Minolta

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Minolta (ミノルタ, minoruta) was a Japanese company that, under one name or another, manufactured cameras from 1929 to 2003. It produced cameras for many film formats, from 16mm film to medium format.

In the 1950s Chiyoda, as it was then called, ventured beyond production of cameras and binoculars into business services, and eventually into photocopiers. Most branches of the company were related to optics: the copier branch, the exposure meter branch, etc. Minolta was succeeded by Konica Minolta after the merger with Konica in 2003. The merged company sold its remaining camera interests to Sony in 2006; the Minolta "A" lens mount lives on in Sony's current line of DSLRs.


Contents

History

Nichidoku period

The company was founded in Osaka on November 11, 1928 by Kazuo Tashima, under the name Nichidoku Shashinki Shōten (日独写真機商店, meaning Japan-German Camera Store).[2] Tashima got support from the German camera technicians Billy Neumann and Willy Heilemann, and the first cameras used lenses and shutters imported from Germany. A plant was built in Mukogawa (武庫川), in the prefecture of Hyōgo (兵庫県).[3] The first camera produced by the company was the Nifcarette released in 1929. It was followed by the Nifcaklapp and Nifcasport folding cameras and by the Nifca-Dox strut-folder, all taking film plates or pack film. At this early period, all the cameras were directly advertised and distributed by the company, which was using a round logo with the letters N, D, PH and Co assembled inside a circle, surely for Nichi Doku Photo Company.[4] In 1930, a strike occurred in the Mukogawa plant, whose director was Willy Heilemann. Heilemann dismissed all the strikers and opposed Tashima, who was favouring more moderate measures.[5]

Molta period

In 1931 the company was transformed into a stock corporation named Molta Gōshi-gaisha (モルタ合資会社), where Molta is an abbreviation of the German "Mechanismus Optik und Linsen von Tashima" ("Mechanism, Optics and Lenses by Tashima").[6] The mention of Germany disappeared from the company name, and Heilemann and Neumann left the company respectively in November 1931 and in 1932, to found their own Neumann & Heilemann company, taking some employees with them.[7] The camera range was accordingly renamed: the Nifcarette became the Sirius Bebe, the Nifcaklapp became the Sirius and the Nifcasport became the Arcadia. The cameras were still distributed by the company itself for a couple of years, and the Sirius and Arcadia were also distributed by Misuzu Shōkai as the Lomax and Eaton. Molta later entered an agreement with the Tokyo-based distributor Asanuma Shōkai, and the Sirius and Arcadia plate cameras were replaced by the Happy (whose brand name was owned by Asanuma). The Asanuma company would distribute the Happy and Minolta cameras and assume all the advertising until 1945.[8]

The name Minolta was applied for and registered in 1933,[9] and it was first used for a camera plainly called Minolta, inspired by the Plaubel Makina. A round MTS logo appeared at the same time, perhaps standing for "Molta Tashima" or "Minolta Tashima". Many sources say that the Minolta name was crafted from "Mechanismus, Instrumente, Optik und Linsen von Tashima" ("Mechanism, Instruments, Optics and Lenses by Tashima") but it is more likely a backronym, inspired by (i) minoru ta (稔る田), "ripening rice-fields" (a strong image of health and fruitfulness in Japan, and in Japanese pronounced identically to "Minolta"), and (ii) "Molta" itself.[10] All the later model names included the word "Minolta", but the company name and brand name would differ until 1962.

In 1934, the company released the Minolta Vest, originally designed by Ehira Nobujirō, with an innovative system of collapsible boxes replacing the bellows. The Semi Minolta was announced at the very end of 1934 and sold from 1935. It was the second or third 4.5×6cm camera made in Japan.[11] In 1936, the company created the subsidiary Nippon Kōgaku Kikai Kenkyūjo (日本光学機械研究所, meaning Japanese Opto-mechanical Research Institute) in the city of Amagasaki (尼崎市), in the Hyōgo prefecture, to manufacture the bakelite cameras such as the Minolta Vest, Minolta Six and Baby Minolta.[12] This subsidiary was soon merged into the main company, and became the Amagasaki plant.[13] In February 1937, the company opened a third plant in the city of Sakai (堺市), in the Osaka prefecture.[14]

