In 1962 Minolta introduced the Hi-Matic series of cameras featuring an automatic exposure system and built-in selenium meter. Minolta went from the Hi-Matic to the Hi-Matic 7 the following year, bypassing a Hi-Matic 2 through 6. Among the improvements of the Hi-Matic 7 were the faster f1.8-22 45mm Rokkor, six-element lens, shutter range of ¼ second to 1/500, and a CDS meter built into the filter ring of the lens, which allowed for correct metering even when filters were placed over the lens. Three years later (1966) the Hi-Matic 7s was released that had the same body, lens and shutter speeds, but featured a hot shoe, PC sync connection, and an improved CLC exposure system, which was also part of the popular SRT101 SLR (still in the filter ring), and a SLS (Safe Load System) indicator to monitor film transport. The camera has manual and automatic exposure modes, EV readout and parallax correction in the viewfinder, pc sync connection and self timer (V setting). The rare Hi-Matic 7sII was also produced in 1977 which was smaller (like a Canonet) and featured a slightly faster 40mm Rokkor lens at f1.7.
To perform a correct manual exposure point the camera at your subject, get the EV reading from the viewfinder. An example would be EV 14. Around the lens barrel are aperture and shutter setting rings. Next to these is a window displaying the equivalent EV number. Select the aperture and shutter that generates the correct EV number in the window. In this example that can be f16 @ 1/60. Hold both aperture and shutter selection rings at the same time and turn them in either direction to allow for exposure shift, i.e. f11 @ 1/125, f8 @ 1/250, f22 @ 1/30 etc. Turn both rings to the red ‘A’ and the camera is now in fully automatic exposure mode. The EV window on the lens will be blank in this mode. There is a lock button on the lens barrel that must be depressed to release the camera from Automatic exposure mode. Also, an interesting discrepancy is that the EV number range in the viewfinder goes from 5.7 – 17, yet the EV window on the lens barrel has a range of 3.7 – 18. There is no 5.7 on the lens EV window only 5. I’m assuming that 5.7 EV in the viewfinder is equivalent to the 5 EV setting on the lens. Since there isn’t an on/off switch for the meter, you’ll drain the battery if you don’t remember to place a lens cap on the lens when not in use.
One thing I love about Minolta is that many of their cameras/lenses have a 55mm filter thread whether a rangefinder or SLR. I can use the same filters on this Hi-Matic 7s, Minolta SRT 202, X-700 or my beloved Maxxum 7. Obviously it depends on the actual lens used on the SLR’s but many Minolta branded manual and auto lenses feature the 55mm filter size. Film is loaded by pulling up on the release slider on the side of the camera body. Rewind release and the battery compartment are located underneath the camera body, and there is a flat focus lever on the bottom of the lens barrel. When looking down at the lens, the simple DOF scale is at the base of the lens barrel. Two thin black lines indicate the distance range in meters. The biggest drawback to the 7s as with many Japanese rangefinders of this era is that they use the 625 mercury battery. These are no longer available (legally in the USA and equivalent replacements may result in a half to a full stop exposure difference.
CLEANING AND REPAIR
I found this camera in a thrift shop and it seems to be working upon initial inspection. Without a battery I couldn’t validate the built-in meter, but everything else seem to function normally. So fourteen dollars later, the camera and original Minolta case were mine. The lens just needed a quick cleaning as did the rest of the camera body. The rangefinder focus tested accurately, even though the split focus readout in the viewfinder isn’t the brightest I’ve seen. It’s fine for well lit subjects but can be difficult to see within a low light indoor situation. Older Minolta flashes such as the Auto 28, or just about any brand standard external flash will work with the Hi-Matic 7s. This is a well made camera, and if not abused can last many years even after living on a thrift store shelf for who knows how long. Unless you have advanced camera repair skills I’d leave any repairs to professionals. This is no Argus A.
A fairly common camera on the ‘bay a working (assumed) Hi-Matic 7 or 7s can be found for around 10-20 dollars, 25-30 dollars would be the high end. A rare, black 7sII has gone for as much as 320 dollars! For a rangefinder the Hi-Matic 7s is pretty large and heavy so depending on where it’s shipping from and what mail service is used shipping should average around 10-15 dollars. The 7 and 7s can be found as common items in thrift stores, swap meets and yard sales as well.