The Minolta Sky was an advanced 35mm rangefinder prototype, and as such only the one hundred or so pre-production units were finished. It is believed that all of these units were presented to Minolta executives and employees. The name Sky stands for Shashin Kikai Yarikake, or "photographic instrument in progress", as in 'prototype camera'.
There is a huge technological gap between the Minolta 35 LSM-clone series and the Sky, with its similarities to the Leica M series. Development of the Sky started in 1953-1954. In March 1957 the working prototypes were presented, featuring:
- focal plane shutter from 1s to 1/1000s
- single shutter speed dial
- it was possible to use speed dial and self-timer in conjunction, and obtain speeds down to 15s
- separate X and FP flash synch ports
- automatic frames for 50mm, 90mm and 135mm
- parallax correction
- quick-release bayonet lens mount with push-button release
- tucked-away rewind handle, not a button rewind
In appearance, the Sky resembled the later Minolta A3.
Also in March 1957, Minolta brought out the Minolta Super A, an advanced interchangable-lens bayonet-mount system-camera design that paralleled the Sky. Minolta's LSM 35 series would continue until the final release of the 35 Model-IIB in 1958.
Lenses for the Minolta Sky
Several lenses were planned (10 in total), including a 50mm 1:1.4 normal lens, a 21mm 1:4 super wide angle lens, a 25mm 1:3.5 wideangle lens, a 135mm 1:2.8 moderate telephoto lens and a 250mm 1:4 telephoto lens.
The camera system never made it to mass production, since by the time the prototypes were completed in 1957 Minolta was already focusing on interchangeable lens SLR rather than interchangeable lens rangefinders (the Minolta SR-2 was released in August 1958).
- Francesch, Dominique and Jean-Paul. Histoire de l'appareil photographique Minolta de 1929 à 1985. Paris: Dessain et Tolra, 1985. ISBN 2-249-27685-4.
- Minolta Mirror Magazine, 1981 issue. Questions & Answers page 127. No ISBN number.