Help me decide between Minolta Hi-Matic 9 and Canonet QL19

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by tomperson, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. tomperson

    tomperson Member

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    Hi all! Ok, so the rangefinder bug has started itching on me. I'm doing a trip to Bolivia by the end of the year, and I'd love to carry a simple, no-frills, small film camera with me, mostly for B/W street shooting and such. I'll also carry a DSLR for landscapes, colour photography, etc. I have a few months to get accustomed to a new camera, and that's good.

    So, my requirements are: small, light, simple, rugged, dependable, with full manual control, easy to operate. As cheap as possible.

    I've been recently offered a Minolta Hi-Matic 9 for USD 60 and a Canonet QL19 for USD 92. Both are supposed to be in good "cosmetical" condition, but no seller knows for sure if the cameras actually work. Both can operate without batteries. Both feature fine, fast optics, parallax correction, can be operated in full manual mode. My budget is tight, so every penny counts. And since this will be my first rangefinder ever, it may well be that I end up not liking it at all.

    The canonet is a classic, lots of people rage about it. Plus its the smaller/lighter of the two. On the other hand, the Hi-Matic has the faster lens (albeit a small difference, right?), its cheaper, and the lens is supposed to be really sharp.

    Supposing both cameras actually worked fine, which one would you choose? Any of you have both cameras to comment?

    Any advice will be most appreciated guys!
     
  2. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    If it were my choice, I would opt for the Canonet. It has a reputation for having a really shapr lens. The problems I have seen with it, over the years I spent in the retail camera biz, is that the Quick Load pads sometimes slip as the rubber ages. Others point out the need to replace light seals. Still, my wife took one to Ecuador years ago as a "throwaway camera" that would take really sharp slides. I do not remember what happened to it, but I would buy one in a nano second if the price were right, or someone would be willing to trade. (red covered Fed 3, anyone??)
     
  3. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    An untested Canonet QL19 for $92 seems high to me. I would at least expect a solid return privilege. John's point about light seals is correct, but they can be replaced with a bit of effort.
     
  4. tomperson

    tomperson Member

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    Hi folks! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

    Maybe I should have mentioned that I'm NOT in the US or Europe, so buying the camera from abroad is not an option. Between shipping and taxes (which are ridiculously high here), a $25 camera will probably get me to USD 100 + easily, and I would not even have the option of testing the camera before actually buying.

    The cameras I mentioned are listed on a local online auction site (called MercadoLibre), and I've already told the people selling it that I need to have it checked by a technician (probably from my local photography club) in case I get to buy the thing.

    Anscojohn, mgb74, you're not the first to tell me regarding light seals, I'll check with my local repairman how much would that cost to do.

    Any other thoughts?

    Thanks again!
     
  5. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Tom;

    Someone needs to uphold the Minolta flag here.

    I have a couple of the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 range finder cameras in addition to several Minolta SLR. Yes, it can be used as a fully mechanically operated camera. It also has a built-in battery operated CDS light meter that covers EV ratings from 1.5 to 18. With the battery, it also has both a "shutter priority" and an "aperture priority" mode. You set the aperture ring to "A" and you choose the shutter speed you want. The display in the viewfinder will tell you if it cannot handle the lighting with the selected shutter or aperture. It will also tell you if it wants a shutter speed slower than 1/30th of a second.

    The unusual feature with this camera is what happens when you set both the shutter ring and the aperture ring to "A." At that point, it goes into an "Automatic" mode where it chooses both the aperture and shutter speeds for you. Yes, this is an early version of what we now call a "Program" mode. This was one of the very first cameras to do this; an early "point-and-shoot" camera mode.

    In this application, you will find the Rokkor 45 mm f 1.7 PF lens to work quite well.

    The only criticism I have are the slits on the side of the lens barrel where dust can get inside. This was common in lens designs of this type at that time. Keep it clean and dry, and it will work well for you.

    If you have a SLR camera, you will appreciate the nice, quiet "snick" of the range finder in-the-lens leaf shutter. Focusing in low light through the viewfinder with the coincidence range finder is pretty easy, too.

    Then there is also the point of the Minolta being 2/3's the price of the Canon.
     
  6. tomperson

    tomperson Member

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    Its becoming pretty difficult deciding which one to buy. For every opinion favouring the Hi-Matic, there's another favouring the Canonet.

    Thanks guys for all your help. Any other thoughts will be welcome!

    WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO DIFFICULT? :smile:
     
  7. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    Because they're both great cameras! :D

    My preference is almost always Minolta, but the 9 is not one of my favorites. It has a few weak spots (one already noted) that keep it from being on my favorites list. I've owned a few and always given them away to friends after not using them for long periods of time.

    If it is your only RF, either one will be a wonderful camera and you will appreciate the images taken. They're both good cameras - which is why the decision is so difficult.

