Caught between the ages are a strange array of cameras that resemble rangefinders, but are proto-point-and-shooters. With manual film advance and rewind, a limited ISO range, cadmium sulphide light meters and a rangefinder aesthetic these generous sized beasts possess a certain charm. Add to that mix some of the earliest attempts at auto focus, the increased used of plastic, and you have a rather distinct clutch of cameras that represent a transition zone in the design and manufacture of cameras.
I have two cameras from this era; a Yashica Auto Focus and a Minolta Hi-Matic AF2. Introduced in 1979, the Yashica is the earlier of the two, and the uglier yet more intriguing camera. With a Neanderthal like brow, and hints of the classic Electro 35 rangefinder cameras, it has an unusual feature to be found above the focus lock. A red pointer settles on one of four zone focus style icons that tell you where the camera focused after you have taken the photograph.
The Hi-Matic AF2, carrying on the name of Minolta’s rangefinder camera series (though not for much longer), is the prettier of the two, but does feel more plastic fantastic than the Yashica. It has a brighter, bigger viewfinder though, and also an LED indicator that shows you whether the camera is focusing close or at distance.
Well, the light seals on both cameras was a sticky mess, so I have replaced them on both. The Yashica was the easiest to do. The Minolta hinged back is now a rather snug fit, but surely now it cannot leak any light. There will be proof soon enough, as both are loaded with Lomography ISO 400 colour negative film.
Every camera needs a purpose, and this quaint pair will be snapping rural bus shelters. The results will be with me in due course.