Flashback Friday: “Grandma’s Rollers” 😀

Good morning everyone! For your #flashbackfriday here’s a real flashback from almost 12 years in time! It’s 2007. Grandma sits with her granddaughter. She’s someone who has always kept up appearances, I was happy I finally caught Grandma with her rollers 😀

I don’t think Grandma ever saw this photo, and if she did she probably wouldn’t like it but I love the shot because it’s a candid shot of a loving moment which I’m always trying to do with people portraits 😍

For this shot I used a Minolta Maxxum 7D which used the amazing Sony 6.1mp sensor. As you may or may not know, this sensor or variations of it were used in other famous models most notably the Nikon D70 and the Epson R-D1. Perhaps even the Pentax 100D among others.

But just as amazing is the Minolta 85mm f/1.4 G lens which to me was as good or better than any 85mm out there! I’m not talking technical quality, but on an aesthetic level it was made for portraits!

To me, Minolta came closest of any of the Japanese companies to getting that third spot with Canon and Nikon. They fought hard and gave us some great cameras and lenses.

Unfortunately Minolta as we know it, folded camera production in 2006 with the camera division sold to Sony. But guess what? With Sony hugely popular in the camera game, and by some accounts number three behind Canon and Nikon, “Minolta” lives on after all as Sony! 😎👍🏻

Get some shooting this weekend guys, time moves fast! 😎📷😘✌🏻

Throwback Thursday: “The Iron Sheik” 1985 Minolta X-700

This weekend will mark the 34th anniversary of Wrestlemania, the big wrestling extavaganza promoted by the WWE, aka World Wrestling Entertainment. Even though the next Wrestlemania is 35, the event began in 1985 which would be 34 years ago.

In 1985 they were known as the WWF or World Wrestling Federation, a company which was universally known until they had to change it to the WWE in 2002 due to a lawsuit by the other “WWF” or World Wildlife Fund. To this day, I still think the WWF sounds better than WWE for wrestling!

The above photo was taken in 1985 in Madison Square Garden, NYC. I was a geeky kid who was just blessed with a Minolta X-700 a few months earlier and I took it nearly everywhere. Sure, it’s not the best photo you’ve ever seen but I was a geeky teen with a new camera and cheap lens. Cut the kid some slack! 🙂

I was usually in the bleacher seats but this time I got a little closer. I still however, needed a zoom for this shot and I used a super cheap Zykkor 80-200mm zoom. If you want to know how bad it was, we bought it from one of those horrible “electronics/luggage” shops right near 34th Street. It’s the kind of shops people warn you not to buy from! Still I don’t remember that it cost us much more than $40-50. Then again, in 1985 maybe that was like $300? 🙂

The Zykkor is the kind of lens you can find today used for like $3.00 or even “free” with a camera. But it’s the kind of lens you probably wouldn’t take even if it was free! 🙂

I tell you man, I was just starting out in this wonderful world of photography and I didn’t know any better. In some ways, I like the innocence of those times. And I did get some decent shots out of the cheap Zykkor lens!

My brother and I were just teens but we did attend Wrestlemania. However because Madison Square Garden was sold out we had to watch it via closed circuit television at the Felt Forum which was part of MSG but that doesn’t count cause it’s like watching it on pay per view!Anyone remember the Felt Forum? Or even closed circuit television? 🙂

The above photo was not taken at Wrestlemania but at another WWF card in MSG also in 1985.

The wrestlers were the Iron Sheik and Big Swede Hanson. Swede was a “jobber” as they might say. He was there to lose.

The Iron Sheik was a transitional character in the world of professional wrestling. He was the man chosen to take the WWF Championship from six year champion Bob Backlund and then he would also lose the title a month later to Hulk Hogan setting up for Hulkamania, and eventually Wrestlemania. And the rest is history as we know. Wrestling became a billion dollar industry some years thereafter but the moment Hulkamania was born was the catalyst.

I was in the Garden for both Bob Backlund’s title loss and Hulk Hogan’s title win. And both matches involved the Iron Sheik.

It’s funny how time changes things. Back in those days, I never saw the Iron Sheik as anything more than a somewhat “goofy” villain. I knew he did the job by losing to Hulk Hogan but he wasn’t one of those villains who really got me excited despite the fact that he is a very good wrestler, apparently with a true amateur wrestling background.

Today, he has resurrected into a Twitter icon! He regularly spews out vile profane stuff that’s funny as hell at times. And he’s held in higher regard in the wrestling world than I would’ve thought.

Well, I was a teen! But when you’re living through the actual times you don’t think that twenty, thirty years from now this might be a historic event or maybe this wrestler might become a Legend.

And I’m not just talking about wrestling! It could be anything. For example, the late great George H.W. Bush is getting a lot of love these days, in the years before and now after his passing. However, when I was growing up I couldn’t shake off the “wimp” label that was given to him. I didn’t see him as a strong leader like Ronald Reagan, even when he went after Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I just thought he was trying to be tough. Today, knowing his history and military service I know he’s anything but a wimp and I have greater respect for him and his legacy.