    Good luck and let us know what you decide.

    Jeff M
     
  8. weasel

    weasel Member

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    Pick the one that is in the best shape.
     
  9. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I own and use the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 and the Canon QL17 GIII. Both are very good cameras. Here my notes on the Minolta.

    PROS:

    Except for built-in light meter, camera operation is battery independent (my most important pro)
    Low cost
    Has guide number feature that allows the diaphragm and focus mechanism to couple for automatic flash exposure. Feature works well.
    Has hot shoe and PC flash connections
    Aperture priority auto exposure mode works well
    Shutter priority auto exposure mode works well
    Program auto exposure mode works well
    Manual exposure mode works well
    Fast f/1.7 45mm fixed lens
    Auto parallax correction works well
    Has electronic flash sync at all shutter speeds
    Manual focus
    Tripod socket is centrally located on underside of body

    CONS:
    Has long film advance stroke
    Uses obsolete mercury battery for light meter
    Shutter speed and f/stop controls are too close together on lens barrel
    Shutter speed numbers and f/stop numbers are too hard to see on lens barrel
    Difficult to turn light meter off
    Camera lacks style in appearance
    No depth of field scale on lens

    COMMENTS:
    1. Mechanical guide number feature makes this a good camera for flash photography.
    2. Lens hood improves performance and appearance.
    3. Have not yet tried focusing camera in low light situations
     
  10. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Here are my notes on the Canon.

    PROS:
    Except for built-in light meter and flash guide number feature, camera operation is battery independent (my most important pro)
    Low cost
    Small size
    Lightweight
    Quiet operation
    Auto parallax correction
    Hot shoe and PC flash connections
    Aperture priority auto exposure mode works well
    Quick film load feature
    Auto or manual exposure modes work well
    Manual focus
    Fast f/1.7 40mm fixed lens
    Attractive appearance
    Electronic flash sync at all shutter speeds
    Tripod socket centrally located on underside of body
    Has flash guide number feature that allows the diaphragm and focus mechanism to couple for automatic flash exposure


    CONS:
    No depth of field scale on lens (my most important con)
    Foam light seals on inside of camera back deteriorate over time
    Hard to see f/stop and shutter speed numbers on lens barrel
    Shutter speed and f/stop controls are too close together on lens barrel
    Flash guide number feature does not work well
    Flash guide number feature requires batteries to function
    Uses obsolete mercury battery for light meter (PX625 work fine as substitute)
    1-second and ½ second shutter speeds missing
    It is hard to read exposure settings when the camera is mounted on a tall tripod
    Lens hood blocks one corner of the viewfinder
    Built-in light meter does not work in manual exposure mode
    Uneven frame spacing on my two cameras
    Hard to focus in dim light


    COMMENTS:
    1. Best f/stop is f/5.6
    2. The guide number feature is not as good as the Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 GN lens or the guide number feature of the Minolta Hi-Matic 9. It has only 3 guide number settings (metric 14, 20, and 28). The guide number feature does not function unless the camera is loaded with functioning batteries.
    3. Body is too small for my hands when it comes to manual focusing and manual exposure control.
    4. Auto exposure lock (in auto exposure mode) is accomplished by slightly depressing the shutter release.
    5. Nice camera to carry as a backup.
    6. Small size, quiet operation, and non-intimidating appearance make it ideal for clandestine candids and street shooting.
    7. Good travel camera and good scenic camera.
    8. Poor camera for dim-light candid camera.
     
  11. Suzie Place

    Suzie Place Member

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    Manual use of Minolta Hi-Matic 9

    I just got a Minolta Hi-Matic 9. I would like to use it without batteries in manual mode. I plan to shoot full body shots in dim interior light. I have very little understanding of the lens barrel settings. Did I mention that I am a bad and inexperienced photographer? I don't understand where the calibrations begin or end, not to mention their meaning.

    All I want is to manually shoot full bodies in poor interior light. Later, I might want to shoot automobiles in sunlight, or beach shots.

    I love classic cameras! They make me feel like I'm in a James bond film from the 60's. Like "You Only Live Twice". All I need is a Datsun Fairlady and I'll be good to go!

    I also just bought a Minolta SRT 101, but I like the Hi-Matic 9 because it can be used manually.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG. You'll fid a lot of other "bad" and mad photographers here, some badder than others :D

    Post a few images once you've shot a few bodies :smile: please. . . . . .

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2008
  13. Suzie Place

    Suzie Place Member

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    Manual operation of Minolta Hi-Matic 9

    I would like to use my Minolta Hi-Matic 9 without batteries. I want to take full body portraits in poor interior light hand held.

    I don't know where to set the rings on the lens barrel. In fact, I don't really understand what the rings represent. Will it even be possible to take portraits in poor light: i.e., a couple of 60 watt light bulbs?

    The lens barrel is lose, but the shutter functions.