From 1937 to 1945

In September 1937, the company became Chiyoda Kōgaku Seikō K.K. (千代田光学精工㈱, meaning Chiyoda Optics and Precision Industry Co., Ltd.), abbreviated "Chiyoko" (千代光) on some logos and publications.[15] (The word Chiyoda was created with the characters 千代, meaning "one thousand generations" and 田, the first character of Tashima's name; it conveys the meaning that Tashima's company will last a thousand generations.)[16] The same year 1937, the company established closer ties with Asanuma Shōkai, which quit distributing other cameras to concentrate exclusively on cameras from the Chiyoda company. This association became so close that many customers believed that the Minolta cameras were made by Asanuma;[17] the agreement lasted until the end of the war, but the two companies retained some commercial contacts for some time afterwards.[18]

The two companies organized a show in December in the Tōkyō Kaikan (東京会館, a reception lounge in Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace) to celebrate the new agreement.[19] Three expensive and advanced new models were displayed at this show: the Auto Semi Minolta was the first serial produced Japanese camera with a combined range and viewfinder, the Auto Press Minolta (an evolution of the Minolta and Auto Minolta Plaubel Makina copy) was the first Japanese camera synchronized for flash and the Minoltaflex was the second Japanese 6×6 TLR.[20] It seems that the taking lens of the Minoltaflex was made by the company, surely in the Sakai plant — these were perhaps the first lenses made by Chiyoda.[21]

The production of Rokkor lenses began in 1940, but they were only for military use.[22] It also produced military ordnance, including hand-held cameras for aerial reconnaissance. The civilian camera production was stopped around 1943.[23] At about that time, the company apparently made one or more prototypes of an interchangeable-lens TLR camera, which was the first 6×6 TLR in the world to have interchangeable lenses.

The three original plants of Mukogawa, Amagasaki, Sakai ended up participating to the war effort.[24] A fourth plant was opened in Komatsu (小松) in 1939, initially specialized in machine tools.[25] In 1942, the Japanese Navy asked the company to open a glass melting facility; the new plant was built in Itami and only operational in 1944.[26] In 1943, the company also took over Fujimoto's plant in the city of Nishinomiya (the former Neumann & Heilemann factory), which became Chiyoda's Nishinomiya (西宮) plant.[27] It perhaps continued the production of Fujimoto leaf shutters for a short time.[28]

The Mukogawa, Amagasaki and Komatsu (小松) plants were destroyed by aerial bombing.[29] The Sakai, Itami and Nishinomiya plants survived the war, as well as a dispersal plant in Honsha (本社).[30]

Early postwar period

The company resumed camera production shortly after the war with the Semi Minolta III. This camera was equipped with a Rokkor 75/3.5 that was the first Japanese coated lens commercially available, and also the first lens made by the company for civilian use.[31] The company also absorbed the optical section of the Toyokawa Navy Arsenal (Aichi prefecture), which became the Toyokawa (豊川) plant in November 1946.[32] The Memo of 1949 was Minoltas first 35mm camera, again a sophisticated bakelite camera which already had a rapid film advance lever.

In 1950, Chiyoda released the Konan-16 Automat, a subminiature camera that used its own 16mm film format. Throughout the 1950s, the range consisted of TLR cameras, 4.5×6 folders, 35mm viewfinder and rangefinder cameras and 16mm subminiature cameras.

