Minolta XE-7, The Crown Jewel of the SR Line.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Mar 23, 2009.

  1. The Minolta XE-7 is a truly remarkable camera. It is my favorite camera in my entire collection edging the Voigtlander Bessamatic by a couple of points. The XE-7 is the fruit of the collaboration between two of the camera industry power houses, Leitz and Minolta. It has a birth year of about 1975.
    All the XE-7 bodies I have seen, have been black finish, although I have heard that chrome versions do exist. The camera is build like a tank commanding quite a bit of heft, which inspires confidence and reliability in my opinion. It has one of the smoothest film advance mechanisms I have ever handled and it is a pure joy using it.
    90% of the camera controls are incorporated on the top housing. These controls include the on/off switch, exposure counter, advance lever, shutter speed dial and shutter release, rewind knob, and a smart disk at the bottom of the rewind knob which controls the ASA settings and exposure compensation(from -2 to +2 stops)
    The front of the body includes the self timer lever, the DOF button, lens release, X-sync terminal and flash synchronization selector, while the back contains the very useful film pocket reminder with a table for ASA/DIN conversions.
    The Minolta XE-7 can be used in the very useful Aperture Priority mode for those "decisive moment" shots or in full manual mode. The exposure compensation option mentioned above, makes the adjustment to the changing of lighting conditions, a snap. The viewfinder is very bright with a split image micro-prism for those difficult focusing conditions. With the aperture and shutter information clearly visible in the viewfinder, one can continue to take pictures and make the adjustments on the fly without taking the camera away from the eye.
    Common maladies of the XE-7 system can include an unstable meter needle or a dead meter system altogether; I have been lucky in that respect and intend to stay that way if I can help it :). The less privileged sister of the XE-7, my XE-5, is already starting to exhibit the jumping needle condition in the metering system, so service time may be approaching for it.
    The Minolta XE-7, with hundreds of rokkors available for it, is not just a remarkable camera, but a remarkable system; I may be nuts about Minoltas in general, but so are so many who favorably review and describe them on their blogs and web sites.
    Here are a few pictures of my XE-7 and few images made with it.
    Bottom of an Antique Well (Mexico, 2009)

    MC Rokkor-PF 58mm/1.4, 1/125s, f/5.6 on AGFA Chrome RSX II 50
    A Lamp on the Shore

    Minolta Celtic MD 135mm/2.8, 1/250s, f3.5 on Fuji Reala 100
    Kite Surfer

    Minolta Celtic MD 135mm/2.8, 1/500s, f8, polarizer, on Fuji Reala 100
    Shell Hunting

    These women were so absorbed looking for shells, that I don't think they realized they looked
    so comical as I thought, through the optics of my Celtic. It may be in poor taste, but I just could not resist.

    Minolta Celtic MD 135mm/2.8, 1/250s, f16 on Fuji Reala 100
    Mayan Sand Temple

    Minolta Celtic MD 135mm/2.8, 1/500s, f5.6 on Fuji Reala 100
    The Bench

    MC Rokkor-PF 58mm/1.4, 1/250s, f/2.8 on AGFA Chrome RSX II 50
    The Rooster

    MC Rokkor-PF 58mm/1.4, 1/125s, f/5.6 on AGFA Chrome RSX II 50
    An Antique Vase

    MC W.Rokkor-SG 28mm/3.5, 1/60s, f/8 on AGFA Chrome RSX II 50
    Sunset on Little Camp Lake (PA, 2008)

    Tokina 35-135mm, 1/125s, f/8 on AGFA Optima 100
    Central Park Underpass (NYC, 2008)