    I also have a Minolta SRT 101. Will it function without batteries?

    I've read the Rangefinder VS SLR argument. How does the debate relate to my specific need for close range portraits in low light?

    I'm in love with the Minolta Hi-Matic 9. But I'm not sure why. But long live classic cameras nevertheless!
     
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  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Hey Suzie,that won't be possible. It uses what's called a programmed autoexposure.

    That means, depending on the film speed, the light meter selects from a preset range of shutter speeds and apertures.

    There is only one way to get around this, and I don't know if it's true with your camera. You sometimes can set the exposure dial to the flash symbol (usually a lightning bolt). That sets the shutter to 1/30 of a second. Then sometimes you choose the aperture you want.

    But that's not always an option with this genre of cameras (1970s rangefinders).

    Otherwise, you'll want yet another camera that allows you to select shutter speed and aperture. The Olympus 35 RC is one of these. And if you go a bit further back in time to the 1950s and 1960s, there probably are a hundred different models (or more) from which to choose.

    And that is how many of us end up with a lot of cameras -- more than we need.
     
  16. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    ...
    I also have a Minolta SRT 101. Will it function without batteries?

    I've read the Rangefinder VS SLR argument. How does the debate relate to my specific need for close range portraits in low light?

    ...

    Hello,

    Yes, the 101 has a mechanical shutter and will work without batteries. You just won't have a light meter. If you don't know how to gage light - especially indoor low level light - I'd suggest you use the meter though.

    I may have missed it, but why don't you want to use a battery? If it's the issue of needing a mercury, you can use a modern battery and adjust the ASA dial to compensate, or buy one of the fancier alternatives instead.

    Regarding the 101's use in low light - depends on the lens. An SLR will not shoot as at slow a shutter speed as an RF typcially, but you can purchase a lens like the Rokkor 58mm, f/1.2 to use with it.

    Jeff M
     
  17. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Let me adjust this what I wrote previously:

    The meter selects from a preset, fixed combination of shutter speeds and apertures. Most of these cameras don't have speeds slower than 1/30 of a second.

    Sometimes, there is only one way to get manual exposure, and I don't know if it's true with your camera. Some cameras have a flash symbol (usually a lightning bolt). That sets the shutter to 1/30 of a second. Then sometimes you choose the aperture you want.

    Alternatively, some cameras have a "B" setting, which keeps the shutter open as long as you hold down the shutter release. You can then guess at exposure. Best used when the camera is on a tripod.

    Not all cameras offer both or either of these options.
     
  18. Suzie Place

    Suzie Place Member

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    Manual Function of RF Minolta Hi-Matic 9 and SLR SRT 101

    I wanted to go battery-less because I assumed that for my specific need, it would be a simple matter to set the focus, diaphragm and shutter. Thus, there would be no great need for automatic features. I thought that light levels are fairly predictable for experienced photographers. Maybe I was presumptuous. Also, I do believe that the self-timer on the Hi-Matic 9 works only in manual mode.

    I must add that my needs have changed. I want to use the self-timer on a tripod for full length portraits in a well-lit room (seven or eight 60 watt bulbs) with good window light.

    I went to butkus.com and found out which ring is the shutter and which ring is the diaphragm. I assume that "diaphragm" means aperture? But I still don't know where the gauge numbers are set from---where they begin or end. For that matter, I don't really understand the settings on the focus ring. I see the lighting bolt on the diaphragm ring, but I don't know where to line it up.

    Do I want depth of field on a portrait shot? I don't think I do.

    I had an SLR 20 years ago and did well. But I don't remember anything.
    What speed film do I want for the full length portraits?

    To recap: I assume that for full length portraits with tripod and decent light, it would be a simple matter to preset the shutter and aperture on the Rangefinder Minolta Hi-Matic 9? If so, what would those settings be?

    Also, if my SLR Minolta SRT 101 does not require a battery, then why is my viewfinder totally dark? There is no film in the camera. I tried loading it but I mangled the film.

    I appreciate your help so far!
     
  19. stevenhigbee

    stevenhigbee Member

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    reasons for dark SRT viewfinder

    The SRT battery only makes the light meter needle move and performs no other function whatsoever.

    If the SRT viewfinder is dark, either you have the mirror locked up, or the mirror is sticking up for some other reason. To manually raise or lower the mirror, twist by 1/4 turn the chrome knob beside the lens on the front of the camera below the speed selector.

    Perhaps a more important question you should contemplate, is what lens you want. It's the lens that makes your pictures, not the camera body.

    I also have both an SRT and a Hi-matic. For on-tripod, posed shots, I would tend more towards the SRT. Rokkor lenses for it are a steal right now on ebay, so get the right one for the perspective and bokeh you want to achieve.
     
  20. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Suzie Place;

    Nice to see you on this forum also.