Introduction of the SLR

In 1958 Chiyoda produced its first planetarium projection apparatus[33] and in the same year it introduced the SR-2, its first 35mm SLR camera and one of the first to combine several features of the modern SLR like pentaprism viewfinder, instant-return mirror, bayonet mount lenses, lever advance and auto-resetting frame counter. In 1959 Chiyoda started to produce photocomposing machines, copiers, and special projectors. Some of these products are still (2007) produced by its successor Konica Minolta. In 1962 the company name became Minolta Camera K.K. (ミノルタカメラ㈱, meaning Minolta Camera Co.), unified with the brand name. A significant camera launch of that year was the introduction of Minolta's first SLR with built-in CdS meter, the Minolta SR-7. That effort lead to the production of versatile and sensitive CdS-sensor-based light meters, a quite successful chapter in the company's history. Minolta's successor Konica Minolta is still making high precision light measuring instruments. In 1964 the company started that business with a CdS-meter for photography, the View Meter 9. In 1968 the company's meters were renowned so that American Astronauts used the special Minolta Space Meter as measuring accessory for the cameras they used in the Apollo spaceships and on the Moon. Further light and colour meters were developed later. The Auto-Meter color measuring instruments and the Flash Meter series were renowned among photography professionals. The Minolta SR-T series of SLR cameras introduced in 1966 was a big success and the Minolta SR-T 101 was the world's best selling camera of its type in its time.source needed

Cooperation with Leitz

Minolta signed a cooperation agreement with Leitz in June 1972.[34] The first products resulting from this appeared in 1974: the Minolta XE SLR and the Leica CL rangefinder camera (sold in Japan as the Leitz Minolta CL). The XE was the basis for the 1977 Leica R3. The final result of the association with Leitz was the Minolta XD-11 (the same as XD-7, and the basis of the Leica R4). It was the first 35mm SLR camera combining both aperture priority and shutter priority automatic exposure modes. Many Rokkor lenses of the new MD series, usable in both automatic modes, were produced for this camera.

In 1981, Minolta launched the CLE, a rangefinder camera with M-mount, the first one to have (aperture-priority) automatic exposure. The metering system was of the "TTL OTF" type (through the lens, reflected off the film), first introduced by Olympus in 1975 on the OM-2 SLR camera. The CLE was also the first Minolta camera to have TTL flash automation, together with the X-700 SLR introduced the same year. After the heady days of the XD/XE series, the X-700 marked a definite return to the amateur-level market. While the new camera had TTL flash, it was equipped with only a 1/60s maximum flash synch and an ordinary cloth horizontal-travel shutter, and the interior mechanisms utilized more cost-saving plastics. With a large investment in a new autofocus SLR design, Minolta decided to withdraw from building professional-level manual-focus SLR cameras.

Further cooperation occured in 1989, when Minolta made the Leica AF-C1.

In 1982 the company's founder Kazuo Tashima stepped down as president of the company, and his son Hideo Tashima became his successor. Kazuo Tashima stayed in the company as chairman of the board until his death in 1985, at the age of 85.

The Nishinomiya plant, which hosted research and development activities as well as a service center, was closed in April 1985.[35]

Automation

The Minolta 7000 AF SLR camera was introduced in 1985. It was the world's first "in-body" autofocus SLR. Before this time manufacturers had dabbled with lenses that focused themselves but that fitted their existing, manual-focus SLR cameras. Unlike other manufacturers, Minolta invested much of its resources in the new autofocus cameras, at the expense of its manual focus SLRs, which were repositioned as amateur level cameras. It was the first manufacturer to put the mechanism and electronics for the autofocus system into its SLR camera bodies and so the modern SLR was born.[36] The rest of the camera had an advanced design, with liquid crystal screen display, built-in film winder, and a body built largely of plastics.

For five years beginning in 1985, Minolta was the biggest seller of SLR cameras in the worldsource needed, because of the 7000 and the later Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum system. However Minolta did not hang on to its technological lead for long as Canon and Nikon both introduced new autofocus designs of their own, with a wide array of new lenses and professional bodies. Minolta in turn tended to concentrate on the affordable end of the SLR market, and sought revolutionary rather than evolutionary changes. Among camera aficionados, Minolta was known both for its very high performance-to-price ratio and its constantly changing array of new models.

