Nikon FM3A vs Minolta XD 11, Opinions on both.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Vsanzbajo, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Vsanzbajo

    Vsanzbajo Member

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    Which one do you like better and why? I have them both, and I think they are very closely matched. Am I missing something. I know the spec differences, but I see that both are great in quality construction, lens quality, ease of use, both are really smooth, etc...
    Let me know what you think.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    I am not sure what you mean about "missing something". Is this a matter of deciding which one to get rid of? Obviously there are quite a few of years separating the two so I always keep a historical perspective when evaluating them. Otherwise, they are both excellent light tight boxes.

    As a continuation of cooperation between Leica and Minolta, the XD-11 is obviously a well designed and made product. The FM3A's hybrid shutter was unprecedented and currently unsurpassed. You can go down a long list of feature differences between the two - shutter, aperture and program mode auto exposure, batteryless manual speeds, interchangeable screens, eyepiece shutter, auto MLU, DX decoding, TTL flash, safe load indicator, multi exposure lever, etc. However for me, there is one thing the XD-11 does that always nagged at me and that is the momentary lag between pressing the shutter and it's firing. This happens even in the manual mode at 1/100 and has been observed and reported by others. Not that I've missed a shot because of it but just that it does. This seems to be unique to the XD-11 as my current preferred Minolta - it's predecessor the XE-7, doesn't do this and for that matter, none of my other Minolta MD's exhibit this trait.
     
  3. Carl V

    Carl V Member

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    I've never owned the Minolta personally, so don't really know too much with regards to the specs of that model. The old Minolta SLR's certainly had a good reputation, particularly the SRT-101. I do own Nikon FM3a bodies, and for me their biggest strength is the fact that despite offering aperture priority & manual, the camera will revert to mechanical operation in the event of battery failure and can be used at all shutter speeds. It's pretty much an FE2 and FM2 combined into one.
     
  4. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The XD-11 is approaching relic status. I'm not happy about antiquarian chops becoming part of film photography but it's probably inevitable. Still the XD-11 rolled out in 1977, no more manual lenses, and dwindling parts/service options. I'm not romantic about old cameras, especially since none of mine hold any sentimental value. Busted ones get pitched since they came cheap and repairs aren't worth it. I've been through a couple of X-700 that suffered strokes from bum capacitors. I don't collect shelf queens.

    The FM3A is a superb camera. It's also almost new. The FM/FE variants are probably among the most durable of the MF Nikons with no baked-in problems relative to Minolta's late game MF bodies. The lens selection is far wider for Nikon.
    Service is no problem. What's not to like?
     
  5. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Minoltas are easy to service and hold up to severe punishment. I can change out a capacitor in and MD-11 and replace the seals for less than I can on an F series. I frequently buy old Minoltas that people think are dead for dirt cheap and revive them for next to nothing and shoot them forever. The Canons and Nikons are good cameras but when you start comparing prices I can buy Minoltas and related glass for less than either of the others without any difference in quality.
     
  6. Vsanzbajo

    Vsanzbajo Member

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    No I am not getting rid of any of the two. I am just amazed on the quality of the Minolta cameras. In my opinion the Minoltas are very comparable to the best of Nikon. Even tough they are different cameras, their quality is incredible. I never expected Minolta to compete with Nikon, but they sure do.

     
  7. CGW

    CGW Member

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    So why the original post? The mechanical Minoltas were tough as nails. The electronics? Not so much.
     
  8. Vsanzbajo

    Vsanzbajo Member

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    I am no expert, I am 39 years old. I only used film when I was really young. I started film 3 months ago. I have acquired, a Minolta SRT 101, a Minolta Xd 11, and a Nikon FM3A that a friend offered. I started with Minolta because that is what my dad had when I was a kid. Like I said I am no expert I want to see what people really think. I want to see if I have a valid judgement or not. I am just starting this film adventure.
     
  9. Vsanzbajo

    Vsanzbajo Member

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    Anyone heard of this problem with the FM3A?
    "Nikon supposedly admitted (and I confirmed with my lens and camera) that for lenses with F/1.4 aperture the metering does not work properly. When opening the lens from f2 to f1.4, the metering needle advances by 1/3 or 2/3 f-stop. The workaround is to manually overexpose by 1/3 to 2/3 f-stops when using this aperture.
    I did an experiment in the Aperture priority mode and found that the problem actually does not exist in this mode."
    Thanks
     
  10. parkpy

    parkpy Member

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    just shoot, man. Quit worrying about what others think of your equipment.
     
  11. Vsanzbajo

    Vsanzbajo Member

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    I am not worrying, I am trying to learn.
     
  12. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Member

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    .
    Learn, By Doing !

    Ron
    .
     
  13. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Ther are those that espouse the Nikons and Canons as professional and you see that reflected in the price on fleaBay. The commonly held, but wrong, idea was that Minoltas were built as consumer models. They did have inexpensive cameras and lenses but one can not deny that the majority of what they put out was well constructed, well thought out and in most instances, well in advance of anything that either Canon or Nikon had. Take for instance the SR-7, first in camera meter. Minolta also had the first camera to allow for metering in camera while the aperture was wide open and connected to the shutter making for "more inspiration and less perspiration" when taking a shot.
     
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  15. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Both are good, it is the person behind the camera that makes the difference!

    Jeff
     
  16. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Amen
     
  17. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I don't own an FM3a but I do own an FE and an FM. I also own a XD-11. I believe the FM3a is similar to the FE but with more features plus the mechanical shutter when in manual mode. May be it's just me but I definitely like the FM3a better than the XD-11. In fact I would rather have either the FM or the FE than the XD-11.
     
  18. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    There's nothing at all wrong with Minolta's MD gear.