    MC Rokkor-PF 58mm/1.4, 1/125s, f/8 on Fuji Reala 100
    A Wooden Wheel

    Vivitar 28mm/2.5, 1/125s, f/4 on AGFA APX 100
  2. I used to shoot with the XE-1, the european equivalent to the XE-7, a lot in my youth, because a friend of mine had one (I had the XG-1 at that time). I always loved it. Very nice cam! What I missed was a light meter that worked in manual mode, but that was rare even in later models and could only be found in a practical mode in the OM-2. In Germany the chrome version is found more often. Maybe there were regional preferences. If you want a chrome XE-1 you might to search german ebay.
  3. .
    Great review. I also found Minolta gear ergonomically inviting and supportive of "decisive moments." My catalog shows the XE starting in November 1974, similar to the Leica R3. What? Leica wanted Minolta quality and affordability but looked down on the Minolta nameplate? Now they're struggling with Panasonic. Zeiss Contax had Pentax then Kyocera then Cosina and Sony, Hasselblad has Fuji, and so on. Your name here. Anyway, yes, the XE was special in it's incorporation of Leica requirements, but ever a Minolta from start to finish. I find my Minolta SR T 101, X-700, and even later 507si and A1 special in similar, ergonomic, photographic ways, too. Joys to hold and reflexive to shoot. Thanks for this, Ralf.
  4. Thanks Ralf.
  5. Excellent write-up, Ralf! The pictures of the camera are very nice, but the pics you took with it are superb. The sharpness and color are incredible and your compos are very nice in typical Ralf-style. Since getting my XE-5 I have enjoyed using it just to experience the smoothness of its operation and the solidity that seems typical of Minolta SLRs. The results are excellent and I look forward to using it for quite some time. I was fortunate to have gotten one that had been refurbished and has had a full CLA, so hopefully I won't see any meter issues for a long time. It's a great camera that I thoroughly enjoy along with my SRTs, fantastic Minolta bodies. Thanks for such a superb write-up...it's great to hear from you again!
  6. Excellent review and photos. I had an XE-7 for a few years, and loved it. All I have now is an X700. That 58mm 1.4 lens is a keeper. It really is one of my favorite lenses.
  7. Darn. Another one for the shopping list. :(
  8. I just took out my Dad's old SRT 101 and shot a roll with it. I have been experimenting with Canon and Bessa RFs and their lenses. Well for contrast and clarity the Minolta 50f1.4 just blew my mind. I have been having fun with the RF's and the various lenses but the Minolta is going to be used more.
    I had an XE-7 when I found found out it was the same as a Leica R a few years ago. I gave it to my brother and I'll bet he has it in a closet and just shoots Digital now. Maybe I should ask for it back?
    My son has a large set of lenses and a X-700 that I gave him and I know that he uses only Digital now also. He said he would bring back the Wide Angle lenses to me to use, great for me.
    What really suprised me was Saturday when I went to a local Walmart and their 35 mm film section had shrunk to a 4 foot section and they said they were dropping 35mm? I guess China will have to get into the 35mm film for them to restock?????
  9. Absolutely outstanding! Thanks for sharing Ralf. I love the bench pic, incredible picture.
  10. Jose -- Try some of Kodak's new Ektar 100 in your Minolta. It's a fantastic film. Freestyle Photo, B&H and Adorama are the places to buy film, not Walmart and the like.
  11. Really fine photos! I think these exemplify the adage; the right tools in the right hands!
    A great combination! Really liked the Rooster!
  12. Nice review, Ralf. Your pictures are wonderful and show off the lenses very well. The Kite Surfer and the Sunset on Little Camp Lake are very beautiful. Snappy lens that Tokina.
  13. Beware the "smart disk". I hate those things... I honestly think it's the worst design that became a "standard" in the entire history of manual focus cameras. Not only is it a pain in the butt to use, but every example I have come across is painfully fragile. But then again, I have the absolute worst luck in the world regarding light meters.
  14. Most people don't realize the engineering that went into this one, particularly the design of the shutter which was supposedly one of the quietest and most precise shutters ever built. I have two of these. I sold the Canon A1 in favor of the Minoltas. I'm favoring the Minoltas these days because they are so easy to find at good prices. Was surprised to see, 20 some years ago, a test in a major photo magazine that showed the Minolta lens beating the Zeiss, Canon and equaling most others like Nikon, etc.
  15. Oh, that should be "Jewel of the X line" since the SR line had been phased out by the next generation X series.