After popularizing the plastic-bodied, push-button-controlled SLR with the 7000, and a relatively unsuccessful line of complex 35mm SLRs with a electronic 'expansion card' feature, the company moved towards a more traditional user interface in the mid-90s with the 600si Classic. This interface was carried forward into its popular pro-level Minolta Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum 9 and later, the Maxxum 7. Unfortunately for Minolta, its autofocus design was found to infringe on the patents of Honeywell, a U.S. corporation. After protracted litigation, Minolta in 1991 was ordered to pay Honeywell damages, penalties, trial costs and other expenses in a final amount of 127.6 million dollars.

Like other camera manufacturers, Minolta faced difficulties in building low-priced, consumer level cameras, though its emphasis on this sector of the market may have affected the company more than some other brands. The company was one of the first to offshore production of its cameras from Japan to Malaysia, China, and other countries offering less expensive labor costs. Minolta occasionally redesigned parts in existing models with less expensive materials, or introduced new, less expensive designs, all in an effort to cut costs. In 1996 Minolta became engaged in the attempt to establish a small versatile modern user-friendly film cartidge type to replace 35mm film. Like some other camera and film makers it launched several fully automatic cameras for the new Advanced Photo System, added APS film adapters to its film scanners and even created its new autofocus SLR camera system for APS film, with the new Minolta V mount.

The company began offering consumer-level digital cameras in the late 1990s. With the DiMage X, Minolta solved the problem of the protruding optical zoom lens on pocket digicams. Its folded lens design allows an optical zoom lens to be totally contained within the body of the camera. This makes the cameras that use this design truly pocketable, faster to turn on and better protected from knocks and damage.

Minolta released two too expensive but innovative DSLRs for commercial markets (not professional photographers) before other makers:

1995 Minolta Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum RD-175 / Agfa ActionCam (Minolta AF mount)
1999 Minolta Vectis RD-3000 (Minolta V mount)

They did not sell too well and did not lead nor define the market for digital SLRs, but have maintained a cult status among some Minolta collectors.


As a result, Minolta has been criticized for its slowness to bring out modern, competitive digital SLR cameras for the popular SLR photography market, compatible with the many popular Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum-mount lenses in use. In late November 2004, the new Konica Minolta company finally released the much anticipated Konica Minolta Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum 7D Digital SLR and the innovation continued. What sets the 7D DSLR apart from the competition is the built-in image stabilization which works with any electronic autofocus lens attached to the camera body.

Konica Minolta: too little, too late...

In October 2003 Minolta merged with Konica to form Konica Minolta. All new cameras after that time were badged as Konica Minolta, although, with reference to camera designs, Minolta remained the dominant partner.

As of spring 2006, Konica Minolta has withdrawn from the camera business[37] entirely. The digital camera manufacturing assets have been acquired by Sony, but film camera production is ceasing, and the film and mini-lab divisions are set to close within a year.

Konica Minolta now is solely a business servicer with no photo division.

Digital

DSLR

  • Minolta RD models
  • RD-175 using the standard Minolta A-mount autofocus lenses for Minolta's 35mm AF SLRs
  • Dimâge RD-3000 using the Minolta V-mount lenses of the Vectis APS SLRs S-1 and S-100

newer cameras, see Konica Minolta (Dynax/Maxxum 5D and Dynax/Maxxum 7D)

interchangeable lens/sensor module

  • Minolta Dimâge EX body equipped with different lens/sensor modules:
    • Minolta Dimâge EX Wide
    • Minolta Dimâge EX Zoom

Fixed Lens

Minolta and Konica Minolta used the DiMAGE name-plate on nearly all its original fixed lens digital cameras. For some early Minolta digicams the badge Dimâge was used instead. All have auto-focus and nearly all a zoom lens. Newer digital cameras, especially DiMAGE Z-series, G-Series, DG-Series, further E-, X- and A-models, see Konica Minolta.

  • Minolta DiMAGE X-Series:
    • Minolta DiMAGE X
    • Minolta DiMAGE Xi
    • Minolta DiMAGE Xt
    • Minolta DiMAGE Xt Biz
    • Minolta DiMAGE X20

Film (common format)

Autofocus SLR (35mm)

The Minolta Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum (Alpha in Japan and China, Maxxum in the Americas, Dynax in Europe, Africa and Asia) is a line of 35mm film SLR cameras built from 1985 to 2000 - some "new old stock" may still be available. The lenses and flash accessories for these are not compatible with the previous Minolta SR, SR T, and X-series of manual focus 35mm film SLR cameras, lenses and flashes. The last models appeared badged as "Minolta" despite of the merger with Konica in 2003.

