Minolta XE-7 or X-700...which would you prefer, and why?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by andy_collins|1, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. I've had numerous XE-7s over the years and have a couple now that I just love to use. The camera is such a joy to operate and feels perfect in the hand. I have also heard a lot of wonderful things about the X-700 and what an outstanding camera it is. I had one some years ago, but didn't use it much before selling it to acquire a different camera. I just acquired another one recently, which led me to wonder what others think about it in comparison to the XE-7 or even the XD11. I would really be interested in hearing your thoughts. I know this should probably be posted in Modern Film Camera, but most of you whose thoughts I'm interested in hearing post here much more frequently so that's why it's here.
     
  2. The X-700 was a real step downward in quality compared to the XE and XD series cameras.
    The X-700 and the similar XG-M, and later XG's can be characterized as mostly plastic, with plastic gears. As production moved away from Japan, assembly quality also dropped. Perhaps worst of all was the transition from dipped tantalum capacitors in the circuitry to dirt cheap aluminum caps. Many aluminum caps have failed by now and those that are still working even within spec should not be trusted.
    I have serviced hundreds of Minoltas, including all those mentioned. I have never seen an XE or XD with a failed release capacitor.
    For a user, the XD-11 would be my top choice for certain. It's basically a Leica R-4 and one of the smoothest operating SLR's. The quality of the XE series is also very high.
     
  3. I will take the other side of this argument. I have an overhauled XE-5 and many X-700s. The X-700 is lighter and has a brighter finder. The X-700 has interchangeable focusing screens. Minolta did not promote this feature and the different screens are nearly impossible to find but my favorite X-700 has a grid screen in it. The X-700 has an easy way to lock the meter reading when shooting in Aperture Priority mode. The X-700 uses silicon meter cells which respond much more quickly than CdS cells. The X-700 has TTL flash metering. This is especially handy for macro work. The X-700 works with a winder or a motor drive. The top shutter speed of the X-700 is the same 1/1000 as that of the XE cameras. What advantages do the XE cameras have? They have vertical metal shutters so they synch with flash at the higher 1/90 shutter speed. The XE-7 also has an eyepiece shutter.
    I accept the criticism that the capacitors used in the X-700 were of unnecessarily low quality and that the winding mechanism is not as robust as those in an Canon F-1/n or Nikon F2. Minolta did not compete much in the professional market and had the XK for that. Some like the XK and some don't. I don't have an XK and don't consider it as durable as a Canon F-1/n or Nikon F2. My answer to the reliability and construction issues of the X-700 is that they are easy to get repaired and don't cost much. I also like the general feel of my XE-5 even if I find myself switching to manual settings because I can't lock the reading in Aperture Priority mode but I think the X-700 has many more modern features and is capable of excellent work. Nikon FE/FE2 cameras seem to have held up better than the Minolta XE models and are generally mode sturdy than the X-700 but are heavier than the X-700. The FE/FE2 cameras also have easier to change focusing screens than the X-700.
     
  4. Also, the XE series will function at x-sync (1/90 sec) and B without battery. If battery dies in X700 it's deader than a can of
    Spam.
     
  5. The photos are great. I have two Multi Function Backs and just added an IR-1 set. Yes, the X-700 doesn't work without batteries. I always carry spare MS-76 batteries and sometimes a spare X-700 body. My overhauled XD-11 is a chrome model. I think I prefer the X-700 to the XD-11. If I am really worried about battery power I can use one of my many SRT cameras. I have some X-9 cameras and I think they have brighter finders than the X-700. They also have a depth of field preview feature. The next Minolta I think I'll send out for an overhaul is a SRT Super. It's the same as my SRT 102s. I just love the Super name. I may have to find a Super Lentar or Super Paragon to go with it. Recently I added another X-570. That's also a nice camera and some people like it for using in manual metered mode.
     
  6. Great, informative responses, everyone! I really appreciate the info. Jeff, why do you prefer the X-700 over the XD-11?
     
