Completely new and clueless!

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by dajain, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. Good Morning Everyone,
    We just purchased a Minolta X-9, 35 mm camera and we are clueless to these manual cameras and getting crash courses on Aperature, ISO and such. Was are not looking to do it professionally but more hobby and take some quality pictures for our albums.

    I have found descriptions and basic instructions into most of what we would want to know but can't find one explanation for one adjustment on the camera itself.

    The "diaphragm-control lever" behind the lense. The owners manual doesn't talk about it at all, I found something online that indicates it adjusts the mirror but nothing more. Does anyone have a link or a basic description as to what this would be used for? Is it something that is commonly adjusted or should we just forget it's there?

    Again, I have never had a camera like this and my wife had one 30 years ago and can't remember anything about them.

    Looking forward to taking some decent pictures. Any advice is also welcome.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. I believe what you're referring to is the little lever inside the mirror box which operates the lens's automatic diaphragm when the mirror goes up.

    In a camera such as this, as you no doubt have observed, most lenses have an "automatic diapragm" which means that whatever you set it for, it does not change the view in the viewfinder. Metering is done by computation rather than direct readout. The lens remains fully open for focusing and viewing, and just at the moment the mirror flips up for an exposure, that lever operates a corresponding lever in the lens, which stops it down to its setting. As soon as the mirror drops down, the lens opens up again.

    There's no adjustment on this. If you snap the shutter with no lens on, you should see that lever move from right to left as the mirror goes up. If your camera has a depth of field preview button, it will manually move that lever sideways also.
  3. SCL


  4. If you want to learn the basics, get a book. Random questions that get even more random answers won't do.

    I recommend A. A. Blaker's Field Photography, available used for quite low prices from sellers on,,,, ...
  5. Aperture and ISO are things you should know about with any but the simplest cameras, including digital cameras.
  6. When I see questions such as these it just seems so sad that there is no one to mentor new folks in the technical aspect of photography. No way to connect CMC users to those just gaining a interest in photography using film cameras. Almost need a information clearing house so that new ones can meet up with experienced photographers for one on one instruction in the basics of camera operation.
    Nothing elaborate, just a few hours of teaching the use and function of a camera's exposure and focusing controls.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  7. Thank you for all the replies! Very helpful!

    We did get the owners manual with the camera, but it just points out what it is and doesn't say anything about what it does. So, that being said, it does make sense what you are saying Matthew and yes, it is inside the camera and as I can assume, in the mirror box. I didn't dare try to move it by hand as I don't want to cause any issues with the camera but since it is an automatic feature, I'll just leave it alone.

    Yes, I can just imagine this is a basic question for you guys and thank you for your patience and answering. We got the camera as my wife has always wanted to learn to take better pictures and a camera that is capable of doing just that.

    Funny thing is I found this camera at Goodwill for $12 and is in pristine condition and includes a bag, the flash, zoom lens with f3.5 - f22 aperture settings (good scenery lens???) but also had dead batteries and no film. We have film and batteries ordered but have not even turned the thing on yet. Doing research before we take our first pictures so we are not just wasting film.

    Again, thank you guys for all the replies. Would love to share come pictures once we take a few decent ones. It will come as we proceed to learn. :)
  8. That is a good idea. How do we go about this?
    dajain likes this.
  9. That would be great for us newbies but I know you experienced photographers don't want to spend your days answering endless newbie questions. Just as I don't want to answer endless mechanic questions. lol

    The internet is a great source of information and you can find great people and answers on these forums for quick questions. We don't plan on doing professional photos but would like some really nice ones for our collection so taking a class really doesn't make sense in our case, but buying an instructional book does. But, that being that said, a workshop would be awesome. I am much better with hands on and actual physical learning than reading and "classroom" learning. So yes, when I am reading the Aperture, ISO and any other factors regarding the camera, I have it in hand trying to simulate and learn.

    How do we make this happen John? I'm in!
  10. Well, there is the beginner's forum for these kind of questions, where any question is welcomed, and people responding are urged to be more patient. The more technical forums (like this one), one can expect a bit more technical and brief responses. So, there is no need to make anything happen, the solution is already there.