Sorry for the long write-up. This was not meant as an article that reflected so much on the photography. It was meant as a trip down memory lane.

And yes, I KNOW wrestling is fake!! Even then I knew, but it was more raw back then that it could almost fool you into believing. Today, I no longer watch wrestling. I will not be watching Wrestlemania on April 7th unless it was free haha. But whenever I think of my younger years, pro wrestling and the boom it experienced in the 1980s will always be a part of my memories.

“The X-Man” 2009. One of my last shots with the X-700! People I knew used to call me the “X-Man” but it has nothing to do with the comic book characters. It has everything to do with me carrying around my X-700 everywhere. Can you believe it’s been ten years since I’ve used it?

 

Camera Collecting Part I: Two Super CHEAP Camera Legends

Here’s a topic thats very near and dear to my heart! But first, a fair warning: Collecting cameras can be ADDICTIVE and EXPENSIVE!

The former (addictive) is incurable, the latter (expensive), well it doesn’t have to be. And you couldn’t do better or cheaper than these two cameras I am profiling today.

I specifically chose these two specific cameras based on their prices, availability and their importance as Camera Legends. Especially for the beginning collector, these two are the easiest to find and buy.

The two cameras profiled today are the Minolta Maxxum 7000 and the Canon EOS 650.

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MINOLTA MAXXUM 7000

The Minolta Maxxum 7000 is the camera that launched the autofocus revolution back in 1985. And it was revolutionary!

Before it, “autofocus” cameras were clunky things such as the Nikon F3AF of 1983 which attempted to autofocus the “easy way” by using an AF motor in the special lenses designed for these cameras while retaining the classic Nikon F mount.

Though I say the “easy way” maybe I should have said the “logical way.” After all, if you consider the technology at that time and the boxy, mechanical nature of cameras, it just seemed easier to put the autofocus motor in the lenses right?

Well, as is often the case, the idea was better than the execution. I don’t want to go full length into this topic right now, though I would agree it would make for a fascinating discussion!

YOUTUBE COMPANION VIDEO

For those of you who would prefer watching a video version of this topic, here’s our latest video:

MAXXUM 7000 CONTINUED

In many ways, they were on the right track because as you may or may not know, when the EOS system was released in 1987, one of the selling points was indeed lenses with AF motor in them! But Canon had to ditch their old FD mount and make a whole (then) new EOS mount to accommodate this.

Anyway, Minolta too had to create a new mount. A mount which we know today as the Alpha mount or more specifically in today’s world, the Sony Alpha mount. Not the Sony E mirrorless mount. Yes, folks your Sony Alpha cameras carry the rich legacy of the legendary Minolta Maxxum 7000! 😊

Anyway, today’s topic is camera collecting and the Minolta Maxxum 7000 is a true Camera Legend that can be had VERY cheaply these days.

As a camera the Maxxum 7000 has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode. Basically all you need! AF is ok but first generation. It’s good enough to get the job done, if the subject/subjects are not moving much! The camera runs on four AAA batteries.

PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Although one of the most important cameras of the autofocus revolution of the 1980s, perhaps the most important, today the Maxxum 7000 is also one of the cheapest on the used market.

Prices are trending at $3.00 to $50 USD average seems to be around $25. I got mine for $3 bucks! It cost me a lot more than that in the 90s!

I believe the Maxxum 7000 prices are so low because they are plentiful and they do not age well.

The grips become white and sticky or powdery. The LCD goes bad or bleeds.

The good news is many are perfectly usable as it is. In my opinion, it is unrealistic to expect to find a Maxxum 7000 without any flaws today. If you do have one without flaws I’d love to hear from you!

THE CANON EOS 650

The Canon EOS 650 was released by Canon in 1987 and is the very first EOS camera.

Its claim to fame is the introduction of the EOS Mount. I believe the EOS 650 prices are so low simply because it’s just not the most exciting camera to look at or shoot 🙂

No offense, it’s a nice looking and shooting camera. Just not super exciting compared to anything else EOS you could shoot with. But it has one very important thing on its side…It’s the first. The first EOS camera! And that has to count for something right? 🙂

It has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode just like the Maxxum 7000 so that means it has everything you need. It runs on one 2CR5 battery. AF is ok but first generation. Not good for running subjects but ok for static.

PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Just like the Maxxum 7000, the Canon EOS 650 is also dirt cheap on the used market.

Prices are trending from $10-50 with an average of $25 body only. I got my current copy for $10 bucks!

Generally these cameras have stood the test of time so your chances of a working model is pretty good.

Sometimes you’ll find one with no power, doesn’t turn on. Sometimes parts have come loose or the buttons and dials may be sticky.

Even at the highest average prices they’re cheap get the best one you can!

BOTTOM LINE

I hope with these two cameras I have shown you that collecting Camera Legends does not have to be expensive!

