5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Minolta V2 & Kodak Portra 400 – By Nigel Haycock

October 15, 2020

I wasn’t shopping for cameras the day I went to the apple farms near to us in California.  But where we parked we found a small antique shop tucked away and we figured it was worth a browse.  Before we went in, a man sitting outside admired the camera around my neck and asked about it.  The camera in question was a Petri 2.8 Color that I was trying out.  He said I should have a look inside, “there’s a camera you might like. It was my Mom’s” he said “and she took it around the world with her”.

I wasn’t sure if this was a dubious sales pitch or fact, but either way I was intrigued enough and made sure I looked for it inside.  On the shelf was this camera and it was at a price that was hard to resist.  Due to space restrictions (no room for a baby in a pushchair/stroller) my wife had had to wait outside while I browsed and we were then to swap over.  I wasn’t familiar with the camera in question and wanted to research the model and market. But, where we were, we were in the middle of nowhere and while I was waiting for my wife to look around I struggled to get any kind of phone signal to look up pricing or anything.  Eventually I gave up and decided that at the price and condition it was in (and being a good make), it was probably a safe bet and so after my wife came back out I took the plunge.

My instinct was correct and as I discovered, this is an excellent camera.

The Minolta V2 is a fixed lens rangefinder camera, launched in 1958. It was the first 35mm camera with shutter speeds going to 1/2000 second with a leaf shutter; part of a feature war between manufacturers at the time.  To accomplish this, at the two higher speeds (1/1000 and 1/2000) the shutter doesn’t fully open and so these speeds are only available at smaller apertures; max f/4 for 1/1000 and f/8 for 1/2000.

The V2 followed the V1 (which accomplished 1/1000) and was then quickly followed by the V3 which had a different mechanism went even faster and had an exposure meter.  This means that despite it being a very good camera, the V2 was only in production for a short time and so they are relatively rare.

On its first outing I used my one of my favourite films; Portra 400.  I liked using the camera, it has a decent rangefinder, the shutter is quiet and everything is where you’d expect.  It took a while to finish the film (mostly due to COVID) and it sat around for much of the time.  Finally though I was able to shoot the last few frames and see the results.

Unfortunately on preparing to rewind the completed roll I accidentally opened the camera back slightly and was sure I had ruined the roll.  But when I got the pictures back from Old School Labs they were perfect!  Well, I can’t say my photography was perfect but other than the last one or two, they weren’t fogged.

Before I got the images back I had almost convinced myself to sell this camera as I don’t really need it. But I am so pleased with how some of them came out and how the 45mm 1;2 Rokker lens performed, I am second thinking that.  Maybe I might need a 1/2000 sec film camera at some point.. maybe another roll will help; a black and white one this time; stay tuned…

You can find more of my images on Instagram @thecarrotroom and my new blog at www.carrotroom.com

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  • Reply
    Alex Vye
    October 15, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    The picture with the child is lovely.

    • Reply
      October 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks, yes I am quite happy with how that came out. We were in the kitchen and she was looking out of the window, the Minolta was fairly close by so I grabbed it and managed to get a couple of frames before she moved.

  • Reply
    Fran Velasco
    October 15, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    I’ll never get tired of those Portra 400 tones. To me, they’re what a photography should look. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      October 15, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks, I agree. There is just something about those tones that makes images look that little bit more appealing to me.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Nice pictures and looks like a lovely camera to work with. Guess I should give Portra a go as well. I’ve only shot B&W so far.

    • Reply
      October 15, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      Thank you and yes it is… makes my plan to reduce the collection just that little bit harder 🙂 It’s a nice film and a favourite for me; if you are thinking of trying colour its a good option as it has some good latitude for exposure.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    Wow. If those pictures are as good as they look on my screen, then the camera is a keeper, if only for the lens.

    • Reply
      October 15, 2020 at 11:15 pm

      Exactly! I may have to find a place for it in my permanent collection even if it doesn’t fit my Voigtländer theme 😛

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Good read and awesome pictures! I picked up a V2 for an apple and an egg (German for ‘pretty darn cheap’) a couple of months ago, had it collecting dust for a while and started shooting my first roll with it. Exciting to see how the photos will turn out. Does the camera even work?! Anyways, you got some cool results there and motivated me to go out after work (hoping there will still be enough light) and finish the first roll. Thanks for that!

    • Reply
      October 16, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      It was a while for me too between getting it and finally finishing a roll. Hope you have success with yours. And thanks for you nice words 🙂

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    October 16, 2020 at 11:36 am

    I was completely unaware of this interesting series of cameras, although the naming might have put off distributors to the UK (the population of which had been subjected to rather more unpleasant V2s the previous decade).
    The optics seem to have aged very well!

    • Reply
      October 16, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      I hadn’t thought of that connotation, I wonder if it had an effect. The optics do seem to be excellent.

      • Reply
        Bob Janes
        October 16, 2020 at 7:23 pm

        There had been heavy duties in the UK on imported cameras before that date, which might have meant that it wasn’t a well known market at the time.

        • Reply
          October 16, 2020 at 7:42 pm

          That would make sense, I’m not even sure if this was exported to the UK.

  • Reply
    William Wells
    October 16, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Wow, I’d say the results speak for themselves. Fun article, thanks.

    • Reply
      October 16, 2020 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks, yes I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

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