Minolta

Last updated
Minolta Co., Ltd.
ミノルタ
IndustryManufacturing
Founded1928;93 years ago (1928) (as Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shōten)
Osaka, Japan
FounderKazuo Tashima
DefunctAugust 5, 2003;18 years ago (2003-08-05)
FateMerged with Konica
Successor Konica Minolta
Headquarters3-13, 2-chome, Azuchi-Machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 541-8556, Japan (1998)
Products Cameras, film cameras, camera accessories, photocopiers, fax machines, laser printers

Minolta Co., Ltd. (ミノルタ, Minoruta) was a Japanese manufacturer of cameras, camera accessories, photocopiers, fax machines, and laser printers. Minolta Co., Ltd., which is also known simply as Minolta, was founded in Osaka, Japan, in 1928 as Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shōten (日独写真機商店, meaning Japanese-German camera shop). It made the first integrated autofocus 35 mm SLR camera system. In 1931, the company adopted its final name, an acronym for "Mechanism, Instruments, Optics, and Lenses by Tashima". In 1933, the brand name first appeared on a camera, a copy of the Plaubel Makina simply called "Minolta". [1] [ third-party source needed ]

Contents

In 2003, Minolta merged with Konica to form Konica Minolta. On 19 January 2006, Konica Minolta announced that it was leaving the camera and photo business, [2] and that it would sell a portion of its SLR camera business to Sony as part of its move to pull completely out of the business of selling cameras and photographic film. [3]

History

Milestones

Early cameras

Minolta Autocord TLR MinotlaTLR.jpg
Minolta Autocord TLR

Relying heavily on imported German technology, Nichi-Doku turned out their first product, a bellows camera called the Nifcarette, in March 1929. By 1937, the company reorganized as Chiyoda Kogaku Seikō, K.K. (Chiyoda Optics and Fine Engineering, Ltd.) and built the first Japanese-made twin-lens reflex camera, the Minoltaflex, based on the German Rolleiflex.[ citation needed ]

In 1947, the Minolta-35 was introduced. It is based on the Leica rangefinder camera concept with the 39mm screw lens-mount. It uses the standard 35mm film in cassettes. The standard lens is the Super Rokkor 1:2.8 50mm.[ citation needed ]

In 1950, Minolta developed a planetarium projector, the first-ever made in Japan, beginning the company's connection to astronomical optics. John Glenn took a Minolta Hi-Matic rangefinder 35 mm camera aboard the spacecraft Friendship 7 in 1962, and in 1968, Apollo 8 orbited the moon with a Minolta Space Meter aboard.[ citation needed ]

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Minolta competed in the medium-format roll film camera market with the Autocord series of TLR (twin-lens reflex) cameras.

Minolta XD-11 (XD-7, XD)
Minolta XD-11.jpg
Overview
Type 35mm SLR
Lens
Lens mount Minolta SR-mount
Focusing
Focus Manual focus
Exposure/metering
Exposure Shutter and aperture priority autoexposure
Flash
Flash Hot shoe and PC terminal
General
Dimensions 51 x 86 x 136 mm, 560 g
Minolta SR-T303 Minolta SRT303.jpg
Minolta SR-T303
f/2.8 35mm shift lens, 11mm maximum shift Minolta-shift-lens.jpg
f/2.8 35mm shift lens, 11mm maximum shift
Minolta XG-1 Minolta XG-1.JPG
Minolta XG-1
Minolta X-700 Minolta X-700 5.JPG
Minolta X-700

Single-lens reflex cameras

In 1958, Minolta introduced its SR-2 single lens reflex (SLR) 35mm camera which was equipped with a bayonet mount and instant return mirror. In 1966 Minolta introduced the SR-T line which included TTL metering. Although well-made and widely regarded as some of the most innovative SLR cameras of their time, Minolta cameras were not as robust as competing Nikon models. Minolta SR/SRT design used sleeve bushings instead of bearings on its focal plane spindles and had greater tolerances between working parts. This occasionally caused problems in very cold weather or with extremely high levels of use. Minolta SLRs also lacked important professional features such as a motor drive, removable pentaprism, and removable back. Minolta cameras appealed to amateur photographers with their lower prices and high-quality optics.[ citation needed ]