With these two, you have cameras with history and a story to tell about the evolution of autofocus.

And on the Used Market you can get them dirt cheap. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re actually pretty good shooters! Good luck on your journey to camera collecting nirvana!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you are interested in these two Camera Legends, there are a ton of additional resources on the internet. To cut through the bunk and junk, I recommend these two reviews by my blogging buddy and a prolific blogger Mr. Jim Grey. I can’t speak for a lot of bloggers but I unquestionably trust Jim’s reviews and opinions.

His Maxxum 7000 review is HERE

And his Canon EOS 650 Review is HERE

Plus I also recommend you check out Mike Eckman’s blog…

This is the best new review I have seen on the Maxxum 7000 in years, written by Mike Eckman, a passionate photographer and camera reviewer whose passion for photography and film cameras is contagious and whose dedication I admire. I’ve enjoyed his work for years and his Maxxum 7000 review is much more thorough and much better than mine, I happily admit that! 🙂

Mike’s review is HERE and as I said, if you love film cameras his whole site is worth checking out. I guarantee it will keep your reading for hours!

Tell them Sam sent you! 🙂

***MODERN EQUIVALENTS***

It’s been said that the new Canon EOS-R Mirrorless is the incarnate of the EOS 650. In a way, many things from its looks to its use for the introduction of the EOS-R mount, I’d say they might be right! Anyway, the EOS-R can do things the 650 could’ve only dreamed of in 1987! If you decide to buy one, please do so from our trusted affiliates simply by clicking on the photos or links. You will pay nothing extra other than what you’re buying, and help support Camera Legend at the same time. Putting these articles, reviews, and videos take time and work. We do appreciate all you support, thank you very much!

***HOT NEW IPAD PRO***

I’m sure many of you are relying more than ever on your phones and tablets. Well from what I have seen and read, the new iPad Pro just released a few days ago is actually capable of running Photoshop CS without a hitch! Wow, have we come that far? If true, this tablet can finally free you from your desktop AND laptop!

Please check our trusted affiliates for more information through the links below. Also further down, save up to $300 on selected items only on sale through Sunday. Hurry, when it’s gone, that’s it!

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New YouTube Project

Sorry for my inactivity friends, I have been working on a new pet project which is the Camera Legend YouTube channel. Between that, the blog, and family, I’m burnt out!

It seems the next logical step to bringing a more dynamic experience to our readers.

I initially hesitated doing it…for a couple of years in fact! Afraid to take the plunge, but now we have already posted a couple of videos.

People wish me good luck and I thank them. I’m well aware that most YouTube channels don’t succeed. I’m going in expecting to fail! Starting from zero, got nothing to lose 😀

I view this blog as my model for the YouTube channel. I never expected it to go anywhere but it’s gone beyond my expectations!

It’s not the number of followers as much as people telling me they found the blog while Googling or researching certain cameras. The fact that we have become a tiny fabric of that internet search for the cameras we have profiled is a humbling experience. Very thankful to the viewers and readers.

The YouTube channel is just in experimental stage. I’m not sure if I should be reserved or show some personality so I’m trying different things. I personally think people don’t want to see a robot speaking! Anyway I’m open to your thoughts and suggestions.

I also have to admit, I’m a little shy for putting myself out there in front of the camera. There’s always the thought…”Oh, am I not who you thought I’d be?”

The production is decidedly low budget. As I’ve mentioned here many times, I’m not a video person, though I might have to start learning.

I’m a photographer who loves natural and available light. I don’t like setting up studio lights, though again, I might just have to learn.

I really wanted this to be more like you going into a camera store and chit chatting with one of the employees in there. I used to do that; go in and chat with the sales people and always had a good time talking cameras!

Anyway, please have a look, if you have the time. Honestly, the “meat” of the video, which is the camera talk, I think only true camera nerds could sit through! Thank you in advance and thanks for being part of this new venture!

Best, Sam

 

Photo Of The Day: “Evil Bugster” Film Version

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Hmm, does this look familiar? If it seems like something I posted before, well yes, yes it is! It’s THIS picture.

Same VG “Evil” Buggy. Different camera. The previous was shot with a Canon G1X, digital point and shoot. This one was taken with a Minolta TC-1 point and shoot film camera. The film was Fuji Superia 400 color print film.

Other than the slight graininess of the film version and the art filter I used on the digital version (which caused the color differences), do you see any differences? If anything, it’s very slight. Some might prefer the G1X version, some might prefer the TC-1 version but to my eyes they’re nearly identical. The fact that I shot them both within the same minute from my car might have something to do with that, but photographically, I don’t see a lot of differences.

I’m re-testing the TC-1 because while I have a short write up on this classic film camera from a couple years back, I didn’t have any photos in that article and as I always say…Pics or it didn’t happen!

Anyway, being that I tend to favor film cameras it might surprise you that I was this close to saying save your money and stick with your digital camera but I won’t say it right now until I evaluate my next roll of film from the TC-1.