  7. The XD series can also function without batteries at X or B.
     
  8. "X-700 uses silicon meter cells which respond much more quickly than CdS cells" Jeff A.
    True the X-700 may be more sophisticated, but speed isn't really a big deal these days when someone wishes to use their "film" camera.
    They usually pull these out when they want to slow their photography down.
    In fact, look at the prices of film burning motor drives and winders right now, they're close to the price of a few rolls of film !

    I especially agree with Les S.:"With the prices of these great classic bodies,..."
    My order of choice in terms of build quality and feel are: Minolta XE-7, XD and then the X-700
     
  9. I don't think the XD-11 has a way of locking the reading while in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority mode. It has factory interchangeable focusing screens (like the Canon A-1) rather than user interchangeable screens. As far as the finder is concerned, it's nice and bright and if I don't need a special screen for a particular subject, I like it. Horizontal cloth shutters are more durable than I gave them credit for when I started with a Konica Autoreflex T2 so many years ago. The downside is the slower flash synch speed (not counting the interesting Olympus OM4 system). Going from the vertical shutter in the XD-11 to the horizontal cloth shutter in the X-700 was a step backward in some ways. At some point Minolta figured out that its Maxxum line would have to go back to the more modern vertical shutter arrangement. An upgraded version of the XD-11 with a top shutter speed of 1/2000, silicon metering, TTL flash metering and user interchangeable focusing screens might have been a better alternative than the X-700 but Minolta already had the XK, which I think did not sell very well, and was working on the Maxxum 7000. Still, I find the X-700 very pleasant to use. I can still get them repaired and I have enough of them that I should be able to enjoy them for some time.
     
  10. I can't add much detail to what has been said about the X-700; but, I have found it to be a camera that is very pleasant to use and gives excellent results. Two features already mentioned that I particularly appreciate are the Auto Exposure Lock and the great viewfinder screen. Over 25 years or so of use I can't remember any particular downside to the use of plastic in the construction. I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned the flash system-- the 280px works well with the Minolta TTL system (though not at the output that they claim for it) and is very good for people photos, particularly with the diffuser that comes with it. I'm not familiar with the XE series so I can't compare with that; but, I do have some experience with the XD-5, little sister to the XD-11, and, aside from the AEL dedicated flash, & ease of holding with the X-700, I'd find it pretty much at the same level as the X-700, but older.
     
  11. Gus--I have to agree with the 1st choice being the XE-7 in terms of build quality and feel. It's a pretty special camera!
    Jeff--thanks for the detailed explanation.
    Bill--thank you for your response too. It's nice to hear that your experience over 25 years has been a really good one. I will have to acquire another 280px in the near future and work with it awhile.
     
  12. When I posted the first response to this thread I already knew that the lovers of the X-700, the two or three of them, would appear here to tell us how the cheap plastic camera was just as good as any other Minolta (or any camera, in some of the posts).
    I guess that you have to dance with whomever brought you to the prom, and if it's the X-700, take another spin.
    For those of us who have been deep into several hundred of the cameras in question, I think that is just kind of humorous at this point for those who cannot see that the XE and XG series Minoltas were the finest MD mount cameras made. Lens mounts aside, they were basically identical to the Leica R3 and R4 cameras, some of the smoothest operators ever made. Compared to them the X-700 and it's plastic ilk when winding feel like the dull knife cutting raw carrot of the 1965 VW Beetle shifter.
    Minolta at the time was reeling under the onslaught of the Canon AE-1. The X-700 was a last ditch obsolete model with a couple of tweaks intended to stave off the competition until the Maxxum was released. If you have some good MC and MD lenses, don't waste them on some plastic geared electronically challenged POS.
     
