Rangefinders camera have been a part of my personal mythology because the of many great photographers who have shot with them. But Leica’s camera are so expensive… So when I finally put my hands on the Minolta CLE, it had to be mine.
The Minolta CLE and the 40mm Rokkor differ a little from some of those with the “red dot”. The aperture priority mode and lighter weight in combination give it specific advantages over the alternatives. Since I got it, it has become my family and travel camera. With the aperture priority it’s my fastest camera to use. With the diaphragm set to f/8, on auto I can just get on and shoot.
The Rokkor lens is also a gem that in the Leica version is branded Summicron. This lens is pretty damn sharp and combined with a red filter the contrast for landscape really makes for dramatic frames. To my taste, the sweet spot is between f5.6 and f8. Its sharpness easily allows 10×15 (24×30) prints.
A technical tip: many Minolta CLE bodies seem to be dead. After a long periods without use they sometime won’t fire anymore even if the shutter is cocked. Mine was sold as dead. In fact, if the shutter button doesn’t fire the shutter, try the self timer mode instead – this might bring it back to life.
For the autumn holidays, we spent few days in the isle of Oléron here in France. The nickname of this isle is isle of light. After summer, Oléron is lonely, rusty and only turn on its oyster face. So I loaded the Minolta CLE, put a red filter on the Rokkor, and spent some time walking and shooting.
Lighting conditions often turn very quickly so it was a pleasant exercise. On the single roll there was many kinds of pictures. I often take street photos, but here people were less a part of my 5 frames, with the only one containing a lonely fisherman.
These were shot with Ilford HP5 @ 320 iso, developed in Rodinal 1+25 (slow agitation) for 8 minutes.