All I can say right now is, the TC-1 is a beautiful little camera, a classic, a Camera Legend. However, today, your digital point and shoot is likely to give it a run for its money and probably cost less too.

Happy Sunday and hope you get some great shots!

Monday Mystery Camera: The Minolta X-700 Chrome

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Chances are you’ve never seen this camera in person. Neither had I until recently. The Minolta X-700 in chrome finish.

THE MINOLTA X-700

Although this is not meant to be a formal review, I feel I should give you at least a little information on the Minolta X-700.

The X-700 is a manual focus SLR introduced by Minolta in 1981. In its time, it was praised for its AE modes, flash automation and ease of use. As a classic camera it is very basic by today’s standards.

The camera offers Aperture Priority and (a much praised at the time) Program mode. You can use it in manual mode as well. Shutter speeds from 4 secs to 1/1000. It runs on two S76 batteries and can accept a motor drive and other accessories.

I actually did a lengthy review on the X-700 many years back on another site and I’ll try to transfer that over here.

I have to admit I have a soft spot for the X-700 as it was my first “real” camera as a kid back in 1985.

THE X-700 CHROME

Cameras have traditionally come in either black, silver, chrome or all of the above. Of course, there are special editions like reptile, ostrich, etc, etc, but we’re not talking about those.

Some cameras were always seen in silver or chrome trim such as the Pentax K-1000. I’m not sure I ever saw a black one. Indeed, I don’t think there ever was a black one made by Pentax.

The X-700 on the other hand is almost always seen in black. I had never seen a silver or chrome (whichever you prefer to call it) version in the flesh. In fact, for many years I never even knew it existed because of the fact that I have only seen the black ones.

But here it is in the flesh! It is real and it is beautiful! Well, to me anyway.

COLLECTIBILITY

Now if you have one of these beauties, take pride that you have a pretty rare thing. However rare does not translate to valuable.

I got this one for $65 and again, I found it when I was not even looking for it. I see a couple now on eBay, and with prices around the $400 mark with lens and other items to entice you.

No disrespect intended, but I highly doubt anyone would pay that much for one unless they really, really, and I mean REALLY wanted a chrome X-700 🙂

When I got mine last year, I checked eBay auctions and found one that sold for $149 I think. That being the case, I would put the fair value on these cameras from $65-150 or $200 tops for the camera body alone.

Keep in mind that the “regular” black versions can be had anywhere from FREE to $100 and regularly averaging on eBay for around $30-60 body only and $60-90 with lens.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta X-700 was Minolta’s most advanced model in 1981. I would say that it could very well have been the most successful Minolta SLR ever, although SRT fans will disagree with me. It was the camera that put Minolta on the map for the 80s and within striking distance of taking the top spot from the likes of Canon and Nikon.

Of course we know that did not turn out to be the case. But man, they were close with this camera. The camera, coupled with the “Only From The Mind Of Minolta” campaign were an indelible part of 1980s camera lore for me. Never before or since have I seen a film SLR get that much press and television advertising. It was classic.

The Minolta X-700 may be a very basic camera by today’s standards, but there is no doubt the camera is a Minolta Camera Legend. And if you come across a chrome one, all the better! Take pride and keep it.

11/28/16 ***Cyber Monday Specials***

Special sales, deals, and rebates from Olympus.

$350 off Canon EOS 5D MK III Bundle.

The Minolta AF-C

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The Minolta AF-C is a compact, autofocus point and shoot 35mm film camera introduced by Minolta in 1983.

The AF-C comes from the late 70s/early 80s era of small, boxy compact cameras such as the Nikon L35AF or Pentax PC35AF, and just like those cameras, it features a fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens.

The camera most closely resembles the Lomo LC-A or Cosina CX-2 and like those cameras, the camera is turned on when you open the sliding cover which protects the lens. Unlike the Lomo or Cosina which rely on scale focusing, the AF-C is an autofocus camera.

THE AF-C CAMERA

As a camera, the Minolta AF-C is completely automatic. It is a point and shoot camera where to take pictures you simply point and shoot 🙂

As I’ve said in previous articles, today’s advanced point and shoot digital cameras can do almost everything. From 4k video to in-camera editing to wifi sharing. Many of these cameras have astonishing lenses, such as the Leica Q, and price tags to match. However, it seems to me that they’ve lost the soul of what it means (or meant) to be a point and shoot camera.

And what is that you might ask? Well, for me, a point and shoot camera has to be simple. It has to be humble; all you need is a good, decently sharp lens, not a lab chart killer with an astronomical price tag. And lastly, it has to be cheap. By having a good/great little lens and not a lens with some “premier” name on it, they can do that.

And they did all this with the Minolta AF-C. It meets all the criteria I stated: Simple, humble, good/great lens, cheap. The lens on the AF-C is a 35mm f/2.8 Minolta lens and it is a very good, even excellent one. There is no “Rokkor” or “Rokkor G” designation on the lens, so it has no pretenses of being anything more than it is 🙂

The lens is a 6 elements/6 group design and has an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/17 and again, all automatically chosen by the camera.

