I’m not gonna bore you with the technicality of this camera or it’s disputed parentage, being a bastard and all that. But a tale on how and why this little heathen became my everyday carry.
My first film camera is a battered Nikon F3, brassing all over but full of character. I fell in love with it all the little knobs, sleek design and that shutter cock action and sound. Then I saw a bargain for a F3/T champagne which I bought in a heart beat. A little lighter but still heavy that’s the only down side for me with the F3 is it’s size and weight. Aperture priority, meter is great (haven’t miss a shot with it) the only thing i’d change is the meter display. Then came another opportunity trade the F3/T to the Minolta CLE with the 40mm M-Rokkor. Still having my first F3 I went for it.
BROTHER FROM ANOTHER MOTHER
When I got the CLE I was pleasantly surprise to feel very familiar with it. Aperture priority, electric shutter, battery dependency and being a no fuss camera it’s like the little brother of the F3, smaller and being rangefinder. The only thing that’s missing is an AE lock. They have a lot in common in this aspects even thought it’s a different brand and system.
- No AE – A function I have grown used to from the F3 but sorely missing on the CLE. The roundabout way on this is meter on what to expose ( highlight, shadow or the middle ground) then set the shutter speed manually.
- No meter in manual mode- This is obvious, I don’t know why they didn’t put this option. I would love to have the meter reading in manual mode.
- Weird precaution in the manual (Yes i’m that geek. I read every manual for every camera I use) that says not to leave the shutter cock overnight. Some people say that this is nonsense and they have left there’s always cock had never had a problem but other says the opposite. Well I like to be on the safe side and changed my way of shooting, from cocking the shutter after every shot to being a pre shutter cock before taking a photo (Believe me I feel like a freak because of this and miss some shots)
THE OTHERS DEEM BAD BUT DOESN’T AFFECT ME
- Shorter rangefinder baselength– only becomes a problem with longer focal length. I mainly shoot 40mm and maybe 28mm in the future. So it’s meh.
- Battery dependency- I just bring an extra set of battery with me all the time. Problem solved.
- Weird framelines- Some people just doesn’t like the 28/40 framelines or focal length and prefers the 35/50. Luckily for me 40mm is my go to focal length.
- FORM (size, weight and color)- It’s form is perfect for street photography. It small and black which makes it discreet and ninja like. It weighs like a feather which is a boon when you walk around for hours on end believe me you’ll even forget that you have it around your neck.
- FUNCTION- Just set it to aperture priority and shoot. It’s meter display is simple but very effective I’m amaze why other camera system didn’t copy this. With the F3 the meter display sucks let’s be honest. I liked the needle styled display but is difficult when it get’s dark. This one works wonders being an LED red dot that act like a needle.
- METER- OTF meter like the OM-2 which is reliable.
- MAGIC TOUCH- HA! I don’t know what they called it. But it’s the magic when you touch the shutter button it activates and gives you a meter reading. It’s battery friendly. It take some time to get used too but I have grown fond of it.
- Bright viewfinder
*All the control you’ll ever need (Aperture, Shutter speed, iso, shutter cock and shutter button)
I’m biased so take everything I said with a grain of salt. But if you’re looking for a perfect companion on the street try the Minolta CLE it’s great. Form and function wise it’s just a joy to shoot. Ergonomics is great. I love the feel of it in my hand. Shutter speed, iso, shutter lever, film back opening are well thought out. I can can the shutter speed with one hand. The CLE for me solves most of the problems that I have with other cameras, size and weight being one, it’s no nonsense camera and it packs a punch above it’s weight.
If you have any questions about the CLE just comment below.
Thank you for reading!