    If you look at the earlier postings on this topic, you will see that the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 is a fairly versatile camera. Mike Elek has described its fully automatic mode (what is now called a "program mode") when you set both of the lens "rings" to "A." When you move the lens rings to settings other than "A," you put the camera into a "shutter priority mode," an "aperture priority mode," or a fully manual mode. There is a line on the lens barrel you align the selected lens aperture and shutter speed with to choose them.

    If you leave the aperture or diaphragm ring (the one with 1.7, 2.8, 4, 5.6, et cetera) on "A" and set the shutter speed ring to what you want (fast speed for stopping action?), with a battery in the camera, the camera will choose the lens opening for you; "shutter priority mode." If you leave the shutter ring (the one with B, 1, 2. 4, 8, 15, et cetera) on "A" and set the aperture ring to what you want (depth of field perhaps?), with a battery in the camera, the camera will choose the shutter speed for you ("aperture priority mode". If the camera cannot set the speed or the aperture to something workable for the selected setting you have chosen, the light meter display in the viewfinder will tell you. You might need to interpret this display for the subject and the lighting condition to determine validity.

    OK, the last case: With both rings set to a number (not to "A"), you are in full manual mode. You are in charge. If there is a battery in the camera, the light meter needle will tell you if it thinks the exposure is correct when the needle points straight out horizontal toward the block. If you are using an exposure guideline or an external meter, you can choose what you want that matches that lighting exposure value (EV).

    The self timer is the little metal tab or lever that sticks out through a slot in the side of the lens. You move it to "V" to arm and wind up the self timer. The normal shutter release button starts everything just like normal.

    Yeah, my lens sections seem to be a little loose also. If I do not bump them, or push them out of alignment, everything seems to work.

    Well, with these comments and your copy of the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 manual, you may have enough to get started. Put a roll of film into the camera, try out the various modes, and see how you like them.

    On the subject of the dark SR-T 101 view finder, Steve has already suggested looking at the mirror lock up dial, although I do not think that the SR-T 101 has a mirror lock up. I think that was on the SR-T 102. If there is a small round dial on the right side of the lens mount below the shutter speed dial and shutter release button, try rotating that dial from a position slanting up away from the camera front to a position slanting down away from the camera body. If you take off the lens and look inside the camera, normally you should see the front surface of the mirror. If you see the cloth focal plane shutter behind the rectangular mirror box, there may be a problem with the mirror being stuck in the up position. If that is the case, then we might need to arrange for a telephone call to discuss the procedure to try.
     
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  21. Suzie Place

    Suzie Place Member

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    Thanx Everyone

    I shot my first roll on the Minolta Hi-Matic 9. They are great and I am so pleased. I got the Minolta SRT 101 ready to go.
    For some strange reason I've got the whole neighborhood lined up to pose for shots. I guess they could sense something I suppose. Perhaps it was those stainless steel big lens cameras I've been carrying around.

    Another question: I shot the last roll in fair light. Many places I shoot have miserable light. How low can I go? Light that is. Perhaps I should consider Black and White film. How low can I go with that?
     
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  22. pquser

    pquser Member

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    had both...used both...dumped the minolta.....enough said.

    pquser
     
  23. Suzie Place

    Suzie Place Member

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    The Canonet will handle much better and is probably more solidly built. The Hi-Matic 9 will pull in more light. I need the light, so I prefer the Minolta Hi-Matic 9. I use it without a battery.
     
  24. superd

    superd Member

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    Since I have not noticed anyone addressing this:

    Hi-Matic 9 (or 7 for that matter) NEVER had anything like aperture or shutter priority mode. It's either a fully auto or fully manual. Manual for each camera is quite clear how the electronics are set up. The fact that the camera will fire when only one of the two rings are set to "A" means nothing. Misinformation is the worst enemy.

    Secondly, while this may just be my opinion: Canonet is certainly NOT more solidly built than the earlier Hi-Matics (before 7sII), although Hi-Matics do develop loose lens mount over time (perhaps due to bad handling, but have seen too many with it to be happy about it).
     
  25. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have both, both seem to be as well built as any consumer fixed lens rangefinder of the time, my Hi Matic 9 does not have any issues with lose lens. I also have Konica S2 and S3, the S2 does not seem to be as well made as the Canon or Minolta, but the S3 has a better lens but no manual override, you need to fuss the ASA/ISO setting to fool the camera for over and under exposure. The S 2 has a built in lens hood which is a nice feature. The best built consumer grade fixed lens rangfinder is the Konica Hextor, not the AF model, the unmetered Hextar with the F 2.0 lens, I had one years ago and I am sorry I let it go.
     
  26. macfred

    macfred Subscriber

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    I would like to ask, what model you're talking about -
    those old beauties like Konika I, II, and III(a) with their Hexanon lenses ?
    Like them a lot !!