Minolta CLE

35mm MF film rangefinder camera


Production details
System: Minolta CLE (1980)
Imaging plane
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Leica M [27.8mm]
Imaging plane:36 × 24mm film
Model:Electronically controlled
Speeds:1 - 1/1000 + B
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL), stop-down
Exposure modes:Aperture-priority Auto
Rangefinder and Viewfinder
Rangefinder:Built-in, combined with viewfinder
Viewfinder:Built-in, combined with rangefinder
Finder magnification:0.58x
Actual rangefinder base:49.6mm
Effective rangefinder base:28.77mm
Bright-line frames:28mm & 40mm, 28mm & 90mm
Parallax compensation:Yes
Physical characteristics

Manufacturer description

The Minolta CLE represents a milestone in rangefinder camera history. Many features of this unique auto-exposure camera, such as direct film-plane metering for both AE and autoflash operation plus LED viewfinder readout, are available for the first time in a camera of this type. Besides 28mm f/2.8, 40mm f/2, and 90mm f/4 M-Rokkor lenses that automatically change finder framing when attached, the Minolta CLE system also includes an exclusive dedicated flash unit. Smooth, quiet operation - along with many other useful and attractive features - makes the Minolta CLE the perfect camera for both professional and advanced-amateur photographers.

From the moment you pick up the Minolta CLE and examine its craftsmanship, black chrome finish and solid, professional "feel", you'll begin to appreciate - even more - this superb achievement in camera-design.

The Minolta CLE: there's not another camera in the world like it!

Creative Aperture Priority Automatic Exposure Control

The Minolta CLE introduces advanced electronics to make this camera one of the best photographic systems available anywhere in the world. Creativity is greatly enhanced using the CLE's aperture priority automatic exposure controls: all you have to do is select the aperture you desire, and the camera's instantaneous electronic circuitry matches it to the precise stepless shutter speed for optimum exposure. Controlling the aperture ring allows you to choose your depth-of-field in addition to raising or lowering your compensating shutter speed, for a wide variety of creative effects.

Energy-saving "Touch Switch"

The transiest electricity pulsing across your finger is the key to the Minolta CLE's touch switch metering. The slightest finger contact on the camera's shuter release button activates the CLE's electronic circuitry and quick-response LED shutter speed readout; thus, there's no chance of inadvertantly releasing the shutter while checking exposure settings, and no unnecessary use of battery power. When operating the CLE with gloves on, you merely depress the shutter button 0.4mm to begin to activate metering.

Manual Exposure Control

In addition to creative aperture priority automatic exposure control, the Minolta CLE also features a built-in, full-manual exposure control with stepless shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1 sec., which allows photographers to choose any aperture/shutter speed combination for the utmost in creative expression.

Minolta's Patented Direct Metering

Minolta's patented Direct Metering System is activated when your finger touches the energy-saving "Touch Switch". A behind-the-lens super-sensitive silicon photo cell starts measuring subject brightness at the taking aperture from the reflective dot pattern on the shutter curtains, using a lens/mirror/prism module that focuses the light onto the photo cell. Even during the actual exposure, the Direct Metering System continues to monitor the light from the surface of the film itself. This provides both superior "real time" accuracy and extremely precise stepless shutter speeds over a wide range of lighting conditions.

Quiet Electromagnetic Shutter Release

The Minolta CLE's compact focal-plane shutter is extremely quiet in operation. This design also yields a smoother release and firm advance. Additionally, the electromagnetic shutter release system makes remote operation easy and positive.

Bright, easy-focusing rangefinder system. And three compact, interchangeable M-Rokkor quality lenses

The Minolta CLE's rangefinder system features an effective base length of 28.9mm, a significant technical achievement for such a compact camera. Its bright, sharpky-outlined rangefinder spot offers the user two ways of focusing: super-imposed imaging or the split-image method.

