Camera Reviews

Minolta Maxxum 7000i

Minolta’s 1985 Maxxum 7000 broke ground as the first autofocus SLR with motors in the body. Nikon, Canon, and Pentax all soon followed Minolta’s lead, leaving the manual-focus era behind. Minolta wasn’t content to rest, however, and released an upgraded camera in 1988: the Maxxum 7000i.

Minolta Maxxum 7000i

The 7000i rounded off the 7000’s hard corners and redesigned the controls. It also improves the 7000 with a faster and more sensitive AF system, a top shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. (vs. 1/2000 on the 7000), and a faster film advance at 3 frames per second. Controversially, the 7000i introduced a new flash hot shoe that worked only with flash units designed for that shoe.

Minolta Maxxum 7000i

The 7000i also introduced Minolta’s Creative Expansion Card system. These are little cards about the same size as an SD card that control settings, add features, or let you store information about each photo such as exposure settings. This page describes all of the available cards. I’m sure some photographers used these cards extensively. But for the most part, these cards did not revolutionize photography. My 7000i came with a Portrait card, which controls depth of field in portraits to make subjects pop. I’ve not bothered to use it.

Minolta Maxxum 7000i

The 7000i offers the usual exposure modes: manual (M), aperture priority (A), shutter priority (S), and program (P). It reads your film’s DX code to set ISO, from 25 to 6400, but you can override it.

The 7000i offers exposure compensation of plus or minus 4 EV. You can also choose single-frame or continuous film advance. The 7000i also offers two focusing modes. Center mode focuses only at the center of the frame. Wide mode uses three focusing points: one at the center, and one left and one right of center.

The camera’s settings aren’t obvious, but they’re not hard to figure out. In short: the FUNC and MODE buttons access most options, and the ▲ button and the switch below the shutter button on the front of the camera let you cycle through those options. The LCD panel atop the camera shows your current settings. A small LCD panel inside the viewfinder shows aperture and shutter speed, plus a green dot when the camera has achieved focus and a blinking red dot when it hasn’t.

After you compose and press the button halfway to meter, use the switch below the shutter button to cycle through the f-stop/shutter-speed settings for the given exposure to control depth of field.

The big P button resets the camera to baseline: program mode, center focus, no exposure compensation, and so on. It makes the 7000i a big point-and-shoot.

If you like auto-everything SLRs like this one, also see my review of the Minolta Maxxum 7000 (here), the Minolta Maxxum 9xi (here), the Canon EOS 630 (here), the Canon EOS A2e (here), the Nikon N65 (here), and the Nikon N90s (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

A reader donated this Minolta Maxxum 7000i to the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras. It shows every sign of heavy use. Some of the material on the lower part of the grip is missing, as is the plastic around the battery door. Fortunately, the battery door stays latched.

I needed a lens to test this camera, so I bought a 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Minolta AF Zoom lens from UsedPhotoPro for 20 bucks. I like 35-70 zooms and this one gets good reviews. The 2CR5 battery I bought to power the camera set me back $10, so $20 for a lens ain’t nothin’. I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and got to shooting.

America's Diner

The 7000i is almost as heavy as my Nikon F2, the gold standard of heavy among 35mm SLRs. But it is easy to carry around just by holding the grip. I never bothered to attach a strap. My F2 can’t be carried this easily.

Orange tree at the pond

I have but two complaints about the 7000i: I’ve seen bigger and brighter viewfinders, and the autofocus hunted a little sometimes. I’d also complain about the 7000i’s proprietary hot shoe if I ever used flash. I can’t mount any of the flash units I already own.

Leaves

I used to wrinkle my nose at auto-everything SLRs, but I’ve come around to them. They require very little from you, freeing you to focus on composition. They reliably yield well-exposed, well-focused photographs.

Meijer

I am pleased with this 35-70 lens’s performance. So often 35-70s suffer from barrel distortion at the wide end, but not this lens. It offers good sharpness and color rendition. I may not keep this 7000i, but I’ll keep this lens for other auto-everything Minolta bodies I come upon.

School bus waiting

As you can see, I shot this entire roll on walks around my suburban neighborhood. I take the walks anyway; putting a camera into my hand before I go makes the walks more fun.

Front yard swing

The 7000i was a well-mannered companion, letting me work quickly. That’s always good as I don’t want my neighbors to wonder what I’m up to making photographs around their homes.

Road closed

Sometimes people ask me to recommend a film camera. If their experience is limited to their phone camera or a digital point-and-shoot, I tell them to buy an auto-everything SLR like this Minolta Maxxum 7000i. They can get a feel for film without diving into the deep end of f stops and shutter speeds. If they don’t like it, they didn’t spend much, as cameras like these currently go for a song.

Bathroom mirror selfie

To see more photos from this camera, check out my Minolta Maxxum 7000i gallery.

