After owning two Minolta Maxxum 7000 bodies that broke, I went looking for a working Maxxum body so I could put my two A-mount lenses through their paces. Then Sam over at Camera Legend profiled the mighty Minolta Maxxum 9xi — and pointed to a place where I could pick up a body for $22 shipped. That’s my kind of price! So I scooped it right up.

Minolta Maxxum 9xi

The 9xi was Maxxum in the US, a Dynax in Europe, and an α in Japan, but wherever it was sold upon its 1992 introduction, it was a hugely advanced camera for pros. It is a beast. Don’t let the plastic exterior fool you: the frame and mirror box are metal. You could drop this thing off a building and probably get right back to shooting. And it’s heavy. I’ll bet it weighs more than my Nikon F2.

Minolta Maxxum 9xi

It might also be the most technologically advanced camera I’ve ever owned. Its carbon-fiber reinforced shutter operates from 30 sec down to — are you ready for this? — 1/12,000 sec! Its four-sensor autofocus mechanism tries to predict subject movement horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. Autofocus activates, oh my gosh the voodoo, when you place your eye to the viewfinder. The 9xi also features a sophisticated a 14-segment honeycomb metering pattern. And all the information about your shot projects into the viewfinder using a transparent LCD technology. A flash isn’t built in, but compatible external flashes can be controlled remotely and sync up to 1/300 sec.

Minolta Maxxum 9xi

See that little door on the right, under the FUNC button? Open it to access extra controls for things like setting ISO and rewinding the fim — and to insert “creative cards,” which Minolta sold to add new creative shooting modes to the camera. They didn’t sell well; the pro photographers who could afford this expensive camera didn’t need them.

By the way, if you like powerful auto-everything SLRs like this, check out my reviews of the Nikon N90s (here) and Canon EOS A2e (here). You might also enjoy my reviews of the Minolta Maxxum 7000 (here), Nikon N8008 (here), and Canon EOS Rebel (here). Or just check out all of my camera reviews here.

I had a 2CR5 battery lying around so I dropped it in, spooled in a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400, clipped on my 50mm f/1.7 Maxxum AF lens, and went out whenever the weather allowed late in the winter. I had the best luck at Bethel Cemetery.


One thing I really appreciated about the 9xi was its viewfinder’s built-in diopter correction. I’ve reached that age where I need to carry reading glasses with me, but I’m resisting. I also really appreciated the knurled wheel right in front of the shutter button. It moves you through valid aperture and shutter speed combinations given how the camera read exposure. I used it to set the shutter at 1/12,000 sec for this shot just to see what happened. That’s some reasonable bokeh from that lens.


I put the 9xi on a tripod for this shot of my to-be-reviewed Ansco B-2 Cadet. Even with every light on and the blinds open, there wasn’t enough light to give me a wider in-focus patch.

Ansco Box

This lens gives good definition and sharpness. I wasn’t wowed by the contrast — the miniblind shadow on the wall was much stronger in real life — but that could be the film as much as the lens.

Tree In the House

I didn’t feel like I’d wrung the camera out yet, so I loaded a roll of Kodak Max Versatility 400 (expired, cold stored), clipped on my 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Minolta AF Zoom, and kept going. That lens, by the way, came in the kit with many consumer-grade Maxxums. Ho-lee-cow was there ever barrel distortion, especially at 35mm. Thankfully, it was easily fixed in Photoshop. I shot most of the roll Downtown, beginning along Massachusetts Avenue.

Tattered Paqer Can Transform Into Sky

When I moved to Indianapolis in the mid-1990s, Mass Ave (as we call it) wasn’t much. A couple galleries, a couple restaurants, a whole bunch of decay. It’s been transformed into a happening place to be. These shots don’t show much of it, though, especially this detail shot of some planters next to a new condo building.

Yellow bowls

Margaret and I strolled through Lockerbie, an old Downtown neighborhood near Mass Ave. We both love to take in historic architecture. Lockerbie is just charming. Margaret and I have talked about moving Downtown together, but somehow I doubt we’d be willing to pay what it costs to live in this very popular neighborhood.

Lockerbie home

The more I shot the 9xi, the more out of love I fell with it. The tactile experience was just unremarkable. It was going to need to blow my socks off to offset the camera’s size and weight.

In Lockerbie

I finished the roll by driving down Michigan Road a little ways from my house to snap this building, which is on the southwest corner of Cold Spring Road. I’ve always wondered about its story; there’s a large house behind it on the property. For reasons I can’t fathom, this photo was featured on Flickr’s Explore. It’s far from the best shot on the roll.

House on Cold Spring Road *EXPLORED*

See more from this camera in my Minolta Maxxum 9xi gallery.

The Minolta Maxxum 9xi sparks no joy. It is just a heavy lump that does a job. In contrast, whenever I pick up, say, my Nikon N90s, I feel a strong emotional connection with the instrument and finish each roll of film feeling a certain satisfaction. I want that satisfaction in any camera that stays in my collection.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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26 responses to “Minolta Maxxum 9xi”

  1. Sam Avatar

    Hey Jim, great post and beautiful results out of the 9xi!! The camera looks in nice shape! I do agree, as a knobs/dials kind of guy, tech cameras such as the 9xi don’t inspire love, but it is a high spec machine that is now “retro” in its own way. That said, I do prefer my manual cameras as well. Thanks for the link as well, appreciate it!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s definitely a high-spec machine. I don’t think I’ve ever used a camera with so many features! Thanks for introducing me to it.