  13. "I guess that you have to dance with whomever brought you to the prom, and if it's the X-700, take another spin." The X-700 is not my only Minolta and was certainly not my first Minolta. That was a Minolta 16 PS in 1970. I think you meant the XE and the XD, not the XE and the XG. The XG cameras had even more plastic and were more poorly made than the X-700. The X-700 has metal and plastic parts. The XE cameras are historically interesting because they were the first Minolta SLRs with mechanically governed shutters. My interest is as a user-collector. Based on this I can use and enjoy any camera I like. No Minolta SLRs, including the XE-7/XE-5, have the mechanical integrity of a Nikon F2 or a Canon F-1/n. I enjoy using the X-700 in the same way I enjoy using a Yashica FX-3 or Vivitar V4000/S. These aren't the absolute sturdiest models but I have enough of them so I can use them knowing that if they fail, I have other bodies to use the lenses on. I look at the X-700 not as a last ditch effort for Minolta but as a transitional model. Minolta must have known that once AF took hold, it would outsell and replace manual focusing models. A person who bought an X-700 in 1981 when it came out got a capable camera with the durability of other similar models. A person who bought an X-700 in 1985 just before the release of the Maxxum 7000 could well have felt that he/she bought an outdated model.
    When the half-frame craze died down, Olympus needed something to sell while it was developing the OM-1. That model was the FTL. When the M42 era was winding down (or had mostly wound down) Asahi brought out the short lived Spotmatic F. Even the Pentax KM, KX and K2 models of 1975 weren't anything new when they appeared in 1975. Mamiya couldn't sell many of its interesting Auto XTL and Auto X1000 bayonet mount models and replaced them with the modified M42 mount SX series. These were transitional models before the unsuccessful NC1000/S and even less successful ZE models.
    We can look at the 1945-1965 time period as the era of rangefinder and TLR cameras. The 1965-1985 time period was the era of manual focus 35mm SLR cameras. The 1985 to 2005 time period was the era of AF SLR 35mm cameras. From 2005 on we have the era of digital SLRs and non-SLRs. During each of these periods there were developments. Shutters went from being mechanically governed to being electronically governed. Exposure went from external meters to internal meters and from match needle to automatic and from stop down to full aperture. There were many interesting models made over the years and it is a matter of personal preference when someone decides to use one rather than another. If someone likes the Petri FT EE or the Ricoh Auto TLS EE or the Miranda DX-3, that's fine with me. Claiming they were the best made cameras wouldn't match up with any facts I know. I don't claim that the X-700 was the best camera ever made. I just say that I enjoy using it.
     
  14. I own one Minolta SLR -- an XD-11 and it is one of my favorite 35mm cameras. Beautifully smooth, and very well made. I consider it to be at -- or very close to -- the pinnacle of achievement with Minolta's 35mm cameras. I wouldn't mind owning an XK Motor either, but can't afford one. The XEs are solid cameras, no doubt. But as for the X-Series, rather than an X-700, I prefer the X-570. It may be one step down in percieved quality, but it's a big step up in another area. In manual mode, the X-570 shows both the selected aperture and shutter speed. The X-700 shows the selected aperture only, and displays the recommended shutter speed. You have to take your eye away from the viewfinder to see where you've set it. I much prefer cameras that display actual exposure settings over those that display the recommended ones. The X-700 is an earlier model that the X-570, and it seems that Minolta decided to add this feature into the newer, cheaper camera. The result, to me, is a newer, better camera.
     
  15. XK Minolta's are readily found on Ebay by sellers that do not know much or investigate how they operate. I have purchased three of these in the past 5 years and all had worked fine upon installing fresh batteries. Fresh batteries are needed to trigger the shutter to reset the camera to operate again. Most past owners left the batteries in the old camera causing the shutter mechanics to lock up. I was surprised at first so I purchased my second and third one getting the same results when new batteries were installed. Made some money on the three of these since I really did not care to keep them since I am a rangefinder guy
     
  16. Since my original post, I've acquired an X-570 and another XD-11. The XD-11, while not needed, was being offered for such a paltry sum, I couldn't let it sit there. As for the X-570, I really like this camera -- a lot. I don't miss the Program mode found in the X-700. It's more than made up for with the X-570's solid, full-featured Manual mode.
     
