Here is my short summary on the Minolta Autocord.
The Minolta Autocord is a twin lens reflex (TLR) camera, made in Japan between 1955 and 1966. A TLR camera has one lens that serves the viewfinder and another lens for the film.
The 3.5 Rokkor lens on the Autocord is legendary for image quality. Yes, there are other cameras that have similar or better image quality (depends on who you ask) – the Autocord is on pair with them all.
If you are looking for a camera to explore medium format photography, the Autocord is most probably your best option. I have yet to find a camera that has better image quality per dollar ratio.
The Autocord is about as light as an medium format camera will get, it is easy to bring along.
You can do double exposure with the Autocord.
Film loading is easy and the film mechanism of the Autocord is well designed. Because of how the film is loaded from above, through and down – it is kept well straight and free of bends. On some cameras, if left unused for a longer period of time, the next frame advanced can have a bend. Not so with the Autocord.
Both the aperture and speed are stage-less. That means you can put these to any value. For example, on my Zeiss 80mm Hasselblad lens, F-stop is either 2.8, 4.0, 5.6 etc… On the Autocord you can simply slide the F-stop smoothly to the value you want. It’s a nice feature to have if you want to slightly increase or decrease your exposure.
The Autocord, like all TLRs has no mirror to switch between the viewfinder and the film, this brings some nice features:
– As you release the shutter there is no blackout in the viewfinder. You can keep on viewing your subject as you take the picture.
– Mirror movements brings vibration which is bad for image quality. On most cameras, mirror vibration is not a problem as long as speed is kept faster then 1/60 or so. A TLR has no mirror, so if you can hold it relatively steady you can bring the speed down as needed.
The Autocord is well built and quite sturdy. I once dropped mine on concrete pavement. I had a bay 1- 49mm converter attached which absorbed the fall and took the beating – but the camera held it together and survived the fall well.
Many have reported that the focus lever can break easily if the overall focus has become stiff of old age. Recommendation: If your Autocord is hard to focus – bring it into to a shop to have it cleaned, lubricated and tuned (CLT). Or, do it yourself if your feel capable (try the web for instructions). I have never had this problem on my Autocord.
If you want more information, Camerapedia covers the Autocord.