Don’t let any “premium” designation fool you. It’s not that hard for any decent camera/lens manufacturer to make a great 35mm f/2.8 lens so it’s not necessary that it be expensive. I’ve used the Nikon 35ti and it’s a better looking camera, but I do not think the Minolta lens on the AF-C gives up anything to the 35ti.

The Minolta AF-C relies on active infrared autofocus. There is no way to manual focus this camera, so tinkerers and gadgeteers get that out of your mind.

If you want some control of the camera, it will let you wind/rewind it using a thumbwheel on the rear of the camera. The camera has no autowind/rewind function. Additionally, you can adjust the ISO in 1/3 values.

The Minolta AF-C runs on four SR44 or LR44 button batteries or two CR1/3N batteries. I used the cheaper 675 hearing aid batteries bought at CVS and they worked fine, no exposure problems.

PERFORMANCE

The Minolta AF-C is small and compact, perhaps not as small as many of today’s digital point and shoot cameras, but still pocketable as long as you don’t have the accessory flash attached.

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“Princess Of Messy” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. This is a crop from a larger picture. The AF-C displays good sharpness despite the film grain.

The AF-C has two leds in the viewfinder. The green light, which indicates correct focus and the red light, which is a low light warning.

When shooting with the AF-C, the autofocus is so quiet, I wasn’t sure the camera was working properly, whether it was actually focusing at all. But knowledge is power and I have read before acquiring one that this is exactly how the camera focuses and you simply have to learn to trust it.

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“Redrum” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. Check out the nice contrast and range of b&w tones. It seems no one is safe from harm in NYC! Ouch, love hurts! 🙂

When I developed my first roll, any fears I had were laid to rest. Indeed, the majority of the time, the camera achieved correct focus. The shots that had blurriness were due to movement and the camera correctly choosing slow shutter speeds in low light (something I have a habit of doing to challenge my cameras and myself).

Even better was that nearly every shot on the roll was correctly exposed. Not surprising for me as I’ve always known Minoltas to provide excellent metering.

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“That Funky Building” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Alford Delta 400, D76 developer. This is the IAC (InterActive Corp building) as seen from NYC’s West Side Highway. This has always been an intrigueing eye sore for me whenever I see it.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta AF-C is a brilliant example of beauty and simplicity that represents the best of the early 1980s era of compact autofocus cameras.

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“The Evil Camera Boy” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. He’s evil and he loves cameras. The Evil Camera Boy is back! 🙂

It delivers excellent results most of the time under the right conditions. I guess you could see the slick caveat right there “under the right conditions.” What does that mean? That means if you use the camera as it was intended, the right amount of light, the right film, flash if necessary, then the camera will generally deliver excellent results. If you try to challenge it too much, i.e., low light, slow film, you might get less than excellent results 🙂

I read somewhere that it was thought of as the ultimate film street camera by some European magazine and I can’t disagree. While some will of course refer to the Ricoh GR-1 (which I love and have reviewed here) as the “Ultimate” I have to say the AF-C betters it in some ways. The AF is much quieter and the manual winding and rewind  makes it even quieter still, both of which are benefits for unobtrusive shooting.

The Minolta AF-C takes you back to a time when “point and shoot” cameras were point and shoot cameras. Give it a little love and faith and this little camera will produce. Today, the AF-C enjoys a cult following among camera lovers, but is largely forgotten by the masses as are many of its peers. But should you come across one, get it because you will have in your hands a point and shoot Camera Legend that will deliver the goods without a lot of fuss or headaches.

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $20 to $100, with $100 being a bit on the high end. The most abundant place for the Minolta AF-C is obviously eBay.

However, you may also find them in flea markets, garage sales, and Craigslist. If you’re lucky, you may even find one for $5 or maybe free 🙂

***NEW CAMERA ALERT***

The hot new 24mp APS-C AA-less Pentax K-70 is now available for pre-order.

Pentax appears to be really upping the ante with their hot pro K-1 and now the K-70. We will keep an eye on this new Pentax, but just from the specs it appears to be an awesome new camera!

 

Monday Mystery Camera: The Minolta X-600

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Just when I thought that, as Bob Seger might say, I had nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove, I have another camera to profile for you 🙂

THE MYSTERIOUS MINOLTA X-600

In 1994 there was an article in Popular Photography magazine regarding the “mysterious” Minolta X-600. In fact the title of the article was “The Mysterious Minolta X-600.”

In that article, I remember the late, great Herbert Keppler wrote of how in 1983 he received an express package from Minolta Research and Development headquarters in Osaka, Japan. He went on to say that in the box contained a camera he had never seen or heard of before: the Minolta X-600.

