The day I held the Maxxum 7000i for the first time proved to be a turning point in my life. I thought I was buying an inexpensive AF camera to take pictures of my garden. In reality, I was joining the ranks of Minolta collectors. I started down this path innocently enough. Shocked to find that Minolta no longer existed, I decided to find out what happened. That quest is recounted in Bingeing Minolta History: Really—This Should Be on Netflix.
Over the past year, as I have dug deeper into Minolta history and its products, I’ve developed an affection for the company and its story. I wrote Vintage Minolta Love: Here’s to the Dreamers… to confess my admiration. However, I don’t want to merely own Minolta products. I want to use them, praise them, complain about them—the usual stuff, so I am starting the Vintage-Minolta Love Project. In simple terms, this means I will try to shoot every generation of Minolta SLR cameras from the first model, the SR-2 released in 1958, up to the last, the Maxxum 5D released in 2005. (I know the 5D is digital, but it is the direct descendent of the final Maxxum film cameras.) I might throw in the Sony a100, as well. These will not be technical camera or lens reviews—there are plenty of quality reviews full of technical information already. No, these posts will be about enjoying the experience and reliving the history— like stories one shares with friends over a finger of Booker’s bourbon.
From a practical standpoint, I will be shooting mostly the upper-level models of Maxxums (7s and higher) with an occasional lower-level camera tossed in (I have a Maxxum 5 and a 400si). For manual cameras, I will look at the main models of each generation. I don’t expect to be able to afford an XK, but if an XK falls from the sky into my lap, I will add it to the list (same for an Autocord or CLE). I have no idea how long this will take, but I’m looking forward to the fun. By my accounting, that is a minimum of 24 cameras, 27 if the heavens shower me with gifts. I have no space for all of this stuff, so at some point, I will have to start selling off my least favorites. In the end, I hope to keep no more than 10-12, maybe fewer, and my favorite lenses.
When I bought my first Minolta with a third-party 50mm lens from a pawnshop in 1975, that was all I could afford. I longed to own Rokkor lenses, but they were well beyond my budget. Thus far, I have managed to put together a collection of Minolta gear, and I already have a few favorites. We’ll see if those preferences hold. For each camera or lens, I will show a few shots taken with it, tell where I got it, how my copy works, and what I do/don’t like about it. I want to hear from others as well. If all goes as hoped, future-me will make 1975-me, and all the versions in-between, quite happy. Feel free to share your Vintage-Minolta Love story.