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  1. #1

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

    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. #2
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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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??)
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  3. #3

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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. #4

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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. #5
    Ralph Javins's Avatar
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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.
    Enjoy;

    Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington

    When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
    just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."

  6. #6

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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?

  7. #7
    Chaplain Jeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomperson View Post

    WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO DIFFICULT?
    Because they're both great cameras!

    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. #8

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    Pick the one that is in the best shape.

  9. #9
    narsuitus's Avatar
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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. #10
    narsuitus's Avatar
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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.

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