In the CLE's viewfinder you'll also see bright-line frames that change with each lens used. These give you the composition area for the wide-angle, normal or telephoto lens in use. Coupled with the CLE's extraordinary focusing system, these bright-line guides assure you that each picture will come out accurately, with no parallax errors.

Connecting one of three compact, high-quality M-Rokkor lenses is quick and simple: a 30-degree turn onto the Minolta CLE's bayonet mount locks it into place. Viewfinder framing is automatically changed with lens attachment, and automatic parallax correction shifts are made by means of the CLE's coupler/roller as each lens is focused.

The Minolta heritage of highest-quality optics is carried through with the Minolta CLE's three interchangeable M-Rokkor lenses that span the focal length range from wideangle to telephoto. These three superb lenses are crafted with extreme care and manufactured to exacting tolerances to give remarkable clarity and precise operation, while being compact and lightweight.

Minolta's exclusive Achromatic coating on each M-Rokkor lens improves light transmission and color rendition, in addition to minimizing internal reflections that may cause flare. Each lens has its own hood and accepts 40.5mm-diameter filters and accessories.

The most compact dedicated flash for TTL auto flash photography

The Minolta CLE's dedicated auto flash is the most compact of its kind and helps in difficult lighting situations. When the flash unit's capacitor is fully charged at automatic speeds below 1/60sec., the viewfinder's shutter speed LED blinks next to the 1/60 indication. Depressing the CLE's shutter release button sets the camera to the correct X-sync., releases the shutter and triggers the flash.

Flash emission is monitored through the lens and flash duration for proper exposure is automatically controlled by CLE's Direct Metering System.

As flash photographs can be taken at any aperture, depth-of-field control is greatly simplified, and use of a wide-angle or telephoto lens will not affect the metering accuracy in any way. Full power manual settings yield a guide number of 14 in meters at ASA 100 (46 for feet at ASA 25).

Special circuitry in the CLE's Auto Electroflash reduces power to the capacitor immediately after full charge is attained, reducing battery drain and extending battery life approximately three times longer than that of a similar electronic flash without this circuitry. In addition, a new 3-pin type hot shoe for input/output of exposure control data and information connects up the electronic circuitry of both the camera and flash.

Similar cameras (28)

35mm full frame • Manual focus • Film • Rangefinder • Leica M mount

Model Shutter Metering Modes Year
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R2 M, 1/2000 TTL • WA M 2002
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R2A E, 1/2000 TTL • WA AM 2004
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R2M M, 1/2000 TTL • WA M 2006
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R3A E, 1/2000 TTL • WA AM 2004
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R3M M, 1/2000 TTL • WA M 2006
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R4A E, 1/2000 TTL • WA AM 2006
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R4M M, 1/2000 TTL • WA M 2006
Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-T M, 1/2000 TTL • WA M 2001
Konica HEXAR RF E, 1/4000 TTL • WA AM 1999
Leica CL
Also known as LEITZ minolta CL
M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1973
Leica M-A (Typ 127) M, 1/1000 -- M 2014
Leica M2 M, 1/1000 -- M 1958
Leica M3 M, 1/1000 -- M 1954
Leica M4 M, 1/1000 -- M 1967
Leica M4-2 M, 1/1000 -- M 1978
Leica M4-P M, 1/1000 -- M 1981
Leica M5 M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1971
Leica M6 M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1984
Leica M6 (Typ 2248) M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 2022
Leica M6 Panda M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1990
Leica M6 Titanium M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1992
Leica M6 TTL M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1998
Leica M6J M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 1994
Leica M7 E, 1/1000 TTL • WA AM 2002
Leica MP M, 1/1000 TTL • WA M 2003
Leica MP Original M, 1/1000 -- M 1956
Rollei 35 RF M, 1/2000 TTL • WA M 2002
Zeiss Ikon E, 1/2000 TTL • WA AM 2004
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Table of contents
Instruction manual

Copyright © 2012-2023 Evgenii Artemov. All rights reserved. Translation and/or reproduction of website materials in any form, including the Internet, is prohibited without the express written permission of the website owner.

35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/ on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.