Minolta A5...A superb sleeper!

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by andy_collins|1, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. Here is another in Minolta's long line of outstanding rangefinder cameras. This is basically the same camera as the much-loved AL except that it has no light meter. The camera came with either a 4-element f/2.8 lens or a 6-element f/2 lens, and it had a top shutter speed of either 1/500s or 1/1000s. I've never seen the f/2 version of this camera and I think I may have read somewhere that that version was sold outside of the US. At any rate, the one pictured here has an f/2.8 4-element lens but a top speed of 1/1000s. If you've used the AL then you know exactly what this camera is like to handle. In a word, superb! The shutter release is buttery smooth and the viewfinder is big and bright. The camera has a very solid, hefty feel to it which in my mind translates to a feeling of quality. These cameras, along with the AL variants, were the last before the Hi-Matics were introduced, and they feel somewhat similar in operation although the A5 has a much more mechanical feeling to me. In some ways this is more reassuring because I know that there's no battery to worry about.
    I took the A5 in my bag for awhile and tried to capture an assortment of shots, or as many as our ridiculous midwestern weather will allow, and I was very pleased witht he results. This camera is a pure joy to use. I was fortunate to acquire one in excellent condition complete with the original box and instructions, also in excellent condition. For you Minoltans, this is certainly one to get. For that matter anyone who likes a very high quality RF, you should seriously consider this one.
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  11. Neighbors down the road is very nice, specially thematic. Others are good, as always, Andy quality! It looks like you could start a Minolta RF Museum! :) Regards, sp.
     
  12. Hi Andy - happy holidays. Funny you should post these nice photos, I was just adjusting the rangefinder on my A5 this past weekend hoping to wake it up from the lethargy it's been in for the past 5 years since I got it. Nice series and a really good vertical on the snowed out pond. It would be a cool idea to do a 4 season combo with the same subject(that being the pond), just my 2 cents :).
    Regards
     
  13. Hi Andy, sure looks cold over there! Love your Minolta shots, the Rokkors are top notch. I have your aforementioned AL with the F2 lens, and agree with the heavy, silky feel of these cameras. Brings back memories, because when I first started out in wedding photography in the early seventies, we used A5's for the candid stuff. The lens/rangefinder combination was top notch, and of course they synchroed at all speeds with flash, allowing fill even on bright days.
    Some A5's came with the 1000th speeded shutter, but most came with a top speed of a 500th. According to most people, these shutters never achieved 1000, got the around 1/750th at best, and that's with the aperture closed down to at least F8.
    Tony
     
  14. Nice work Andy!
     
  15. Just beautiful Andy; I don't know why you keep doing this to we poor Minoltans, it just adds to our list of must-haves. It looks a very beautiful camera and is obviously from the same stables as the Uniomat and the AL, as you noted. Great pics but definitely chilly: I'm sitting under a shady palm with a lap-top and a cold beer! All the best for 2009.
     
  16. SP--Thanks. I'm afraid I'm well on my way to a museum of sorts already!
    Ralf--Thanks for the comments. I've thought about a 4-seasons photo essay, but I have a hard time sticking with projects like that. Good idea though, and I hope you take and share some shots from your A5.
    Tony--It is cold over here! Thank you for the comments and for sharing your experience with the A5. I find your wedding story fascinating; it's easy to think of these great cameras as the focus of our hobby while forgetting that many of these cameras did hard work in the professional arena. I'd read that about the 1/1000 speed being an optimistic estimate. I wonder if later cameras like the Hi-Matic E actually operated at 1/1000 as it was advertised to do, or if it was only close to it. I also happen to have a 1/500 A5 but it currently has shutter issues and isn't in use at present.
    Donnie--Thanks for looking and commenting.
    Rick--This is definitely a must-have so start looking for one of these right away! Besides, I don't feel the least bit sorry for you, sitting in the warm shade with a cold beer while I freeze my you-know-what off...seriously though, you'd like this camera a lot and would be impressed by the lens and the feel of the camera. Thanks for the comments, and here's to more photographic fun in '09!
     