From the late 1950s through the 1980s, Minolta was the first Japanese manufacturer to introduce a bayonet lens mount rather than a screw mount; and the first manufacturer to introduce multimode metering. They also introduced the first commercially successful autofocus SLR line with the Maxxum series.[ citation needed ]

In 1972, Minolta drew up a formal cooperation agreement with Leitz. Leitz needed expertise in camera body electronics, and Minolta felt that they could learn from Leitz's optical expertise. Tangible results of this cooperation were the Leica CL/Minolta CL, an affordable rangefinder camera to supplement the Leica M range. The Leica CL was built by Minolta to Leica specifications. Other results were the Leica R3, which was in fact the Minolta XE-1 with a Leica lens mount, viewfinder, and spot metering system, and the Leica R4 was based on the Minolta XD-11. Additionally, five Minolta lenses were repackaged as Leica R lenses: the Minolta 24/2.8 MC Rokkor-X optics are found in the Leica 24/2.8 Elmarit-R, and similarly for the Minolta 35-70/3.5, 75-200/4.5, 70-210/4, and 16/2.8. [ citation needed ]

First "program" focal plane shutter 35mm SLR: the XD-11

In 1977, Minolta introduced the XD-11, the first multimode 35 mm compact SLR to include both aperture and shutter priority in a single body. It was also the first camera to employ a computerised chip, which in shutter priority mode overrode the chosen speed if necessary to give a correct exposure, thus offering the first-ever 'programmed mode'. The XD-11 was the last attempt by Minolta to enter the professional and semiprofessional 35 mm SLR market until the Maxxum 9 in 1998. Elements of the XD-11 design (called the XD-7 in Europe) were utilized by Leitz for the Leica R4 camera.[ citation needed ]

The final manual-focus 35mm SLR cameras: the X-700 series

Minolta continued to offer 35 mm manual focus SLR cameras in its X-370, X-570, and X-700 from 1981, but slowly repositioned its cameras to appeal to a broader market. Minolta decided to abandon the high level of design and parts specifications of its earlier XD/XE line. The new amateur-level X-570, X-700, and related models offered additional program and metering features designed to appeal to newer photographers, at a lower cost. The advanced vertical metal shutter design of the older cameras was rejected in favor of a cheaper horizontal cloth-curtain shutter, reducing flash sync to a slow 1/60th second. Further cost savings were made internally, where some operating components were changed from metal to plastic.

The first version of the X-370, the chrome version that was made in Japan, was a rugged, all-metal camera that sometimes had greater appeal than the “plasticky” X-570, X-700, or later black versions of the X-370 (known as the X-7A) to photographers who place a premium on build quality.

As Minolta's autofocus Maxxums were proving successful, Minolta invested fewer resources in its manual focus line as time progressed.[ citation needed ]

Compact 35mm film cameras

Minolta HI-Matic F Vintage Minolta camera.jpg
Minolta HI-Matic F

Minolta entered the highly competitive 35mm compact camera market in the 1980s and transitioned from older rangefinder designs to "point-and-shoot" (P&S) electronic autofocus/autowind cameras. Minolta, like other major manufacturers faced with low-cost competition from elsewhere in Asia, found it difficult to build quality P&S cameras at a cost the consumer was willing to pay, and was forced to offshore production, gradually redesigning successive cameras to reduce cost and maintain profit margins.[ citation needed ]

Autofocus SLRs

Infrared negatives fogged by the infrared beam frame counting mechanism of a Minolta Maxxum 4 Fogged hienegs.png
Infrared negatives fogged by the infrared beam frame counting mechanism of a Minolta Maxxum 4

Minolta purchased the patent rights to autofocus lens technology from Leica Camera in the 1970s. [5] In 1985, Minolta introduced a new line of autofocus (AF) SLR cameras. In North America, they used the name Maxxum; in Europe, the cameras were called Dynax; and in Japan, they were named Alpha. They were Minolta's first line of automatic focus SLR cameras, and the first commercially successful autofocus SLRs the world had seen.[ citation needed ]

