A stylish film camera almost as old as me, with a sharp and bright f:1.8 lens, supporting fully automatic, fully manual, and everything in-between shooting. What more can you wish? Well, maybe an incredibly precise light meter? Read my ongoing experience report as I continue to use this camera.
Experience report in progress, being updated as we go. See last changes widget in the right column.
Impressions and shooting experience
Minolta Hi-Matic 7s impresses me for every roll of film I shoot with it. It is supposed to be older than me. My copy of the camera seems to have come out of factory yesterday, and it also functions like a new camera. With the list of advantages below you can quickly see that this is in fact a quite advanced camera and not a entry-level point-an-shoot. One of my favorites cameras so far.
This is not a long review since there are already very good reviews out there (see the resources list I am compiling at the end of this blog post). I sum up my impressions after having shot some rolls of film with it, and compile a set of pros and cons.
Hi-Matic 7s is a quite sizable and quite heavy rangefinder-type fixed-lens point-and-shoot camera. It has a simple functional layout. It has quite a slippery surface, both the metal and the leatherette parts. So it is a good idea to have a neck strap, or even better the very solid and stylish eveready case that functions as a half-case with a neck strap.
Pros and cons
- A very accurate light meter. It is as accurate as my Sekonic L-308s. The meter is supposed to use a 1.35v battery, but mine takes a modern PX625 1.5v silver oxide battery to function. Not sure if it was “upgraded” by its previous owner.
- The light meter resides inside the lens ring. This means that if you attach filters to the lens, the light meter will compensate for them. (Filter size is 55mm.) With my Sekonic I have to compensate manually by tuning the ASA value correspondingly.
- Following from the previous point, if you forget the lens cap on (which I have done a number of times with my other rangefinders), the light meter will not work. This reminds you to take off the lens cap before taking a photo. Very convenient! (Note however that the camera takes photos in manual mode also without the light meter. I have not tested the automatic mode.)
- A bright and sharp lens. An f:1.8 lens is quite high-end for a point-and-shoot. Additionally it is very sharp. See the photos in my photo album in the link below.
- A range of exposure modes. You can shoot fully automatically, fully manually, shutter priority or aperture priority. The light meter is EV-based but is not coupled. The lens has an EV window that allows you to adjust the exposure in both aperture or shutter priority by finding the right EV value in the EV window. Impressive, cool and user-friendly.
- Will work without battery in manual mode. Battery only powers the light meter. I am not sure what happens in automatic mode without batteries.
- In manual mode you can use B mode for long exposures. (Need to test this.)
- Extremely bright viewfinder with frame lines and EV markings on the right side for the light meter.
- Flash hot shoe. (Need to try the camera with a flash. It fires a flash, but how do I set the exposure?).
- A build quality that is impressive.
- And did I mention it is stylish?
- Focusing takes time, and sometimes I forget to focus! This is of course not a problem with the Hi-Matic 7s but with rangefinders in general. You just have to get used to their way of focusing.
- As with all rangefinders, closest focusing distance is long compared to SLRs. It is 0.9 meter for Hi-Matic 7s.
- I have not tested it myself, but I read in other reviews that in automatic mode the camera will not go higher than 1/250 seconds. Probably not a big deal because in most cases except sports it will be fast enough. And you can always switch to manual mode if you need the 1/500 seconds.
- It could have been a bit smaller and lighter. But then it would have to be plastic (or with reduced functionality like my Monilta AL-S).
- Leather case. Although you can attach a neck strap directly to the camera, I think the leather case is both more comfortable to hold, and stylish.
- Minolta D57KE lens hood. I bought this hood because it is the original hood. But you can use any screw-in 55mm hood. The original hood is quite small and does not block the viewfinder too much.
- 55mm filters.
- A keeper!
Other reviews and resources:
- Review by Mike Eckman. April 2016.
- A very nice review at Rangefinder Cameras. June 2014.
- The Flickr group dedicated to the camera.