Monday, November 20, 2017

The Minolta Hi-Matic G (Gee, it worked!)

I have a love-hate relationship with those 1970’s 35mm rangefinder and compact zone-focus cameras. Far too many of them to keep track of, and far too many that took Mercury cells or some odd-ball battery that I can’t find, and far too many of them that now, don’t work.  On the plus side, they are usually sturdy little metal boxes, attractive, and easy to use. Over the years, I have had Minolta  RFs land in my lap, and a few, such as a Minolta 7s worked quite well, but I didn’t fall in love with it.  I had a Hi-matic G in 2005, but it had exposure issues.   The worst aspect of the Hi-Matic series (with one exception) is the auto-exposure with no manual capability.  In regards to the Hi-Matic G, it’s not an especially singular camera, and is a middle of the road auto-exposure compact RF camera with a zone/scale focus, with the following features:

  • Rokkor 38mm f/1:2.8 lens with 46mm filter thread, f/2.8-f/14 aperture 
  • Zone & Scale focus with symbols and numbers 
  • CdS meter in lens bezel, so you can use filters and expose correctly 
  • ISO range : 25-400 
  • Shutter: 1/30-1/650 
  • Battery : PX675 (I used a standard S76 cell, and with negative films, it should be just fine). 
  • Viewfinder shows shutter speed/aperture on right side. 
  • Hotshoe and PC connector for flash 
  • standard 1/4-20 tripod thread
The ISO range is a limiting feature, but given the time when these cameras were made, entirely proper for the audience they were being sold to.   Not having a B setting is also limiting.   There is not really much to distinguish it from a slew of other compact 35mm cameras of its time.  The Konica C-35 has similar specs, but has a real rangefinder, not scale focus.  The Sears 35RF is similar. As much as I want to like the Hi-Matic G, the Hi-Matic 7SII (quite different from the 7S!) is the camera of the Hi-Matic series that should be on your list (and eBay prices are high).   The Ricoh 500G is another compact, yet robust RF camera, with reasonable prices on the used market. It too, is fully adjustable in manual mode. The Canonet QL-17 is not much larger, and certainly a better camera than the Hi-Matic G.


I tested the camera with such a S76 cell, and a roll of Svema 100 b&w - my cheap go-to film for testing.  Overall, I feel the camera works well, and it passed the test to be a pocket companion.  











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