First MF shots with Minolta Autocord

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ridinhome, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. Happy Weekend folks,
    Those of you who breathlessly follow my ever post (no doubt there are legions of you out there) might remember my October misadventure when I bought a Minolta Autocord. I've thought about shooting medium format for a while, pretty much ever since I obsessively started logging on to Pnet every day. However I never dived into it, well because frankly, there were just too many 35mm toys to play with. However following my misguided purchase of the Autocord I decided the time was ripe to step up to the plate. Put up or shut up as The Rt. Honorable John Major once said.
    Despite my excitement, however it took me a long time to get my first roll finished. This is for a number of reasons. First, I don't have a strap for the Autocord, which means I have to lug my tripod around wherever I go. Problem is New York City is plagued with paranoid security personnel who take extreme pleasure in shooing me off the premises while gleefully pointing to signs about no commercial photography. Hadn't realized I looked so professional. Second problem, and this is the major one, is that unlike with 35mm I feel pressured to set up each shot a lot more carefully so 3 hours of shooting may yield only 3 or 4 shots. Anyone else had that experience?
    I finally forced myself to finish the roll in December over the holidays. And I have to say to all you MF sirens out there - I get it. I'm astounded at the sharpness, level of detail and smoothness of tones I get with MF, compared with my 35mm gear. There's nothing like it. Also, this is the first time I've shot with a Minolta. I get why Rokkor lenses are so famous. There's a tangibly 3D quality to the pictures that I've never seen with any of my 35mm gear, Canon, Pentax or Konica. Simply stunning.
    The camera itself was a dream to use. It's in beautiful shape, and the "snick" from the leaf shutter is a tactile joy. The Fresnel is nice and bright after Karl Bryan cleaned it up, and the focussing action smooth as silk. An excellent camera. I've never used a Rollei so I can't compare, but it's hard to imagine that the Autocord is far behind Rolleis in build quality and IQ. Certainly not far behind the Tessar lens versions, perhaps the Planars have an edge. If any of you have experienced both Rolleis and Autocords, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
    Final thought - shooting in square format is very interesting. I hadn't realized when I took these shots that because of the differing aspect ratio shooting in 6x6 doesn't just mean that the image is shorter on the horizontal but taller on the vertical, allowing you to capture more of the scene on top.
    I hope you enjoy the pictures. They were all shot on Delta 100 and exposed using Sunny 16 (my 'Cord is meterless). Processing and scanning done at Duggal's NYC, with slight sharpening, contrast and vignetting adjustments in PSE8. The reduced size doesn't do them justice, here's the link to the full size versions.
  2. Shot this in my neighborhood. I've tried to capture this image with my 35mm gear a couple of times, but I think the 6x6 allows a more symmetrical composition.
  3. This globe used to stand in the World Financial Center, and was relocated to Battery Park after 9/11.
  4. Ask first, shoot later. Very nice guy allowed me to take his portrait.
  5. This ship is permanently docked at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. This was a tricky shot because there was very little room to back up and capture the entire ship. Here the reduced width of 6x6 served as a limitation.
  6. I've taken a very similar shot with my Konica Auto S2. I wanted to compare the two cameras.
  7. This was another tricky shot. I saw this lady sitting underneath the FDR Drive and had to shoot from the hip so as not to alert her to my presence, which is why the focus is a little off. The WLF and silent leaf shutter were very helpful in this regard.
  8. This is a shot of the New York Stock Exchange building from a distance of perhaps 50 feet. A friend lives across the street and kindly allowed me to take photos from the sundeck. This one really highlighted the sharpness of the lens given the level of detail it picked up under gloomy lighting conditions and inexpert handling.
  9. And finally, a shot from inside the World Financial Center, which is opposite Ground Zero. I had to shoot this handheld since they wouldn't let me use my tripod.
    As always, comments and criticisms are welcomed.
  10. Nice work, particularly the last two.
    I just saw an Autocord for sale the other day and was tempted... but I think if I bought an MF TLR I'd probably go for one of the interchangeable-lens Mamiyas.
  11. Great pictures from the Autocord. The best thing about these I find is the way the images really pop in the viewfinder, the focussing screen being so bright. Almost a 3d effect.
  12. Great series with excellent composition and sharpness. You made the most of square format. Thanks for posting.
  13. Worth the wait, Kayam; the images certainly display the quality one expects from MF work. As you say, the amount of detail and the smooth tonality come as a surprise to those unaccustomed to the format, and while I've never handled an Autocord I've admired them from afar. I opted for the Mamiya C33's as my first real MF cameras, mainly because commercial use made additional lenses a must, and I'll have to admit I really never really felt at home with the square format, even after a stint with Hasselblads.
    I really like "Pier A" and "Dangling Lights", and thanks for the link to the biggies; that's always interesting!
  14. Re the strap - check out this website :
  15. KR, Very nice shots. It seems you are liking MF street photography. Check the work of Vivian Maier who phographed streel life in Chicago using a Rollei. She has passed on but her large volume of work is being more and more recognized. Cheers, Bob Rene
  16. Very nice, Kayam. I agree, the MF stuff slows down composition (which I think is good) and the square format gives a different perspective, which I think is also good. I need to get my Yashica-Mat out again. Thanks for sharing.
  17. Great I really love all the pics That first one really works in this square format and the detail of the last two is so incredible. That first roll of MF is like "BING" I get it! When I first shot square format I liked it but like Rick D. I have fond the 6x7 6x9 musch more to my imm perspective. I always like the idea of slowing down and thinking about photography and if I have tripod (the Kodak Police are everywhere) that definitely keeps me moving slowly but it usually pays off in satisfaction. I have rearely shot TLR these past two years but I have straps. The Tripod comes out for the 2x3 Graflex/Speed/Century Graphic
    I have been hanging on your every post and I'm glad to see the fruits of your labor. Like Rick D said.. worth the wait!! I'm going over now to check out the bigger versions
  18. gib


