My new Minolta XE-7 arrived today! Haven't put any film through it, but it seems just fine - metering is steady and agrees with other cameras; mechanically it functions just swell.
I like the feel of the film advance lever. I might prefer the sound of the shutter on my XD-11, although the XE snaps with authority. I like the needle-type meter display. Can't believe it's a bit bigger and heavier than my SRT-102 - truly a weapon-grade camera.
You know, while checking the meter of the camera, I looked through the viewfinders of the three Minoltas and through my fancy DSLR. Even the viewfinder of my trusty old SRT is better than the DSLR! The XD seems to hold the edge here, with the Acute-Matte focussing screen.
Overall, the XE sure is a classy camera. I'm going to run a roll of Velvia through it for a final function check, then it'll go away for awhile for a CLA.
Good morning, Mike;
Congratulations on the new XE-7 for you. The idea of taking it to a shop for a CLA before using it is something that will make it work for you not just when you put your first roll of film through it, but for many years ahead.
In exactly the same way, a new X-700 arrived here a couple of days ago. It is in seeing the local camera guy right now. Like you, I also think that a camera that comes to me is in need of a CLA, and that is not an unreasonable assumption. In any case, then you know that the camera has been made right again, and it will work for you for a long time. Of course, when I do get the telephone call from him, I will need to stop by the bank on the way there. I had taken the X-700 in with a Canon Pellix QL that also is getting a CLA, and while I was there, the camera guy said that he had forgotten to call me and tell me that the Minolta SR-3 that I had taken to him a month ago is also ready to be picked up. I did not have enough money with me that day, so when I go back, there will be a bill for three cameras waiting for me.
And, there is also that Kodak Retina IIIC that he was showing to me about a week ago when I was picking up a Kodak Curtar S-K 35mm wide angle auxiliary lens and a Kodak Longar S-K 80mm telephoto auxiliary lens for my Kodak Retina IIIc. Yes, there is a difference there in those camera designations. The second one is with a lower case letter "c" at the end. My pusher does know how to tempt his addict.
Latte Land, Washington
Many years ago I bought an XE-7, new, and had the camera for about 5 years before it was stolen. The XE-7 was no longer made, and I replaced it with an X-700, and eventually ended up with several X-700 bodies, but they never felt like the XE-7. About 5 years ago, I bought another XE-7, used, but in good condition. It is my favourite SLR. It just feels like a camera should, it does everything that you could ask it to. As you said, the XE-7 is one classy camera.
Holy thread revival!!!
I haven't looked in here in a while - seems like a lot of the Minolta discussion groups are, well, getting pretty slow. Many of the Minolta lenses are really getting expensive due to the smaller sensor digital cameras available now. For a long time, we folks in Minolta-land have been able to accumulate some spectacular glass at low prices because the short focus-distance lenses were true orphans. Not any more!
Anyway, I have three Minolta SLR bodies, which, like children, I love equally. I have an SRT-102, the XE-7 and an XD-11. I use them all - lightly but regularly. I had my SRT refurbished some time ago - I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the SRTs, as this is the model that really hooked me into photography back in the 70s. The XE is what I use for the larger lenses, as it is such a rock of a camera.
Along with my modest collection of late MC and early MD lenses, I have accumulated a few Gen II Rokkors (lighter, tapered barrel) for use with the XD - makes for a very nice, light setup. As a matter of fact, the Gen II 35mm 2.8 Rokkor with the 49mm filter thread (a great lens, a true sleeper) practically lives on the XD as it makes such a nice, light, all-around shooter. When I grab a camera for casual photography ("street shooting", I guess, but I'm beginning to hate that over-used term) I pretty much leave the rangefinders on the shelf these days - not much to be gained in terms of compactness and the XD is a very sophisticated camera, feature-wise.
The XE was generally advertised in Minolta brochures in its day alongside the XK professional line - the enthusiasts' version of the pro bodies. If you've ever handled an XK, you can sure feel its DNA in the XE. I never had the desire to own an XK - no need for the interchangeable finder, plus XK collectors are a particularly rabid bunch. The feel, form factor, ergonomics, panache - whatever you want to call it - of the XE is is phenomenal. The sound of the shutter, the rewind crank, the heft - a real pleasure in the age of plastic-blob DSLRs. Classy.
I'm going to sound a discordant note here. A few years ago I bought, on the recommendations of others, a pair of XE-7 bodies, both needing service, which I had done to one. I took it out for a day of shooting. I do love older style cameras, the feel, the heft, the simplicity of operation. The XE-7 feels good in the hand. Operation is smooth. I have two problems with it; 1) film loading is unnecessarily more difficult than it needs to be, and B) the power switch is directly beneath my right thumb; what's even more unfortunate is the OFF position is UP, where my thumb naturally flips it as I'm raising the camera to take a photo. Damn! Missed it again!
I really want to like this camera, but ambivalent feelings abound. Every time I take it out it's with a sense that I'm giving it one last chance.
Here's a trick that works with both the XE and the XD - after you put the cartridge in, fold the leader back - put a crease in it with your thumb and forefinger - about a quarter inch back from the end. Hook this into the take-up spool. Start winding until the floating sprocket picks up both sides of the film perforations, then close the camera. Voila!
I never had the problem you describe with the on/off switch, but I shoot left-eyed - maybe that makes a difference.
