Minolta Hi-Matic 7SII
The Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII was is one of the best of the Japanese rangefinder cameras made before the age of plastic “point and shoots” and SLRs had completely taken over the majority of the market. It was introduced in 1977 and had all of the best features. These included an excellent quality, fast, 40mm f1.7 Rokkor lens in what is one of the smallest of the 1970s rangefinders bodies measuring just 115mm x 78 x 59 including the lens.
This shutter is a priority autoexposure and manual camera is much smaller than the earlier Minolta Hi-Matic 7s which came out in 1966. Most notable is the high-quality finish on the Minolta 7sII. It just feels very good in the hand!
The 6 element Rokkor lens gives great results providing negatives that are sharp and with good contrast. This camera weighs just 460g, still a solid feel, but easy to carry. The Minolta 7sII is an excellent rangefinder camera for street shooting. It features auto-exposure lock by pressing the shutter part of the way down before re-framing your picture.
Though the camera shutter operates in both manual and automatic mode, metering is only available in the manual mode. Therefore you have to take a reading in auto and then transfer the settings yourself.
There was also a black version made which looks pretty cool and sells for a lot more money on Ebay. My understanding is that the Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII was only sold in small numbers in the United States, and as such, it commands a higher price than the popular, though more plentiful, Canon Canonet GIII.
The Copal shutter is a fully manual type. This means that you get all of the shutter speeds in manual mode even if you don’t have a battery or the meter has failed. This is a big plus for this camera. If the meter isn’t working you can take a reading with another camera and set the shutter and aperture rings on the Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII accordingly.
Minolta also made a very sort after black paint version of the Hi-Matic 7sII which you can see here at Cameraquest.com The black version is harder to find and sells for higher prices on the internet.
The Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII is known to suffer from several problems. The lenses are often slightly loose on the front of the camera. This doesn’t necessarily affect your photographs but can be little disconcerting. This can be fixed but would require dis-assembly which might be expensive unless you can do it yourself.
The meter often stops working on the Minolta 7sII. Sometimes you can get it working again by re-soldering the wires where they attach to the battery compartment. This is not a problem unique to this camera.
I have also read in a number of places that the sprocket teeth for the film advance sometimes tear the film on this particular camera. It could be that the take-up spool isn’t tight enough which results in the film holes tearing after a dozen or so shots. Watch that the rewind knob is turning when you wind-on. I note that the rewind knob on mine is quite stiff compared to many of my other old rangefinders in my collection.
Having studied up this camera quite a bit on the internet I have read reports from some owners who say that the Minolta 7sII is not as robust, or as well made, as the earlier and physically larger Hi-Matic cameras. I would be interested to hear your comments and experiences of this camera if you have one, or have used one in the past.
Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII Specifications:
Type: 35mm rangefinder camera with automatic exposure.
Lens: Rokkor 40mm f1.7, 6 elements in 4 groups. 57-degree angle of view. Takes 49mm screw on filters.
Shutter: Copal mechanical type with settings at 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1500 plus B. The B setting has a separate safety lock button on the lens barrel to prevent the aperture ring being turned too far by mistake. Also, note that when looking through the viewfinder it is still possible to press the shutter release even when the needle is in the red zone at the top or bottom causing an under or over exposed photograph to be taken. The shutter doesn’t lock as it does with the Canons, for example.
EE System: CdS cell coupled to aperture mechanism for fully automatic exposure control, shutter speed priority system. Exposure range of EV 4.5 to EV 17. Film speed range of ASA 15 to 800. Automatic compensation when filters are used.
Aperture: Aperture settings of f1.7 to f16 possible in manual operation.
Flash: Hot shoe operation circuit for X synchronisation. Electronic flash at all speeds. M-class bulb synchronises at 1/30 or slower.
Focusing: Coupled superimposed image rangefinder. Minimum focusing distance 0.9m
Film Advance: Lever type with single 130-degree stroke. Automatic self-setting frame counter shows the number of frames exposed.
Self Timer: 10 seconds delay.
Battery: Originally powered by one 1.3v mercury cell Eveready EPX-675 or equivalent.