    That having been said, one real advantage of the Nikon - all things otherwise equal (which I don't think they are; I think the FM3a is a few notches better on account of its shutter) is that you can still buy new Nikkors easily. True, some no longer have aperture rings but many do.
     
  19. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Vsanzbajo;

    The stimulus for my making a response to your question was a posting by another. There was a reference to Nikon having more lenses available for the Nikon FM3A.

    How many different lenses are needed to meet your needs, and your desires? Are you and your local bank manager on a first name basis with greetings exchanged when you walk into the building? While I do agree that Nippon Kogaku K. K. (Nikon) did make more different lenses than did Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko K. K. (Minolta), the lens list from Minolta is not meager; it consists of single focal length lenses in twenty-six (26) different focal lengths, many of which have lens designs with different lens maximum apertures in that focal length. These range from a 4.0/7.5mm 180 Degree Circular Fisheye to the 11/1600mm RF Mirror lens (my preferred focal length for nice photographs of the full moon). I have 20 of those focal lengths in my Minolta lenses here, and I have two 35mm lenses with different lens maximum apertures in addition to those listed by Dennis Lohmann in his exhaustive Minolta lens list.

    Nikon did go down to a 2.8/6mm 220 Degree Circular Fisheye, and they went up to an 11/2000mm Mirror. I did see one of the long mirror lenses offered for sale recently for only $35,000.

    There are Nikon cameras and lenses here also, including The 1960s Nikon Project which does include eight (8) non-AI lenses from 24mm to 300mm in that kit. There are others.

    Realistically, how often will any of us really need the lenses at the extreme ends of the lens ranges offered by any of the manufacturers? Most of us will be using a lens from probably 24 mm up to 200mm or 300mm for just about 99.5% or more of the photographs we will be taking. For me, the Minolta 21mm, 20mm, 17mm, and 16mm focal length lenses are special purpose lenses that I have taken out mainly to see what they do. I have used the ROKKOR 4.0/17mm WA one time to get a landscape I wanted. Turning to the longer lenses, just getting a long lens onto a moving bird is a challenge. When you get to 500mm, you begin to see just how much the air refracts and moves around, which really plays havoc with trying to get a clear photograph of a distant subject. You develop a real appreciation for weather, and the times of the day when you will be able to take that kind of a photograph.

    Do not worry about the number or range of lenses available to us from any of the major manufacturers. All of them have us covered in the range we will be using.
     
  20. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    I knew I liked you Ralph, well said. And on a side note if you happen to want to get rid of a 1600mm let me know and whom I shall have to bump off.

    Word of the day: Catadioptric
     
  21. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    The Minoltas are exceptional in a lot of respects particularly in the context of it's date of release. The XK's (1972) features were not matched (let alone exceeded) till the F3's (1980) release. It wasn't till the FA (1983) that Nikon added Shutter priority auto exposure included in the XD-11 (1977). The much touted smooth film advance of the F3 due to 11 ball bearings has nothing on the Minolta XE-7. The buttery smoothness of the XE-7 has to be experienced!

    Nikon and Minolta produced some outstanding product with features that even today are unmatched. The fact that they work perfectly is a testament to their design and workmanship.

    BTW, have you tried any of the others like Canon, Olympus and Pentax? They also produced some outstanding light tight boxes and glass . . . :whistling:
     
  22. upnorthcyclist

    upnorthcyclist Member

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    Comparing the FM3A to the XD-11 doesn't seem to be real fair, considering the difference in age between the two cameras and the difference in price. A quick check of eBay indicates that FM3As are going for somewhere north of $500 to over a thousand bucks, and nice looking XD-11s are around $100. The FM3A is a generation or three newer than the XD - of course there are going to be evolutionary changes in camera design. Heck, why not compare the XD (or the FM3A, for that matter) to an F6?

    The XD is a fine camera, with a devoted following. They are of an age where just about any body you pick up is going to need a CLA, which solves most of the problems people have mentioned in this thread, including the shutter-lag issue. (As an aside, the shutter lag issue is caused by an air-damper incorporated into the shutter mechanism, which, when working properly, makes for a very quiet, very low vibration shutter actuation.)

    Rokkor lenses are as good (some say better) as any of their contemporaries and, unless you go for the more exotic or cult-favorite ones, are a lot cheaper than comparable Nikkors, due to the cachet (and the F-mount) of the Nikon lenses. The Micro 4/3 crowd are now in the competition for Minolta lenses, so prices have gone up some. You can still get a nice kit of standard Rokkor primes between 28mm and 200mm for remarkably low prices, if you shop around some.

    I have an SRT-102, an XE-7 and an XD-11, plus a modest kit of Rokkor primes, which will last me for as long as it matters. All of them are great cameras in their own way, they all are reliable and work great.
     
  23. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    What lenses do you want to use and at what price? My assumption is you can get minolta lenses cheaper but harder to find.
    Your question is like asking do you want a Chevy Impala or an AMC Matadore (Minolta would be the much rarer Matador). Not too many people will know much about both.
    Just buy something and enjoy it...
     
  24. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Thanks for clearing that up. No doubt the XD-11's shutter has a relatively light touch to it only now I have an idea why.

    During that time, there must have been a big deal made of vibration from pressing the shutter. My Yashica FR (1977) did away with the mechanical connection of the shutter completely and just used an electrical switch stating this completely removes vibration from that action!
     
  25. upnorthcyclist

    upnorthcyclist Member

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    I mis-spoke. The damper is for the mirror action. When it gets dirty, it slows down the mirror-up part of the shutter release cycle, causing a lag after the shutter is released. It is meant to cut down on the vibration caused by mirror-slap. Sorry.
     
  26. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    I really don't like that a lot of manufacturers omitted the MLU control "due to better mirror dampening" reason.