I think my latest find is going to be one of my favorites to shoot. I picked up the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 on an antique shop day with my wife for the princely sum of $13. I could not tell if the meter worked, but the shutter fired and the camera looked very clean inside and out.
I put in a battery when I got home and the meter sprung to life and has accurate readings compared with my light meter in my D7000. I shot my first roll of film through the camera in about a week.
It took me a little while to figure out how the controls work to be honest. The camera has two rings on the lens to adjust the shutter speed and aperture. it also has tiny levers to set the ASA, self timer, and the flash guide number for auto flash exposure. The camera was designed to be used fully automatically or fully manually. At first I thought it I left either the aperture or shutter ring in "A" (auto) that the camera would set the other automatically, but that is not the case. When both are in A, the camera works automatically, otherwise both must be set manually
When in manual mode, the meter is not a match needle type. It simply reads the exposure value which you then set by adjusting the aperture and/or shutter speed until the correct EV appears in a small opening on the lens. You cannot do this by looking in the viewfinder, you have to look at the lens. A little slow, but simple.
Most of my test roll were basic outdoor shots with a normal range of light and shadow, so I let the camera meter set the exposure. Every frame I shot like this was well exposed with a nice dynamic range. I tried a few shots in what I thought was aperture priority mode and these were all over exposed. Finally when I figured out the right way to use the camera manually, I easily got correctly exposed frames that way as well.
The viewfinder is large and bright, and the rangefinder has excellent contrast. The throw of the 45mm lens is very short, so manual focusing is fast and easy. The lens produces beautiful images, star from corner to corner with no noticeable vignette or distortion.
The camera feels good in the hands, the only real issue being an extremely long wind lever throw. It is easier to make two short pushes than to wrap the lever all the way around in one shot! I also wish it has a shutter lock like my Yashica to prevent accidental exposures, but the shutter button has a nice feel and the shutter itself is wonderfully quiet.
I think the images are superior to the Yashica GSN, and I prefer the ability to shoot manually if I want, which I can't do with the Yashica. The GSN is a little "prettier", but this camera has a nice utilitarian look that is ll business.