The Autocord is one of the lesser known Rolleiflex knockoffs, and went through quite a few revisions in the 10+ years in production. This particular model is the MXS, 2nd revision featuring a max shutter speed of 1/400th of a second and the 4 element, 75mm 3.5 Rokkor lens.
The overall sturdiness of the camera is quite good; there have been some reports of the cast metal parts being brittle, but in my experience, refraining from dropping or applying too much force should prevent any premature breaking. The camera feels sturdy, but is still lightweight enough to serve as a good travel camera. The winding mechanism is very good, providing equal frame spacing with no overlap.
I could not find a user manual specific to this variation, but thankfully the one I found from BUTKUS.ORG answered the questions I had about the double exposure feature. Since the focus lever is at the bottom instead of the side, you can cradle the camera in both hands, helping to eliminate camera shake. Both film advance and shutter release can be performed with the right hand while the left is free to steady the camera.
The viewfinder does not have a split focusing screen however, my only real complaint with the camera. The camera has a depth of field scale on the side, allowing easy zone focusing. Critical focus can be achieved by using the flip-up magnifier in the focusing hood.
This particular model does not have a built in light meter like later versions. I do not particularly care for selenium based light meters so this was not a big deal for me. I have had surprisingly good luck with the iphone app “Light Meter”, I find it to be close enough to be well inside the latitude of most films I shoot.
The 75mm Rokkor lens is legendarily sharp, some compare it the Rolleiflex Tessar lens in color, sharpness, and contrast. I am not personally ready to jump to that conclusion, but I can say that it is quite sharp wide open, much sharper than I anticipated.
The Autocord uses a standard Bayonet 1 mount, so it will accept any of the Rollei filters, lens hoods, and lens caps. The Rollei accessories are pricey, but are much more widely available than if Minolta had used their own mount. There are a few accessories put out by Minolta, most notably a coupled circular polarizer that allows the effect of the polarizer to be seen in the viewfinder as well.
I think the camera is a remarkable value; it operates smoothly and produces sharp negatives. My only complaint is the lack of a split focusing screen. Still not the end of the world, just be prepared to spend a little time with the depth of field calculator to make sure everything is in focus.
The price seems to be a bit higher than some of the other alternatives. They are not as common as the Yashica TLRs, that may be a contributing factor to the price. I also suspect the lens quality has something to do with it, however without a side by side comparison, I can't say that with complete certainty. I found mine for $75, and the going price on ebay seems to be around $200.
In the mid 50’s a string of companies began producing Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras. Some of the most notable cameras out of this time were produced by companies like Rollei, Zeiss, Yashica, Mamiya, and Minolta.
I have been on the lookout for a 6x6 TLR for some time now and was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across a gently used Minolta Autocord in a local flea market. I wasn't particularly familiar with the Autocord, but after poking around, I was intrigued by some of the great things folks said.