Thursday, August 25, 2016

Minolta Minoltina AL-S

The sleekly compact Minoltina AL-S appeared in 1965. The camera featured a fast f1.8, 40mm Rokkor-QF lens, a full range of shutter speeds from 1 to 500 plus B, and a coupled, match-needle selenium exposure meter. I found mine in an El Paso junk shop a few years ago. When I pointed out to the sales clerk that the shutter was jammed, she opted to take my $10 offer for the camera. Back home, a little lighter fluid swabbed on the shutter blades brought the shutter back to life. The selenium meter was one stop off in its readings; setting the ASA one stop higher than the film rating produced results identical to my hand-held Sekonic meter.

On running a couple rolls of film through the camera, I could easily see that the six-element Rokkor was a fine performer. However, the results I got from the camera were rather inconsistent, and it was clear that there was some further work needed to fully restore the little Minoltina. Somehow, I got distracted from the task and the camera sat on a shelf until a short time ago. When I finally got around to examining it more closely, I discovered that the camera had two issues with focus that needed correction.

I was surprised to find that the lens was not properly collimated; that is somewhat unusual in a unit-focus design in a fixed-lens camera. I was a little apprehensive about dismantling the whole lens and shutter assembly to make the necessary correction, but it turned out that was not required because of the repair-friendly construction of the camera. Removing the two screws that held on the striated focus button let me slip off the thin band at the base of the lens to reveal a ring underneath with four tiny screws. Loosening those screws permitted a rotational adjustment of the lens' infinity setting. I first set the lens to an accurate infinity focus using Mike Elek's system, and then I rotated the ring to the stop point, after which I retightened the four little screws.

The horizontal alignment of the rangefinder images also required correction. It wasn't until I got the top off the camera that I realized I could have adjusted the rangefinder just by removing the black plastic bumper/cover underneath the advance lever; that permits access to a locking screw and a notch for making coincident image corrections. No matter; the top came off very easily with the removal of two screws and the rewind button. After a light cleaning of the viewing optics and adjusting the rf image, the top went back on without incident. The final step was to make a small adjustment to the position of the thin outer band on which the distance scale is located. This is made possible by the fact that the screw holes for the finger button in the band are actually slots which permit the band to be rotated slightly so that the indicated distance setting matches the rangefinder distance.

Some images from the Minoltina:

The Minoltina AL-S user manual is available on line at the kyphoto site.

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