The Minolta AF-C

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The Minolta AF-C is a compact, autofocus point and shoot 35mm film camera introduced by Minolta in 1983.

The AF-C comes from the late 70s/early 80s era of small, boxy compact cameras such as the Nikon L35AF or Pentax PC35AF, and just like those cameras, it features a fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens.

The camera most closely resembles the Lomo LC-A or Cosina CX-2 and like those cameras, the camera is turned on when you open the sliding cover which protects the lens. Unlike the Lomo or Cosina which rely on scale focusing, the AF-C is an autofocus camera.

THE AF-C CAMERA

As a camera, the Minolta AF-C is completely automatic. It is a point and shoot camera where to take pictures you simply point and shoot 🙂

As I’ve said in previous articles, today’s advanced point and shoot digital cameras can do almost everything. From 4k video to in-camera editing to wifi sharing. Many of these cameras have astonishing lenses, such as the Leica Q, and price tags to match. However, it seems to me that they’ve lost the soul of what it means (or meant) to be a point and shoot camera.

And what is that you might ask? Well, for me, a point and shoot camera has to be simple. It has to be humble; all you need is a good, decently sharp lens, not a lab chart killer with an astronomical price tag. And lastly, it has to be cheap. By having a good/great little lens and not a lens with some “premier” name on it, they can do that.

And they did all this with the Minolta AF-C. It meets all the criteria I stated: Simple, humble, good/great lens, cheap. The lens on the AF-C is a 35mm f/2.8 Minolta lens and it is a very good, even excellent one. There is no “Rokkor” or “Rokkor G” designation on the lens, so it has no pretenses of being anything more than it is 🙂

The lens is a 6 elements/6 group design and has an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/17 and again, all automatically chosen by the camera.

Don’t let any “premium” designation fool you. It’s not that hard for any decent camera/lens manufacturer to make a great 35mm f/2.8 lens so it’s not necessary that it be expensive. I’ve used the Nikon 35ti and it’s a better looking camera, but I do not think the Minolta lens on the AF-C gives up anything to the 35ti.

The Minolta AF-C relies on active infrared autofocus. There is no way to manual focus this camera, so tinkerers and gadgeteers get that out of your mind.

If you want some control of the camera, it will let you wind/rewind it using a thumbwheel on the rear of the camera. The camera has no autowind/rewind function. Additionally, you can adjust the ISO in 1/3 values.

The Minolta AF-C runs on four SR44 or LR44 button batteries or two CR1/3N batteries. I used the cheaper 675 hearing aid batteries bought at CVS and they worked fine, no exposure problems.

PERFORMANCE

The Minolta AF-C is small and compact, perhaps not as small as many of today’s digital point and shoot cameras, but still pocketable as long as you don’t have the accessory flash attached.

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“Princess Of Messy” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. This is a crop from a larger picture. The AF-C displays good sharpness despite the film grain.

The AF-C has two leds in the viewfinder. The green light, which indicates correct focus and the red light, which is a low light warning.

When shooting with the AF-C, the autofocus is so quiet, I wasn’t sure the camera was working properly, whether it was actually focusing at all. But knowledge is power and I have read before acquiring one that this is exactly how the camera focuses and you simply have to learn to trust it.

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“Redrum” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. Check out the nice contrast and range of b&w tones. It seems no one is safe from harm in NYC! Ouch, love hurts! 🙂

When I developed my first roll, any fears I had were laid to rest. Indeed, the majority of the time, the camera achieved correct focus. The shots that had blurriness were due to movement and the camera correctly choosing slow shutter speeds in low light (something I have a habit of doing to challenge my cameras and myself).

Even better was that nearly every shot on the roll was correctly exposed. Not surprising for me as I’ve always known Minoltas to provide excellent metering.

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“That Funky Building” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Alford Delta 400, D76 developer. This is the IAC (InterActive Corp building) as seen from NYC’s West Side Highway. This has always been an intrigueing eye sore for me whenever I see it.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta AF-C is a brilliant example of beauty and simplicity that represents the best of the early 1980s era of compact autofocus cameras.

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“The Evil Camera Boy” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. He’s evil and he loves cameras. The Evil Camera Boy is back! 🙂

It delivers excellent results most of the time under the right conditions. I guess you could see the slick caveat right there “under the right conditions.” What does that mean? That means if you use the camera as it was intended, the right amount of light, the right film, flash if necessary, then the camera will generally deliver excellent results. If you try to challenge it too much, i.e., low light, slow film, you might get less than excellent results 🙂

I read somewhere that it was thought of as the ultimate film street camera by some European magazine and I can’t disagree. While some will of course refer to the Ricoh GR-1 (which I love and have reviewed here) as the “Ultimate” I have to say the AF-C betters it in some ways. The AF is much quieter and the manual winding and rewind  makes it even quieter still, both of which are benefits for unobtrusive shooting.

The Minolta AF-C takes you back to a time when “point and shoot” cameras were point and shoot cameras. Give it a little love and faith and this little camera will produce. Today, the AF-C enjoys a cult following among camera lovers, but is largely forgotten by the masses as are many of its peers. But should you come across one, get it because you will have in your hands a point and shoot Camera Legend that will deliver the goods without a lot of fuss or headaches.

