Sunday, May 7, 2023

Minolta's Full Circle

This story has many beginnings…   (Click on any image to view larger and sharper.)

Phil Bradon taught me how to get this
result using only ONE flash and one reflector! 

Beginning #1 Back in the late 1980's, I was an avid Minolta shooter. And every Minolta shooter in the U.S. who ever called their tech support line in Ramsey, New Jersey would end up talking to Phil Bradon, the guy who showed the world how customer service should be done. Unlike all the sales and marketing guys there, Phil loved photography and he truly loved the Minolta products. He even spent four years in Japan working alongside the engineering teams. He built prototypes of vertical grips and battery adapters in his home. You get the idea. I learned everything I know about wireless flash from Phil. Generously spending hours on the phone with me, he’d patiently explain the communication protocol and even walked me through how to get ratio lighting AND a hair light using just one flash and a reflector. 

We all know what happened to Minolta. The story was they hemorrhaged money because of a lawsuit with Honeywell Corp. regarding autofocus patents. I shared this story in the book I wrote about the Konica Minolta 7D camera. 

Beginning #2
Back in the early days of the internet, Yahoo! was a thing, and Yahoo!Groups usurped Usenet as the premiere online discussion platform for normal people (as opposed to the Geeks and the Nerds who made up the entirety of Usenet). I was mildly active in the Minolta forum, and I suggested we all send a group “Thank You” to Phil Bradon for his stellar level of customer support. I created a framed award and sent it to him, signed by the most active members of the group. Phil later told me that he’s only received two awards in his life; this was one of them. It graced his office wall until Sony bought Minolta, at which time Phil left.