Now before I continue, let me just say that I really loved Mr. Keppler’s articles and his candid and sometimes brash way of writing. I’m can’t remember if he was Pop Photo’s editor or associate editor, but if you read the magazine long enough, you can tell that he was “The Boss” or “The Man” at that publication.

He was a legend in the photography business and to me, his articles were the main reason I was reading Popular Photography. I was somewhat awestruck actually when he sent me a hand written response to a question I sent in, back in the 90s.

I also have to say, I’ve read over the years, so many people bashing that magazine. To me though, it was better than a lot of other photography magazines out there, but that’s a topic for another day.

Now back to the X-600. After reading the Pop Photo article on it, I got the impression that this was not a production camera and I never thought about it again until I came across one, quite unexpectedly, from a local seller’s collection.

WHAT MAKES THE X-600 SO MYSTERIOUS?

Ok, there’s not a lot of information about this camera on the web, but there is some. So I will try to break down what I have read and what I know of the camera, now that I have one.

The camera was produced as far back as 1983. Contrary to what I deciphered from the Pop Photo article, which gave me the impression that the camera was never released to the public, the X-600 was actually sold/given/leaked to the public, perhaps up to 10,000 units (according the the great Rokkor Files website), and sold in Japan only. Obviously, some have made it around the world 🙂

Now what makes the X-600 special? Now you might have a little chuckle when you read this because we’re so used to it by now…

The X-600 was a manual focus camera that had focus confirmation via a green led dot in the viewfinder that appeared once you have achieved focus. That’s it!

So what’s the big deal you say, all my Nikons have done that for years. In fact, nearly all serious cameras, and even non serious cameras have some kind of focus confirmation. It’s a prerequisite. But back in 1983, this was a BIG deal. In fact, if I recall correctly, they made a big deal about focus confirmation in the Contax RX, a manual focus SLR, and that was in 1994, more than ten years later.

No one knows for sure why Minolta abandoned the X-600 project. If you search around the web you may come across something about patent infringement, but I could not confirm this in any way so I can’t state that as truth.

Anyway, the X-600 was apparently a “pre-autofocus” experiment by Minolta, an experiment that may have led to the creation of the very successful Minolta Maxxum 7000 of 1985, the runaway first hit of the autofocus era of SLR cameras.

The success of the Maxxum 7000 ushered in the era of autofocus to the masses, with Canon and Nikon following shortly thereafter.

HANDS ON

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“The X-Man” aka the “Ghetto-Blaster” hands on with the X-600. Not a narcissistic selfie, only trying to show that the X-600 is out there in the hands of the public 🙂

I’ve only had this one for a short time, a few months, still have film in it. Based on my limited experience, and allow me to say that this may change with time, here are my impressions:

The initial impression upon seeing and handling one is that the camera looks and feels like the X-700. But after you hold it for a short time, you realize that this is NOT the X-700.

The X-700 was my first “real” camera which Mom bought for me in 1985 as a geeky teen with a thirst for photography. I used it for almost ten years straight before I got into all this G.A.S. stuff, and I still have it 31 years later so the X-700 is a camera I know a little about 🙂

The good news for most folks? The X-700 is a much better camera. Not only in looks, but in ergonomics and operations. The X-700 is cheaper and easy to find. The bad news about the X-700? It’s not an X-600 🙂

The X-600 is a much more basic camera, which can be a good thing, but it doesn’t have some of the things that made the X-700 so nice. For example, it doesn’t have a shutter speed dial on top as in the X-700. Instead, the shutter speeds appear in a counter on the top right plate of the camera and appears much like a film counter, which under certain conditions can be hard to see and hard to read.

There is no exposure compensation dial. No ASA/ISO indicator. Shutter speeds range from 1s to 1/1000 plus B. There is an Aperture Priority mode which can be engaged via the AUTO settting in the shutter speed selection dial.

The camera uses two AAA batteries, which I actually like better than the usually hearing aid type batteries seen in the X-700 and other cameras.

One great thing I noticed is that the X-600 does not drain the batteries the way my X-700 did. I have accidentally left the X-600 in the “On” position for days and it still doesn’t show battery drain.

The viewfinder shows shutter speeds with red line indicators. The focus “window” is a long slit right in the center of the viewfinder. There are right and left red arrow focus indicators and a green spot in the middle which will light up once you have achieved focus. Anyone who has used the focus confirmation feature on Nikon cameras will be familiar with this method of manual focusing.

The “special” focus confirmation feature works, but it needs good light to work well. According to info I have read on the web, the camera needs later MD lenses with an extra pin or post on the rear lens mount which was apparently needed by the X-600, which has two focus aid sensors in the body.

But wait…I am using the X-600 with three lenses, one which has the pin and two which do not have that extra pin, yet the camera is giving me a focus confirmation signal on all three lenses when I achieve sharp focus! Whether this is reality or not, I will have to report back when I am finished with the film. Only then will I know if the focus confirmation system actually worked with these lenses.

