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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