The Minolta Maxxum 7000i is a good performer and an easy handler. If you are looking for an auto-everything 35mm SLR, this camera should be on your radar.

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23 thoughts on “Minolta Maxxum 7000i

  1. The 7000i is a pretty good camera. Two creative cards worth getting are the Data card and Custom Function card. The Data card holds exposure data (FL, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, EC, etc) for up to 40 frames. The Custom Function card has an option to leave the film header out, making it easier to load film reels for developing.

    I bought the original 35-70mm f4 and got the later version in a camera lot. I’ve used the later version only once for one shot on a Sony a100. Seeing your pictures, I will take it out of the sell pile.

    For those interested in Minolta gear, here are two resource pages that offer links to models, reviews, and repair info!

    Minolta gear information : https://earthsunfilm.com/collecting-minolta-for-newbies/

    Minolta camera repair shops: https://earthsunfilm.com/repair-services/

    • This 35-70 is a peach. I will probably sell the body on, but I’ll keep the lens. That way as I find other Minolta AF bodies I have a lens ready for testing. Thanks for sharing your links!

  2. Automatic makes it possible to concentrate on the image and not the tech. So when it works it’s a big advantage. When it doesn’t work …>
    The major downside is more things to go wrong, and they will at some point. Not just with the old film cameras either. (More on that coming up soon.)

    • I don’t know who I’d get to fix an auto-everything SLR if it broke. I recommend SLRs like this one to new film shooters because they’re cheap and easy to use for a newbie. But I don’t recommend they stick with them forever — they need to move to metal, mechanical cameras because those can be repaired. However, the fellows who do those repairs aren’t getting any younger and I’m not aware there’s a crop of youngsters looking to learn the trade.

  3. Peter Paar says:

    If you ever want to use flash with Minolta Maxxum’s, Minolta made an adapter that is available for under $10 on Ebay

  4. minolta seems to have been really innovative. my first film camera i used was minolta dynax 5. i borrowed it from a colleague and was quite impressed. especially i like the auto turn on feature that switched the camera on when you grabbed the camera grip.
    i own dynax 505i now which is a simpler model but still very easy to use.
    i agree that these late minoltas are great for digital to film conversion)))

      • so i wanted to make sure i didn’t make this up and found the camera’s manual that says about a feature called the eye start: “Instead the shutter-release button, the eye-start automatically activates the camera’s focus and exposure systems when you bring the camera to your eye.” this thing is activated through the grip sensors and an eye sensor near the viewfinder.
        anyways, i have never seen anything like it in any of the nikons or canons

      • tbm3fan says:

        Maxxum 5 in the United States. Just picked up a Maxxum 5 with the well regarded 70-210 beercan zoom for $12. Not that I need either since I have both but at $12 who could turn something like that down?

      • Peter Paar says:

        Your 9xi has this feature. It doesn’t turn the camera on; but when the power is on when you hold the grip and bring the camera to your eye the auto exposure and autofocus systems turn on. Later models allowed the used to switch this feature off.

        • Now that you mention it, I believe I remember that feature. I didn’t find it to be all that useful. I passed my 9xi on to a new owner by the way who is enjoying it very much.

  5. I had one of these Jim and really liked it. Two lenses that hugely impressed me were the 35-70mm f/4 “baby beercan” which is an older lens than the one you have (I don’t know if the optics are differently).

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/danjamesphotography/albums/72157675841403714

    And the possibly even better the 50/2.8 AF Macro, which can be used as a standard 50, or get up very close with its macro abilities.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/danjamesphotography/albums/72157679746588946

    • PS/ Because Sony bought out Minolta and used their A mount, and many of their lens and camera designs, there are a number of early (2006ish onwards) Sony Alpha DSLRs that can be had very cheaply these days, and give lovely results with the best Minolta lenses. I had an a100 which gave me almost as much pleasure as my old Pentax DSLRs!

    • Thanks for the lens recommendations — and the recommendation on the A100! I’m thinking I’ll stick with this 35-70 for now. As you can see, it’s a solid performer. Keeping it will allow me to pick up other compatible bodies from time to time, as they go for very little on the used market. I won’t keep any of them, I’ll sell them on. But I’ll get to try them, which I still find to be fun.

  6. Victor Villaseñor says:

    That minolta AF glass has some real gems on the line up, the 35-70 is a dependable lens, other ones to look out for are the 28-85 and the 35-105, the fabled beercan 70-210 f4 in their all metal incarnations, the 35-105 has a macro switch that yields very good results:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BqOISWrASzr

    There are some lemons like the grey kit lenses for the Maxxum 5 series, or the power zooms / built in lens cap ones. But in my book the Minolta glass is the best bang for your buck.

    Get a Maxxum 5 ;), you’ll be amazed at the lightweight and capable combo the 35-70 and the 5 make.

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