Swiss knife, swiss watch, … but a german camera. Hopefully soon a little personal review about this gem 🙂
As I mentioned in the X500 dedicated article I would like to say a few words about the only AF film camera I used and still use.
In fact I made my … of a SLR system about three ? yeas ago. The reason of my disappointment came because the luck of Pentax AF lenses and their price that sky rocketed. Although I liked much my K100D I needed a system where I can find easier lenses and at better prices. Because its ergonomy is closer to the Pentax’s finally a choose Nikon and not Canon. As what the model concerns I choose the F80 (N80 in the US). Together with the AF-D 50mm lens it costed me around 250 US dollars.
The first impression that the F80 brought is a quite good build quality. On par with my K100D but with the controls of a enthusiast level SLR camera like the presence of TWO control dials instead of just one. At about 520 grams, it weights just a little over a Pentax MX but it sports a “classic” like modern dSLR grip. It fits my hand perfectly and I can use it without any problem only with one hand. unlike Pentax, Nikon has is lens unlock button on the opposite side and requires a different technique while changing lenses. The viewfinder is I thing as the majority of its contemporaries. It covers only 92%. That would count as a minus. Further must mentioned that besides the two control dials, the F80 has also a top LCD and a direct AF mode lever, and a metering mode dial too. As a plus there is on the back the four way focus point control pad and the AE lock and/or AF lock button. Very handy.
I must mention that this camera has the most quieter shutter of all SLRs and dSLRs. It is silky smooth and with minimal vibrations. Only the film advance motor makes a little bit more noise.
What can be considered as a plus is that the F80 works perfectly with newer AF-S G lenses and with VR equipped lenses too. So you gain a better compatibility although not like with the F100 which has metering capabilities with older F-Nikon manual focus lenses.
In what regards the cons, I put in here the weaker AF system. Yes, it is older but also slower like the one in the F100. Two, it uses two CR123 batteries. It can be used to expose pretty many rolls of film but they are also more expensive like the ones usd by the F100 (four AAs). There is though a way around this. F80 has a battery grip that uses four AAs. Of course, this will add some bulk to the entire kit. Third, when you finish the film roll, the camera will wind the entire film back in the cartridge without leaving about 2 centimeters out of it (to be easier to roll the film on the reel for developing it).
Not many cons and not very important I would say. Until this day, in 2017, I didn’t encounter a camera (SLR or not, digital or film) which has a better design for my hands in what the grip, the controls, the weight, the dimensions concerns. So, to me, the F80 is the closest to perfection 😉
As mentioned in a not so old article, I had some experience with a number of 35mm film cameras. Besides K-Pentax mount cameras, F-Nikon and M42 screw mount ones, I once tried Minolta’s SR/MC/MD system.
Minolta gave me mixed feelings, about the same as the camera I will talk shortly. I liked very much the XD7 (XD11 in the US), a “full metal” quite compact answer to Olympus’ OM-2. The XD had a common pedigree with the Leica R4 being (as it was its predecessor, the XE and Leica R3) the product of a joint-venture of the two (Minolta & Leica). I can not say the same about the lenses. I paired the XD with the Rokkor 45mm f:2,o , an excellent lens, small, kinda pancakekish. It fitted the XD perfectly. The XD had exposure modes that I think only Canon introduced a year later on the A1: manual mode, aperture priority and shutter priority. But unlike Canon, XD featured a way quieter vertical travel metal shutter not a cloth curtain.
Minolta had of course a cheaper, entry level SLR too. The XG series was what a Pentax MG would be. As small as the XD, it had automatic exposure (aperture priority) just like Pentax’s MG but with the posibility of manual override but a cloth curtain shutter. The workhorse among Minolta cameras was the SR mechanical series cameras. Bigger, like the Spotmatiks or the Pentax K series cameras, the SRT was a reliable camera with only one minus: the obsolete battery it used to power the lightmeter (although it had nothing to do with the camera’s ability of taking pictures).
Finally here we are at the one camera, Minolta camera that I liked the most but I ended up selling it, together with the entire system.
The first Minolta that I got and the last that I sold was the X500 (X570 in the US ?). It is the brother of the more popular X700. Because I never use P, program mode, the x700 was not so interesting to me. More, the X500 had a feature that was not present in the X700: you could set the right exposure time without taking your eye from the viewfinder. It showd the actual shutter speed and the recommended shutter speed acording the amount the light hitting the camera’s exposure meter’s sensor (in manual mode). Besides this, the two were 99% identical.
What I liked the most ? Well, number one is the ergonomics. It just fitted my hand perfectly like no other Minolta (or Pentax) did. Everything was at the reach of my finger, well, apart the DOF preview button that I very rarely used. Also at hand was the exposue lock button, a feature that was not to pread among other camera manufacturers (not even the XD had it). To add more, the X500 sported a beautiful viewfinder, I think with 95% coverage (unlike the 92% of the majority cameras of the same era) with a x o.90 magnification. So, a big and bright viewfinder which was a joy to focus with.
I must add that the camera was in fact a plastic fantastic, but a well made one. The chrome, silver version that I had was so well build that one could confuse it for a metal body. Excellent quality. Just love it.
Now, what I did not care about, was the cloth shutter. Yes, it did not have a metal one. That was not a problem. The issue was that , together with the mirror mechanism , was loud, as loud as the SR and way louder than the XD. Probably the used dampers were not so good as the ones in the XD. Further, once you loaded the film, the gearing could be felt others as the SR’s. A little bit more prone to brake, although it never broke. Could it be because of the use of more plastic parts even internally in what the gears concerns.
I paired the x500 with the Rokkor 50mm f:1,7 MC version. Bigger than the MD and even more than the 45mm one, the 50mm Rokkor was a great lens. Full metal, as I like it to be, with a bigger, 55mm diameter filter thread its focus was smooth as silk. A great kit (as the XD7 & the 45mm pancake) 😉
Later I had the opportunity to test Nikon’s Df and I was impressed by its ergnomics that made me recall the X500. I consider the x500 a mini Df. I would appeciate a digital SLR with the ergonomy and the dimensions of the X500, full frame or not if paired with suited lenses.
Well, so much about Minolta X500, with its pros and cons.
At first looks like a series of lenses to compete with the E mount Carl Zeiss Loxia lenses. Seems that besides the more and more AF FE mount lenses there is still a demand for new manual focus lenses. Well, the more the merrier 😉
Welcome to Cosina’s
Voigtlander Classic Nokton 35mm f/1.4
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.2 Aspherical
Voigtlander APO-Macro Lanthar 65mm f/2 Asperical
As much as I like the previous mentioned Eduardo’s Youtube channel, I must say the same about Matt Day. You can find there a lot of useful videos, how-to’s, hands-on, reviews and thoughts about and connected with this great world we all like and live for, photography.
I live you with his last video.