Minolta A camera family

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Minolta A camera family

Japanese camera makers had a common path. Before the war, a handful of manufacturers were evolving from wood and brass cameras into klapp models. With the dusk of post-war American occupation, the major makers moved into monocoque German copies, with the smaller manufacturers fading away.

Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko, later known as Minolta, a company that has made optical equipment since 1928, followed the same route, making folding and pop-up models before the war. In 1947 they offered their first monocoque body camera inspired by Leica, the Minolta 35. Meant for the high end of the market, It faced competition from similar models by Canon and Yashica and smaller makers such as  Leotax, Meguro, Nicca, Reise, Tanaka and Yamato, all of which promptly vanished.

Top-end models sold well but with a limited user base. A series of new models, cheaper and simpler, with a unique bulbous design (Bolsey??), was introduced in 1955 for local and export markets.

Minolta A

The Minolta A had three sub-versions, mainly different by shutter system.

  • The first version has a two-blade shutter to 200, made by Konan, a company that was later the base for Minolta sub-mini cameras. The back slides out, whereas in the later models it is hinged.
  • The Second version had an OptiperMX leaf shutter to 300 and a side-mounted lever setting the synch.
  • The last model had a CitizenMX shutter to 300 and an added self-timer. Lens and innards remained unchanged throughout the models.

All models have a long travel winder, guess 300 degrees, and a top-mounted speed selector dial.

The Minolta A models that are now offered for sale are of the second and third crop, while the first is pretty scarce, making it desirable for Minolta collectors.

Minolta A-2

The next model, the Minolta A-2, was introduced a year later. With the same overall body style, it offered slightly higher specs in glass and shutter. The speed selector dial was moved backwards, allowing for a (not much) larger and brighter viewer system. Both models were sold side by side in home and export markets.

Minolta A-2 L

Next came the elusive A-2 L, or LT. Similar to the A-2, but with an interchangeable lens system. Marked A-2, it has a distinct lens mount. It is mentioned as A-2 T and A-2 TL. Further, it is assumed that the TL is the version equipped with a tele lens, but as the name refers to the body, I suspect it is wrong.

While the two Minolta A base models now sell for about $40, this model could fetch about $500 if you find one. Real-time value at camdex.ca

Minolta Super A

In 1957 Minolta introduced the Super A. An upgraded body with interchangeable lenses mounted on a long traveling helical barrel.

A larger body, a brighter viewer and a depth of field calculator dial at the back. It takes some finger gymnastics to remove the lens: set the distance to infinity, press the knob in the middle of the distance dial lever, turn the whole lens base towards the ‘off’ mark, and pull it out. A meter accessory and various lenses with matching viewers completed the offering.

Not to be confused with the A-2 L. Not as scarce as the L, yet it holds a high price at the collectors’ market.

Minolta A-3

Back to the mainstream cameras came the 1959 Minolta A-3, a traditionally styled body rangefinder. Even with the prominent M at the front, it hardly stands out of the plethora of similar rangefinders made then.

Minolta A-5

No A-4, so the A-5 had two versions. A home market with a top speed of 1000, and an export model, say the US, with 500. Style close to the A-3.

List number 5391 5392 5394 5396 5487
Brand Minolta Minolta Minolta Minolta Minolta
Model A A2 A3 A5
shutter 500
Shutter 1000
Super A
Manual Buktus Flynn Buktus Buktus
Value camdex.ca camdex.ca camdex.ca 500: camdex.ca
1000: camdex.ca
Format 35mm
Introduced 1955 1957 1959 1960 1957
Country Japan
Qty made
Initial price 60
Currency USD
Type Rangefinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 590 gr,
Body with lens
630 gr,
Body with lens
680 gr,
Body with lens
700 gr,
Body with lens
810 gr,
Body only
Class average weight 670 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range N/A 10-1600,
memo only
memo only
Kit lens 3.5/45 3.5 or 2.8/45 2.8/45 2.8 or 2.0/45 1.8 or 2.0/50
Lens make Rokkor Rokkor Rokkor TD Rokkor Super Rokkor
Filter size 40.5mm
Lens mount Fixed lens Removable
Mount size N/A Proprietary
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make Optiper MX
Citizen MV
Citizen MV, MVL
Optiper MXV
Optiper MVL Optiper MLT Seikosh MX
Light meter None
Winder Lever
Lock No
Speeds B, 2-200 or 300 B, 1-400 B, 1-500 B, 1-500
B, 1-1000
B, 1-200, or 400
Mirror N/A
Viewer Rangefinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync X/M
Sync speed 60
Timer On some models Yes, mechanical Yes, mechanical No
Battery, original N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See camerlog.com

Pheugo repair notes

Mike Eckman


Minolta A images


Minolta A-2 images


Minolta Super A images

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