I have had this Minolta A-5 for a little while now but only just got around to testing it. As the title of this article suggests, it is extremely quiet to use and makes an ideal candidate for street photography. I tested it with a short roll of Fomapan 100 bulk film developed in XTOL. The results were okay except for some marks that appeared on one edge of the frames. I subsequently discovered that this was due to some debris that had found its way onto the rear element of the lens. This has now been cleaned and some very slight cropping of the images was all that was need to obtain useable negatives. I will be definitely running some more film through the A-5. More about this later.
The A-5 was introduced in 1960 and is a fully mechanical, 35mm format camera which is, in my opinion, extremely well built. In that respect, it is similar to its successors, the Hi-Matics. There are no frills; no exposure metering and no batteries. It is very much a case of, “What you see, is what you get!”
There were a number of variations of the A-5 and I am lead to believe that it depended upon which market the camera was produced for, predominantly the Japanese or US markets. The models that I am aware of are:-
those with f/2.0 or f/2.8 45mm lenses, B – 1/1000 shutter speed and
those with an f2.8 45mm lens and B -1/500 shutter.
My model is the second one listed above and has an excellent 45mm f/2.8 Rokkor, 4 element lens focussing from 0.9 metres to infinity and a Citizen shutter with speeds of B, 1-1/500 sec. There is a self timer lever on the lens barrel. It also has a cold shoe with PC connector on the lens, M and X-sync. That’s it! As I said, no frills!
To be honest, I was unaware that some models had shutter speeds up to 1/1000 sec when I bought my A-5. Had I have known, I would have gone for one. Still, at the princely sum of £29.99, complete with an excellent leather ever-ready case, I am not complaining!
As the front portion of the ever ready case is detachable, the camera can hang safely using the attached leather neck/shoulder strap without getting in the way when shooting. If you don’t have the s=case – no worries! There are also strap lugs on the camera for a third party strap.
The viewfinder is bright and the rangefinder is accurate. All in all. I think that this as an extremely pleasant camera to use provided that one is happy to judge exposures either by using the sunny sixteen rule or an external exposure meter.
Finally, I finished the first paragraph of this article by saying that I would be definitely running some more film through this camera. I will! It is now winter here in Greece but we still have days with excellent light. It is my intention to shoot a roll of infrared film with this camera. Being a rangefinder as opposed to an SLR, it means that I can leave the (very dark) IR filter attached whilst composing the image which would be impossible with an SLR. My first concern was finding an infrared filter that would fit the odd filter size of this lens. It is 40.5mm and I am unaware of any step-up rings that would allow use of a larger filter. In any case, using a larger filter would partially obstruct the viewfinder.
As luck would have it, I have found that a company on the Greek island of Chios was offering such filters for sale at modest prices. I am set to go now, so let’s see what the outcome is!