I have too many cameras and lenses. When buying gear, sometimes it’s necessary to buy an entire lot just to get one item. This happened to me a number of times, and now I need to find loving homes for the overflow.
I decided to do the VMLP for two reasons. First, I wanted to experience Minolta’s innovation in its historical sequence. Second, I wanted to play with all the toys I could not afford when they were new. Now, nearly two years later, I’ve almost worked my way through this vanity project. Having done so, I am even more impressed by what Minolta managed to accomplish.
There were so many great SLR cameras and lenses in the 48 years from 1958 to 2006 that it is impossible to settle on just a few. I have my absolute favorites — the XD11 and Maxxum 7 are wonderful in every sense of the word. It pains me that some great cameras are now obscure and rarely mentioned. In the Maxxum series, the Maxxum 5, 7, 9, 7000, and 7000i are well known. However, the 700si is a great camera (it won all four major awards in 1995). For some reason, it rarely shows up for sale, and when it does, it sells for pennies. The same is true of the 600si. The 600si is the design precursor of the Maxxum 5, 7, and 9, and yet it is rarely lauded. It makes a perfect beginner’s camera.
The XD11 is famous and should be—it’s great. The SR-T line and X-700 and X-570 also get a lot of press. But I have found the XG-M to be a great companion. So far, it is the only one of the XG line I’ve used. I have an XG-7, the first in the series, but it is still in the queue.
Minolta made some exceptional lenses, but many of them have faded into obscurity as well. Some are famous like the 100mm 2.8 and 50mm 2.8 AF macros, and 70-210mm f4 “beercan.” The 28-105mm 3.5-4.5 AF is a gem— sharp, fast AF, and largely ignored. My first copy came in a lot that I bought for the camera. The 35-75mm f4 is another lens with impressive capability, and it sells for 25-30 dollars. Jim Grey did a post featuring the second generation version of this lens, which is considered less capable than the original, and those images were clear with great color. I have both, and they each produce clear, sharp images.
Minolta’s manual lenses are a treasure trove of great glass. The prime lenses are highly regarded, so it’s hard to buy a bad normal lens or 28mm or 35mm prime, for that matter. It’s the zooms that have primarily gone unheralded. I’ve managed to track down all of the zooms from the 100-300mm f5.6 down to the 24-35mm f3.5, except those that are collector’s items from the early years. The 80-160mm, 40-80mm, and 50-100mm sell for hundreds of dollars–I’ll leave them to the collectors. The 35-70mm f3.5 and the 70-210mm lenses are well known because they were part of Minolta’s collaboration with Leica. Both tend to sell quickly on eBay. My favorites of the group (so far) are the MD Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-4.5 and the MD Zoom 75-150mm f4; each produces stellar images. More bloggers have started mentioning the 75-150mm within the last year, but the 28-85mm is still under the radar.
Having used all of these items, I find it a little sad that more people don’t know about them—I hope to change that. In the coming months, I intend to write more frequently about my experiences with each camera and lens. But, I digress…I started this post talking about my need to declutter and got sidetracked by Minolta love.
I may begin by listing a few items with eBay, but Etsy is also a possibility. Since I’ll be new to selling, I thought I would ask my readers for advice. It’s time to spread a little Minolta love around. Any suggestions, advice, or warnings?