Friday, January 07, 2011


Some Albuquerque street photography with the Minoltina AL-S.

The compact Minoltina AL-S is well suited to the task of grabbing shots on the street. In addition to the sharp f1.8-40mm Rokkor lens, the camera provides full manual adjustment of aperture, shutter speed and focus. That means the hyperfocal aperture and distance setting can be easily selected to ensure getting the shot without fumbling around with camera adjustments.

Using 400-speed film in sunlight, the shutter may be set to a motion-stopping 1/500th of a second. With the aperture at f-16 and focus at 10 feet, everything will be in sharp focus from about five feet to infinity. A thumb lever allows rapid and inconspicuous film advance. Strap lugs permit hanging the camera around the neck to shoot from chest level.


jimgrey said...

Very nice. Your Minoltina sounds like a great little camera. I appreciate you explaining the settings you used.

Mike said...

You're welcome.

I have a number of cameras that have all the fundamental features one wants for street photography. I'll probably feature a couple more here soon.

A lot of other cameras in the collection meet most, but not all, of the requirements. For instance my Vito II is a super little travel camera, but it lacks strap lugs. My Leica-copy FED and Zorki are compact and have great lenses, but their focal plane shutters are a bit too noisy -- the same being true of the Contax-copy Kiev IIa. All of my fine slr cameras, including the Pentax and the Contaflex suffer the same noise problem.

Of course the truth is that street photography can be -- and has been -- done successfully with any old camera. I've seen people use box cameras, 8x10 sheet film cameras and just about anything else. I suppose the real key to success is being adequately familiar with your equipment to know how it is going to perform in the anticipated circumstances.

Josh said...

Nice pics! I just got this camera and find that the rangerfinder is pretty dim. Is this noraml? If not do you know of anything I can do to fix this?



Mike said...

It is pretty easy to take off the top of this camera to clean the viewing windows. However, the main problem with any of the old rangefinder cameras is a lack of contrast in the double image that is used for focusing. The surfaces of the little semi-transparent mirrors that form the focusing image deteriorate over the years. Don't try to clean that little mirror if you take off the top as the surface is very easy to damage.
One thing you can try is to improve the contrast from the outside. Put a very small dot of tape on the front side of the big viewfinder window. That will sometimes give you some additional contrast in the focusing image.
Another thing that will help is to use a fast film so that you can select smaller apertures, yielding greater depth of field which helps compensate for small focus errors.
It is possible to replace the little mirror elements inside, but that is a little tricky and risky.

Mike said...

Rick Oleson has a very good illustration on his site of the procedure for applying the tape on the viewing window to improve contrast:

Josh said...

Ah great, thanks for the help! :)

rkraneis said...


My Minoltina AL-S is being repaired for an oily shutter. I can't wait to take it for a Sunny 16 walk for street photos.