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“The Minolta X-700 is a Manual Focus SLR camera with 3...”

Written on: 17/09/2004 by stanley c wong (6 reviews written)

Good Points
Works with Minolta-Rokkor lenses. An excellent range. Super cheap secondhand. Full functions.

Bad Points
Limited reliability, especially with winding mechanism. No battery - no click. Annoying beeping mode (that can be turned off).

General Comments
The Minolta X-700 is a Manual Focus SLR camera with 3 exposure control modes. Program Mode [P] where you set the lens aperture to minimum, focus and shoot. Shutter speed and aperture are selected according to a preset chart. Useful for snapshots and not much anything else. Then again, sometimes snapshots are important too. Aperture Priority Mode [A] where you set the lens aperture, focus and shoot. Good for general photography and gives you control over the Depth Of Field (DOF). Good thing the X-700 has a DOF preview button. Any manual focus camera without one is severely handicapped, IMHO. Metered/Full-Manual Mode where you set both the lens aperture and shutter speed. Good for fine control over image produced and specialized photography. Personally, I stick to Aperture Priority Mode 99% of the time. It takes 2 LR44 batteries or 1 CR-1 battery. Easy and cheap to obtain and lasts quite a bit, though much less so than the X-300 or FM3A. This is probably because I keep forgetting to switch off the main switch. I am not sure if it has an Auto-Off function like my FM3A.

As mentioned, you have to switch on the camera and it has 2 ON positions. One ON position has that annoying beeping warning noise (which warns if you have 1/30s shutter speed or slower set). So you can select the other ON position. But having 2 ON positions is a no-no in my book. You might forget if you switched the camera on or off. A minus to me.

Shutter speed goes up to 1/1000s, goes down to 1s and has a B (bulb) mode. +2 to -2 Exposure control. No DX code reader (very few manual focus cameras do). Recommended shutter speed shown in viewfinder (LED). Aperture of lens shown in viewfinder by means of a prism. Comes with usually spot-on center-weighted metering.

I sold my X-300 in 1995 to buy a secondhand X700. Big mistake. I had trouble with the film advance within a few months. It seems that the shutter died too. (Did I mention that you need batteries to work this camera? No manual setting for batteryless operation like some other manual focus cameras). Had to sell the body for spare parts. Put me off the X-700 for years.

My next camera was the EOS500N (not 100% reliable, but a great camera nonetheless). Still have it. Then a FM3A (solid piece of work! The best manual focus camera I know!). Then last year I bought back my X-300. While looking for lenses for the X-300, I was offered a mint condition X-700 with a 35-70mm lens for SGD80. The condition was incredible and though I was not too sure about the reliability of the camera, I could always sell off the body and keep the lens and still come up on top. After a couple of rolls, I found it a pretty neat package. It still irritates me with the beeping ON mode (I still sometimes forget to switch ON the other way) and the winding does not seem as robust as the FM3A. In fact, it becomes increasingly harder to wind towards the end of the roll. Something I have not noticed with any other manual advance camera.

There has been quite a bit of gripe about reliability of this camera. I am not sure if it matters where it was made (but it probably does), as I do not know where my older X-700 was made. I would rate the assurance it gives that it would keep on clicking no matter what as below that of my X-300 and way, WAY below that of my FM3A. NOT a camera that would take rough handling IMHO.

Why do I still use it? Minolta lenses (especially Minolta-Rokkor lenses) are great in quality, easily available in the secondhand market and can be had for a fraction of the cost of secondhand Nikon lenses. It has a DOF preview mode which my X-300 does not. With the plastic but good 35-70mm zoom that came with it, it is almost as light as my Canon 500N. In short, it has found a niche as my "good enough to use, all necessary features, good picture quality and cheap enough to lose without crying" camera. I bring it to places where I would not trust to display my FM3A to all to see.

Buy it if you see one super cheap and are looking for good optics. Do not cry if it dies on you 2-3 months later.

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