Minolta's marketing agency of record, The Manhattan-based William Esty Company branded the Minolta Maxxum, which was named by Creative Director George Morin. The round Minolta logo was developed by Art Director Herbert Clark with internationally renowned designer Saul Bass. The Minolta Freedom line of autofocus compacts were also branded at The William Esty Company, and named by Senior Copywriter Niels Peter Olsen. The Minolta Freedom line also included the Minolta Talker, the first point & shoot camera to incorporate a voice-chip that assisted with autofocus and flash operations. As a result of their innovations, the products that Minolta launched with The William Esty Company increased their camera sales from third, behind Canon & Nikon, to first in the U.S. marketplace.[ citation needed ]

With the Maxxum line, the heavy duty metal bodies of earlier Minoltas were abandoned in favor of lighter and less expensive plastics. The Maxxum 7000, the most popular of the new Maxxums, introduced the innovation of arrow buttons for setting aperture and shutter speed, rather than a shutter speed dial on the body and an aperture ring on the lens. That way, the only control necessary on the lens is the manual focus ring (plus the zoom ring in the case of zoom lenses).[ citation needed ]

The Maxxum 7000 had two 8-bit CPUs and six integrated circuits. A circuit on the lens relayed aperture information to the camera body, and the motor for autofocus was contained within the camera body. An LCD showed aperture, shutter speed, and frame count, while an infrared beam counted sprocket holes when advancing the film from frame to frame (this prevents the use of infrared film). The 7000 had TTL phase-detection focusing and metering, autoexposure, and predictive autofocus. All Maxxum cameras use the Minolta A-mount; earlier manual-focus Minolta SR-mount lenses are incompatible with the new AF cameras.[ citation needed ]

Unfortunately for Minolta, its autofocus design was found to infringe on the patents of Honeywell, a U.S. corporation. After protracted litigation, in 1991 Minolta was ordered to pay Honeywell damages, penalties, trial costs, and other expenses in a final amount of $127.6 million. [6]

After the 4-digit Maxxum i line, which included the 3000i, 5000i, 7000i, and 8000i, came the 1-digit Maxxum xi line; followed by the 3-digit si line; the 1-digit line without letters (Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum 3, 4, 5, 7, 9); and finally, the Maxxum 50 (Dynax 40) and Maxxum 70 (Dynax 60).[ citation needed ]

APS format cameras

Minolta also invested in APS (Advanced Photo System) film-format cameras, most notably with the Vectis line of SLR cameras beginning in 1996. APS later proved to be a technological dead end, as the cameras did not sell as hoped. Digital photography was entering the marketplace, and Minolta eventually discontinued all APS camera production.[ citation needed ]

Other developments

The first Leica compact camera, made by Minolta (1989-1991) LEI0010 200 Leica AF-C1 Produziert von Minolta Front view-9756-Bearbeitet.jpg
The first Leica compact camera, made by Minolta (1989-1991)

Minolta introduced features that became standard in all brands a few years later. Standardized features that were first introduced on Minolta models included multisensor light metering coupled to multiple AF sensors, automatic flash balance system, wireless TTL flash control, TTL-controlled full-time flash sync, and speedy front and rear wheels for shutter and aperture control. Special features introduced by Minolta are interactive LCD viewfinder display, setup memory, expansion program cards (discontinued), eye-activated startup, and infrared frame counter.[ citation needed ]

Merger with Konica

The 2000 Minolta Dynax 7 Minolta7.jpg
The 2000 Minolta Dynax 7

In an effort to strengthen market share and acquire additional assets in film, film cameras, and optical equipment, Minolta merged with another long-time Japanese camera manufacturer, Konica Ltd., in 2003. The new corporation was called Konica Minolta Ltd.[ citation needed ]

Until Konica Minolta announced their withdrawal plan in 2006, they made Maxxum/Dynax digital and film-based cameras (retaining the different names in the different markets), improving the design while maintaining the basic concepts. The Maxxum 4 is a low-priced 35 mm SLR with an A-type bayonet mount, built-in flash, autoexposure, predictive autofocus, electronically controlled vertical-traverse focal plane shutter, and through-the-lens (TTL) phase-detection focusing and metering. In advertising literature, Minolta claimed that the Maxxum 4 was the most compact 35 mm AF SLR, and the second fastest at autofocusing, while the Maxxum 5 was the fastest at autofocusing. These cameras were, however, intended for the consumer end of the market.[ citation needed ]