    To be brutally honest: do consider that the first few rolls (with a new camera, and with relatively little experience with photography) will be wasted. And be OK with wasting a few rolls - you will make mistakes, and you learn from those. You need to experiment and try, as you learn from that. So, get a number of cheap film, and start shooting. There is theory you will need to learn (the relation between shutterspeed, aperture and ISO, and some basic ideas on composition do help too), but ultimately, you learn from doing it. Just be sure (esp. in the beginning) to write down for yourself which settings you used for each shot, so if something went wrong, you can retrieve why/what/how.
  11. As for the aperture lever - I do not use any Minolta, but on other cameras I own with something similar, it is what Matthew described: it's a lever that closes the aperture to the set value when you make an exposure. So it keeps the aperture wide-open at all times (and especially during focussing), to only close it down when you actually click to make the photo. It hooks up internally to the lens, so it's not a user operated thing you need to worry about at all. This is probably also the reason the user guide doesn't mention it at all.
    Don't make things more complicated for yourself than they need to be. User manuals may not be the best books to learn from, but they do a decent job at explaining the controls of a camera, and when there is something not mentioned, you can usually be quite sure it means it is not a control, and hence not something to worry about unless your photos come out all wrong.
  12. That's why you gotta love Amazon. haha 10 rolls for $33. Experiment away! And don't worry, Brutally honest is good. Would rather have that than sugar coating the white spec on top of the chicken crap. :)
  13. Thanks for the advice Woulter. From what I have researched of the aperture has led me to believe the very thing you have stated, to leave it open. Since most of our pictures consist of scenery, sunsets and everyday life I don't see too much demand for focusing on just one thing in the foreground, but you never know. I'm sure I will experiment with it, but don't think the wife will. Then, I'll get in trouble for wasting film. lol
  14. I will check out the beginners forum. I did not see it on the list otherwise I would have started there. This "classic manual camera " forum was the closest one I seen for this camera. I'll check it out now. Thanks!
  15. If you mount the lens and you can't see the lever than don't touch it.
    dajain likes this.
  16. I don't know my first roll ever was 100% keepers and I did that at age 10. I do have many bad shots but that was much later. Today I only hope 1 keeper per roll.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
    dajain likes this.
  17. Therein lies the rub, about one on one mentoring that is. I have no idea how to set up databases or to do much on computers at all really. I live in Lacey, south Puget Sound, Washington state. So, any local film newby wanting a basic run through on classic manual cameras is welcome to PM me and set up some time to meet up.
    Come to think of it, does P-net have a provision for members to PM each other?
    I just find trying to find words to describe camera functions and how they interact to produce a photograph difficult. It is much easier to show than tell.
  18. Yes you can send Private Message to another member of
  19. Classic manual cameras, the subject here, most often don't have an automatic mode. (Some do, though.)

    But manual or auto, there is still a shutter speed, aperture setting, and focus.

    At the end of the classic manual cameras, were cameras with a built-in light meter, but still manual set, and finally simpler auto modes.

    The improvements in auto exposure, and then auto focus, are the transition to modern (and away from classic) cameras.

    Good photographers know when to use the auto modes, and when to use manual override, both for exposure and focus.

    My favorite oops with modern cameras, is a picture of two people, where the camera focuses on the background, right in the middle.

    The better classic cameras, that aren't SLR, have rangefinders to help focus. Looking through the viewfinder (or another window) you focus until two images align.
    Older ones, you guess the distance and set the focus ring as appropriate.

    Older cameras didn't need a battery. Early meters, external, built in, or for automatic exposure use selenium cells and no battery.

    Later use CdS and need a battery, but just for metering. Cameras that need a battery to run the shutter usually end up in the modern forum.

    So, the problem left is aperture and shutter speed. In full sun, it isn't so hard to find an appropriately fast shutter speed (to stop motion) and aperture (for good depth of field). But as it gets darker, especially for available light indoors, it gets trickier. You need a slower shutter speed, and have to try harder to keep the camera steady. You need a larger aperture, so must focus very carefully. And at this point, it goes from science to art. This is where practice comes in.
  20. The OP camera has aperture priority automatic exposure mode, manual exposure mode, manual focusing only, AE-lock.
    dajain likes this.

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