  16. Lovely photos, Ralf.
    The XE-7 is a great camera and classic camera guru Ivor Matanle preferred it to its Leica equivalent. I have about 6 of them.
    That said, I think I prefer the more recent Minolta xD11 which had a silicon censor rather than CdS, and could be operated in manual, aperture preferred, or shutter preferred (with MD lenses).
    I will just say that they are both wonderful cameras.
  17. I also enjoy using Minolta cameras. This morning I shot some UC400 at my son's school with an X-700, a 35-70 f/3.5 MD and a 360PX. By the time I took an interest in Minolta equipment I was afraid of having problems servicing the XE cameras. I have three X-700s as well as some SRT cameras. The X-700 has a slower flash synch but the same top shutter speed. It has a reliable and durable meter and also has TTL flash capability. In all, the X-700 was made for almost 20 years from 1981 until some time in 2000. They were assembled in China for the last few years of their run. I did not care for most of the electronic Minoltas made between the XEs and the X-700. The possible exception would be the XD cameras. A friend of mine has one and it has a nice smooth feel when you advance the film. Unfortunately the skin of most XD cameras has shrunk up so they don't look very good. The X-700 has two additional features in its favor. It as a very bright viewfinder and it has interchangeable focusing screens. I mostly use the grid screen and sometimes use the plain matte screen. By the time the Maxxum 7000 came out in 1985 the X-700 was only about five years old. Minolta kept it in production long after auto focus became the norm and it is still easy to get an X-700 serviced. I like the look and feel of an XE-7 but I feel about it the same way I do about the Nikkormat EL. Both cameras were early electronic models and were important for that reason alone. I feel safer using a later Nikon FE or a mechanical Nikkormat when it comes to thinking about the need for a repair.
  18. Thank you for commenting guys.
    Stefan - thanks for the tip on the XE1, however I must say shipping cost from EU have gone astronomical.
    Peter - thanks for commenting, I have an X-700 as well, used it for a couple of years, however I still found myself going to the XE-7.
    Gene - thanks for stopping by.
    Andy - thanks for commenting as always, need to see results from that XE-5 soon. What focal length are you suing with it?
    Mark - I agree the 58mm rokkor is a superb piece of metal and glass, it is hard to find a modern lens of that caliber today. Thanks for commenting.
    August - why the sad face? Adding another classic marvel to your growing collection should be a joy. Thanks for stopping by.
    Jose - you can not go wrong with Minolta glass, I encourage you to recover your xe-7 and rescue it from the misery of a forgotten closet.
    Chuck - thanks for the compliments, how are things going, did you get that big ol' Graflex slr back to use?
    Louis - thanks for commenting. Even though rokkors are plentiful, one can not ignore some very decent 3rd party lens maker, with Tokina being one of the leader of the pack.
    Pat - I am sorry you dismiss the exposure/asa compensation dial. Maybe you have been unlucky as electronics in a lot of these classics have a tendency to be a coin toss; in my example it work quite well though. Thanks for commenting.
    Tom - thanks for commenting, and the additional info. When I mentioned SR I was referring to the actual mount which remain the same on all manual Minoltas until the discontinuation of the last one, the X-370s.
    Kerry - thanks for commenting, I have the XD11 too, but would still prefer the XE-7, even though the XD series are lighter and easier on your neck or back. My XD11 is fine, but my XD-5 is exhibiting the same problem as the rest of the XD-XG line, unstable meter LEDs due to the overheating of the capacitors inside.
    Jeff - I agree with your assessment about feeling safer with an all mechanical camera, as it is easier to replace parts or sometimes even machine broken parts, like my repair man does. These task are much harder with the electronics as you can not really find spare parts any more, and I doubt any repair man can machine a circuit board these days. Thanks for commenting.
  19. .
    Minolta SR is the mount, so "Jewel of the SR line" makes sense to me. "Jewel" also means like a watch jewel movement, and the XE certainly had that feel.
    The Minolta X-line is a subset of the Minolta SR line, the electronic line, but using the Minolta SR lens mount (still in production, by the way, via Minolta's former China factory affiliate, Seagull, though most your-name-here house-brand versions have Pentax K-mount, of all things!). The Minolta X-line added tabs to the lens-to-camera communication, but did not change the mount:
