VMLP 29: The Minolta X-570–Excellent Companion

The X-570 is not flashy. It is best described as a gracious, reliable, helpful companion. It doesn’t chew with its mouth open, expect you to laugh at bad puns, or eat the takeout you tried to hide in the back of the fridge. It is simply there when needed and always does exactly what is asked of it.  

The X-570 was the first manual Minolta I bought after getting back into photography in 2019. I wish I could say it was a well-considered purchase made after a lot of research. No, nothing that purposeful. The X-570 was an eBay impulse buy. A seller was offering an X-570 with an MD 70-210mm 4.5-5.6 lens for 20.00 plus shipping. I asked why the set was so cheap, and he replied that he wasn’t sure it worked. In the images, the camera looked very dusty, but without any apparent damage, and at the time, I was unaware of the capacitor problem. Since I’ll spend 20.00 without much thought, I bought it. It still works perfectly. 

Looking back, the X-570 was probably the impetus for the VMLP. It arrived in June, and my earliest notes referring to the VMLP are from July. I like the X-570 and appreciate its capabilities—thanks to Goodwill, I have two. They get the job done—reliably, which is why I’ll keep them while selling away other cameras. Every outing doesn’t have to be a memorable marriage of man and machine. Sometimes you just want to peer at the world through a viewfinder, take a few pictures, and maybe have a beer. The X-570 is just the machine for those days.  

Historical Perspective
Introduced in 1983, two years after its big brother, the X-700, the X-570 brought a few changes to lower costs. For example, Program mode was removed, but then a few technology enhancements were made as well. The X-570 displays the actual and suggested shutter speed in manual mode and has a more flexible flash capability. The basic specs of the X-570 are fairly typical of the era: Shutter speeds: B and 1/1000 to 4 seconds for aperture priority mode and B, 1/1000-1 manual mode), TLL metering, AE lock button, depth of field preview. By the time the X-570 was released, Minolta was well on its way to relaxing the Maxxum 7000 in 1985. Thus, the X-570 was the end of the line for Minolta’s focus on manual camera design.  

Overall the X-570 has faired well since its release. Some prefer it to the X-700. I have the X-700 and the X-570 and use both. Since I shoot 90% of the time in aperture priority mode and use a flash only with AF cameras, the changes in the manual shutter speed display and TTL/Flash sync are not as significant for me as for other X-570 users. 

Inspection and Appearance
Since its operational status was suspect, I did not expect much from it. However, after cleaning it off, I discovered it was in very good condition with no noticeable scratches, dings, or brassing. The surface of the X-series is easy to grip—a definite plus. Also, I like the black finish. 

As with other manual Minolta cameras, the controls are easy to access. This is a simple camera, so there is not much to learn. One thing I do miss is the lack of an explicit exposure compensation (EC) control. Performing EC without a control requires switching to manual mode and adjusting the shutter speed. Since I use EC often, that is an inconvenience.   

As expected, the ISO setting and rewind crank are combined on one side of the camera with the mode selector and film advance on the other. I appreciate the “Safe Load” signal—especially after leaving the camera sitting for a while. A month later, it can be difficult to remember whether the camera is loaded.  

There is an AE Lock/Self-timer button on the left front of the camera (a nice feature) and a DoF preview on the right front. The AE lock I may use occasionally. However, I have never found the DoF preview feature useful on any camera except the Maxxum 7, where a readout offers values in feet or meters.  

Initially, my X-570 had a plain matte focusing screen. Happily, I was able to buy a parts X-700 and swap out its split-screen into my X-570. The viewfinder is nice and bright, allowing one to quickly read the shutter and aperture settings. The mirror box was clean, without debris, and the mirror was in good shape.  

Function and Handling
Without a lens, the X-570 weighs 480g (16.93 ounces). At almost 17 ounces, it weighs only a little more than a Minolta 7sII. It is covered in plastic but does not feel cheap or flimsy. Add a lens, and it feels balanced when shooting. In the last few months, I have used the MD Zoom 28-85mm and MD Tele Rokkor 100mm f2.5 with this camera, and all were comfortable in landscape and portrait orientation. 

Loading film is simple, taking only a few seconds. The base setting is “A” mode, and switching to manual mode requires pressing the “A”-release button and setting the shutting speed. Manual mode is metered, and the set shutter speed and suggested speed are seen in the viewfinder. I checked the meter’s accuracy using the MyLightMeter app, and it was accurate—not bad for a 30+-year-old camera.  

Shooting
My first step was testing the meter. As a result,  B&W images are tests of metering and focusing.   I used the  MD Tele Rokkor 100mm f2.5 for all black and white images as well as  for the azaleas and daffodil. The remaining images were shot with the MD Zoom 28-85mm.  once I saw the meter was working properly, I took the X-570 out for a stroll to Old Fourth Ward Park with a roll of UltraMax. It was a sunny, cloudless sky, so those images are very high contrast. The wall of graffiti art was taken near the park.  

The bright, direct sun nearly ruined the daffodil image. I used the meter in various lighting situations, especially with shadows and shade, and the meter performed well. I was especially pleased with the shot looking out of the window; I expected it to be much darker, considering the sky’s brightness. The 100mm f2.5 gave nice, crisp images. 

The X-570 is a simple camera that won’t confuse. The metering was excellent, from shadows to bright sunlight. I did miss having EC, especially for the daffodils. But, without an ND filter, the EC would not have been beneficial. Shooting 400 ISO film in bright sunlight using a camera with a max shutter speed of 1/1000 has its drawbacks.

Images
All B&W images are straight scans except the image of the magazines, which has its brightness slightly decreased. It was difficult not to expose for the shadows, so the shadow detail was more than I wanted. Color images have basic histogram adjustments to prevent clipping of highlights and shadows. Color adjustments were made during scanning using Epson Scan 2 software. All images were scanned at 2400 DPI.

Impression
I like the X-570, and the fact I paid so little for my two copies makes me like them even more. Its sleek black design appeals to my sense of aesthetics, and its features make for a straightforward shooting experience. The weight is a nice touch–17 ounces is unlikely to challenge the most delicate necks. The plastic doesn’t bother me in the least. The grip gives one something to latch onto, which I have come to prefer, even over the grip of my beloved XD-11. I also like being able to use the self-timer without worrying about locking up the shutter. 

The X-570 has everything one needs to make excellent images and nothing extra. When I pick it up, I never have to pause and relearn my way around it. It performs well—the metering was much better than I hoped, handling shadows and early-afternoon sun equally well. Now that I’ve installed a split-image focus screen, the X-570 will make it into my rotation.  

While I like using the X-570, it doesn’t resonate with me the way the XD-11 does. Put an XD11 in my hands, and I start daydreaming. Hand me a Maxxum 7, and I will develop an attitude. Pass me an X-570, and I will go make some images and be satisfied with their quality. There is no emotional tie as with the XD-11 or Maxxum 7, nor need there be. It is a competent, capable companion that does its job well without drama. And when speaking of cameras, what else needs to be said? 

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