Friday, April 6, 2012
Minolta Hi-Matic AF2
Type: Auto focus with automatic exposure control
Lens: Minolta 38mm f/2.8 4 elements in 3 groups.
Shutter: Electronic, set automatically from 1/8 to 1/430
Battery: Two AA
I bought this Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 for my parents back in 1981. I wanted them to have an easy to use camera that took quality photos. And this camera met expectations. While cameras with auto exposure had been around for a while by 1981, auto focus was fairly new. I think auto focus was first offered in the Konica C35 AF in 1977. I do remember that at the time I held all the auto exposure/auto focus stuff in low regard. I may have even have held the opinion that it would never catch on with real photographers.
Anyway my parents used this camera up until a few years ago. When I got interesting in film again and saw that they were no longer using it I grabbed it mostly for sentimental reasons. It took a while before I got around to taking some pictures with it.
When I did I was surprised by how much I like the results. The lens is pretty sharp with good contrast. The auto focus works well and the auto exposure is excellent. There is of course the disadvantage that I have no control over any of the settings. So this isn't the camera to use if I want to have some control over things like depth of field. Still it is very good for a quick walk-around camera. Another thing I like about the Minolta AF2 is that it is manual winding instead of the noisy motor-drives that many cameras of this era have. The resulting quietness and the automatic operation of this camera would likely make it a very good street camera.
Barbershop at the old Illinois Central passenger depot in Champaign IL
The Minolta Hi-matic AF2 also has a built-in electronic flash. While that is commonplace today it was somewhat of a new thing in 1981. I personally have no idea of how well it works since I am not much for flash photography.
The camera focuses when you press lightly on the shutter with the auto focus zone marks(at the center of the viewfinder) covering the main area of focus. A symbol lights up to tell you if the focus is close or far. You can pre-set the focus by focusing on your subject and then continuing to press on the shutter while recomposing your picture. Pretty much this operation should be familiar to anyone who has used auto focus on today's cameras.
I am tending to think that the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 may become one of my first choices for a quick walk-around camera. I think this must have been a very popular camera in its day because there are a lot of them for sale on places like Ebay. They are pretty inexpensive. The search I did for completed auctions showed a price range of $2 to $27. I think the low price reflects an abundant supply rather than a lack of respect from photographers. Most of what I have read about the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 has been positive. It reminds me of the case with the Yashica Electro GSN where another excellent camera sells for very little mostly because there are so many of them.
Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 Gallery