My First Rangefinder-The Minolta AL Review
The camera is the reason I got into rangefinder cameras. I remember having no idea what a rangefinder was prior to this, and googling "rangefinder" to try to figure out what ultimately turned out to be a simple design.
This camera (well, a different one) was given to me by a friend. It is by no means an expensive camera, but a quality camera with a great build and sharp optics.
The Minolta AL was introduced in 1961. It has a Rokkor -PF 45mm F2. I have been extremely pleased with the results this lens produces. The camera has a leaf shutter with speeds up to 1/1000th of a second, which is nice, as most leaf shutters I have go up to 1/500th.
The camera has a selenium meter, which on mine is dead. I had an example that had a working meter, which was nice, however, this one does not work. There is a needle on the top of the camera that you match in the middle by changing the aperture and shutter speed.
The shutter on this version does have click stops, the aperture does not, though one version I had did have clicks. What is nice about this camera is that you can change both at the same time, as both are around the lens barrel. They both rotate the same way, so one can change stops by holding both and rotating them.
The rangefinder patch on the camera is not as bright as other cameras I have had, but it is completely usable. The viewfinder has one set of lines as the lens is not interchangeable. The viewfinder is not cluttered, and it is pretty bright.
The camera has a cold shoe as well as a threaded shutter button for use with cable releases. It has a smooth film wind, and a flip out knob for rewind. The only strange thing about the camera is that it has the frame counter on the bottom. It automatically resets when you open the film door, which opens on a hinge.
The camera just looks like a classic camera, with leatherette and metal. It is a solid camera that feels like it could take a beating. One can adjust the rangefinder through the top, and it is pretty easy.
What is really nice about this kind of camera, is that not only is the leaf shutter super silent, flash will sync at all speeds. The camera is also small enough to pocket if need be.