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.