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Minolta Autocord - seeking buyers advice & recommendations
Old 05-01-2006   #1
RicardoD
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Minolta Autocord - seeking buyers advice & recommendations

I am looking to get a TLR camera and have identified the Minolta Autocord as a good budget TLR to go after. I have about $150 budget at the moment.

I am looking for a good shooter TLR to take portraits of my kids. From some google searches I see there were many different models over the years. Is one particular model favored over the others? How much does a CLA run on a TLR camera? Some of these that I have seen ebay make me nervous. Shutter timing seems to be the issue on these cameras. I have seen recommendations for the model with the Citizen shutter but not sure why. How useful are the models with the built in meter? Any buying advice or tips would be appreciated.
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Old 05-01-2006   #2
marcus
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The favored model is the latest with the CDS meter. That one is generally out of financial bounds. Otherwise any of them really. Don't count on the selenium metered models still having an accurate, linear meter, and if it does it will be a bonus. Not worth paying extra for at its best, get a handheld. The on board meter has a difficult scale to read. I don't think shutter difference is really going to be as much of a factor as much as the recentness of the last CLA. Some shutters are marked for 1/400 rather than 1/500. 1/500 is typically optimistic anyhow.You should be able to find one that has been worked on if you are patient. Most important is one that still has its focus lever, and that the focus is smooth. The lever breaks in a difficult to repair way. Try to find one that is offered with a lens hood and other lens accessories, you'll save up front. In short your best bet is to find tany autocord that has been recently fully serviced, and is in the best condition. CLA's are in the $120 range.
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Old 05-01-2006   #3
Wayne R. Scott
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My recomendation for Minolta Autocord CLA is Karl Bryan in Oregon. I sent him one of my Autocords, he received it on a Sat., repaired it and it was in the mail on Monday.


kabkos2 <[email protected]>

This is a quote from an e-mail to me from Karl:

My typical rate for other types of Autocord repair are: $55 for shutter CLA, add $25 for a helix relube, add $25 for a focus lever repair. If you only want a helix relube the cost is $60, if you only want a focus lever repair the cost is $60 (the reason for the higher cost is I still have to remove the shutter to access the helix or the focus lever so if you are having a shutter CLA the added time for the helix or focus lever is minimal). I can install new leatherette for $40.


Wayne
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Old 05-01-2006   #4
bmattock
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Although your choice of TLR is a good one - because it is a very nice camera; you might want to think twice about shooting photos of your kids with it - unless they're about 30 - or sedated.

The little anklebiters just move too fast. Don't forget the viewfinder for the TLR is reversed from what you're used to seeing - right-side up, but left-to-right is backwards. Hard to keep straight when you're tracking curtain-climbers.

Ask Joe about the TLR - he got wacked out of his head and had to sell his. It was all a bit much for our hero.

But if you are determined, the Autocord and the Yashica's are fine TLR's.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
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Old 05-01-2006   #5
marcus
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I wasn't gonna say it, but Bill jumped in with it- TLR is less than ideal for active brats. But lest I complain too loud, it's miles and miles and miles better than my digital. My 31/2 year old is around the block before that little electronic shutter clicks. I'm lucky to have twenty percent keepers on expression/eye closure alone.I've found that SLR works best as far as in-focus keepers. That said, TLR is very nice for up close if they will stay still. It adds a different perspective on up close and personal, without making them stop and say "cheez" as they do when your in their face with an eye level camera.
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Old 05-01-2006   #6
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I've had an Autocord Model I for some time now, and it's served me very well. I had it CLA'd by Mark Hama in Atlanta, Georgia. Did a great job--ran in the $120 range if I remember correctly--it was 5 years ago and hasn't had a hiccup since. All the Minolta's have a great lens--the later ones have quite bright screens relative to other cameras of the period (my Autocord I is nice and bright). A great choice for a TLR. You should be able to find one in your budget. Good luck!

A good reference site: http://www.wctatel.net/web/crye/a-cord.htm


Barry
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Old 05-01-2006   #7
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Most of what every one else said is right on! TLRs are not easy for capturing active kids. The Autocord is a bit better because of the location of the focusing lever, but still, the flipped image on the ground glass and the not so easy to focus ground glass will make you miss lots of 'moments'. I use an Autocord but I found a near mint one $200, spend $130 on CLA and another $130 on a maxwell focusing screen (all this a few years back). It is great for still photos and for when the kids are not moving (watchin TV, reading etc). When they are running outside I put the TLR away. As a side note: Medium format 645 SLR gear is rather cheap now days. I see mamiyas and bronicas going for sub $300 daily on evil bay.
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Old 05-01-2006   #8
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One more thing. How do you plan to get prints out of your 120 film? The medium format gear has dropped in price. However, the cost and/or effort to get the image on paper, after the shoot is made, may be more than wish.
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Old 05-01-2006   #9
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Last note, I promise! The shooting lens is the same in all models. The citizen shutter is easier to find parts for because it is a shutter found in several cameras (35mm, too!). Take the advice, already given, to heart: Buy the one in the best condition.
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Old 05-01-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnk512
However, the cost and/or effort to get the image on paper, after the shoot is made, may be more than wish.
That's what turned me away. I considered scanning, but I'd have to buy a scanner and the time involved with scanning MF... time is too precious a thing for me, as an amateur, to waste waiting for my confuser to finish digitizing.
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Old 05-01-2006   #11
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As usual this forum has not only answered my direct questions but considered some of the larger issues. Perhaps it is best to wait until my children are a bit older and my threats of severe punishment upon moving will actually be listened to. I have my digital SLR to blast away in the meantime.

There is also the what to do with the negatives issue in which case I would have to invest in a decent flat bed scanner, that affordable epson I believe.

I think I just need to let my "toy" money accrue paypal interest and save up for a Voigtlander Bessa. In the meantime I need to keep shooting. Thanks everyone!
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Old 05-02-2006   #12
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Ricardo -- I'm not necessarily convinced that it's any easier trying to focus a rangefinder camera on fast-moving kids than a TLR. Using the hyperfocal technique with both types of cameras might be the best approach. Yes, the reversed image in the viewfinder can prove disorienting, but you do get used to it. I'd also mention that the waist-level finder is actually helpful in getting down more to the kids' level.

Autocords are great, but do heed the advice given above about making sure the focusing lever is not stiff. Even if it's not in danger of getting snapped off, if it's slow it just makes using the camera that much more difficult.
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Old 05-02-2006   #13
Wayne R. Scott
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Ricardo,

There is a reason so many tlr cameras were sold once upon a time. If you want to get quality photos of active kids with a tlr you will need to employ the proper techniques. Simply use the open frame sports finder in the metal hood. This allows you to use both eyes open and follow the action with an upright and non-reversed image of the scene. Pre-focus using hyperfocal distance scale. For example with asa 400 speed film outdoors you can easily use an f16 setting. When focused at 8 feet everything from 6 feet to 12 feet will be in acceptable focus. Just leave the focus there and follow your kids around the yard or play ground and pretend you are shooting skeet with your tlr. Just remember to allow a little head room above them in your compositions.

Trying to use the ground glass on a tlr to follow active kids is like loading deer slugs in your .12 ga skeet gun instead of No. 9 shot and trying to get an acceptable score on the skeet range. (it probably ain't gonna happen). Then denouncing the .12 ga as unacceptable for skeet shooting is similar to denouncing a tlr as an unacceptable camera when in fact it is the technique that is at fault and not the equipment.

This is just another of my 2 cent opinions which are based on my signature.

Wayne
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