Many of these models are alternatively labeled Alpha, Dynax or Maxxum and only a few model numbers are location-specific where an equivalent model number in another area of distribution uses another model number:

Minolta or
 
Minolta Dynax
(Europe,Africa,Asia)
Minolta Maxxum
(America)
Minolta Alpha
(Japan,China)
launch date
5000 AF 5000 5000 1986
7000 AF 7000 7000 1985
9000 AF 9000 9000 1985
3000i 3000i 3700i 1989
5000i 5000i 5700i 1989
7000i 7000i 7700i 1988
8000i 8000i 8700i 1990
2xi 1992
3xi 1991
SPxi 1992
5xi 1992
7xi 1991
9xi 1992
300si 300si N / A 1995
RZ 300si
300si QD RZ 330si
N / A 350si α-101si
Panorama Elite
303si QTsi α-360si 1999
404si STsi α Sweet S 1999
500si 400si N / A 1993
RZ 400si
N / A RZ 430si
450si α-303si
500si Super 500si N / A 1995
RZ 530si
N / A 550si α-303si Super
N / A HTsi N / A 1998
505si HTsi Plus
505si Super N / A
505si Super QD XTsi α Sweet
600si N / A 1993
650si 650si Date α-507si 1995
700si α-707si 1993
800si α-807si 1997
3L 3 N / A 2003
GT
3 4 α-Sweet II L 2002
4 α-3
5 5 α-Sweet II 2001
α-5
7 7 α-7 2000
7 Limited N / A α-7 Limited 2001
9 9 α-9 1998
9Ti 9Ti α-9Ti 1999
30 50 α-50 2004
40
60 70 α-70 2004

If anyone knows of additional models and or knows which of these are equivalent across the Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum divide, please pitch in! Note that early models were also named "AF".

Manual focus SLR (35mm)

Japan USA & Canada Europe & 3rd area1) Year2)
SR-2 1958
SR-1 1959
SR-3 1960
SR-7 1962
n/a ER3) ER3) 1963
SR-T 101 1966
SR-1s 1967
SR-M 1970
n/a SR-T 100 SR-T 100 1971
SR-T Super SR-T 102 SR-T 303 1973
X-1 XK XM 1973
n/a SR-T SC n/a 1973
n/a SR-T MC SR-T MC 1973
XE XE-7 XE-1 1974
n/a SR-T 200 SR-T 100b 1975
SR 101 SR-T 201 SR-T 101b 1975
SR 505 SR-T 202 SR-T 303b 1975
n/a XE-5 XE-5 1975
X-1 Motor XK Motor XM Motor 1976
XEb n/a 1976
SRT 100X SR-T 200 SRT 100X 1977
n/a SR-T MC-II SR-T MC-II 1977
n/a SRT SC-II n/a 1977
Japan USA & Canada Europe & 3rd area1) Year2)
XD XD11 XD7 1977
XG-E XG 7 XG 2 1977
XD-s n/a 1979
n/a XG 1 XG 1 1979
n/a XG-SE XG-SE 1979
XG-S XG 9 XG 9 1979
n/a XD5 XD5 1979
X-7 n/a n/a 1980
n/a XG-M XG-M 1981
X-700 X-700 X-700 1981
X-70 (XG-M) (XG-M) 1982
n/a XG-A n/a 1982
X-7 X-7 X-7 1982
X-500 X-570 X-500 1983
X-600 n/a 1983
n/a X-370 X-300 1984
n/a X-7A n/a 1985
n/a X-9 n/a 1990
 ? X-370N X-300s 1990
X-370s X-370s X-370s 1995

1) 3rd area: Minolta used this expression to indicate all other export markets than north America and Europe.
2) Taken from Minolta Fifty Years Chronicle (Minolta, November 1978) and "70 Jahre Minolta Kameratechnik" (Scheibel, 1999, ISBN 3-89506-191-3).
3) The Minolta ER was a fixed lens SLR and thus not part of the Minolta SR system.

