5 frames with...

5 Frames with Minolta CLE and Rokkor 40mm f/2 – by Florent Pinsault

November 28, 2018

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.



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  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    November 28, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I’m always happy to see articles on these cameras (Leica CL; Leitz-Minolta CL & the CLE.) I’m using a Leitz-Minolta CL w/the 40mm Rokkor. I call it my ‘camera with no expectations’ because it’s my everyday, toss in the car, go shopping, walk around camera. If I see something, then I can grab the shot. It takes a bit of time to get through 24 exposures, but it’s my humble equivalent of an artist carrying a small sketchbook everywhere they go.
    Your photographs are good and they illustrate the capabilities of this little powerhouse of a camera. You’re right on point regarding the quality of the lens. It’ll work on any M-style bayonet mount camera and it’s inexpensive.
    I had a change to get a CLE, but shied away from it because of the repair/reliability factor. I just didn’t know of anyone in the US still servicing or repairing this camera.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for your comment Daniel. Glad to see that these kind of cameras still have a good place in photographer’s bag !

  • Reply
    November 28, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Thanls for your comment Daniel. I’m glad to see that these little gems still have a good place in photographer’s bags!

  • Reply
    JF Bonnin
    November 28, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I had a CLE along with a 40mm Rokkor-M. I sold it (cheap) to a friend of mine. I never forgot myself to have done that.

  • Reply
    McEter Pinnon
    November 28, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    If you want contrast like this in your images you should use a different film. Ilford Delta 100 would probably get you closer to this look. Good luck with the analog adventure mate!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    Love the reflected fisherman Florent.

    I have the CL/40mm Summicron…

    Love that.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Great post! I am a fan of the CLE. I’ve somehow ended up with three of them along with two 28mm and one 40mm Rokkor, all nice clean examples. I enjoyed your photos.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    I remember admiring these CLEs in the 1980s. They were quite expensive then. Of course, I should have bought an outfit back then……

  • Reply
    November 29, 2018 at 5:58 am

    These are absolutely superb shots. I was convinced you’d stand developed them due to the haloes around the darkest parts, and was interested to red that you hadn’t. Perhaps it’s the slow agitation.

    Just superb shots.

    • Reply
      November 29, 2018 at 6:54 am

      Hi Bent,

      Thanks for your nice comment.

      These photos aren’t scans of negatives but scans of printing. Halos are consequences of masking under the enlarger. I mostly masking during printing with mu hands si masking are never perfect… But I like these kind of halos!

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