Updated September 15, 2020
My first efforts to find information about Minolta SLRs were overwhelming and frustrating because there is so much written about these products. Some of the information is great and some, of course, is a waste of time. Wading through it, while rewarding, can eat up a lot of time. Here are a few resources for those interested in Minolta gear. I hope this resource list will save time and frustration for others.
This list is for newbies and covers the Minolta products mentioned most often as must-haves for those just starting. I assume that the reader, like me, is new to Minolta collecting and has a limited budget. Accordingly, I have excluded professional-level gear and rare, expensive items. I have included links to reviews with each item when I found the review useful. Of course, at some point, I will write about my own experiences with the items in my collection. This list contains information only for SLR cameras because that is where I am focusing my collecting efforts.
SR Line (1958)
The SR-2 was the first Minolta SLR and was released 1958. Supposedly, the first camera was designated “2” because the CEO considered “2” to be lucky (I cannot substantiate this). The SR-2 is expensive and hard to find (I saw a broken one go for 100.00+ at auction). The SR-3, while not as lauded as the SR-2, is also relatively hard to find. There are plenty of SR-7s and SR–1s to be had.
SR Line Overview (Rokkor Files)
The SR-T 101 introduced a number of metering advances. Black SR-Ts are rare and sought after. The SR-T 102 is considered the best of the SR-T line because the early models show aperture information in the viewfinder and have mirror lockup. The SR-T 202 has similar features to the 101 but without mirror lockup. All are sturdy models that work well. My first ever SLR was an SR-T 101.
SR-T 102 Review (Ken Rockwell)
XE-7, XE-5 — The XE line is famous for being co-developed with Leica. The XE-7 and XE-5 both have Leica shutter assemblies. The Leica R3 and R4 use Minolta designs. Minolta also produced lenses that were adapted for Leica: 35-70mm f3.5, 70-210mm f4, 75-200mm f4.5, 800-200mm f4.5 (these are certain, there may be others).
XD 11, XD 5 — The XD 11 was the first SLR with both aperture and shutter priority modes. Beautiful design and lightweight—my favorite manual Minolta. The second camera model from the Leica collaboration.
X Series (1981)
X-700, X-500, X-370 — the X series introduced full program autoexposure mode. They were very popular when released and are easy to find. The X-700 won an EISA camera of the year award in 1981.
XG Series (1982)
A series of consumer SLRs. The XG-M is considered the best. The XG7 was the first.
XG-M Review (Alex Luyckx Blog)
Minolta made many highly respected lenses. My favorite reviews are quite technical and only made sense after I had been shooting for a few months. Here is a good overview of the best manual lenses that a new collector might want. I will add links for specific lenses over time. For those eager to jump into the numbers, use the reference links at the bottom of the page.
Here is an excellent manual lens overview (678 Vintage Cameras).
28mm f2.8 (Vintage Lens Reviews)
35mm f2.8 (MC, MD) – There are nine versions of this lens spanning 1959-1981. The best are rumored to be the first MD and the MC versions, though the included review of the MD III, final MD version, is very positive. (Lens Works, My Favourite Lens)
45mm f2 — This lens has a lot of enthusiastic fans. (Casual Photophile Review)
50mm f1.4 (plain MD and MC PG are considered the sharpest)
Review (Lens Lab) compares different versions of the 50mm 1.4
50mm f1.7 (any)
55 mm f1.7 (Phillip Reeve)
58mm f1.4 MC PF (Northwest Winter Sky) (Vintage Lens Reviews)
135mm f2.8 (MC, MD) – Highly praised for sharpness. The most sought after models are those with 4/4 lens configurations. These are the last MC Tele Rokkor model and first two MD Tele Rokkor models. (Vintage Lens Reviews)
Minolta adapted for Leica
MD 35-70mm f3.5, Macro
There are three versions of this lens. The first version is labeled MD Zoom Rokkor. The second version is MD Zoom, and the third is MD Zoom, with Macro. The second and third versions are considered the best.
Reviews: (Phillip Reeve, Version 3); (Vintage Lens Reviews, Version 2)
70-210mm f4 – Precursor of the AF Beer can, and one picked up by Leica. Highly regarded. (Lens Works)
75-200mm f4.5 – The precursor to the 70-210mm f4 (also Leica). Rather obscure these days. I could not locate a decent review. Some say it is sharper. This is less expensive, if you can find one. (See comment: Japan Camera Hunter)
7000, 9000 (1985)
The Maxxum 7000 was the world’s first camera with body-integral autofocus and was very popular when released. Beyond its historical significance, it is a collector’s item because of a lawsuit filed by Exxon. The “XX” in Exxon overlaps, and unfortunately, so did the Xs in “Maxxum.” This is known as the “crossed XX” pattern and is sought after by Minolta collectors. They are relatively rare, especially in working condition. The Maxxum 9000 is a professional version and has an interesting battery grip/winder if you can find a working one.
