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January 19, 2006

Another one bites the dust

In a move I entirely expected, Konica-Minolta has decided to axe their camera division. They're selling off the digital division to Sony, while the film division will flap in the wind.

Back in high school, I'd been a happy Minolta shooter: I started with my parents' positively ancient Maxxum 7000, built completely of metal, and eventually ended up with my very own STsi a Christmas later. Other than the damnable noisy autofocus motors, I was always happy with what they had to offer. The products were solid and often competed with Nikon and Canon products nearly twice their price.

Hell, back in the dark ages Minolta was actually the leading brand, having brought autofocus as we know it to the market. Canon and Nikon had their wars and Minolta fell to an "also ran" for many people, but still often held a strong third place (and a lot of loyal Minolta owners).

Weak sales led to financial troubles, but Minolta kept on keepin' on. Then in 2003 Konica and Minolta merged (or rather, Minolta was consumed by Konica), the Konica-Minolta brand was established, and things started going down the tubes. I know I'm not the only former Minolta shooter to feel this way personally, and if you watch the market forces, it's backed up with actual numbers as the product lines did some stagnating and changing for the worse.

When my Minolta crapped out at the end of last year, I was faced with a choice: replace it with a Konica-Minolta model, keeping all my accessories and lenses, or go all-Canon and start building my stable again. There had already been cutbacks at K-M in the photography division and—for many of us—the writing was on the wall. I miss my cable release, I miss my collection of filters, I miss my mode dial, I miss having an autofocus button instead of a switch, I miss my spot meter... but ultimately I knew abandoning Minolta was the right choice. This just bears it out.

I feel for people who've stuck with Minolta in spite of what they've become (or failed to become); they had more faith than I did. And now they're all going to get screwed with Konica-Minolta's digital line going to Sony.

Rest in peace, Minolta, you will be missed.

Posted by Colin at January 19, 2006 2:21 PM

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