BOTTOM LINE

In today’s world, I must say that there is nothing outstanding about the X-600 as a camera, other than its rarity and its history which I have tried to relay to you here.

I’m not trying to take anything away from the X-600. It’s a very basic camera that uses batteries. Usually a no-no in my book. And focus confirmation is something so basic now that we just take it for granted.

But we must, in respect to Minolta, remember that this was new stuff back in 1983 and they should be given credit for doing something that moved the camera (as a species, not just the X-600) further up the ladder of evolution.

The X-600 is the missing link, the “Lost Testament” of Minolta’s development and refinement of autofocus. The Maxxum 7000 autofocus SLR of 1985 changed the world forever, but to get to the 7000, Minolta had to create the X-600.

Just as the Apollo astronauts who did the test runs never got the glory of the astronauts who landed on the moon, the X-600 is a rare and largely unknown camera, but just like those forgotten astronauts, without the X-600, it’s safe to say there would be no Maxxum 7000.

The Minolta X-600 is most certainly a Camera Legend. It is a camera pioneer. To appreciate that, you must take into account its history. Once you do that, you can then realize that this is indeed a very special camera.

WHERE TO BUY?

The X-600 is a rare camera, based on the low production numbers and the limited information that there is on this camera.

The good news is that they show up every now and then on eBay and I have seen it once at KEH camera. And even better news is that when they do show up, they do not cost a lot. The bad news? You never know when they show up. It could be tomorrow, it could be six months from now. That’s the nature of rare collectibles.

I’m not sure how to say this. You may think I’m just a guy with no life who does nothing, but seek out these odd cameras, and you might have well been justified in your thinking, but honestly, and I’ve said this before…I don’t seek out these cameras, they come to me! 🙂

Seriously! As with so many other cameras and lenses I’ve come across, I found the X-600 when I wasn’t even looking for it. This is a camera that no one hears or talks about simply because not many know about it. When you don’t know about it, you’re not looking for it.

Based on the fact that this is a rare camera, if and when you do find one, you’ll probably come across it the same way I did…when you’re not looking for it.

But assuming you do find one, based on my research, prices are trending at $90-135 on eBay, but you might do a little better if you find one locally. I got mine for $60 with a little haggling 🙂

If you have one of these Camera Legends, I’d sure love to hear about it!

Note: As this is already a late posting, you can safely assume that there won’t be a “Tuesday Titans” tonight 🙂

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Photo Of The Day: “Magic of Ramen Noodles”

 

“Magic Of Ramen Noodles” 2011. Minolta CLE with Canon 50mm f/1.5 Serenar ltm lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max developer in 2011.

It might not be the best thing for you, but it sure feels good in the tummy 😀

Yes, it’s instant ramen, the ultimate poor man’s comfort food. Perfect for those times when you’re absolutely starving or when you have very little time to concoct a fine meal. Once the craving is satisfied, hunger is gone 🙂

Tuesday Titans: The Mighty Minolta XK Motor

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The Legendary Minolta XK Motor of 1976. Sorry for this funky Instagram pic, I’ll probably replace it 🙂

Hi everybody. Let’s start 2016 off with a bang with this ultra-rare Camera Legend, where info is scarce even on the best Minolta/Rokkor sites…

Somewhere in the deep, dark corridors of my camera memory lurks a giant. A giant that frightened and fascinated me at the same time. That giant is the Minolta XK Motor.

The XK Motor is a 35mm SLR introduced by Minolta in 1976. It was marketed as a professional camera and was Minolta’s answer to the Canon F-1 and Nikon F/F2.

The XK Motor is ultra-rare and hard to find in today’s market.

MY MEMORIES AND DREAMS OF THE MINOLTA XK MOTOR

As a kid, I still remember seeing this gigantic brute of a camera in magazine articles and ads. It was a camera that seemed frighteningly large, muscular, and complicated to a young boy. Yet at the same time, for a skinny young kid, this camera’s muscular build signaled “power” in my mind.

I wanted it bad, but I knew I’d never get one. Or so I thought…


HOW I CAME ACROSS THE MINOLTA XK MOTOR CAMERA

Fast forward some thirty plus years. About four years ago in 2012, I saw two XK Motors listed on KEH Camera in BGN (bargain) condition, priced at about $500 each. Right away, knowing the rarity of these cameras, I had to get one!

Fortunately, it was one of those rare times when I actually had enough in the bank. Sure it still hurt to part with $500, but hey man, this was the Minolta XK Motor! Gotta have it! 🙂

So I got one, and if I had the funds, I’d probably have gotten the other too, but I didn’t have any funds left and it quickly went to someone else.

Though I can’t check 24/7, I do check KEH’s site fairly often. I’ve never seen the XK Motor before or since on KEH’s site. My theory is someone sold these two from their collection to KEH and it quickly went up for sale.

THE XK MOTOR BODY

When I first got the camera, I was in awe. This thing was solid, heavy, and just as in my dreams, seemingly powerful.

