Minolta XD

Throughout the 70s and early 80s Minolta was arguable the most innovative camera manufacturer in the marketplace. They claim ownership of a long line of “firsts” in the camera world, including the first fully operational AF SLR, the first and only AF mirror lens and more. The Minolta X D predates all of those innovations, having been released in 1977. At the time camera makers and photographers were still getting accustomed to things like TTL metering, electronic shutters and automated priority modes. Prior to this camera one could choose a system with an aperture priority mode or one with a shutter speed priority mode, but not both. The Minolta X D was the first commercially marketed camera with both an A-mode and an S-mode as well as a fully metered manual mode. The fully electronic shutter is stepless from 1/1000 to 1s in auto-modes and stepped thru the same range in manual mode. There is an interesting over-ride that adjusts for improper exposure after checking the post-stopped down TTL view. I said the shutter is fully electronic but it also functions in O mode without a battery long exposures.

This camera is beautifully built and the design was a product of a collaboration between Minolta and Leica. The same basic design was used in the Leica R4-R7 models. There are at least five different versions of this camera due to minor upgrades and mine is the original 1977 version. There are also differing names based on region. In North America Minolta called this the XD-11. In Europe it was the XD-7. The domestic model was the X D.

I found this particular camera in the junk bin but the only problem I can find is a slightly finicky winding mechanism. I spent 200 yen on a pair of batteries for it before buying it. But the shutter wasn’t cocking or releasing. I opened the back and gave the winding gear a slight turn with my finger and it started working fine. I haven’t done any detailed testing of the metering but it appears to be working as well.

I already had the 50/1.4 lens at home but decided to look for something else to use with this camera as well. The 135/3.5 I found was in horrible condition so I passed. I found a decent 28/2.8 but they wanted 5,000 yen for it ($40) so I passed. Then I came across the 50-135/3.5 and found it to be acceptably clean. It seems like such a strange focal range but I’m thinking it might be handy for portrait shooting. Anyway, I’ll be trying it out soon.

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