Minolta made one last attempt to enter the amateur and professional market with the Maxxum (Dynax) 9 in 1998, followed by the Maxxum 7 in 2000, which used a full LCD readout on the rear of the camera. Though well received by the photographic press, the 7 and 9 did not sell to expectations or achieve any significant breakthrough with their intended customer base, who had largely gravitated to the Canon or Nikon brands. All of these cameras were eventually discontinued in favor of the less-expensive Maxxum 50 and 70, which were sold under the Minolta name until 2006, when Konica Minolta ceased production of all film cameras. [2]

Digital cameras

The DiMAGE EX, an early digital camera Minolta-DiMage-EX-p1030227.jpg
The DiMAGE EX, an early digital camera
Minolta Dimage Z1 Minolta Dimage Z1.jpg
Minolta Dimage Z1

Minolta had a line of digital point-and-shoot cameras to compete in the digital photography market. Their DiMAGE line included digital cameras and imaging software as well as film scanners.[ citation needed ]

Minolta created a new category of "bridge cameras," with the introduction of the DiMAGE 7. Designed for use by people familiar with 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras but without the added cost or complication of interchangeable lenses or optical reflex viewfinders, the DiMAGE incorporated many of the features of a higher-level film camera with the simplicity of smaller compact digicams. The camera had a traditional zoom ring and focus ring on the lens barrel and was equipped with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) rather than the direct optical reflex view of an SLR. It added other features such as a histogram, and the cameras were compatible with Minolta's flashes for modern film SLRs.[ citation needed ]

However, the DiMAGE 7 (including the DiMAGE A1, A2, and A200) and similar bridge cameras were not really adequate substitutes for professional SLR cameras, and initially there were many reports of slow autofocus speed and various malfunctions (this surfaced when a Sony-designed CCD chip would malfunction, rendering the camera useless. Minolta, however, issued a CCD alert and fixed faulty units free of charge; after Konica Minolta's withdrawal from the photo business, Sony took over the CCD alert until the warranty repair service was terminated in 2010). Minolta later innovated in this line by being the first manufacturer to integrate a mechanical antishake system (Minolta's antishake is based inside the camera body as opposed to the camera lens, common with Canon EF and Nikon AF lenses).[ citation needed ]

In January 2002, Minolta again created a new category of camera, introducing the Minolta DiMAGE X, an ultracompact digital with a 3x folded zoom lens. With the folded approach, no moving parts of the lens are external to the camera. Instead, a 45-degree mirror bounces light to a conventional zoom lens safely tucked inside the camera body. Fast startup times are one potential benefit of this design (since nothing needs to extend), but slow focus and shutter lag times marred the advantage of this innovation.[ citation needed ]

According to a press release by Konica Minolta they "Konica Minolta Photo Imaging Inc. ceased its Camera Business Operations as of 31 March 2006, and ceased the entire customer services for Konica Minolta cameras and related products as of 31 December 2010" [7]

Digital SLRs

Minolta RD-175 using an optical reduction system for 3 x 1/2 inch CCD sensor with 3 x 0.38 megapixels Minolta IMG 2923.jpg
Minolta RD-175 using an optical reduction system for 3 x 1/2 inch CCD sensor with 3 x 0.38 megapixels

Although Minolta had launched their first digital SLR system as early as 1995, the RD-175  — a 3 sensor (3 x 0.38 megapixel) camera based on the Maxxum 500si — was never successful, and in 1998, it was superseded by the Minolta Dimâge RD 3000, a 3-megapixel DSLR based on the Minolta V-mount of Minolta's APS format SLR camera line, which was equally unsuccessful and short-lived.[ citation needed ]