On seeing the 7000, I hated the design. Having used one I got for 15.00, I love it. It has the best viewfinder I have experienced–like looking through a window. The Maxxum 7000 won the EISA camera of the year award in 1985.
Maxxum 7000 Review (Simon Hawkett’s Photo Blog)
7000i, 8000i (1988)
The Maxxum 7000i has improvements over 7000, but I still like 7000 better. The Maxxum 8000i is a minor upgrade over 7000i.
Maxxum 7000i Review (Camera Wiki)
7xi, 9xi (1992)
These cameras may be one reason Minolta is no longer around. They are black blobs with few buttons and are completely unintuitive–they flopped. The 9xi is a professional model.
7xi Review (Simon Hawkett’s Photo Blog)
600si, 700si, 800si (1995)
The 600si and 700si are very capable and easy to use. The 600si has ergonomics similar to older manual cameras. The 700si won all four major photography awards. The 800si is odd. It is relatively hard to find, but it has interesting features. For example, it can record exposure data (lens FL, aperture, shutter, EC, for up to nine rolls of film).
600si Review (Camera Wiki)
700si Review (Amateur Photographer)
800si Review (Amateur Photographer)
5, 7, 9 (2000)
All models have their fine points. The Maxxum 5 is quite capable, packed with features, and weighs little. Great if one has small hands. It has subject modes, custom functions, bracketing, etc. The Maxxum 9 is a highly respected professional camera. It’s expensive if you find one. The Maxxum 5 is a great travel camera and can usually be had for under 40.00.
The Maxxum 7 is a technical marvel. When using a Minolta “D” lens, pressing the DoF preview gives a readout on the back LCD panel that shows a diagram with the actual distance to the subject and DoF numbers! A great feature for understanding DoF and hyperfocal distance. It has every possible function, including memory for recording exposure data.
Maxxum 50, 70
These were the last film cameras. I like the Maxxum 70. It is lightweight with a nice grip and is packed with features. The Maxxum 5 and Maxxum 70 are great cameras for those who want to try film on a budget. Both are packed with features and easy to use.
Maxxum 70 Review (ImagingPixel)
Maxxum 5D, Maxxum 7D
They produce beautiful images and have very low noise for their age. First cameras with built-in image stabilization and forerunners of modern Sony A-mount digital cameras. Finding one might be difficult, and when you do, they are not as cheap as one might expect given their age.
Autofocus lenses do not receive as much acclaim as their manual forbears. However, many are excellent. The G and APO lenses are professional and are not listed here. Those listed are easy to find.
100mm f2.8 – considered one of the best macro lens available (some say THE best). Expect to pay ~ 200.00. Review: (Casual Photophile)
70-210mm, f4 – Beercan, famous and excellent Review: (Kurt Munger)
35-105mm, f3.5-4.5 – Nice, sharp lens
28-135mm, f4-4.5 – (Kurt Munger) “Secret handshake” lens widely praised for sharpness
28-105mm, f3.5-4.5 – (Dyxum) – One of my favorite lenses, but for some reason rarely mentioned.
New – 75-300mm, f4.5-5.6 – Big beercan (Kurt Munger)
Minolta Manual Lens DB – Exhaustive list of all Minolta manual lenses. It introduced a naming/classification scheme that has been widely adopted.
Rokkor Files – The best historical coverage of manual Minolta gear I have come across. If you want dates, models, and other details with lucid, interesting narrative, this is it.
Vintage Lens Reviews – Detailed reviews of manual focus lenses
Dyxum – Crowdsourced reviews and ratings for Minolta and third-party lenses for A-mount and Sony E-mount. The focus is on digital cameras, but the reviews and ratings apply just as well for film.
Kurt Munger – Detailed reviews of Sony and Minolta autofocus lenses
Earth, Sun, Film Posts
- Vintage Minolta Love–Here’s to the Dreamers
- Bingeing Minolta History: Really–This Should Be on Netflix
- Collecting Minolta
- Buying Camera Gear on eBay and ShopGoodwill: Finding Bargains, Avoiding Junk
- Deciphering eBay Camera Listing: A Guide for Newbies
- Minolta Fanny Pack? Uhh…No.
- VMLP 1: A Visual Guide to Minolta Lens Mounts—SR to A