    verty nice shots, have fun wiht it
  19. Thanks for the comments all! Specifically:
    John - I know exactly what you mean. The focussing really "snaps" into place when I use the 'Cord.
    Malcolm - thanks for the link! Thankfully my camera doesn't use the old strap lugs, and has loops to put a strap into. I've just been too lazy to go get a strap.
    Robert - I'd seen some of Vivian Meier's work before. The New York Times' Lens blog recently ran an article on her - they finally woke up to the fact that she existed. Thanks for the reminder though. I understand an exhibition of her work is being organized in Chicago - can't wait for it to come to New York.
  20. These are wonderful! I particularly enjoyed the portrait beneath FDR drive.
  21. As a breathless follower of your posts, Kayam, I have to say these shots are fantastic. I particularly like NYSE.
  22. Very nice pics. Liked the picture of the candid picture of the old lady
  23. L Mar, Cap, Vasudevan - thanks for your comments.
    This has been one of the most fun series I've put together.
  24. The Old Lady under the FDR, The Local Trademan and Dangling Lights are very nice pictures and the image quailty of MF stands out clearly. Nice work with the Autocord!
  25. Thanks Louis!
  26. Kayam -
    Welcome to MF, and the Autocord is indeed quite capable of producing excellent images. You handled it very well, the shots are super. I've owned nine Rollei's over the years, with pretty much all of the lens choices available I think, from the Planars, Xenotars, Xenars and Tessars. Never owned an Autocord, but used a friends a few times in a trade, I think it had either a Rokkonon or Rokkor taking lens, (hope I spelled them correctly.) For the most part I felt the Autocord was essentially the equal to the Rollei's, very sharp and clear, especially contrasty.
    Your shot of the Stock Exchange demonstrates that very clearly I'd say, the details of the figures are positively dimensional to my eyes, and on my monitor. The ONLY less than favorable thing I've heard about Autocords is an advance lever part being a bit weak, a pot metal piece sometimes prone to fail. I've also heard that it's a relatively easy fix in the hands of a qualified technician, then it's good for the long haul.
    If I wasn't this far along in age I'd like to have a good Autocord user, but I've downsized the collection and will do without. Thanks for posting the fine examples, I wish you the best in your efforts while getting familiar with your camera.

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