Minolta Autopak 470 (Part 1, the Camera)

470I found a Minolta Autopak 470 on Craigslist before I knew I wanted one. When I saw the price was $10, I quickly read up on this camera. It features a 26mm f/3.5  Rokkor lens, CdS aperture control from EV 2.6 to EV16.3, and step-less electronic shutter from 1/1000 to 2 seconds. The lens focuses across five zones from macro to infinity and the Pocket Flash 110 (included on the Craigslist deal!) automatically syncs to 1/00 second. For $10, I had to have it, so naturally, it was sold. I wanted this camera, so I turned where anyone would when Craigslist lets you down, eBay, where for $5 plus shipping ($9 and something total), I bought a slightly used Minolta 470 and Pocket Flash 110.

 

 

470WithFilm
Truly a pocket camera,  the Minolta 470 is only slight larger than the film it shoots.

When the camera arrived, I put a fresh AA battery in the flash and 2 fresh S-78 button cells in the 470 and much to my delight, they both worked! My initial impressions of this camera were good, Minolta made the Autopak 470 from 1976-1980 as their top of the line pocket camera (the 110 Zoom and 110 Zoom Mark II are technically not pocket cameras) and it shows. The camera feels solid, all of the moving pieces move smoothly and fit together tightly. The plastic feels like it is high quality and has a smooth finish and there is a bit of heft to the camera which lends to its quality feel. There is only a slight amount of wear especially considering the age of this camera and all of the screen printed instructions are still visible with no fading. This is a testimony to both the care taking by its prior owner and the quality of workmanship Minolta put into these pocket cameras.

 

The 470 is slightly smaller than the Kodak Tele-Instamatic 608 without the flash and about 1/2″ longer than the Kodak Ektralite 10 with the flash attached. It will fit in a pocket in either configuration but with no flash, it is hardly noticeable as the camera alone slides easily into a front jeans pocket. You could carry a kit made up of this camera, a flash, extra batteries and several cartridges of film in some cargo shorts and have room left over, making it an ideal travel camera for film enthusiasts.

470vs608
The Minolta Autopak 470 next to the Kodak Tele-Instamatic 608.

 

 

 

Minolta470FilmDoor
The film door on the Minolta 470 has 4 tabs versus the 2 tabs found on lower end cameras.

Opening the back of the camera to load film, you can see Minolta’s craftsmanship. The film load door is solid and solidly attached to the camera body, this is especially important in 110 cameras because it is a set of tabs on this door which hold the film cartridge in place. Minolta doubled the number of those tabs too, they have 4 on the 470 while many competing cameras have only 2. You can also see a bit of the mechanics inside, not only are the gears metal, but the works onto which they are mounted are also metal.

 

The viewfinder on the 470 is nice and bright with parallax correction lines and a focus scale with sliding indicator arrow. Focus scale? Yes, the 470 is zone focused by a slider on top of the camera. The focus slider has 5 symbols representing 5 focus distances or zones, this same scale repeats in the camera’s viewfinder. There is a slider detent at the 11′ distance making it very easy to select, it’s there because this is the distance Minolta recommends for snapshot type photos. I usually leave mine set at this distance and focus in or out from there as needed and although the focus scale and framing lines in my viewfinder are pretty faded, they are still usable and the scale on top shows almost no wear at all.  For macro photography, there is a slide out lens which covers the Rokkor and the focus slider is set to “macro”, this physically moves the viewfinder both correcting for parallax and causing a small red tab to become visible in the field of view. The macro lens will stay on place between shots so that you do not have to reset it to take consecutive macro photographs. To ensure the correct focus while taking macro photos, the camera’s neck strap can be used to measure the distance from camera to subject.

 

 

470FocusScale
Top view of the Minolta Autopak 470 showing the focus slider,  soft touch shutter release button and remote shutter release socket. The ridged tab visible beneath the shutter button is the film door release.

There is a cable release socket on top of the camera next to the shutter release and a battery test button located on the right side. Pressing this button causes a red light in the viewfinder to light indicating the batteries are good, if that light comes on while shooting, it indicates the need for flash. On the left of the camera is the battery door and hot shoe, not having to access the batteries via the film door is nice as you can change them without exposing your film should they choose to die mid roll (as they usually do).

 

Using the camera is a real pleasure, the film advances smoothly with the thumb slider underneath (similar to Kodak and most other 110 cameras of the era), and the shutter is fired by a “soft touch” shutter release. The camera is fairly quiet and operates as expected with no quirks. Zone focusing is fast and exposure is automatic so all I was left to think about was composition and this made for a lot of fun photography. Using the flash was a snap, you simply slide it on until it locks in place and turn it on. The camera syncs to it at 1/100 sec and it fires when it should but it is an old school flash so you have to wait for the capacitors to charge up, and that does take a few seconds between shots.

 

470BlankFilm
It came with a nice letter explaining why my film may be blank. Funny, “expired film” wasn’t listed as a possible cause.

The first roll of film I shot through my 470 was some expired Kodacolor II. I took my time framing up the 12 shots on this tiny cartridge, including two of my oldest grandson. I sent the film to Fuji and, like my last roll of expired-while-I-was-in-grade-school film, it came back blank. Wow, I am now 0/2 on expired 110 film.

 

Fortunately, while I was wasting time with this expired disappointment, some fresh Lomography Color Tiger 110 showed up in my mailbox. Reinvigorated by my fresh film, I shot 24 more frames in just a couple of weeks and anxiously sent it to Fuji Labs.

Two LONG weeks of waiting on prints and……. (soon: Part 2, The Photos)

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Minolta Autopak 470 (Part 1, the Camera)

  1. I’ve recently picked up the 460TX, fixed shutter speed but double-lensed (std + tele). Gosh what a simple joy shooting the first roll of lomo tiger 200! Funny thing is, it’s bigger than most 35mm P&S’s but still like having it in my bag. Great for near/mid distance in daylight, and 3-6 feet with flash. Both std and zoom focal lengths flattering for portraits. Hope you post your photos up from the 470 soon.

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    1. I love my Minolta and glad to hear you like yours, too! 110 is so much fun to shoot. Things have been really crazy and I am just now getting my workspace back so I should have some scans posted soon!

      Like

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