  17. It'S cold in Europe too!! I've stopped riding everyday. Laziness/Christmas/Cold etc. I've been starting to look for some of these gems. You and Rick among others are whetting my appetite. Budget contraints (guilt feelings) are holding me back. Lovely shots indeed! When auto stuff works (still) and without batteries it amazes me!
    I guess you've got quite a few now! Don't tell me how many... I considered about a year ago selling off now thanks to you ... expansion! Need a Koni,Minolta more Yashicas etc The MG1 recently reminded me ! I wish you and Rick would just stop!! ;-)
     
  18. It'S cold in Europe too!! I've stopped riding everyday. Laziness/Christmas/Cold etc. I've been starting to look for some of these gems. You and Rick among others are whetting my appetite. Budget contraints (guilt feelings) are holding me back. Lovely shots indeed! When auto stuff works (still) and without batteries it amazes me!
    I guess you've got quite a few now! Don't tell me how many... I considered about a year ago selling off now thanks to you ... expansion! Need a Koni,Minolta more Yashicas etc The MG1 recently reminded me ! I wish you and Rick would just stop!! ;-)
     
  19. Great shots. I wonder what the "neighbors" were thinking when you took their picture. I think the "snowplow" would be pulled behind a tractor and used to make furrows in the ground for planting?
     
  20. Wow. Great stuff.
     
  21. Another Minolta to add to my shopping list, thanks! Nice pics too.
     
  22. Chuck--I do have quite a few but I need to slow down...yeah, right! I hope you do find a lot of these gems and enjoy them as much as I do, because I'm not sure I (nor Rick) can stop. Thanks for your comments, as always, and try to stay warm over there.
    Craig--I think the neighbors were wondering if I had any ground corn for them. They're pretty tame and will allow you to walk right up to them. The plow is just as you described, one that was pulled behind a tractor or horse. Actually all of them, the cows and the plow, belong to my father-in-law, so they're very comfortable around all of us.
    Gene--Thanks for the compliment. Coming from the 'master of the forum' it means a lot.
    Stuart--Definitely one to add to your list. You'll love the way this one handles, being the Minoltan you already are.
     
  23. I am struck by how often many of the better "old" cameras handle the shooting situations you illustrated here. Shooting directly into the sun, without the benefit of modern multicoatings and such, and yet the flare is so well controlled. Looks like that Minolta is a very good one. Thanks for sharing.
    Jim
     
  24. Good shots, Andy. Definitely a keeper.
     
  25. Jim--I wholeheartedly agree. I too am amazed at how well these lenses perform in such a wide variety of situations, the same situations that we now pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for lenses to handle. This Minolta is a sweet one indeed! Thanks for commenting.
    Mike--Thanks! If you don't have one, you ought to add it to your list.
     
  26. What does a used A5 sell for these days? I saw an AL on fleabay and it was too expensive for me to justify. I may have to sneak this one in if I can find one. My wife thinks I collect cameras the way Elly Mae Clampett collects 'critters'.
     
  27. They usually go for pretty cheap since most people ignore them. The AL always sells for more because it's a somewhat known quantity, whereas the A5 isn't. I don't remember what I paid for mine, but it wasn't more than $20. In fact I think it was $19.95 and I believe I was the only bidder. This one was worth every penny especially since it's the 1/1000s model. I think I paid about $10 for the 1/500s model. I saw a couple of them currently listed, but they're both in the UK.
     
  28. This is my fav rangefinder. Wonderful - apart from the fragile shutter. Mine died. Twice!
     
  29. Great review. I am a long term follower of this site and belong to the genre of photographers who don't fit either of the terms amateur or professional! Just a passionate spectator of this art and science. Like you I was stunned by the quality of the Minolta A 5. I bought one from ebay for a few bucks and was astonished at the workmanship. It was in near mint condition and just needed the light seal replacements. I used a regular sticky foam and did nothing else to the superb machine. A roll of film (400) came in handy and wow, I just couldn't believe that this device still works as it would have done 50 years ago! I could hardly find an equivalent machine that I came across in the plastic/electronic era that did this feat! What an amalgamation of fine craftsmanship and materials (metal and glass). The pictures came out in amazing clarity excepting for a few which turned out black because I forgot to take the lens cap off (years of living amidst computers does this to common sense;) What a sense of freshness not to have batteries, cables, computers and the money-monger computer and communication companies that came along with me, everytime I took my digital junk. Now I could enjoy pure photography with the Minolta A 5 and a roll of film. They just dont make things like the Minolta A 5 anymore!
     

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