A peculiar incident on a Minolta 7s camera – Part 2

Here we continue to talk about the restoration of this peculiar Minolta Hi-Matic 7s that found me on its own.  If you haven’t read part 1, please read it first here.  Then you’ll understand why it is important for me to restore this camera.

3. Light seal

It is typical for old cameras light seal foam has decomposed in the camera or became unusable condition. This part is easy to fix. I just took some time to remove the old seal using lighter fluid and toothpicks. And sticking new ones on. I cut those light seal scraps myself. A guy said he used two hours to measure the length. I don’t know why it takes so long for him as it only took me less than twenty minutes to measure, cut and stick onto it.

The light seal is made of black cloth sticking onto the camera film compartment.

4. Cosmetics

This is the final touch-up of the exterior of camera. Just carefully clean the camera surface and use a bit of art skills to paint the the camera. Luckily the leather looks fine and no need to replace. This is an easy fix. 

Before (bottom) and after (top/left)



It looks refreshing after restoration. I finished this at 2am last night. I felt relieved after restoring this. Can’t wait to shoot a new roll with it and to understand what is the calling for me to restore this camera. I’ll post an update on pictures I shot with this Minolta Hi-Matic 7s and the new thoughts about this camera.

After this, I think I should restore my Canonet QL17 . It seems to have opened a new door for me to restore more old cameras.

Feel free to leave any comments and let me know your thoughts.


Comparison (Top is after; bottom is before):

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Reference to Part 1: https://instaxmagic.com/2020/02/09/a-strange-incident-regarding-a-minolta-7s-camera-part-1/

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A peculiar incident on a Minolta 7s camera – Part 1

Every vintage camera begins with a story. Recently I encountered one. A vintage camera has come all the way to visit me.

A few weeks ago I was searching for a rangefinder film camera for my friend. I visited several camera shops. I saw a Minolta Hi-Matic 7s that looks quite good in Dot-Well camera shop. But I haven’t purchased it as it appeared to be overpriced.

Info for Minolta Hi-Matic 7s: http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Minolta_Hi-Matic_7s

Two days later, my primary English teacher texted me and said she has found an old camera at her mother’s place. She recently went there to tidy up a bit and would like to give it to me. She thought this camera would be suitable for me. I was shocked to learn that this camera is exactly the same model (Minolta Hi-Matic 7s) I saw in the shop and this one is a rarer black version. This is a bit spooky…

I feel that the story hasn’t ended here. There might be some reasons why this camera is so determined to reach me. I feel obliged to use this camera. However, the condition of the camera isn’t very good. It has been stored in a box for probably 30-40 years. This camera model was first made in 1966. Therefore it could probably be 54 years old by now. I have to do a CLA (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust) before I can use it without wasting the film. This is the first time I tried to clean up a 135 rangefinder camera.

So the restoration starts. It is an interesting process for someone who likes to clean up and fix something, or those who loves nostalgia.

1. The Viewfinder

The viewfinder is full of dust and also some marks on the glass and mirror. I use some lens cleaner and lighter fluid to clear them. Taking off the rangefinder compartment is a bit tricky. Luckily I found some very useful youtube channel discussing dissembling a Olympus 35 RD rangefinder. It is quite similar to Minolta Hi-Matic 7s.

I couldn’t help but wondering how does the camera went through all these years without anyone touching it. If it has a life, it must be bored and perhaps felt hopeless. It is symbolic that its viewfinder is dusty and can no longer see the world clearly. 

Top (After); Bottom (Before)

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2. Lens

The lens are dusty and are impacted by some fungus. This camera hasn’t been used for several decades. Although it is put inside a box, still the dust and the moisture affected the camera over time. The dust is easier to deal with. Just use a blower to remove them. For the fungus, I remove them using water and lens cleaner. Care must be taken not to damage the coating on the lens.

A bit of work to reach the lens. I have to be very careful not to hurt the lens with the screw driver.

The lens part is challenging. Any excessive use of force will scratch the lens. A camera with a scratched lens is a hair in the mouth. I would probably disappoint the one who bestowed the camera to me. Also I may never know why this camera comes to me. 

After cleaning

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Please read part II to check out how does this old camera look after restoration. Click here!


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Revisiting three old pictures taken with Canonet QL17

Some time ago I posted about the pictures I took with my Canonet QL17 (Took a year to shoot a roll with Canonet QL17 camera). When I look at the printed photos today, I realised something that I overlooked before.

This train picture appeared to be underexposed. However, it leaded me to focus on the greenish and yellowish light in the picture. It gives a feel of nostalgia and peacefulness. Indeed this colour tone reminds me the metro station in Japan and Taiwan.


This isn’t a random dog, but a dog of my neighbour. I saw it quite often and I think it recognises me too. How cute is it to see a dog waiting for her mum in the pet stroller? It does take me 30 seconds to do light metering and focusing. It hasn’t complained that I spent so much time in focusing. I always wanted to give this picture to my neighbour but I haven’t done it yet. May be it should be a new year resolution?

This one was taken in the same supermarket. This dog is standing there so patiently to wait for its mum. It does seem to take a serious look to my camera. I wonder if it is posing for me?

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New York

Following the London trip, I flied to New York. The first thing I’m not used to is the hotel room is very small. It made it difficult to do anything. I walked along the street in Time Square. It is very crowded and is a bit chaotic. If one has experienced in Asian cities, it would be pretty easy to adapt to a chaotic street. Then I noticed this very interesting advertising board. I stood there and took this instant picture with my Instax Square camera. This advertising board just looked very New York.

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The only Instax taken outdoor this week

These days I’m mostly staying at home due to the widespreading virus threat in the city. What a photographer can do if he doesn’t have chance to go out? There are not much stuff to shoot at home. Hence today I took my camera to the supermarket and shot the only outdoor instant picture in the past week.

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Daily pictures with Kodak Retina iia

This roll of film was taken around mid-18 to Jan-19, using my Kodak Retina iia. It was the first roll I put into this camera. The earliest picture was taken in the summer of 2018. I remember I wasn’t a big fan of 135 film at that time. But I quite like the previous pictures I took with Canonet QL17. As such, I was fancy to use an older style 135 camera such as this Kodak camera to take some pictures.

More often I prefer taking pictures with instant film than using 135 film. But there is  another kind of enjoyment to wait for 135 film to develop. It made me quite nervous before I saw the results. I always feel that I have messed up lots of pictures, like incorrect focus or exposures. But it turned out most photos are still acceptable.

I like the casualness of these pictures. Sometimes it’s even out of focus. But it’s authentic. Life isn’t always in focus. These pictures remind us something about daily life.

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It is tricky to take pictures for my son. Either I can’t see his face or he gives an expressionless face. I think the kids’ photographer knows it very well. Kids are frequently uncooperative in photo shooting. However, some little girls seem to understand by instinct that the photographer is their good friend. They know how to look good in front of cameras and they love to be photographed. They realize their interest and the photographers’ interest are aligned. Both are better off with a well-taken photo.

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Kodak Retina iia

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A trip to London with Instax Square

These were taken in October 2019 during a trip to London. It is my first time to London. It is a refined city and everywhere are historical buildings. Even the offices and retail shops are frequently situated in historic sites. Surrounded by these aged sites, I think it would make people thinking more long term and devote more time to reflect their life.

Ionly brought my Instax Square with me this time because of its light weight. I glad that I brought a film camera as it would fit my mood at the moment.

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Interestingly, I used Ross London Xpres 75mm F3.5 lens for this Instax camera. The lens was made in UK as well. It seems to be a perfect fit for this trip.

Original camera manual

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