Minolta Maxxum 9
I just looked through the specs for the Minolta Maxxum 9. Since I have never used Minoltas, I am curious what the general opinion regarding this camera is.
It seems to be a very well built camera with lenses that have become very affordable due to the digital craze.
I understand that Sony has taken over the service of Minolta cameras.
How do the lenses compare with Nikon?
I have used Minolta equipment extensively from the manual focus days until now. The Maxxum 9 is hands down, one of the best 35mm SLR cameras ever made. Even the Canon and Nikon guys will grudgingly (and often admirably) admit it. If you are in the market for this class of camera, the only other camera I would consider for the ergonomics is the Nikon F6. When Nikon introduced the F6, someone once joked, "Glad to see Nikon finally made a Maxxum 9 and put a Nikon lens mount on it!" (Just a funny, but you get the idea.)
Whatever you do, don't listen to the shutter sound UNLESS you want to buy one! Hehe...that shutter is a blend of exotic materials, and hits 1/12,000th of a sec. Sounds like pure butter. The Maxxum 9 is built like a tank. I have heard several stories of these cameras falling 6 feet or more onto rocks or concrete; the photographer cries a little, then picks it up and continues the shoot without a hiccup! I know from experience, dropping a 7 body (or any other amateur body) like that results in an inoperable camera. The 9 has a huge grip, viewfinder is wonderfully bright and clear; autofocus is softer sounding than some other cameras; the focus motor is bigger and more "torque" so less of a high-pitched whine, more like a lower sounding "whirrr". It is weather sealed (moisture / dust resistant seals all around the camera), and the pop-up flash is a useful feature because it can wirelessly trigger off camera Minolta flashes. Truly a Pro-body in every way. Shot 5.5 frames per second, I believe - and that's with out a booster. The VC-9 grip is great, but does add weight to an already heavy camera. Well worth it if you like to shoot with rechargeable AA batteries, or if you do a lot of portrait orientation shooting, though.
All that being said, I recently am getting back into photography, and I purchased a 7 body over the 9 again, because it is lighter, smaller, and feels *almost* as good to me with the VC-7 grip attached. Plus the 7 has built-in support for SSM lenses and ADI flash, along with the matrix metering screen on the back which can be really handy if you have the camera up on a tripod. Believe me, with how good the 9 feels in your hand it is a very hard decision between the two, and I cannot emphasize enough how strong the 9 is built. You can still upgrade the 9 body to SSM and ADI flash compatible, but you will have to send the camera to Runtime in Germany for this service. They are the best Minolta service place left in the world.
What other cameras are you considering, and what is your intended purpose with the 9? I will try to be of more help if possible, as I have shot nearly every modern Minolta body at least once...I had quite a collection going back in the day.
Lastly, here is a link to a short review on the 9.
Also, a link to my own article about sending a Maxxum 9 to Runtime for the SSM/ADI upgrade a few years ago.
Hope that helps!
Thank you for the informative link!
My work is mostly portrait and wedding oriented. A lot of b&w. Every once in a while I do corporate - commercial work.
I thought this might be a great camera for weddings due it's ability to use flash at 1/300sec.
The larger dials and the overall solid look of the camera appeal to me.
Can you tell me anything about the lenses? I often use prime instead of zoom lenses.
Thank you for your help.
Last edited by Marcus S; 08-29-2011 at 01:44 AM. Click to view previous post history.
You will enjoy the 9 then, it is quite the body for that kind of work. Do you have a particular focal length in mind? Every lens lineup has its share of stellar lenses and those less so. Minolta learned a lot from decades of partnership with Leica, and this is evident in their older glass. Lenses were not necessarily optimized for biting sharpness at the expense of all else (for example a Carl Zeiss design), but rather more along the Leica philosophy of acceptable sharpness with outstanding bokeh when shot wide open, and superb color rendition. Different lenses were not coated to maximum amounts for highest contrast, rather they were coated such that color rendition was balanced and similar across the entire range of lenses. Quite a feat, and there are some rather impressive designs in Minolta's lineup for the work you do. Lenses that come to mind are those like the 85mm prime --outstanding bokeh for portraits wide open or a stop down.
What focal lengths do you frequent the most?
The lenses I use most frequently are the 50mm and 85mm, wide angle lenses on occasion and hardly ever use my zoom lenses.
For weddings I use 35mm, 6x4.5 or sometimes 6x6, frequently a tripod or mono-pod.
Cameras that have to many frills and whistles are lost on me. I prefer solid dependable cameras that are reliable and simple to operate. A bright viewing screen is something I value highly.
Thank you for providing so much excellent information.
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Take a look at the spreadsheet at: http://www.mhohner.de/sony-minolta/lenses.php
You can see all the various lenses (Minolta / Sony brand only of course) for the A-Mount. You can also use the link on the left hand side of that page to check out all the camera bodies in the system. The 9 sounds exactly like what you want. Bullet proof, built like a tank, no extra frills (like the 7) but has all good stuff you need; and the brightest, largest viewfinder ever shoved in a 35mm SLR.
For your purposes and style, the 50mm f1.4 is great, the 85mm f1.4 is just insanely good - it alone is almost a good enough reason to shoot this system for wedding style portraits, and even the 135's are sweet lenses if you like tighter cropped in shots / modeling head shots type stuff. Also, there is the 135 STF, which to my knowledge has never been duplicated by any other company. Creamiest bokeh you will ever see. Also a bit of a spendy lens, though. ;-)
Hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions on the gear!
I have one question regarding the camera body. A horizontal wheel is positioned at the upper right hand of the cameras back. Is this to adjust focus? Is it possible to fine tune auto focus with this camera?
Thank you for your help, it is much appreciated.
Hmmm...I do not have one anymore, so this is all from memory. The front and back wheels control aperture and shutter speed in M, A, S modes. They are customizable and you can switch them and their function if you want. AF is selected by the AF button on the back. You hit the AF button with your right thumb while shooting, and the AF selector turns red inside the viewfinder to indicate which AF point is currently activated. Then, with your right index finger, you spin the front wheel either left or right and the next AF point over will light up red. Or you can put it on "wide" which is all of them, and the camera decides which to use.
Hope that is making sense? It is not like a new digital body where you can go in and micro-adjust AF settings and save them for different lenses, though...that technology is quite new...or maybe I am not understand the question right?
I have only fondled a '9' but must say it felt wonderful - stunning camera IMO. I used to have a 7 which as mentioned, is another classic. I loved the 85/1.4G - stunning lens. Wish I had that gear still... only had it whilst I worked for Minolta many years back. I still do the odd search for Minolta 9 on *bay though! One day ;-)
Whilst I think of it (and sorry to hijack); how do all the newer Sony and Zeiss lenses go on the older film cameras? Have always wondered that.