Lomopedia: Minolta Hi-Matic

2014-03-25 5

The first model in Minolta’s long-running series of 35mm rangefinder cameras, the original Hi-Matic from the early 1960s is a historic analogue beauty in more ways than one. Find out what catapulted this camera to stardom during its heydays in this installment of Lomopedia!

Introduced by Minolta in 1962, the original Hi-Matic was the first model in the camera maker’s Hi-Matic line of affordable 35mm rangefinder cameras, and the first Minolta camera to have automatic exposure. It was equipped with a 45mm f/2 or 45mm f/2.9 Rokkor lens and a built-in selenium light meter. Interestingly, wristwatch maker Citizen made the shutter assembly for this camera.

First and second photo: The original Minolta Hi-Matic; Third photo: The Ansco Autoset. Photos via Vintage Camera Lab, Steve Harwood on Flickr, and E Magnuson on Flickr.

The Minolta Hi-Matic had its claim to fame when the US version, the Ansco Autoset, was among the cameras brought by American astronaut John Glenn in space during his historic orbital flight around the Earth on February 20, 1962.

According to NASA :

“When John Glenn became the first American in orbit, bringing a camera was an afterthought. An ANSCO AUTOSET 35mm camera, manufactured by Minolta, was purchased in a local drug store and hastily modified so the astronaut could use it more easily while in his pressure suit. At the time, everything that John Glenn did was deemed an experiment. At the beginning of the program, no one knew for certain whether weightlessness would prevent a man from seeing, or from breathing, or from eating and swallowing. Photography was deemed nothing more than a recreational extra.”

First photo: The modified Ansco Autoset he bought shortly before his flight; Second photo: A a snapshot of the orbital flight by Glenn using the Ansco camera. Photos via National Air and Space Museum and Amusing Planet

Technical Specifications:

  • Type: rangefinder camera
  • Manufacturer: Minolta
  • Year of launch: 1962
  • Film: 35mm with speeds from 6 to 1600 ASA
  • Lens: 1:2.0/45mm (6 elements in 5 groups)
  • Shutter: Citizen leaf shutter with meter-controlled aperture/speed combinations from f2 1/45 sec. to f16 1/500sec
  • Metering: Selenium meter
  • Size: 138×84×67 mm
  • Weight: 740 g
Photos by li-penny on Flickr

All information for this article were sourced from Wikipedia Camerapedia and Vintage Camera Lab.

written by plasticpopsicle on 2014-03-25 #gear #35mm #rangefinder #review #rangefinder-camera #john-glenn #lomopedia #ansco-autoset #minolta-hi-matic


  1. alex34
    alex34 ·

    The NASA statement about 'not knowing' what would be possible in space seems very weird and misleading. After all, the Russians got a man in orbit first ;-)

  2. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    @alex34. Yuri Gagarin was 1st man in space, but, I read, long ago, the Soviets were secretive about details. And his death remains mysterious. He was on a training flight in a MIG-15, and flew at very high speed into the ground, no one knows why. Possibility is loss of elevator control from going trans sonic in a dive. The shock wave would push the air off the tail plane on MIG-15. Bad end for hero...

  3. alex34
    alex34 ·

    @herbert-4 more details have come out recently: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2342265/Yuri-Gagarins-myst…

  4. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    @alex34 Thanks!

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