  2. mfobrien1956 Avatar

    Jim, I don’t have much experience with the AF-Minoltas, but I know they packed some amazing technology into them. Great results, and good to see something about a camera that I know absolutely nothing about.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This thing almost vibrates it’s got so much technology packed into it. But I think I’d rather shoot my SR-T 101.

  3. hmunro Avatar

    Isn’t it interesting when you pick up a camera that you technically *should* love, but somehow you don’t quite bond with it? You still got some lovely images out of it, though.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This is part of the fun, though: to try different cameras and learn what I like. Turns out I favor manual-focus SLRs, especially those that offer aperture-priority autoexposure. I think I was born to shoot those, actually!

  4. Mike Avatar

    Those latter-day film cameras don’t inspire a lot of love, but the shot of the Lockerbie cottage redeems that Minolta.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Mike — I like that one best, too.

  5. urbanhafner Avatar

    I like the look of that camera! Should you ever want to get rid of it … Oh never mind, I have enough Canon AF cameras. ;)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If you’re truly interested, contact me privately (see the About page for a contact form) and I’m sure something can be worked out!

      1. urbanhafner Avatar

        No, I’d better not start buying into a second 35mm AF SLR system. I’d need to get at least one lens and I’m sure it would spiral out of control pretty quickly. ;)

  6. Dan James Avatar

    That 1/12000s shutter speed is insane! I tried a few AF Minoltas, the 7000, 7000i and 700si. I found the 7000i was the best balance of tech, weight and user enjoyment. There are some stunning lenses in that range too, the 50/2.8 Macro and original “baby beercan” 35-70mm zoom are fantastic.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If only I had liked this body! It was okay, but I just didn’t bond with it.

  7. […] the 9000 used a manual film release and many of the controls were still knobs and dials, when the 9xi was released these knobs and dials vanished in favour of the sleek design that came with the xi […]

  8. Hilton D Avatar
    Hilton D

    Hi Jim… loved your review of the 9xi. I have the launch brochure for it. The 12,000th shutter speed is phenominal

    I own a Dynax 7000i since 1992 and it still gets used (with Sigma 28-105)and delivers the goods photographically. I also have a 3000i – still working but unused these days .

    I’m of that age of remembering the SRT101 & 303… great cameras of that era. a pity Minolta’s have ended production though I believe SONY took them over

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      These were solid and capable cameras, and they seemed to be built to last. So were the SR-Ts! I like the SR-Ts a little better — I’m more a mechancal/metal guy.

  9. Sebastián Avatar

    It’s a great camera. Ergonomy Is gorgeous. But… My 9xi displays “help” signal when I shot. I turn off the camera and it’s the same situation. Do you know fix this problem? Thanks for tour review

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m sorry Sebastián, my 9xi worked perfectly so I have no advice to offer you!

  10. Sebastián Avatar

    I replaced the battery. Problem solved! Thanks you. (My spanish spelling checker keyboard changed some word). Greetings from Chile

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad it was that simple!

  11. Steve Briggs Avatar
    Steve Briggs

    Jim, The Minolta 700si cured many of the evolving technological miss-steps of the xi series both in terms of its form, and with its return to the non auto-zoom functions of those quirky xi lenses. It compares very favorably to the N90s with higher shutter speeds and those wireless remote flash capabilities with which Minolta excelled during the 90’s.

    However, I heartily recommend the Minolta 9 which signaled a return to knobs and dials. It was Minolta’s last great attempt at a professional camera. It signaled and end to the era of the plastic fantastics, was built like a tank, and possessed an incredible array of capabilities that were unrivaled at the time of its debut.

    Sadly it was criticized for trying to be a “professional” camera while having a pop-up flash, which is ironic since the 9xi was criticized for NOT having one. So while those sleek designers of the 9xi were replaced by the teutonic “form-follows-function” guys who designed the 9, Minolta couldn’t win for losing because the 9 was also criticized for being uglier than a mud fence.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the tips, Steve! I’ll keep a lookout for a 700si and a 9. They sound like fun.

  12. Steve Briggs Avatar
    Steve Briggs

    I grew up a Pentax guy, and still like them for their simplicity, durability, and reliability, . . . cameras for the working man However, I blame the Shutter Brothers for making me wanta holda Minolta ;>)

  13. Bob Avatar

    I’ve used (and still own) the XD-5, 8000i, 7xi, and 9xi.

    The XD-5 was a great starter camera for learning photography. The 8000i was my first AF camera (and the last camera I ever bought new). It was great for using heavier lenses because of it’s grip, but it’s lack of a DOF preview button drove me crazy.

    The 7xi and 9xi promised to be all I’d ever want. Then I used them. The 7xi was ok as a backup for travelling, but the 9xi was not only heavy but the grip wasn’t really adequate for longer “pro” lenses. My biggest issue with both was the user interface.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for your experience report. It’s always interesting to know what gear works for a photographer and why (or doesn’t and why not).

  14. Steve Briggs Avatar
    Steve Briggs

    So tell me more about your concerns about the user interface. The 9 had an optional extension to it’s base (which is hard to find), but it is really helpful for folks with large hands and for the management of longer lenses. Afflicted with large hands and sausage fingers, it’s great with beer cans and mirrors.

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