One of the great things about collecting cameras is that friends and family sometimes give you equipment they’re not using anymore. I’ve picked up many cameras that way over the years. It’s usually the junk nobody wants, but every now and again something really good falls into my hands. Such is the case with this Minolta X-700. My aunt Maxine bought it in the mid-1980s, but it has been sitting in a drawer unused for at least 10 years. She found out about my collection and decided I needed to have this camera.
I had never owned an SLR before. I’d only ever shot one a handful of times. My first wife had a Pentax K1000, and to be sure she was in some family photos she’d preset aperture and shutter speed and hand it to me. Except for focusing, I used it like a point and shoot.
I’d been primarily a camera collector up to this time; photography itself was secondary. I always enjoyed junk cameras I found at yard sales, but by this time I was shifting my focus to working rangefinders and folders. As I have used so many of these cameras now, I’ve learned the mechanics of photography to get decent results.
At the time Maxine gifted me this camera, it became the most capable camera in my collection. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
The Minolta X-700 was the pinnacle of Minolta’s final manual-focus SLR camera series. Minolta made X-700s for 20 years starting in 1981. Minolta aimed it at the advanced amateur, giving it aperture-priority and full program autoexposure. In 1981 it was pretty remarkable to twist the lens until the viewfinder image was crisp and then press the shutter button, confident that the camera would figure out the rest.
My camera came with three lenses. The primary lens is a 50 mm f/1.7 Minolta MD, a fine, sharp lens. The other two lenses were off-brand zooms that weren’t awesome.
By the way, if you enjoy Minolta SLRs, also check out my reviews of the SR-T 101 (here), SR-T 202 (here), XG 1 (here), Maxxum 7000 (here), and Maxxum 9xi (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
This was my first electronic-SLR experience, and I had to read its manual to begin to be able to use it. But once I figured those things out, I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and visited the cemetery at my church.
I shot in program mode. I’m surprised that the camera biased toward shallow depth of field.
I got this shot by accident. It turns out to be my favorite photo from the roll.
I brought the X-700 along on a road trip down the National Road (US 40) in western Indiana. This diner was, at the time, just east of Plainfield. It’s now in downtown Plainfield, completely renovated.
The X-700 was a useful companion on this trip. By this time I’d gotten the hang of it and it handled easily in my hands. Here’s an abandoned bridge that once carried US 40 west of Plainfield.
Here are some cheerful flowers I found by the roadside on an old alignment of the road near Reelsville.
Downtown Terre Haute offered me several nice subjects. This building once housed the Terre Haute Trust Company. But for as long as I can remember it has housed the Merchant’s National and, later, the Old National Bank.
Finally, a photo of the great sign for the Saratoga Restaurant. When I lived in Terre Haute in the 1990s, this was a place all the middle-aged people went for a nice night out. Now that I’m middle aged, I see the charm.
To see more from this camera, check out my Minolta X-700 gallery.
The Minolta X-700 is clearly a fine camera of great capability. I can see that I was just beginning to tap into its versatility as I shot these two rolls of film.
Unfortunately, a few weeks later when I tried to load another roll of film, the winder would not move. Some Internet sleuthing revealed that this is a common fate of the X-700. A particular capacitor fails and renders the camera inert. When I sought estimates for repair, I was disappointed with how expensive it would be. I put the X-700 aside thinking I’d have it repaired someday. But the years passed, other fine SLRs entered my collection, and I decided to just sell this X-700 as a parts camera.