While Minolta was the inventor of the modern integrated AF SLR, it took Konica Minolta a long time to enter the digital SLR market, a delay that may have proved fatal. Konica Minolta was the last of the large camera manufacturers to launch a digital SLR camera (Maxxum/Dynax 5D and 7D) using the 35 mm AF mount. During July 2005, KM and Sony negotiated on a joint development of a new line of DSLR cameras, [8] where it was believed that Konica Minolta and Sony would market their DSLR line to the masses (much like the joint marketing and development of Pentax and Samsung K10/GX10 DSLRs).[ citation needed ]

On 19 January 2006, KM announced that all DSLR production would continue under Sony's management; [2] DSLR camera assets were transferred to Sony during the Konica Minolta withdrawal phase until March 31, 2006, where technical support for these cameras (primarily Konica Minolta's other digital cameras) was assumed by Sony, who announced the first Konica Minolta-based Sony SLR — the Alpha A100  — on June 5, 2006. Sony continued the manufacture of DSLRs using Minolta technology until 2010 when the company phased out DSLRs for its SLT system but retained the Minolta A-mount.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Single-lens reflex camera Camera that typically uses a mirror and prism system

A single-lens reflex camera (SLR) is a camera that typically uses a mirror and prism system that permits the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured. With twin lens reflex and rangefinder cameras, the viewed image could be significantly different from the final image. When the shutter button is pressed on most SLRs, the mirror flips out of the light path, allowing light to pass through to the light receptor and the image to be captured.

Konica Minolta

Konica Minolta, Inc. is a Japanese multinational technology company headquartered in Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, with offices in 49 countries worldwide. The company manufactures business and industrial imaging products, including copiers, laser printers, multi-functional peripherals (MFPs) and digital print systems for the production printing market. Konica Minolta's Managed Print Service (MPS) is called Optimised Print Services. The company also makes optical devices, including lenses and LCD film; medical and graphic imaging products, such as X-ray image processing systems, colour proofing systems, and X-ray film; photometers, 3-D digitizers, and other sensing products; and textile printers. It once had camera and photo operations inherited from Konica and Minolta but they were sold in 2006 to Sony, with Sony's Alpha series being the successor SLR division brand.

Minolta Maxxum 7000 35mm SLR camera model

The Minolta MAXXUM 7000 35 mm SLR camera was introduced in February 1985. It was the first camera to feature both integrated autofocus (AF) and motorised film advance, the standard configuration for later amateur and professional single lens reflex cameras.

Digital single-lens reflex camera Digital cameras combining the parts of a single-lens reflex camera and a digital camera back

A digital single-lens reflex camera is a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor.

History of the single-lens reflex camera Aspect of photography history

The history of the single-lens reflex camera (SLR) begins with the use of a reflex mirror in a camera obscura described in 1676, but it took a long time for the design to succeed for photographic cameras. The first patent was granted in 1861, and the first cameras were produced in 1884, but while elegantly simple in concept, they were very complex in practice. One by one these complexities were overcome as optical and mechanical technology advanced, and in the 1960s the SLR camera became the preferred design for many high-end camera formats.

Minolta X-700

The Minolta X-700 is a 35 mm single-lens reflex film camera introduced by Minolta in 1981. It was the top model of their final manual-focus SLR series before the introduction of the auto-focus Minolta Maxxum 7000.

Sony α

Sony α is a digital camera system introduced on 5 June 2006. It uses and expands upon Konica Minolta camera technologies, including the Minolta AF SLR lens mount, whose assets were acquired by Sony after the end of Konica Minolta's photography operations in early 2006. Sony also has an 11.08% ownership stake in Japanese lens manufacturer Tamron, which is known to have partnered with Konica Minolta and Sony in the design and manufacture of many zoom lenses.

Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D

The Maxxum 7D, labelled Dynax 7D in Europe/Hong Kong and α-7 Digital in Japan and officially named "DG-7D", is a 6.1 megapixel digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR, produced by Konica Minolta. It was the top model of their DSLR range; the Maxxum/Dynax 5D consumer-grade model was the other.

Minolta AF Zoom 70-210mm f/4

The Minolta AF Zoom 70–210mm f/4 lens is an autofocusing telephoto photographic lens compatible with cameras using the Minolta AF lens mount.

