Minolta-35 – the shutter and speed gears

If the slow speed is not so good then you will need to pull out the insides. This also provides access if you are bold enough to do a shutter curtain replacement … which requires a lot of boldness.

You will need to have the some of the top items removed, so look at my previous post about removing the top.

Tools: slotted screw drivers, spanner wrench, q-tips, Ronsonal,

First take off the bottom plate.

Remove screw by tripod socket.

Unscrew the lock screw over the door lock dial with the spanner wrench (or tweezers).

Pull off lock dial

There will be a compression washer underneath.

Note that the part on the inside will fall out in the body.

Remove screw (I think on Ver. B there may be more than one).

Pull off the bottom plate.

I decided to unscrew the other two parts under the door lock, though it is not necessary.

From the front of the body there will be four screws that need to be removed.

The two on the bottom my look odd … in my case, the head was shaved down on one side so that the bottom plate would fit properly. Looks like a slight design opps as they did not make the lower body wide enough account for the size of the screws.

Open the camera back.

Remove all the screws that hold the cover plates on.

Ver. A has only one screw on the right plate.

The large cover plate is take off by lifting the left side to allow the right side to pivot away from underneath the film takeup spool.

Remove the last screw (on the top left).

Finally back to the bottom, remove the two screws.

Now you can pull out the insides.

This image is the rear view.

The shutter release gears and high speed gears are all located in the top portion.

Give this a good wash with Ronsonol.

Looking at the front side you can see the slow speed gears located in the bottom. Ronsonol and exercise … you can press the little lever on the right side of the gears.

Put the winding knob and shutter pin back in so you can work all the mechanisms.

You can view the condition of the shutter curtains. The material used on the Minolta-35 does not age well if the camera has been left unused for a long time. The curtain material gets stiff and will form to the rollers. When this happens it causes resistance that will either throw off the timing or cause the shutter not to close properly … or worst case, torn curtains when some idiot just winds the hell out of it.

Each curtain has a take spool and a spring loaded roller that the straps are attached to.

One day I may talk about replacing a cloth shutter … right now I will leave this subject alone.

The rest of the body shell showing the self timer gear box.

You can put some Ronsonol on that to clean it up … and also on the focus actuating arm.



Minolta-35 – top

This camera is one of those that I have repaired/restored numerous times. For some reason or another I ended up with three of these, and I have this feeling that is not the end of them. All of them needed at least a cleaning and two of them required some much additional servicing. The Minolta-35 model II version A and B is described in this document. The differences are slight, and I have mixed up images from both of them (I did not thoroughly document either of the repair jobs as I went a long.).

Tools: screw drivers … lots and lots of screwdrivers, Ronsonol, Q-tips, pliers, rubber band.

Let’s start from the top …

There are a number of things that need to be removed before you can get the top plate off, so have your handy trays available to keep all the loose screws and components.

Starting from right to left …

For the winding knob you have to loosen the lock screw (you do not need to take it out) then unscrew the knob counter-clockwise.

Remove the shutter button collar, unscrew counter-clockwise.

The shutter speed dial on both the A and B version differ on its removal:

Ver. A – Loosen the single lock screw. Unscrew, counter-clockwise. If it is really tight do NOT force it, as there is a register pin underneath that will get snapped off if you put too much force on it. To be on the safe side … lift the speed dial and use an elastic band and pliers to keep the column from rotating, then you can apply some force to unscrew the speed dial.

Ver. B – Loosen the three screws on the shutter speed dial and pull off.

Remove the diopter:

Ver. A – There is a recessed screw on the left side of the body that you will need to loosen before pulling out the diopter.

Ver. B – Turn the diopter, it will extend to reveal the three screws around the outside. Loosen the screws and pull off diopter.

To remove the rewind knob, open the back and use a stick to keep the column from rotating, then unscrew the knob

Ver. B, is securing with a locking collar with a screw (as illustrated above). Ver. A does not have this.

Pull off the washers and spacer that is under the counter dial if you had not done it previously.

Pull off the winding release lever.

Remove the three screws that secure the top plate.

Remove the four screws from the flash shoe. When you pull off the shoe there will be a metal piece underneath that goes with it.

Unscrew shutter release button (you might have to hold the column with small pliers to).

Pull off top and watch out for the spring by the film takeup spool hole that is located on the left side (not sure what the function of the spring is).

Pull off the rest of the parts under the winding column and you can also put the shutter release pin aside.

Now you can clean the prisms and lenses.

If you view the camera from the front, the rangefinder prism is on the left and the viewfinder split image prisms are on the right … with the eye piece behind it.

If the rear face of the rangefinder prism (on the right) looks dirty, or you got fluid behind it, you will have to remove it by unscrewing the three lock screws. If the rear of this prism is not clean then it will lower the quality of the image reflected into the viewfinder. Use Acetone or nail polish remover if it has lacquer on them.

Clean the inside of the top plate (and inside ports) before putting it back on.

If you intend on going further with the inside cleaning then just secure the top plate with the three screws and leave the rest unassembled.

Minolta-35 – some camera history

It appears that I am forming a trend by introducing the next camera that I am going to post a restoration/repair … so here’s the next one.

Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko Kabushiki Kaisha … otherwise known as Minolta, started its first 35mm camera with the Minolta-35 rangefinder camera. The first model of this camera was released in 1947. Some say this camera was modelled against the Leica rangefinders … I don’t think so, I would say that they looked at the Barnack design and did something else with it. When you look at the Leica IIIC or the Canon S-II, both came out in 1947, they have very similar physical appearances. If you take the Minolta-35 and compare it … it immediately stands out as being a different camera.

One thing that I like about this camera is that it is NOT a bottom loader, and that is one big thing that distinguishes it from the Leica and Canon … though not the only thing, as it is quite taller. Other differences are the appearance of a flash shoe, viewfinder diopter adjustment, and a self-timer … very un-Leica.

You would think that with all these things the camera would become popular, especially with the non-Leica people … or even develop a cult following … but sadly it didn’t end up that way.

Possibly it was due to using the Nihon size format … possibly it was due to the lack of lenses (where have we heard that before) … possibly it was just too ugly for rangefinder shooters to consider?

There were many variations of the Minolta-35 with slight changes to try to improve, but I think it wasn’t enough to capture enough of the pie.

Here is a fine example of a Minolta-35 model II version B (not to be confused with the model IIb) with the Super Rokkor 50mm f/2. This particular camera required very little restoration, some exterior cleaning and new leather (I think it looks better brown than the original black).

The Super Rokkor lenses that were made for these cameras are highly regarded today. Most purchases of this camera is due to the lens being included.

I have the Super Rokkor 45mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/2, and both exhibit great IQ. The 50mm f/2 was a 7 element lens !!! The 45mm f/2.8 was an interesting stubby lens that was commonly found with the older models.

Today the camera is considered an oddity in the LTM world, some have never heard of them even though the Minolta-35’s were made up to 1958. Many of these cameras have not survived very well due to the bad shutter material. The material gets stiff and brittle over time so if the camera has been sitting around it conforms to the shape of the rollers … many Minolta-35’s are on the market that are noted with requiring shutter replacement.


Over a month now …

Well its been over 30 days since I started this Blog.

I have to say that it is a lot of work to continue to provide content to it … though I am surprised that I have added this much to it already.

One thing that I did realize is that I don’t have as much documentation as I thought I did. I have already gone back to disassemble a camera to take images of it because I forgot to do it the first time. Also, while I was searching my hard drive for info I found that I forgot to document a number of cameras that I worked on, and I have gotten rid of them already … oh well, that just means I need to buy more cameras.

Another thing that keeps coming up is the number of tools required. Now I know why a machinist friend of mine has a gazillion types of screwdrivers, pliers, clamps, hammers, saws, etc. There will always be a time where you don’t have the right type, so you end up accumulating them … and also a bazillion sizes of tiny screws. Note to self … need a buy a rare earth magnet to find the tiny screw that falls into the rug floor after delicately attempting to hold onto it with the needle point tweezers.

Need more cameras … if anyone has a suggestion on some type of repair, please comment.

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

The designers

I thought I would put in some credit for those who gave us these great cameras … not the manufacturers but the ones that designed them. There are two names that need to be mentioned here based on the cameras that I have blogged about.


Oskar Barnack

For those in the world of old screw mount rangefinders you will know this name, or at least the last name.

Oskar Barnack worked for Ernst Leitz (and for those of you that do not know this name … he is the founder of Leica … and another note about Dr. Leitz is that he saved Jews working for him by transferring them to the offices outside of Germany which later became known as the “Leica Freedom Train”).

Oskar had this crazy idea of making the film format smaller to reduce the camera size, as a way to avoid using the large plate cameras available during the early 1900’s. The small image on the roll film would later be enlarged during the printing stage.

Oskar designed Leica’s first 35mm camera. It took him about 10 years to get something in 1914 (known as the Ur-Leica) that he would use to as a base to produce their first production model.

The Leica I was brought out at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1925. It had a fixed collapsible lens.

In 1930 he designed the camera with an interchangeable mount … the first Leica threaded screw mount (LTM).

The Leica II came out in 1932 and added the coupled rangefinder.


Barnack’s design would trigger a number of camera companies to copy his design, and to this day the legacy of this camera can still be seen in the Leica M series.



Reinhold Heidecke

This is the guy who gave us the Rolleiflex.

Reinhold worked for Voigtlander. He left the company after his attempts to suggest a new type of roll film camera did not pan out. He tried to start his own company and ended up partnering with Paul Franke. Thus begat Franke & Heidecke.

Reinhold designed a Twin Lens Reflex camera. He did not invent the first TLR camera (I think the first was in 1885), but what he did with the concept was the thing. Using his design knowledge about the triple lens stereoscopic cameras he first designed, he took that further into a twin lens camera that was a reflex design, used medium format roll film (roll film invented by Eastman started to become common) and a new mechanism for focusing. The first prototype was made in 1928.

The Rolleiflex was immediately popular. Easy to use, small in size, a large film format, and some of the best optics (Zeiss).


This started the TLR revolution, and like the Leica II the designed was copied by numerous other manufacturers.

DHW Fototechnik still manufactures the classic Rolleiflex.