Minolta FAQ: Autocord TLRs

Posted by: Kazuo Tashima (kazuo@chiyoko.com)
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 21:38:29 -0600

I have a few questions about my autocord:
1) This one has Rollei filters it has the following writing on it: "Rollei - gelb - mittel" "-1.5" and a script "R1" Are these filters still available?

I can not tell what specific filter you have (R1 suggests a red filter, with "-1.5" meaning it reduces exposure by 1.5 stops??) but there are plenty of filters available for your Autocord. It takes a "Rollei Size I" bayonet-mount filter -- this same size was used by all f/3.5 Rolleis, Yashicamats, and many other TLRs, so at one time almost every filter manufacturer offered a full line of filters in this style of mount. Perhaps some still do! At any rate, if you check with some of the larger stores that carry stocks of older equipment, you should be able to find almost any filter you would desire in Size I bayonet mount. You can also find cute little square lens hoods, close-up diopter lens sets, and even wide-angle and tele adapters (although they don't change the focal length very much and the quality of most of them is dubious.)

[Added from a later posting - web page on Rollei filters:

2) This has the selenium meter from:
it says that 220 is not possible, is there a way around this?

Unfortunately, no. Only the later models had 120/220 capability. On the earlier model, the counter only goes to 12, so you couldn't take advantage of 220 film even if you loaded it. And you wouldn't get sharp pictures, because the pressure plate needs to be adjusted to accommodate the thinner 220 film (which has no paper backing) and only the later 120/220 models had this adjustable plate.

3) For multiexposure, do I hold down the button right next to the winding lever and wind it backwards?

Correct, except that you don't really hold it 'down' -- you hold it to the left. You can make as many exposures as you want.

4) How do I use the "depth of field" on the crank side?

Notice the distance you have focused on the scale on the camera front. Turn the disk of the depth of field scale (don't be surprised if it is hard to turn) until the central pointer on the scale points to this same distance. Now, by looking at the aperture markings on either side of the central pointer, you can see the nearest and farthest distance that will be in focus at any aperture.

5) When the viewing hood is up, I can push the front cover down,covering the viewfinder; what is this for? I can look forward through a squarehole in the rear element of the hood.

This is called the 'sports finder' and is useful for action shots. You no doubt already have noticed that when you look down into the reflex finder, the image is reversed right to left. This can make it very confusing if you are trying to take pictures of an action sport: when the athlete appears to run "left" in the viewfinder, your brain tells you to swing the camera to the left, when actually you should swing it to the right. The sports finder avoids this by letting you use the camera at eye level. It offers only an approximate guide of what will be in the picture, and of course there is no way to focus while you are using it, so it really is useful only for outdoor sports pictures where you can stop the lens well down (to provide enough depth of field to cover small focusing errors) and don't care about exact framing.6) What distance should I definitely adjust for parallax?

It is not a specific question of distance. The lens is aligned for infinity focus, and parallax gradually increases as you get closer. Because the film shows more image than you see through the viewfinder, probably you will find no problems until you are taking pictures closer than about five feet. At these distances you should tip the camera up slightly (enough to move the image in the viewfinder by roughly 1/8" - 1/4") to make sure your subjects' heads are not 'cropped.'

If you wish to frame your close-up pictures more exactly, it is a simple matter to compensate completely for parallax by mounting the camera on a tripod. Measure the distance between the centers of the viewing and taking lenses (you will find it to be 1-5/8".) Now, when you want to take an exactly-framed close-up picture, frame it as desired; then raise the center column of your tripod by 1-5/8". The taking lens now will be in exactly the same position as was the viewing lens when you composed your picture, and you will get no parallax whatever. (Minolta at one time made a convenient little accessory called the 'Paradjuster' for this specific purpose. It attached between the camera and the tripod; turning a knurled dial raised or lowered the camera as required for viewing or taking.)

7) Can I still find a self timer for this? Does it accept a selftimer? Model LMX???

You can use the type of accessory self-timer which screws into the shutter release button. Minolta made one specifically for the Autocord which had a slight angle bend in its stem; this prevented the risk of the self-timer being visible in the lower corner of the picture. You might wish to look for a self-timer of similar design, although I have used a conventional straight one with no problems.8) What flash should I get to complete the 50's look?

The flash Minolta offered for it was called the 'Junior B.C.' (with 'B.C.' standing for 'battery/condenser,' meaning that the unit included a small capacitor for storing up current from its 22.5V dry battery.) This unit had a folding fan reflector and looked somewhat similar to the Honeywell Tilt-A-Mite, Nikon BC-9, and other folding-fan bulb flash units of the era.

However, you probably will prefer to use electronic flash (both for convenience and to take advantage of the Autocord's ability to sync with electronic flash at any shutter speed; handy for taking daylight fill-flash pictures.) While most shoe-mount electronic flash units will work with the shoe on the side of the Autocord, I find it more convenient to use a side-mounting 'handle-type' flash unit... and this also gives a suitable 'period' appearance to the camera!

Note: when using electronic flash, make sure the sync selector lever (on the side of the lens housing) is set to "X." It is fairly easy to move this by accident, so be careful to check it occasionally while taking flash pictures. I once lost an entire roll of important flash pictures through accidentally moving this lever! After that, I found a tiny Phillips-head screw that would thread into the lever's slot, and used it to block the lever at the "X" position.

9) Any other features, tips I should know about?

Enjoy your camera; if it is working properly, I will bet you will be impressed by the quality of images it can produce!

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