A classic Japanese fixed lens rangefinder from the 60's with a sharp 45mm fast lens, aperture and shutter priority mode plus manual; this is an ode to the swinging decade - It sings 1966.
Half an hour before I left for the airport to leave for a four month documentary filming trip to Nairobi, a parcel arrived. Inside was my latest addition to my retro camera collection, a 1966 Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. Although I’m a geek for the stats and info on old cameras, this article is not about that and all that can be easily found in other places. I wanted a rangefinder to start me off on a new path for my collection. I already had one rangefinder, a 1953 Moskva-2 but that is a Soviet beast of a folding camera and not practical for very much apart form taking great photos.
I’d bought the camera from Ebay. I quickly unpacked it from the box. I fell in love immediately. It sings 1966. What’s more, it was in absolutely beautiful condition, not a scratch or a ding. It also came with the original molded black leather case. She looks as good today as she did, swinging round the neck of her owner down Carnaby Street, flares billowing and Fairport Convention’s ‘Who knows where time goes.’ spilling out of a first floor window.
In reality, the camera came slightly further from flower power central, Inverurie, near Aberdeen(Scotland). I asked the seller what the camera’s story was. I like to know who has owned the camera and perhaps loved it. The camera was his wife’s uncle’s. He died fifteen years ago and his widow had kept it until she died last year. He was either a keen photographer and looked after his gear or he didn’t use it very much.
I find film cameras very intimate and personal things. You put them up to your face and you look through viewfinder/lens at the world, exactly the same but in a completely different way from the previous owner. Each camera has a personality, that you grow to love or not. My Minolta Hi-Matic 7s, although only in my possession for few months, has become a loved member of my collection.
When I’m out with her and lining up the yellow shadows in the viewfinder….I get lost in the world and in myself… ‘Who knows where the time goes?’
Tristan MG Aitchison is a filmmaker from Scotland. Later this year will see the release of the documentary feature “He/She/It’s Like This” based around the lives and stories of Kenya’s Intersex and Transgender community. The film features a plentiful array of analogue photography including some of the photos from this article.
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