Minolta A-mount system

The Minolta A-mount camera system was a line of photographic equipment from Minolta introduced in 1985 with the world's first integrated autofocus system in the camera body with interchangeable lenses. The system used a lens mount called A-mount, with a flange focal distance 44.50 mm, one millimeter longer, 43.5 mm, than the previous SR mount from 1958. The new mount was wider, 49.7 mm vs. 44.97 mm, than the older SR-mount and had a longer flange focal distance making old manual lenses incompatible with the new system. The mount is now used by Sony, who bought the SLR camera division from Konica Minolta, Konica and Minolta having merged a few years before.

Minolta Maxxum 4 35mm SLR camera

The Minolta Maxxum 4 35mm SLR camera was introduced in 2002. Konica Minolta has discontinued production of this model but maintains information on it in its website.

Konica Hexar RF

The Konica Hexar RF is a 35 mm rangefinder camera which was sold by Konica. It was introduced to the market on 13 October 1999. and subsequently discontinued some time before the end of 2003. The camera used the "Bayonet Konica KM-mount", a copy of the Leica M-mount, thus sharing interchangeable lenses with those designed for Leica cameras and others compatible with them. The Hexar RF has a combined rangefinder/viewfinder modeled on that of Leica cameras, a similar body shape and size - and so is similar to Leica M-mount cameras in many aspects of operation.

Lenses for SLR and DSLR cameras

This article is about photographic lenses for single-lens reflex film cameras (SLRs) and digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs). Emphasis is on modern lenses for 35 mm film SLRs and for DSLRs with sensor sizes less than or equal to 35 mm ("full-frame").

Konica Hexar

The Konica Hexar is a 35 mm fixed-lens, fixed focal length autofocus camera which was produced through the 1990s. It was introduced to the market in 1993. While styled like a rangefinder camera, and intended for a similar style of photography, in specification it is more like a larger "point and shoot" camera.

Minolta CLE 35 mm rangefinder camera

The Minolta CLE is a TTL-metering automatic exposure aperture-priority 35 mm rangefinder camera using Leica M lenses, introduced by Minolta in 1980.

Minolta Maxxum 9000

The Minolta 9000 AF is a professional Single-lens reflex autofocus camera, introduced by Minolta in August 1985. It was both Minolta's and the world's first professional autofocus SLR. It was called Minolta Maxxum 9000 in the US and Minolta α-9000 in Japan.

Minolta 7000i

The Minolta Dynax 7000i, is a 24x36mm auto-focus SLR camera, introduced by Minolta in 1988. It was sold in North America as Maxxum 7000i, and in Japan as α-7700i.

Sony Alpha 100

Sony α100 (DSLR-A100) is the first digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) marketed by Sony in 2006. It is the successor to the previous Konica Minolta DSLR models through Sony's purchase of the Konica Minolta camera division. The α100 retains a similar body design and claimed improvements on Konica Minolta's Anti-Shake sensor-shifting image stabilization feature, renamed Super SteadyShot. It uses a 10.2 megapixel APS-C sized CCD sensor. Another notable feature inherited from Konica Minolta is Eyestart, which provides for automatic autofocus activation by detecting the presence of the photographer's eye on the viewfinder, thus quickening the camera's response.

Sony E-mount

The E-mount is a lens mount designed by Sony for their NEX and ILCE series of camcorders and mirrorless cameras. The E-mount supplements Sony's A-mount, allowing the company to develop more compact imaging devices while maintaining compatibility with 35mm sensors. E-mount achieves this by:

A-mount or A mount may refer to:

References

  1. "About Us — Minolta Digital" . Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  2. 1 2 3 "News release details-News Releases - KONICA MINOLTA" . Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  3. "News release details-News Releases - KONICA MINOLTA" . Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  4. NY Times
  5. "Late to Digital, Leica Slow to Refocus", Wall street Journal, September 16, 2008, p. B1
  6. Minolta Credit Rating Downgraded by Moody's , Company News/Business section, The New York Times, 11 July 1992
  7. "Camera & Photo Support | KONICA MINOLTA". ca.konicaminolta.com. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  8. "News release details-News Releases - KONICA MINOLTA" . Retrieved 16 August 2015.

Bibliography

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