  17. Since this dormant thread has momentarily resurfaced...

    It is worth noting that some of the older posts are incorrect. The XD cameras were completely up to date, premium showcases of technology: they did in fact employ silicon photo diode meter cells and LED display. It is the older XE and XK series that used CdS cells and needle/scale display. XD, XG, X700, and final XK with AE-S prism all used SPD meters.

    The XD series was exquisite: the most luxurious, beautifully built manual focus SLRs Minolta ever offered. Truly their high water mark, developed in tandem with Leica. The only feature they lacked was an AE lock button, but this was surprisingly not unusual at the time: many premium electronic AE cameras had no AE lock (engineers seemed to feel a +-2 EV compensation dial would be more useful). Aside from that the XD was very advanced: full information finder, multimode AE, fully coupled manual exposure metering, TTL flash metering, undocumented program exposure mode (another first), final meter setting during lens stop down, extraordinarily smooth mechanical operation, 1st camera with Acute Matte focus screen technology, etc etc. The Canon A-1 that followed was jarring by comparison: the most non-intuitive, confusing, bizarre-handling AE camera ever seen to that point. The customer base became polarized ever after: XD epitomized the evolution and perfection of old school camera design, A-1 jumped with both feet into an exciting uncharted (and not always better-implemented) future.

    Like any forty year old electronic camera, XD can develop issues that render them unusable or impractical to repair today. That doesn't take away from the fact they worked extremely well over their intended initial 15-year lifespan: they were priced reasonably for the era, and the level of durability they provided was worth it. It bears remembering that none of the classic mechanical vintage cameras we fall all over ourselves praising was actually expected to survive 50+ years: thats an accident due mostly to the mechanics being largely repairable.

    Unfortunately the microelectronics required for advanced AE sometimes don't hold up quite as well and are not as easily repaired: Minolta suffered from this to greater degree than Nikon, whose electronic FE and FE2 will outlast cockroaches and Cher. To be fair, the XD is more directly comparable to the multimode Nikon FA, which was arguably less reliable over the long haul than XD (and certainly far less reliable than FE/FE2). Ironically, some first-generation electronic CdS bodies like Minolta XE, Nikon/Nikkormat EL and Pentax ES might be more repairable nowadays than their more advanced sequels: the older wiring is practical to troubleshoot and part out (hardly cost effective, but possible).
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
    mrjallen likes this.
  18. @mike w: Not sure where the X300 falls in with the other offerings...but my experience was that I received one being told it didn'T work any more. AS I didn't have "fresh" batteries I tried some that were working fine in another camera, but circa 6+ months old. Nothing... I put it back in the cabinet. A few months later bought new batteries and thought I should try that in this Minolta. At first ..again nothing...then I tried the battery check and it peeped..hadn't before ... Then I had set it to bulb and I heard it fire. So I set it back off to normal and Voila.. suddenly it was working. I also theorized some caps had discharged over time and it needed a wake-up call. since then seems to be ok!!

    AS for the OP etc.. I have the XD11 and it is solid in every way. For a while it was the most modern camera I owned. I now have a Nikon N2000/F301 as my most modern camera. I find the X-300 a good shooter, sensible and feels nice in the hand. I really want a MD 35 or 28mm lens. I have 2 after-market zooms and the very fine Rokkor 1.4.
     
  19. Even though this thread goes back a few years I'll add something else. In the USA the X370 is equivalent to the X300. And it is usually a bargain Also, the Minolta X7A I think is similar in features. While capacitors can "go south" in any electronic camera, the X300/X370 are cheap enough it's just easier to pick up another one.
     
  20. The X7A is basically a black X370 (or X300). It was marketed in the USA and Canada. One nice thing about this camera, whether the X7A or X370/X300, is it has a fully coupled manual mode. Same as the X570. This makes it a very capable manual mode shooter, thus a good choice for a photography student who is required to use a film camera. It lacks the aperture readout window, but I don't consider that to be that big of a deal. It also lacks the X700's depth of field preview and TTL flash capability, although it does support auto flash mode (shutter speed set to flash sync with dedicated units). It does share the X700's acute-matte focusing screen, however, a nice touch.
     

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