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Brief History of Minolta Cameras
I was still in my teen years, my older cousin
visited one day and showed my brother and I his
brand new 110mm camera: a Minolta Pocket Autopak
50. What impressed me the most about this compact
camera was its clear, big and bright viewfinder.
Other cameras I was familiar with at that time
had small viewfinders you had to squint into.
With its drop-in film cartridge and automatic
operation, the Minolta Pocket Autopak 50 was so
easy--and a pleasure--to use. Its compact size
also meant that it could be carried everywhere
to all the family get-togethers.
The positive first impression that this simple
point-and-shoot camera had upon me has stayed
with me all these years, and isn't it this the
reason we stay with the brands we do today? Camera
manufacturers should never underestimate their
customers, be they advanced amateurs who want
flexibility and top-notch quality features or
the point-and-shoot crowd who just want a simple,
easy to use camera. Many point-and-shoot beginners
are just young customers getting their first cameras
and who will grow up to be the future advanced
amateurs and professional photographers.
Minolta is one camera manufacturer that seems
to have kept this in mind as it moved into the
digital photography age. Here is a brief history
of Minolta cameras:
The Nifcalette is Minolta's first camera.
Minolta, then known as the Nichi-Doku Shashinki
Shoten (Japan-Germany Camera Company), was established
a year earlier, in 1928, by Kazuo Tashima.
1937, the Minolta Flex is the first
double-lens reflex camera manufactured in Japan.
The Minolta SR-2 is Minolta's first SLR
John Glenn blasts into space on board the Friendship
7, America's first manned spacecraft to orbit
the earth, with the 'Right Stuff' -- a specially
modified Minolta Hi-Matic camera. Note
how the camera is used upside down with a folding
viewfinder mounted to the base of the camera.
1962. Company officially changes its name
to Minolta Camera Co., Ltd.
The Minolta SR-T101 SLR camera features
through-the-lens (TTL) light metering.
A technological cooperation agreement is signed
with Ernst Leitz Wetzlar, the manufacturer of
The Minolta CL is Minolta's first camera
produced in collaboration with Leica.
Leica and Minolta introduce the Leica R3.
Minolta produces the Leica R3, R4
and R5 models.
The Minolta CLE is the world's first 35mm
range meter linked TTL-AE camera.
Introduction of the Minolta X-700 SLR.
The introduction of the Minolta MAXXUM-7000,
the world's first autofocus SLR, shakes up the
camera industry and becomes an instant hit. Nikon
and Canon race to catch up.
understand a little bit the impact that Minolta's
introduction of the first autofocus SLR camera
had at that time, here's an anecdote one of our
readers, David Yan, sent us: "In my memory,
minolta was the first camera manufacturer which
brought auto focus into cameras in their 7000
and 9000 series. Because of this, I traded my
Nikon F2 for both of them at their release (I
wear glasses and auto focus does help a lot in
note: Some people may object and will name the
Pentax ME-F with its one motorized AF lens as
the first ever AF SLR. Indeed Pentax claims the
ME-F as "the world's first TTL autofocus
camera (1981)." That's 4 years before the
Minolta Maxxum-7000! So why does History seem
to give the credit to Minolta and not Pentax?
Probably because the design of the AF in the Pentax
ME-F was not quite successful and was later abandoned.
So, the industry as a whole seems to agree that,
though there were various attempts at making and
marketing an AF SLR (and in this strict sense,
the Pentax ME-F was the first), it is however
Minolta that should get the credit for succeeding
in making a "true AF" SLR. We leave
it up to our readers to make up their own mind.]
The Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35 is the
world's first water and dust resistant dual focal
point compact camera.
The Minolta MAXXUM 7000i is the world's
first auto-focus SLR camera with an intelligent
The Minolta MAXXUM 9xi is the world's first
auto-focus SLR camera with a shutter speed of
Company changes name to Minolta Co., Ltd. to reflect
the fact that it sells much more than cameras.
The Minolta RD-175 is a SLR style 1.75
megapixels digital camera.
Introduction of the Minolta VECTIS series
that uses Advanced Photo System (APS).
The Minolta DiMAGE V is a digital camera
that features a removable lens unit that can be
The Minolta MAXXUM 9 autofocus SLR targets
The Minolta DiMAGE 7 features 5 megapixels
resolution and 7x optical zoom.
cameras have their ardent fans around the world,
and for good reasons. Never satisfied to follow,
Minolta designers and engineers have not been
afraid to strike out with innovative solutions
that have been warmly welcomed by amateur and
professional photographers alike, and that have
quickly been copied by competitors. This propensity
for innovation can be seen in its current line-up
of digital cameras.
Friday, January 19, 2006
It's a crowded market and it was bound to happen
sooner or later. But when it comes, it's still
a surprise. The big news today is that of Konica
Minolta being the first of the major camera manufacturers
to withdraw from the camera and photo business
altogether. Blaming the difficulty "to timely
provide competitive products even with our top
optical, mechanical and electronics technologies,"
they have announced the following decisions:
- Transfer camera assets to Sony effective March
- Phase withdrawal from the photo business by
the end of March 2006 (Minilab), March 2007 (color
film and color paper) and September 2007 (all
photo sales activities).
- Reduce worldwide Konica Minolta Group employees
by 3,700 from the current 33,000 including early
retirement offering by September 30, 2007.
the whole story... ]
you have any anecdote about any of the above cameras
that you think might be interesting to share with
other readers, please send
them to us.
In 1934 Minolta introduced
the first folding camera that used a type of plastic
instead of leather for the bellows. There were
3 models: the Best, the Vest and the Marble. These
were 127 roll film cameras. I personally have
a Marble that was my Grandfather's and it still
takes great pictures. Thank you internet and Freestyle
Photographic Supplies for making 127 and other
odd film sizes available to us who refuse to give
up on great older cameras!
Clay James (September 4, 2006)
The Maxxum-7000 was not
the first auto-focus 35mm SLR; it was just the
first commercially successful one. The first auto-focus
35mm SLR was the Pentax "ME F", in 1981.
Only one AF lens was ever made for it, the AF
35-70/2.8. When Pentax reintroduced auto-focus
in 1987 with the SF1, it was with a new auto-focus
format that was incompatible with the ME F and
Greg Lovern (June 30, 2005)
your Minolta history, you might mention the XD7
which came out
around 1978 (?) and was, I believe, the world's
first SLR with both aperture and shutter priority
modes. I still have mine and it is beautiful,
made near the pinnacle of camera engineering before
they all became plastic boxes full of electronics!
Paul Goss (July 4, 2003)