[Beginner] Nikon FE vs Minolta X-570

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by stevenla, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. Hi everyone,

    To give some context, I'm a fairly new shooter when it comes to film photography. I'm extremely budget tight, as finances have been rough lately. I only want to keep one camera on me, as I don't want to have to decide which one I'm going to take with me on an outing. I plan to shoot somewhat regularly (though I wouldn't consider myself a "professional" in terms of camera usage), so reliability is important to me.

    I've got a Nikon FE with a Series E 50mm f1.8 and a Minolta X-570 with an MC Rokkor 50mm f1.4.

    Based on these two choices, which would you choose to keep?

    I know that Minolta glass is generally cheaper than Nikon glass, so that leads me to lean toward my X-570. However, I've seen Nikon FE/FM bodies go for around the same price as Minolta X-series bodies (which blows my mind because Minolta bodies tend to be more fickle and unreliable when compared to the Nikons. Fortunately, I had my X-570's capacitor replaced). Another plus for the Minoltas is that John Titterington still services the X-series cameras, which is a nice safety net, should my camera break on me. Nikons are still serviceable though, as I've found a few shops that are willing to take them in.
  2. My inclination would be to go with the Nikon for the better glass and accessory availability and more complete system, although you can't go wrong, per se, with either.

    With regard to service, both of these are inexpensive enough that they're really not economical to service unless you do it yourself.

    In general, I've found Nikon bodies of this era to be reliable. I do have one FE with a short that will eat batteries in a few minutes(and doesn't work) and I haven't dug into it to see if there's an issue. The overall build quality is high on them, and you also have the FM if you like the size/feel of the FE but want something that only uses the batteries for the meter and don't mind all manual. TBH, I rarely use my FEs because if I want an AE camera of this general type, the FE2(a fair bit more expensive) has some additional nice touches like the fact that if you use exposure lock, the needle actually stays there rather than continuing to move around and you hoping it's actually locked.
  3. I loved the ease of use of Minolta X series cameras and the Rokkor 1.4 is a first rank lens but the 570 and 700 seemed a bit delicate compared to my Nikons. The FE is a solid lump of camera, nicely cheaper than the FE2, and the Series E lenses are far better than the economy label suggests. Buying a Nikon opens up a world of equipment using the F mount, everthing from the film F to the modern Z. In a near lifetime of using Nikon I have never had a camera let me down, not something I can say about Olympus or Minolta. Condition being equal I would keep the Nikon in a heartbeat, although given the low price you will get for the Minolta you could keep them both. Good luck with your decision, either camera is capable of better work than I can manage. All the best, Charles.
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    On the matter of the camera choice, based solely on the cameras and having had both Minolta and Nikon 135 Format Camera Systems, I would opt to keep the Nikon based on my assumed/anecdotal better build, reliability, spare parts, etc.

    As a general comment to the other matter that you raised -

    When my finances have been really tight, the main question for me would be, "which would give me the higher sale price?"

    Additionally, if I wanted to keep Photography as an outlet/ hobby for me, during tough financial times, I'd sell both and buy digital.

  5. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    I'm not an owner of either system, but have used both, and would probably agree that the Nikon is the more durable/professional body, but if you've had the capacitors replaced on the Minolta, I'd be fairly confident about using it. Even if you needed another body eventually, they are quite inexpensive.

    As far as Nikon having "better glass," that is debatable; Minolta optics are first-rate (good enough to partner with Leitz, after all). Nikon did have the bigger system, but if you're on a budget, additional accessories and lenses may not be an option for you anyway, and if I were going to keep one of the lenses you have, it would have to be the Rokkor.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  6. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Another option on a budget: if you do decide to keep the Nikon body, but want to upgrade from the Series E Lens, would be to sell both the Minolta and Series E, and put the proceeds towards a different Nikon lens (such as a 35-70 zoom) depending on what your needs are.
    Kent T likes this.
  7. I would keep the Nikon FE. It's a nicer camera in my opinion.
  8. Put a couple of rolls of film through both before deciding, keep the one you feel the most comfortable with.

    I owned an earlier SR series Minolta for about two weeks. I can't remember now what irked me so much about it, but we really didn't get on. I traded it (and some other bits) for a Konica, which I still have, 20 years later.

    Trade the camera you don't like for some glass, as others have said, the Rokkor 50/1.4 is probably all the 'nifty fifty' you'll ever need, but other focal lengths are available.

    I think Minolta glass is cheaper than Nikon?
  9. Then sell both and get a Nikon FM (better FM2).
    Buying an SLR buys you into a system - which system gives you what you wants? What lenses are you planning on getting? Do both systems offer those?
  10. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Also, Minolta-mount third party lenses are very common, and often quite cheap. If you're really fond of both bodies, Tamron made some fine lenses with Adaptall interchangeable mounts.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  11. Consider weight as well. I don't know if there's much difference between these two, but the SLR I'm most likely to grab is my Konica Autoreflex TC, which is smaller and much lighter than my other Konicas. Despite being a 'budget' model and lacking features, it's my preferred option.
  12. Thank you all for the responses.

    I'm an amateur at best, so I think I'll be sticking with the 50mm lens until I master its usage. I think the only reason why I'm concerned about glass prices is because I can see myself in the future becoming more invested in film photography as a hobby and so thus, putting more of my money into expanding a lens system.

    Anyway, it seems that Minolta has the better options in terms of bang-for-buck. Thank you all for the help!
  13. Minolta definitely made some great glass.

    After switching to Nikon from a "dead" system(Canon FD) I pretty quickly found that the common workhorse MF lenses are often 1.5x-2x than their Canon FD equivalent. Of course, just to be a bit blunt, the prices didn't bother me as much as they did on Canon stuff since I was making a whole lot more money by the time I hit my mid to late 20s(and now early 30s) and made the switch than when I'd first gotten into this in high school/college. That's my circumstances, though, and may not be everyone's. I think the Nikon price differential comes from the fact that you can easily find modern cameras(film and digital both) to easily hang your legacy Nikon glass on and get full coupled open aperture metering and auto exposure(Pentax has the same advantage, but the lower market visibility of their DSLRs I think holds glass prices down somewhat). It's also worth noting that unconverted Nikon non-AI lenses are largely soft, partially I think because there's only one sort of oddball DSLR with more or less full-if clunky-compatibility(the Df) and also both the simple single coated optics and metal focus ring ergonomic don't appeal to everyone.

    Even if your workhorse glass is inexpensive, though, most of these systems have more exotic glass that's often revered and can bring a healthy price. In fact, I'd dare say that from what I've seen, exotics or "legendary" lenses(those two aren't mutually exclusive) can be more expensive than a Nikon equivalent thanks to lower availability. When I took a notion to dabble in the OM system about a year ago, I found some lenses that I'd consider even fairly ordinary in other systems to be crazily expensive. In Minolta, not too long back I sold an 85mm f/1.7 along with a few others that was nasty and I'd call all but unuseable(waterlogged, cloudy, fungus, mechanically seized) and I was amazed to watch the Ebay price creep up into 3 figures. A perfectly serviceable AI-S Nikkor 85mm f/2 can be had for $100 or so, and maybe double that for an 85mm f/1.8.
  14. Keep both! I prefer the Nikon but the Minolta likely won’t bring much money. Just load them up and grab one going out the door, don’t worry about which one it is. Both are good cameras and it doesn’t cost a penny to just keep them.

    Rick H.
    robert_bowring likes this.

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