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $20 to $100, with $100 being a bit on the high end. The most abundant place for the Minolta AF-C is obviously eBay.

However, you may also find them in flea markets, garage sales, and Craigslist. If you’re lucky, you may even find one for $5 or maybe free 🙂

***NEW CAMERA ALERT***

The hot new 24mp APS-C AA-less Pentax K-70 is now available for pre-order.

Pentax appears to be really upping the ante with their hot pro K-1 and now the K-70. We will keep an eye on this new Pentax, but just from the specs it appears to be an awesome new camera!

 

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The Smallest Nikon: Nikon S01 Digital Camera

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“Baby Nikon” The smallest Nikon camera, the S01 🙂

Probably not what you expected after going missing for a few days, but I’ve never really done what people expected of me 🙂

The Nikon S01 is a 10.1 megapixel point and shoot digital camera introduced by Nikon in 2012.

Though I can’t confirm it, it is probably the smallest Nikon camera ever made, film or digital.

I first saw the S01 at Best Buy some years back and thought it was a cool novelty and nothing more. In fact, the first time I saw it, I just walked past it.

Maybe a year later, I saw it again and I was intrigued enough to pick it up. I thought it was cool, but at nearly $100, it was a pass for me.

Somehow I ended up with one in 2014 as a gift. Now that I like!

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“Toy Camera” 2014. The Pentax Q original shot by another “Mighty-Mini” the Nikon S01 🙂

As I said, I consider this camera a novelty so I’m not going in too deep with this one. It might be a “quick review” or “mini review” but not a full review. In fact, if anyone did a full review of this camera, I would say you’re nuttier that I am! 🙂

There are some cool features on it though, such as a touch screen, and some cool creative filters, but the S01 is pretty much an auto point and shoot digital with no manual controls.

The touch screen is something many of us have come to enjoy, after using smartphones and tablets all these years.

The good news is that it’s there on the S01. The bad news is that it’s clunky to use and not iPhone fast. Not the most refined touchscreen out there.

The camera comes with 7.3gb of built in flash memory and has no slot for SD card upgrades. It comes with no charger, only a USB cord to charge via your computer.

The picture quality is decent to good. Don’t expect too much out of it in that area. This camera is all about size and perhaps cuteness 🙂

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“Soft & Dreamy” 2015. Nikon S01 using the “SOFT” filter effect.

In fact, if you’re already walking around with a smartphone, which seems like 90 percent of the people out there, then the camera on your phone is probably better than the S01.

Again, you don’t get the S01 to use as your main or secondary or even your third camera. You get it if you love cameras, as I do, and if you get a good shot out of it, even better!

If seeking one for your collection, prices are trending at $25-75 on the used market. Nikon replaced this camera with the S02, which is technically a little bigger, but roughly the same small camera.

The Nikon S01 is cute, sweet, and fun. It may not be the greatest picture taker and it’s certainly not a Camera Legend, but it’s the smallest Nikon out there and I’m happy to have it in my collection 🙂

The Pentax Auto 110

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Pentax Auto 110 and Pentax 18mm f/2.8 for the Pentax System 10.

The Pentax Auto 110, introduced in 1978, is a truly iconic “little” camera. Part of the Pentax 10 system, including the Pentax Auto 110 Super, they were among the smallest interchangeable lens SLR’s ever made.

I still have memories of my Mom’s first camera which was a long, odd looking Kodak 110 camera.

Believe it or not, you can still get 110 film these days from companies like Lomography. Developing the film however, is another story! You’ll probably have to send it out to various online vendors who can develop the film for you.

As a young boy, I was fascinated by the ads I saw for the Auto 110 in the old photography magazines. When I finally saw it in real life, I could not believe it was a real camera!

There were 5 prime lenses, the 18mm f/2.8, the 24mm f/2.8, the 50mm f/2.8, the 18mm “Pan Focus,” the 70mm f/2.8 telephoto and one zoom, the 20-40mm f/2.8. Just like today’s micro 4/3’s or other small sensor interchangeable lens cameras, you have to convert the lenses to their 35mm counterparts to get the true focal length. For example, the 18mm lens would actually be a 35mm in focal length if it were a full-frame 35mm slr.

Because 110 film is pretty much dead or at best, a novelty today, you can get the Pentax Auto 110 and a few lenses pretty cheaply. Some of the lenses though, such as the 70mm f/2.8 or the 20-40mm zoom can be hard to find.

The Pentax 10 film series is no doubt the inspiration for the Pentax Q system of today and they remain a marvel of the amazing camera engineering of days gone by.

Note: Shot this a few years ago using a Speed Graphic 4×5 large format camera on Tri-X film.

Now why would anyone want to do this when you could just use your phone or digital point and shoot? I don’t know, I like to make life hard I guess 🙂

No, actually I want an easy life, as easy as possible! However, the Speed Graphic 4×5, or any large format camera requires a lot of practice to master and I was practicing the craft, so to speak.