Minolta AL-F

Objektiv Rokkor 38 mm f/2.7 - 46 mm filter thread.
Verschluss Seiko leaf shutter 1/30 - 1/500, no B setting. No self timer.
Belichtungs­messung CdS-cell above front lens, within filter thread. Shutter priority AE, no manual mode. Film speed ASA 25-500.
Fokussierung Coupled rangefinder. Close focus 2.6'/0.8m.
Sucher Bright frame. Aperture indication.
Blitz Hot shoe. PC socket. GN flashmatic at 1/30 (GN 14-56 m / 32-180'). Flash sync at all speeds.
Film­transport Hinged back, advance lever, rewind crank.
Maße 128/85/60 mm (with lens).
Batterie PX 625 mercury.

[German version]

Nothing special. Auto exposure (shutter priority) only, limited shutter speed range from 1/30 to 1/500, no self timer, not-too-fast lens (f/2.7). A camera for everybody, it seems.

Right. Nevertheless I find it rather attractive even if I can't say why exactly. Maybe it's the design that's very pleasing to my eye, maybe it's the compact format, maybe it's only that the AL-F was one of my first compact rangefinders. And that I could take it with me on holiday immediately after it arrived (and after re-soldering the broken battery wire ...) and take some nice photos with it.

The AL-F is a solid camera, however, has good ergonomics, is fun to use and the limitation of shutter speeds (1/30 to 1/500) makes it quite fool proof: look through the finder, turn the shutter speed ring until the desired aperture is indicated in the finder, snap. Camera shake is not an issue at 1/30 with a 38 mm lend and leaf shutter. This straightforwardness makes it easier to get over the lack of a manual mode.

Comfort is further enhanced by the hot shoe in combination with the GN flashmatic. As the above mentioned holiday was in february, I indeed had the opportunity to take some flash pictures, which I rarely do (that's why my flash equipment ist authentical 1970's state-of-the-art ...) and was very pleased with the results. The flashmatic system works only at 1/30, however (at least that's what I suppose the flsh speed to be.

Optically there's nothing to complain (and, at the end of the day, this is what matters). I suspect the lens to be a close relative of the 38/2.8 Hexanon mounted on the Konica C35, even if it's just called "Rokkor" and not "Rokkor-PF" or something. In any case optical quality is as it should be. The VF / RF unit can compete with those of the Oly SP and Konica S3, which means that it is extraordinary. Maybe just the yellow RF spot is a little bit smaller and less contrasty. Th rangefinder remains perfectly usable in dim light, though.

There is a "CLC" lettering on the lens, which is a bit astonishing as CLC was a special metering system patented by Minolta that consisted of two CdS cells arranged in a certain way in the prism housing of the SR-T and XE SLRs. If you have an idea how to emulate this with a single CdS above the lens of a compact RF camera please tell me. I don't.

When you switch to flash mode, the meter is switched off. I mean, the electric circuit is disconnected. An "off" switch. Hey, saves battery power. Rare on this kind of cameras.

The camera came with an Eveready case that is particularily handsome. Black leather and beautifully finished, even if mine was a little scratched. But that is what protective cases are for, after all. The best thing about the case is that it has a strap attached to it, as the camera doesn't have strap lugs. The second best thing ist that my Olympus SP (for which I do not own a dedicated case) fits neatly into it. Even the tripod socket is in the same place.


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