Jump to content

Minolta V2 Rocketship

Recommended Posts

<p>Back in the late 50s, there was a strange speed phobia with some of the Japanese camera makers to get higher and higher top speeds out of mechanical leaf shutters. Existing theory had it that 1/500 sec was the practical maximum, as seen on Compur Rapid and Synchro Compur shutters from Germany.</p>

<p>Things seem to have reached their, er, 'zenith' with the Minolta 'V' range introduced in 1958. There never was a V1, by the way. The first of these rocketships was the meterless V2 of 1958 - 60, followed by the metered V3 of 1960. The V2 had the amazing top speed for a leaf shutter of 1/2,000th sec, with the V3 having an even more amazng 1/3,000th sec. Nothing comes without a price though, and in this instance it was that those high top speeds could only be used with small apertures of F8 or less. When you consider the comparative slowness of film back in the late 50s, that meant realistically only fast black and white film in bright sunlight situations.</p>

<p>Both the V2 and V3 had reliability problems with those high-speed shutters and were soon withdrawn, but they were interesting if flawed designs. I've done a Flickr Picky and write-up about the V2 here in my Flickr Portfolio Pages:<br>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/32113303@N07/">http://www.flickr.com/photos/32113303@N07/</a><br>

One thing I've been unable to find, is just how much these Minoltas sold for. So if anybody has any photo mags from the late 50s/early 60s with an advert for the V2 or V3 with prices, I'd love to see a scan of it.</p>



<p> </p>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<p>I could only find a single offering of it in the issues I have, on a brief search. In June 1959 in <em>Popular Photography</em> , Broadway Camera Shops (no, I don't know if it is any relation of today's store by that name, but keep that in mind in evaluating the price) offered among the new 35mm cameras</p>

<p><strong>Minolta V2 F2 .........74.50.</strong></p>

<p>That's US, 1959 dollars.</p>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<p>Hi, JDM - many thanks for digging up that June 59 magazine with the $74.50 price, which is interesting in that it's slightly less than what the similar-vintage original AGFA Optima was sold for back then. God, doesn't it make you feel old when you consider all this was FIFTY YEARS AGO!! (PN)</p>
Link to comment
Share on other sites

<p>Thanks, guys, and a special thanks to Marc for posting those two Minolta Camera Co adverts from 1959 showing the V2's RRP was $99.95. That's considerably more than the discount price of $74.50 that JDM's June 59 advert from Broadway Camera Shops shows. So, would I be double-guessing that the inference is that these V2's weren't selling so well, hence the big discount? </p>

<p>In my experience, such big bargain price-tags generally come on superseded models which the V2 certainly wouldn't have been in June 59. It's also interesting to note that Marc's second PP advert from Oct 59 has a definate theme of understating the former main selling point of that amazing 1/2,000th sec top speed, which may posssibly be an indication that Joe Public was keeping well away - maybe some scuttlebutt was already out that the camera's shutter was over-delicate?</p>

<p>Tony, you'll see from my amended Flickr write-up that although the V2 was clearly sold both in the USA and UK, I'm not so sure about Oz, judging by both its omission (and the V3) from my Nov 60 Trade Directory issue of the Oz Popular Photography in the listings area and in the Minolta distributors (Camera Distributors Pty) separate full page advert. However, most of their other stuff, from the Minolta-16 sub-min to the Autocord TLR is listed. However, just to play my own Devil's Advocate, one of the two V2 non-goers that were cannabalized to get a single working one, came on Ebay Oz from Sydney. (FWIW, the other one came from the UK!) So if you or any other Oz collector has any evidence that these V2s were sold here, I'd appreciate that additional piece for the Jigsaw. </p>

<p>By the way, on a more serious note, I quite agree that to call a camera a 'V2' along with the rocket tag advertising, was a sad piece of marketing by Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko. 1958 was barely 14 years after the original full-size V2's had been raining down on South-Eastern England, indiscriminately killing thousands, and vivid memories of this must still have been in the minds of folks there who'd lost loved ones thanks to Werner Von Braun's hideous invention. In fact, in hindsight I'm suprised the UK Minolta V2 wasn't rebadged something a little less unfeeling, such as the Minolta Le Mans or whatever. (PN)</p>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<p>Hi, Marc Many thanks yet again for doing the hard yards amongst your old camera magazines, and coming up with that March 59 US Camera article about the complexities of the V2's shutter innards. Or was it all that complex? It certainly appears to be like most great ideas, ie relatively simple. Yet time tells us that it wasn't as reliable as it should have been, with the finger pointed in 20/20 hindsight at the screws holding the whole thing together not being up to the job. However, that suggests so simple a solution - ie, just bigger and better screws - that there must surely be more to it that that. If it were, either Minolta/CKS or some other camera maker would have come up with a beefier setup on the same lines, but clearly they didn't. It was only when the 'new' era of electronic shutters began, that those high speeds reappeared.</p>

<p>One other aspect about the V2 I didn't know was that it was not only the fastest leaf-shuttered 35mm camera around in 1959, but it was actually the fastest of ALL, focal plane SLRs included. Another interesting aspect is the flash synch, which in electronic 'X' mode could even be used at 1/2,000th sec. That could clearly make up for the problem of restricted aperture use. </p>

<p>Hmmm, now where's a dripping tap around the place, honey-sucker or bumblebee when you need one ....... I'm going to have to try a fast colour print film with this old beast set in hyperdrive 1/2,000th sec mode, with a modern flash unit attached for some of the stuff, to see what it could do. I should also mention that the cannabalisation costs of the two junker V2's operation to come up with the one Good 'Un, cost me far more than the cameras themselves - so a test film is indeed warranted. (Pete in Perth)</p>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...
<p>Acquired a Minolta V2 a short time ago for £3 about $5. Have been waiting for the sun to come out to give it a try, so off out tomorrow. Showed it to an eighteen year old, he was impressed with the age, condition and in hysterics at the self timer winding down (kids) </p>
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...