Rangefinder, interchangeable lens (35mm)

Rangefinder, fixed lens (35mm)

Rangefinder, fixed lens (Rapid film)

Viewfinder (35mm)

autofocus

Riva/Freedom/Zoom series other
  • Minolta Freedom Dual 60
  • Minolta Freedom 200
  • Minolta Freedom Vista
  • Minolta Riva 100 AF
  • Minolta Riva AF 35 (Freedom AF 35, Mac 35)
  • Minolta Riva AF 35c
  • Minolta Riva AF 35 EX
  • Minolta Riva AF 45 / Freedom Action Zoom II / Freedom Family Zoom
  • Minolta Riva Mini (Freedom Escort)
  • Minolta Riva Panorama (P's)
  • Minolta Riva Twin 28 (Freedom Dual C)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom AF5 (Freedom Family Zoom II / Freedom Action Zoom 60)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom Pico (Freedom Action Zoom / Autodate Zoom)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 70 (Freedom Sightseer Zoom / Silver Streak Zoom)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 70c (Freedom Zoom Explorer 70c, Apex 70)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 70W (Freedom Zoom Explorer 70W, Capios 25)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 70EX (Freedom Zoom Explorer 70EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 75w (Freedom Zoom Explorer EX, Capios 75)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 90c (Freedom Action Zoom 90c / Freedom Zoom Traveller / Apex 90)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 90w (Freedom Action Zoom 90w / Freedom Zoom Traveller)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 90EX (Freedom Action Zoom 90EX / Freedom Zoom Traveller / Apex ZF900)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 105 (Freedom Zoom Orion)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 105i (Freedom Zoom 105i, Apex 105)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 105EX (Freedom Zoom 105EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 110EX (Freedom Zoom 110EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 115EX (Freedom Zoom 115, Capios 115)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 115 (Freedom Zoom 115EX, Capios 115S)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 125EX (Freedom Zoom 125EX, Capios 125)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 125 (Freedom Zoom 125, Capios 125S)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 130EX (Freedom Zoom 130EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 130 (Freedom Zoom 130, Capios 130S)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 135EX (Freedom Zoom 135EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 140EX (Freedom Zoom 140EX, Capios 140)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 140 (Freedom Zoom 140, Capios 140A)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 150EX (Freedom Zoom 150EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 150 (Freedom Zoom 150, Capios 150S)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 160EX (Freedom Zoom 160EX)
  • Minolta Riva Zoom 160 (Freedom Zoom 160, Capios 160A)
  • Minolta Supreme Freedom Zoom EX


  • Minolta Zoom 60
  • Minolta Zoom 70
  • Minolta Zoom 80
  • Minolta Zoom 110
  • Minolta Zoom 160c



For newer Minolta zoom cameras, see Konica Minolta

Viewfinder (Kodapak film)


Smaller film formats

Autofocus SLR (APS film)

Manual focus SLR (16mm)

  • Minolta Auto-Zoom-X

Manual focus SLR (pocket film)

compact (APS)


subminiature (16mm)


pocket/compact (pocket film)


compact (Disc film)


Larger film formats (rollfilm)

SLR 6×6 (120 film)

TLR 6×6 (120 film)


  • Minolta Autocord
  • Minolta Autocord CDS I
  • Minolta Autocord CDS II
  • Minolta Autocord CDS III
  • Minolta Autocord I
  • Minolta Autocord II
  • Minolta Autocord III
  • Minolta Autocord L
  • Minolta Autocord MXS
  • Minolta Autocord MXV
  • Minolta Autocord RA
  • Minolta Autocord RB
  • Minolta Autocord RG
  • Minolta Autocord RI

TLR 4×4 (127 film)

collapsible 6×6 (120 film)

collapsible 4×6.5 (127 film)

folding 4.5×6 (120 film)

images by hbpartner (Image rights)


folding 4×6.5 (127 film)



