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.