    • MC tab = Meter Coupling where the aperture setting moved the metering target
    • MD tab = Minolta Dual Mode(?) where the lens reported it's aperture was full open and ready for the camera to select any aperture in auto exposure more, and then the camera reported through the viewfinder that the lens was full open. Note that in auto exposure mode, the camera would use any aperture between the set aperture and minimum (f/16, f/22, or f/32 were the only settings of the MD tab), so any aperture setting smaller than full open merely restricted the aperture range from which the camera could select.
    • X-600 tab = select different focus confirm sensors in the Minolta X-600 camera, either f/2.8 or larger, or f/3.5 or smaller.
    ... but ALL these tabs were supplemental enhancements to the SR lens mount.
    Any of the electronic controls could develop oxidation, as well as any of the mechanical components suffering sit down adhesion and lack of smooth, free, well lubricated movement. So, Minolta recommended operating every camera control between film loads, including releasing the shutter at each shutter speed. For X-cameras, I'd also suggest winding the ASA metering reference / exposure compensation knob back and forth (1,000 times worked for me) to clean oxidation from the contacts. Careful application of http://www.Caig.com/ DeOxIT contact preservative may help, but frequent exercise is recommended for optimum health.
    I also note the difference between mechanical techs and electronic techs. Camera mechanics are old and dying out. Camera electricians have moved on to computer support. The only thing NOT refabricatable are the Minolta-dedicated VLSI Very Large Scale Integration custom chips from Minolta and others. Sadly, my Cosina/Vivitar AF Auto Focus lens in SR mount had such a failure, and with no source for a replacement VLSI, it's back to being a fully manual focus lens.
  20. FWIW, Annie Leibovitz in her At Work book, notes that her first camera was an SRT-101.
    I don't think I had seen examples from the XE-7 before. Thanks.
  21. Would anyone consider every single Nikon SLR (film and digital, save the Nikkorex) belonging to the "F line"?
  22. .
    Why NOT?
    I'm going to start a thread: "Pronea -- Crown Jewel of the Nikon F line"
    Fred, the problem is the SR is a Minolta camera AND a Minolta lens mount. Okay. Nikon has the same problem with "F" I suppose. Good point.
  23. very nice shots! sharp
  24. Al V - thanks for the kind words
    John - thanks for the feedback. What are you up to, taking any trips up the Smokey's any time soon?
  25. Nice shots, Ralf, and a nice example of XE-7. I own the XE-5 (simplified XE-7) and use it every chance I get. I found (left over as unclaimed repair from family camera shop) a beat-up XE-7 body. Rewind crank is gone, mirror bumper is worn, meter doesn't work, but the shutter will still fire at its mechanical 1/90 second and B settings. Impressive shutter durability.
  26. Ralf
    Nice shots, you made me hooked. I'll look for an XE 7 to share bunches of lenses with my other Minoltas. How about an XK 7
    Minolta is gone but always remembered by camera fans
  27. It is a jewel indeed Ralf.Robust construction, reliable, simple, a great film SLR for someone to start with and learn about photography.I use four younger sisters of the XE-7, the X-700, 7xi, Dynax 7 and Dynax 7D.Sony now carries this Minolta tradition and i expect great things of them in future, in digital area of course as expected.With a wide angle or normal 1.4 - 2.8 Minolta lens it can create masterpieces.The samples that i saw prove it.Regards
  28. The XE-7 is a delight. I own the evil twin Leica R3 and am so impressed by that camera that I ordered a mint XE-7 and some Rokkor wides (24/2.5, 28/2.5) and the magic 58/1.4 to fill in the gaps in my Leica R lens collection (35, 50, 90, 135). Leica has a wonderful 28/2.8, but it is roughly 12 times the price of the Rokkor and no better. The Leica 24/2.8 IS THE SAME LENS as the Rokkor 24.
    The two areas of disappointment in the XE-7 compared to the R3 is that it lacks the Leica's selectable spot metering (R3 shares the CLC system when set to average) and its finish is much more delicate, brassing almost instantly where the Leica, even after 35 years, still looks new despite heavy use.
    I also own newer cameras in both systems (X-570 for Minolta and R6 for Leica R), but there is just something special about the XE-7/R3 twins that the newer models can't match.
  29. Bought my XE-7 in 1975 and now forty years later, it works and looks like new. Once in a while I shoot a few rolls of film, and the results are extraordinary, getting my images put on a CD. Great camera, especially with the Copal-Leitz shutter.

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