Larger film formats (plates or sheet film)

folding bed (6.5×9)

strut folding (6.5×9)

collapsible (instant film)


Cine cameras (Super8 and double 8mm)

Shutters

Lenses


Bellows

  • Minolta Auto Bellows 1
  • Minolta Auto Bellows II
  • Minolta Auto Bellows III
  • Minolta Bellows II
  • Minolta Bellows III
  • Minolta Bellows IV
  • Minolta Compact Bellows

Meters

  • Color Meter (1970)
  • Color Meter II (1980)
  • Color Meter III F (1992)
  • Auto-Spot (1968)
  • Auto-Spot II (1976)
  • Auto-Spot II digital

Binoculars

Full-size binoculars

  • Standard 7x35
  • Standard 7x35 Wide
  • Standard EZ 7x50 Wide (central focusing)
  • Standard 7-15x35 (central focusing, multi-coated)
  • Standard 10x50
  • Classic II 7x35 Wide (central focusing, multi-coated, Porro-prism)
  • Classic II 7x50
  • Classic II 8x32
  • Classic II 8x40 Wide
  • Classic II 10x50 Wide
  • Classic II 7-15x35
  • Classic II 8-20x50


Activa series binoculars

  • Activa 7x35 Wide (multi-coated, Porro prism, weatherproof)
  • Activa 7x50 (multi-coated, Porro prism, weatherproof)
  • Activa 8x25 (central focusing, multi-coated, roof prism, waterproof)
  • Activa 8x40 (central focusing, multi-coated, BaK-4 Porro-prism, weatherproof)
  • Activa 8-20x50 (central focusing, multi-coated, BaK-4 Porro-prism)
  • Activa 10x50
  • Activa 12x50

The Minolta Activa series binoculars are nitrogen-filled (fogproof) as well as weatherproof or waterproof.

Mariner series binoculars

  • Mariner 8x32
  • Mariner 10x40
  • Mariner Zoom 8-16x32 zoom

The Mariner series offered a rugged construction typical of marine binoculars. Interestingly, Minolta did not offer a Mariner version of their 7x50 binoculars, which is considered a standard by sailing enthusiasts.

Weathermatic series binoculars

  • Weathermatic Compact 10x23 (central focusing, BaK-4 Porro-prism, waterproof)

Pocket binoculars

  • Pocket 6x16
  • Pocket 8x20
  • Pocket 8x24 wide
  • Pocket 8x30
  • Pocket Zoom 6-12x24
  • Pocket 10x25 Wide (central focusing, roof prism, multi-coated)

Compact binoculars

  • Compact 6x20
  • Compact 7x21 (central focusing, multi-coated)
  • Compact 8x20
  • Compact 8x24 (central focusing, multi-coated)
  • Compact 10x20
  • Compact 10x23 (central focusing

Ultra compact series binoculars

  • Ultra Compact 6x16
  • Ultra Compact 8x18

Accessories

Notable patents and trademark registrations

  • Patent no.S8-3457 for a metal focal-plane shutter, filed in November 1932 and granted in 1933, drawn by Ehira Nobujirō (founder of Ehira)[38]
  • Trademark publication for the name "MINOLTA" (ミノルタ). The trademark was applied for (商標出現) on 18 January 1933 (no.S08-000723), published (商標広告) on 1 June 1933 (no.S08-004434) and registered (商標登録) on 20 September 1933 (no.0246579). Available in the IPDL trademark database.

