I recently purchased a Minolta Hi-Matic 11, which was first introduced in 1969. It is engraved with “Super 3 Circuit” on the front which, according to Camerapedia, refers to its three auto modes: fully auto programmed exposure, shutter priority auto control, and auto flash control.
I was drawn to this camera because I’ve been interested in getting a rangefinder for a while. I had never shot with one before. Basically, a rangefinder camera uses an additional viewfinder mounted close to the lens. To focus, you look through the main viewfinder and align two overlapping images. Once the images are aligned, the image should be in focus. This differs from SLR cameras in that you aren’t actually looking through the shooting lens via a mirror. How-to-Geek has a better and more thorough explanation of how this works, if you are interested.
In addition to wanting a rangefinder, I was drawn to this specific camera because I have had a lot of luck with my Minolta XE and felt comfortable going with another Minolta. I was also interested in the Hi-Matic 11 because it does feature limited manual control in the form of a shutter priority option.
It has a rather nice Rokkor 45mm f/1.7 lens.
I found focusing with the rangefinder fairly easy and quicker than with split prism focusing. However, I did have some difficulty seeing the overlapping images in very bright situations and in shooting complex shapes (like trees). Like with split prism focusing, it helps to have a clear, well-defined shape to focus on.
The shutter priority option was an interesting challenge for me. I normally shoot in either aperture priority or full manual. I have rarely shot in shutter priority.
In researching this camera, I came across a couple people complaining that it does not have a way to adjust aperture, which isn’t the case. In shutter priority, the camera adjusts the aperture depending on the shutter speed you select. So you do have some control over the aperture if you’re thoughtful about the shutter speed.
I’ve shot only one roll, FujiColor 200, with it so far. For most of the images, the highlights are a little brighter than I prefer although not completely blown out.
I went out with it on three occasions. For the first two, I concentrated on using shutter priority.
The next time I went out, I decided to try out the full auto mode partly just to try out auto mode but partly because I was eager to finish the roll and see the results. Auto mode had similar issues with bright highlights so that may simply be the way this camera shoots, but I am curious to try a different film and see what happens.
Overall, I enjoyed shooting with the Hi-Matic 11 and look forward to heading out with it again, although now that we’re losing daylight and it’s getting colder, I’m sure I won’t be shooting as often.
I now have eight film cameras:
- Diana F+
- Canon EOS Rebel 2000
- Minolta XE
- Flexaret Automat
- Canon AE-1
- Olympus OM-1
- Pentacon six TL
- Minolta Hi-Matic 11
I don’t foresee adding any more anytime soon. I have a nice variety of systems and getting a rangefinder was the final type on my near-term wish list. I haven’t shot extensively with a few of these and would like to get more comfortable with the ones I have before buying anything new.
That’s not to say I won’t be tempted into an impulse buy, but my plan is to concentrate on learning more about the ones I have.