after researching a bit for a small fixed RF that was manual, and had a fast lens, i decided to go with a camera less often mentioned. the al-s fit my needs and budget.
the first al-s i bought was damaged, sticky shutter, meter dead, and bent filter ring. the girl that sold it to me gave me a partial refund because it was not at all functional. i spent a few days taking it apart to clean the shutter and get it working again.
i made a lot of dumb and impatient mistakes. i cleaned the beamsplitter, bent the shutter cocking mech, scratched the name plate bezel while removing the elements (the filter ring was bent so this was very difficult), got the shutter leaves more stuck while trying to clean them... the list goes on... after bending parts back, giving up and being frustrated that i ruined a photographic tool, and giving it another go. i ended up having to flush the whole shutter assembly many times to actually get it to operate.
i gained a lot of reverence for the design of the camera. the shutter assembly and the way speeds were selected is beautiful. the resistance system that metering employs via the shutter and ap ring was simple and ... beautiful. i began to love this camera more even though i had ****ed it up.
i attempted to fix the rangefinder with a piece of dichroic glass in place of a beamsplitter, it did not work (produced a double image as both sides were reflective). i still intend to order a cheap piece from the surplus shed and the camera will once again be operational (albeit scarred).
with the refund money + $3 i scored another al-s! this one had a functioning meter and shutter but it was sticky. with my learned knowledge i was able to remove the front elements and successfully clean the shutter without marring the cosmetics. part of me feels bad for turning my back on the other one but part of me is happy to have a functioning RF (note: i also have a konica C35 that i like to shoot with but it is fully auto, i like manual better).
today (being the first full day that i have owned the camera) i popped a cheap roll of walgreens 400 (i think it is fuji, the box says made in japan) and tested the camera out. the roll came back great. the meter and RF seem to be on, however the meter ceases to really be effective in low light (the 1/30th 1.8 range) but thats okay, i can guess.
so to end my first post to RFF i am attaching a few images from my first roll with the minoltina. do bare in mind that they are scanned with a flatbed so they are not the sharpest...
if anyone else has experiences to share about the al-s or the minoltina-s please do!
photos linked from flickr, click for other sizes. some photoshop adjustments made...