Notes

  1. Logo found on the ground glass holder of the original Minolta and on accessory cases.
  2. Date: Tashima, Watakushi no rirekisho, quoted in Tanimura, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12. The address of the company in the early 1930s was Ōsaka-shi Higashi-ku Kita-kyūtarō-machi 3-chōme 15-banchi Mishina Building (大阪市東区北久太郎町三丁目十五番地三品ビルヂング内). Sources: advertisements dated 1930 to 1932 reproduced in Hagiya, p.9 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, trademark publication (商標広告) no.S08-004434 for the name "MINOLTA" (ミノルタ), dated 1933, available in the IPDL trademark database, and patent for the Crown E shutter dated 1934, reproduced in Tanimura, pp.5–7 of Camera Collectors' News no.131, and on p.19 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  3. Awano, p.6 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  4. Directly advertised and distributed by the company: advertisements dated 1930 and 1931 reproduced in Hagiya, p.9 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, and in Awano, p.6 of the same magazine, were placed by Nichidoku Shashinki Shōten and have the Nichidoku logo, and all the brand names were clearly owned by the company.
  5. Kikan Classic Camera 14, p.14.
  6. Taniguchi, p.276 of Shashin Kōgyō no.77 (article also reproduced in Tanimura, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.116), Francesch, p.19.
  7. Tashima, Watakushi no rirekisho, quoted in Andō, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.127. The dates are repeated in Tanimura, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, Awano, p.6 of the same magazine.
  8. All the advertisements for the Minolta or Happy cameras from the mid-1930s to 1945 were placed by Asanuma Shōkai.
  9. Trademark registration (商標登録) no.246579, for the name "MINOLTA" (ミノルタ), in the IPDL trademark database.
  10. The etymology minoru ta (稔る田) is mentioned in Taniguchi, p.276 of Shashin Kōgyō no.77 (article also reproduced in Tanimura, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.116). this Japanese page wonders if minoru ta was adapter from moru ta written 盛る田.
  11. The Semi Prince came first and the Semi Proud and Semi Minolta closely followed.
  12. Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, Francesch, p.23.
  13. Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, Francesch, p.23. The address is given as Amagasaki-shi Nanba (尼ヶ崎市難波) by the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") dated April 1943.
  14. Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, Francesch, p.25.
  15. Date: Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, Francesch, p.25.
  16. Kikan Classic Camera 14, p.15. (Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, says that the name is unexplained.)
  17. Taniguchi, p.276 of Shashin Kōgyō no.77 (document also reproduced in Tanimura, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.116), and Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  18. See for example the 1952 advertisement by Asanuma Shōkai for the Minolta Semi P reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.194.
  19. Taniguchi, p.276 of Shashin Kōgyō no.77 (document also reproduced in Tanimura, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.116), and Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12 (specifying that the show was inaugurated on December 12, 1937). Tashima Gizō says November in the interview by Saeki on p.77 of the same magazine, certainly by mistake.
  20. The first Japanese 6×6 TLR was the Prince Flex.
  21. Kikan Classic Camera 14, p.38, says that the Minolta Anastigmat Nippon viewing lens of the Minoltaflex (I) was made by Chiyoda. The same source says on p.15 that the Sakai plant produced lenses from 1937, and this is also found in Francesch, p.25.
  22. Date: Ema, p.90 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  23. Tanimura, p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12 (about the Semi Minolta).
  24. Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  25. Francesch, p.26.
  26. Francesch, p.27, says July 1942 and January 1944; Ema, p.93 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, says January 1942 and June 1944.
  27. Tanimura, p.99 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  28. The Rapidex shutter, developed by Fujimoto, is attributed to Chiyoda in the 1943 government inquiry, perhaps for that reason. Source: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-P-27.
  29. Francesch, p.27, Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  30. Sakai, Itami, Honsha: Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12. Sakai, Itami, Nishinomiya: Francesch, p.27. This is confirmed for Nishinomiya by Tanimura, p.99 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  31. According to this page of the Konica Minolta official website.
  32. Optical section of the Toyokawa Navy Arsenal: Awano, p.7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12. Date: Francesch, p.29.
  33. Corporate profile of Konica Minolta Planetarium Co., Ltd. The first planetarium apparatus made in Japan was made by Gotō Kōgaku: see the history page of Goto Inc.
  34. Date: Francesch, p.179.
  35. Tanimura, p.99 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  36. Konica had been the first to put autofocus into a 35mm camera, but it was a fixed lens "compact" camera; and Polaroid had been the first to put autofocus into an SLR camera, but it neither was 35mm nor was an interchangeable lens design.
  37. Konica Minolta announces withdrawal from the camera business
  38. Nakagawa, p.120 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.

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