Minolta X-700 and Old Film

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by craigd, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. As I remarked in my recent post in the Classic Manual Cameras forum, "Nikon FM and Old Film", my father-in-law, along with the Nikon, also gave me a Minolta X-700 and two rolls of probably long-expired color print film. One roll was used to test the Nikon, and came out rather well; the other roll is now finished and back from CVS, and also came out nicely.
    1. Minolta X-700 with MD 50mm f/1.7 lens
    I have a backlog of Minolta cameras to post about and compare (I should probably do a Minolta round-up). For now I will just discuss how the X-700 compares to its little brother, the X-570, and a competitor, the Nikon FG.
    It is often said that while the X-700 is a great camera, nevertheless its little brother, the X-570, is superior for shooting in manual mode since its viewfinder LEDs show both the recommended and selected shutter speeds (the X-700 shows only the recommended speed). There is some truth to this, but really, if I intend to shoot manual mode with a Minolta camera, I'll reach for an older model that was really intended to be used in manual mode -- an SR-T, an XK, an XE-7, or even an XD-11. You know, cameras that look like they date from the age of manual cameras. The Minoltas of the 1980s were clearly designed for automation, and the glossy, all-black, rather high-tech early-'80s look of the X-700 and X-570 really seems to me to beg the photographer not to ignore their built-in microprocessors and their ability to think for themselves. Consequently, the limitation of the X-700's viewfinder LEDs doesn't really bother me because I'm simply not tempted to shoot that camera in manual mode. Instead, when program mode won't do, I switch to aperture priority mode and apply exposure compensation when I think it will be needed. Shooting the X-700 in manual mode would feel to me like buying a car with an automatic transmission and then habitually shifting its gears manually.
    As for the Nikon FG, its features are very similar to the X-700's. Both have program mode, aperture-priority mode, and manual mode, selected in much the same way by the shutter speed dial, with a lock to prevent you from accidentally shifting out of the P or A modes. The FG's main advantage is that like the X-570, it shows both the recommended and selected shutter speeds in manual mode. The FG's negatives are mostly cosmetic: it has a cheap-feeling hinged plastic film advance lever, and it looks a little old-fashioned for its year of release (1982). It looks basically like a slightly smaller FE, that is, a camera of the late '70s, whereas the Minolta looks like a camera of the early '80s.
    While I like the X-700 quite a lot for what it is (an AE but manual-focus film camera), I don't know how often I'll shoot it because most of the time I really would rather be in manual mode. My idea of getting lazy is to use aperture priority mode.
    Here are a few pictures, shot fairly randomly, with the X-700, the MD 50mm f/1.7, and my father-in-law's outdated roll of Fuji Superia 800, as developed and scanned by the CVS minilab.
    2. Welcome rock
    3. Leaf shadow
    4. Red flower #1
    5. Red flower #2
    6. Yellow flower
    That's all for now. I hope you've enjoyed it!
  2. Hard to beat an X-700 with the standard 50mm f1.7 lens. Near the end of MD mount Minolta production this is the one fast normal that Minolta continued to offer as they cut back on lens models as sales failed. When the X-700 was at its peak (just before Maxxums debuted), purchase of an X-700 via mail order or pro shop usually came with the 50mm f1.7 or 1.4 with some buyers opting for the f1.2. Department stores usually offered them with the less expensive 50mm f2. When my family owned a camera shop we sold most with the 50mm f1.7, which is a solid performer. Great results, BTW. Thanks for posting.
  3. I usually use my X-700s in Aperture Priority mode. If I face a back-lit subject I will tilt the camera down slightly to get a slower speed, hold down the meter lock button, tilt back up and shoot. I also use the exposure compensation dial. The 280PX and 360PX flash units work very nicely with the X-700s. I just added a second Power Grip 2 set and an MD-1 motor drive. The combination of the X-700, a lens, the Power Grip 2, the 360PX and all the batteries (18 AAs) makes for a good weight lifting workout. By now I have six X-700s, one X-570, two SRT-101s, a 102, a 201, an SR-7, an X-370S, two XG-7s, an XG-9 and a Phoenix P-5000. The Phoenix looks like a late model X-370 with some odd and possibly removable body cladding. My Minolta ER of 1963 rounds out my collection of Minolta full frame 35mm SLRs.
    The X-700 does not have the solid feel of a Nikkormat FT2 or a Canon EF but the bright finder, interchangeable focusing screens and TTL flash make it a very useful and pleasant to use camera.

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