Well, there is an XE-7 here also, and Fred's complaint about the location and way that the ON-OFF switch works is also something that I had noticed. Then again, like UpNorthCyclist, I also shoot left-eyed, so I am not sure if this is going to turn out to be a problem for me. One thing that I am not sure about is the Depth-of-Field Preview plunger. It does not seem to work in the way that I would expect, and then it is a latching system; you push it in and it stays there. Then you must push it in again to get it to come back out. Then you notice that now you are in "Stopped Down" mode on the lens, so you push it back in again to latch it in the "IN" position, and then the lens works in the way that you think that it will. Yes, a nice camera, but a little bit different from most of the other Minolta SLR cameras in the way that it seems to work. It has not yet seemed to have a "kindred spirit" feeling like I had with the X-700 with the MD-1 Motor Drive on it.
Thanks for the suggestion about folding the end of the film tongue backwards to get it to go into the film spool slot.
And, I have achieved a notable milestone, and I need to post a message about it.
Ralph; Latte Land, Washington
You prodded my curiosity about the stop-down button on the XE-7. I haven't used it in a while and never found the function real useful (with any camera) in general photography, as usually the image in the viewfinder becomes too dark to see subtle variations in depth-of-field if the lens is stopped down enough to increase DOF in an appreciable manner. However, I didn't recall that the stop-down button function was any different between the SRT-102, the XE-7 or the XD-11.
What I found was that the stop-down feature of the XE-7 is exactly that of the SRT. In normal mode, push the button and it latches into the stop-down mode, push it again and it goes into normal mode. However, it differs from the SRT in that when in normal mode, the button is latched in the INNER position, when in manual stop-down it is in the OUTER position. The button on the SRT always returns to the out position when the mode is changed - it doesn't stay in the inner position in the normal mode. The SRT's shutter has to be cocked to use the stop-down button, the XE's doesn't. The XD's stop-down feature doesn't latch at all - push the button and hold it for DOF preview, let it go to go back to normal.
The only circumstance that I used the stop-down feature on the SRT extensively was when I was using it with the Auto Bellows I, for macro photography. The AB-I has a clever linkage that allows the picture to be composed with the aperture fully open - it stops down at the instant of exposure just like with a regular lens. It doesn't, however, have any way for the lens on the bellows to tell the camera meter what position the aperture is set at - no connection to the MC tab. At some point when composing the shot, you have to use the stop-down button momentarily to get an accurate measurement from the camera's internal meter to set the shutter speed. You can also check your DOF, but it is pretty darn dim if your aperture is small.
Eventually, I got the 100mm MC macro lens, and quit using the bellows set-up. The focusing rail of the bellows is still very handy when using this lens. The lens has all the functionality of the MC series, even with the dedicated 1:1 extension tube.
Good morning, Mike;
Well, I did say that the DOF Preview Button on the XE-7 operated differently from every other Minolta SLR that I have. Thank you for that confirmation. I agree that with a small aperture setting, f:11, f:16, it does get very dark in there, but as it goes from wide open to the smaller aperture, you can see what is going to happen. For me it has been useful when I needed to see if I was going to have a reasonable image sharpness in the range of interest to me. Finding that it worked backwards actually reminded me of the Nikon F where not only do the lenses go onto the camera backwards, they also focus to infinity backwards. Yes, just like the way that the DOF Preview works on the XE-7. Then again, I wonder, does the Leica SLR camera normally work in that way also? (I admit that I do not have an Ernst Leitz Leica camera of any kind to check. No Hasselblad, either, just a "Hasselbladskji.") If the Leica SLR cameras work that way, and Minolta worked with Leica to produce the Leica R3, and the XE-7 is often described as a Leica R3 with a Minolta label and SR lens mount, then that would explain the departure from the Minolta past practice.
I do need to say that I am glad that I finally did get an XE-7, but it is taking a while to become accustomed to it. As mentioned, it did not have for me that instant feeling of a kindred spirit like the Minolta X-700 did when I put the MD-1 Motor Drive on it. Then with all of the other features and the versatility of the X-700, for me it is a hard camera to beat.
On the topic of Minolta's 100mm lenses, I really like the 2.5/100mm telephoto lens. It is one of my favorite lenses. Then there are too many f:4 100mm Bellows short-mount lenses here for use on the various bellows units here. There is even an f:2 100mm lens here. However, I have not yet gotten around to finding the f:2.8/100mm Macro lens. One of those things to be done, I guess. Perhaps I was busy getting all of the models and variants of the Minolta SR Series of bodies.
Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
I always wanted to get an X-700 for the sole reason that it had OTF flash metering. What a breakthrough for macrophotography! Ever tried to calculate flash exposure with a bellows set-up? At some point, though, I decided to narrow my film GAS to the cameras mentioned above and the lenses contemporary to them. Pretty rich trove of stuff to accumulate, even within that limitation. I also went through a fun journey into 70s fixed-lens rangefinders there for a time.
A sad story, concerning the X-700. A friend of mine knows that I fool around with old Minoltas. One day he came by the house with a camera bag full of stuff, and gave me a complete X-700 kit. It included the camera, the MD-1, the 35-70mm zoom, the 70-210mm zoom and the 360PX flash, along with some other accessories. Beautiful set-up - pretty much the best money could buy at the time in the amateur/enthusiast genre.
Here's the sad part. My buddy bought all this stuff when he was stationed in the Philippines better than a decade, probably two, earlier. Between the salt air of the Pacific and the fact that the camera had been stored in his basement since that time, there wasn't one salvageable item in the bag. Nothing. Everything was full of green corrosion, the lenses were full of fungus. I played around with the stuff for awhile just to see if I liked the feel of the camera. You are right, the X-700 with the motor drive is ergonomically marvelous. Without it, the camera seems a little light and plasticky. Anyway, for whatever reason, I never pursued getting into the X-700 era of Minolta-dom beyond that.
For some reason, it seems like the prices on the bay have really gone up for the 100mm bellows lenses. I can't really figure this, as they have such a limited use - not much application in the digital world and not that rare, unless I'm missing something.