Minolta Uniomat

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. This interesting little Minolta Uniomat has just arrived, bought for US$10.00 equivalent on The Famous Auction's Australian site. I'd hoped it might be a working camera, if the usual slightly overblown sales pitch was to be believed, but there a few problems.

    This camera apparently has only one set of blades, which double as both aperture and shutter. It works on a programmed EV system, something like 1000th second at f1:16 to 1 second at f1:2.8. It's consequently a little difficult to see exactly what the system is doing; while the shutter functions smoothly I suspect the speed is remaining constant as the EV scale is altered, though the aperture changes with the adjustment. Any information regarding this somewhat odd set-up would be welcome, but I guess I'll just have to run a film through it to find out if the exposures are actually varying.

    The old selenium meter still reacts to light, but manages to move the pointer to only about half-way across the scale in full sunlight. Just below the photocell, on the front of the camera, is a little screw (see pic). It requires the proper spanner to move it, but I'm curious to know if it has any relationship with the light meter, perhaps in a calibration or adjustment function. Any ideas? It's not an easy camera to find anything about, but it's very nicely made and cosmetically excellent, and I'd like to get it up and running. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Rick,

    The Minolta Uniomat was sold in the USA as Ansco Anscoset. Here are two links to the manuals. One is for the Ansco Anscoset and the other for the Anscoset II. I hope they help.

    Anscoset http://www.butkus.org/chinon/ansco/ansco_anscoset/ansco_anscoset.htm

    Anscoset II http://www.butkus.org/chinon/ansco/ansco_anscoset_ii/ansco_anscoset_ii.htm

    I have a Minolta Uniomat as well. It is a nice camera. I like the feel. I cannot comment on adjusting the seleium cell. Mine appears to work just fine, so I have had no need to look up any information on adjusting it. In the right hands the camera can take some very nice photos.

    Good luck!

  3. Rick, that's another beautiful Minolta although like Mike mentioned, I know it as the Anscoset but that's all I know about it. I don't have one (yet!) so I can't be of any help to you, but I'm very eager to see what you'll create with it once you have it working. From the picture it looks to be about the same size as the AL but maybe a bit thinner and not as heavy.
  4. Having trouble "submitting" .. anyway If anyone's hands are the "right" hands I'd bet yours are the right ones.&n bsp;Good to know, this little beast is known under another name ! I thought Andy would be jumping in here! I hope you get the meter sorted out! Looking forward to what you can squeajk out of this little piec e!
  5. Thanks, Michael and Andy. Michael, while I was aware the camera was also known as the Anscoset, I searched the Butkus site looking for Uniomat and found nothing...how dumb can one get...! Thanks for steering me in the right direction.
    Andy, I'm afraid you're right; it is another nice Minolta, and I'm afraid there might be a couple more in the offing; it seems to be Minolta season, down under. As someone close to me remarked, in a slightly querulous way, "When is it all going to end?" The camera is virtually identical in build to the AL, and pretty much the same weight. Nice, solid-feeling cameras with a high degree of attention to detail and finish.
  6. The Ansco Autoset was the first 35mm camera to be taken on a space mission. I think early in the Gemini program, if I'm not mistaken. It was modified so the the astronauts could work it while wearing their space suits. I believe the camera was mounted upside down for this use.
  7. Mike, I think you're right about the Gemini program. The funny thing is that the Anscoset was chosen because someone at NASA thought it was an American-made camera, which would've been fitting for the mission in their mind, I'm sure.
  8. Hello Rick,
    I have a few of the Anscoset/Uniomat cameras. Your description of of the camera's exposure system is correct. The little knurled screw you mention makes no adjustment... it's just one of the screws that secures the camera's top plate. I expect the screwhead's design is some sort of anti-tamper measure... it's just like those on the Weston Master selenium light meter series. My selenium cells on my cameras are fine... sorry that your's isn't. The Rokkor f2.8 45mm lens is first class, even if both the camera and the lens are unheralded. I was pleasantly shocked after shooting a test roll in the first camera I got (by the way, mine are all marked Anscoset). These things have been popping up on eBay fairly regularly, but the prices are all over the place.
    The "American" camera taken into space by John Glenn was another Japanese camera known as the Minolta Hi-Matic/Ansco Autoset. NASA was fooled becaused Minolta sold rebadged cameras to Ansco. In those days "Made in Japan" was just a longer spelling of the word "junk', and sending a Nip camera into space was considered downright unpatriotic in the first place. By the first Moon landings in 1969 it was a moot point because there were no more American cameras... the Apollo astronauts used Hasselblads mounted to their chests.
    The camera you have has an amazingly light film advance, and an almost inaudible shutter. The advance is so light that after shooting harder cameras I almost can't tell if I've advanced the film or not. The cameras are usually found in need of seals... there is one broad one at the film door hinge, and two seal tracks at both the top and bottom of the camera body that matches the top and bottom film door edges. The tracks are rather shallow, so don't get too much seal in there or you might warp the film door because of the tension.
    I'll see if I can post a few nature pics I've taken with the Anscoset/Uniomat, even though the reproduction process won't do the images any favors, especially since I shot negative film and used a home film scanner to make the images.
  9. Old Beaver Creek Road (runs alongside the creek of the same name).
  10. Argh! Those look terrible. Let me upload better versions, even though it will come up as a link.
  11. And the other... I'm obviously not experienced with the image upload system here. My bad.
  12. Found this photo of the Ansco Autoset with its NASA modifications for use in orbit.
  13. Somewhere I'd seen that photo... maybe on the NASA site? That is one weirdly modified camera. The viewfinder on the bottom? LOL I think I see the reason behind it... it may have allowed the thing to be operated with one hand.
    Thanks for posting the image.

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