with broken focus levers. The knob on the end has broken off. This is a lesson to all of you Autocord users, always move the focus lever to Min or Infinity before unloading film … otherwise the back door will swing forward and smack your knob !!

There is a small cult following for the Minolta Rokkor lens used in this model … they say that it is as good (or better) than the Rolleiflex. I can’t say, as I do know own a Rollei.

Earlier Minolta Autocords are designed for 120 format film, 6×6, so 12 exposures per roll. Starting with the Model II in 1966 they adapted support for 220.

Minolta produced a cool device … a polarizer filter for their TLR called the Autopole. Why is this cool ? If you place a polarizing filter on the taking lens you cannot see its affect through the viewing lens. Minolta designed a gear coupled polarizing filter that covers both the taking and the viewing lenses, so when you turn the wheel what you see is matched with what the film will capture.

Personally I like this camera out of all the TRLs I’ve have had, and my wife likes hers in green … though I am still hunting for a Ricohmatic 225.

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