The body feels blocky, much like other cameras of its time such as its slated competitors, the Nikon F/F2 and the Canon F-1.

Unlike those two cameras, the motor drive is permanently attached on the XK Motor. The motor drive was capable of a (then) “high” of 3.5 frames per second at its top speed.

The camera required two EPX-76 or S-76 alkaline or silver batteries for the body and ten, count ’em, TEN AA batteries for that motor drive. With batteries installed, this camera got heavy fast!

The camera had electronic shutter speeds of 16 seconds to 1/2000th of a second and mechanical shutter speeds of 1/100 and B.

ISSUES

Shortly after I got the XK Motor, I realized it is not without issues. While my first roll of film went off without a hitch, I quickly realized there was one glaring achilles heel (or heels in this case) with this giant.

That fault is…the battery clips that hold the epic ten batteries are brittle and worse, they eventually break rendering the great “motor” portion of the camera virtually useless. They broke off on both sides of my XK Motor and believe me I did not do anything rough to cause it.

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“Chipped Clips” The battery clip issue is the main thing that ruined my XK Motor experience. If seeking one of these cameras, be aware that this is an unfortunately common thing with these cameras.

And if that wasn’t enough, trying to find a replacement for these clips is harder than finding a needle in a haystack!

Sure, I have tried the old fashioned method of taping the broken clips. As you can see from the pics, that is exactly what I did but it didn’t work well. The tape would eventually come off and one time the battery compartment on one side got incredibly hot and I had to quickly remove the batteries for fear of fire.

If you think the broken battery clips were just my error, take a look at this link from KEH BLOG from 2011.

They had an XM Motor for sale in EX+ condition for $1950 with one catch…”battery door broken” 🙂

WHY I SOLD THE XK MOTOR

I recently sold this camera to a private buyer who was willing to buy it as is for the same price I bought it for. The great thing about these old legendary cameras is that you could almost always sell them without much of a loss.

It may seem unscrupulous to sell the camera in worse condition for the same price I bought it, but these babies are rare and the last one I saw was on eBay where it was sold as a parts camera. Bidding went over $500, so I definitely think I gave a fair price.

It became an unusable paperweight for me and the climax of a dream that became a nightmare.

This camera could have easily become one of my “Best Cameras I Never Knew” but it’s such a rare camera that I was honored to have had a chance to hold and use one in the flesh, fulfilling one of my childhood fantasies.

X-1 XK XM DIFFERENCES

There is actually a non motor driven version of this camera. The ones sold is the USA are known as the XK and known elsewhere around the world as the XM or X-1.

While the XK Motor is ultra-rare, the standard XK/XM/X-1 are not as rare. Many people mistakenly buy these thinking they are the XK Motor, but they are not, and they do not command the same high prices.

Cool you say, couldn’t I just buy an old motor drive and turn my XK/XM/X-1 into an XK Motor? In theory, you could’ve, but sorry there was no motor drive option for these cameras which is one of the reasons the XK Motor still holds its place among the Camera Legends of Minolta.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta XK Motor was a dream camera for a young boy that turned into hard reality for a grown man.

It was Minolta’s answer to the Canon F-1 and Nikon F/F2. Unlike the Canons and Nikons, the Minolta XK Motor had one glaring and seemingly incomprehensible fault…weak battery clips!

Despite their ability to make some of the world’s finest cameras and lenses, there IS a reason why Minolta never made it to the top in the world of Canon and Nikon pro bodies. A flaw such as weak battery clips is totally unacceptable for a professional grade body such as this.

If you search the internet for the XK Motor, you will find precious little information from actual users. You will not see much on the battery clip issue either. Why? Because there is not much info on this camera in general, it’s that rare.

In usable form, the Minolta XK Motor is a dream camera to hold and use. It was a culmination of Minolta’s dream to rule the professional camera world. It was a dream ruined by flawed execution, but that doesn’t matter in the end. The Minolta XK Motor represented the power of Minolta and what could have been. It is, without a doubt, a Camera Legend.

WHERE TO BUY?

If looking for an XK Motor, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are very hard to calculate due to its rarity on the market.

I got mine for $500 at KEH Camera in Bargain condition. But they also had one five years back in EX+ condition for $1950. The last one I saw on eBay was an “as is” parts camera which went for over $500 in 2013.

So I would say in pristine working condition, these cameras could easily fetch anywhere from $1500-2000 and maybe more.

If you want a taste of the XK Motor without using a fine toothed comb, you could easily get the ‘regular’ XK/XM/X-1. Prices for these can go anywhere from $50-300. I would not pay more than $100 for one. In fact, I got one of these for $56 bucks! 🙂

Note: I do have pics from my test roll with this camera and the 50mm f/1.2 Rokkor. But it’s not on a hard drive, it’s on a photo CD and I can’t find it. I do not think these test pics are worthy of your time, but I am still looking for them and may or may not post them. But it is proof that at one time, the Mighty XK Motor worked and gave me some nice pics!