Experience Report: Minolta XD-11

A "new to me" Minolta X-700 camera made me fall in like with 35mm film photography again. A "new to me" XD-11 made me jump for joy.

The Minolta X-700 was the pinnacle of Minolta's final manual-focus SLR camera series. Minolta made X-700s for 20 years starting in 1981. Minolta aimed the X-700 at the advanced amateur, giving it aperture priority and program autoexposure. The novice photographer twisted the lens until the viewfinder image was crisp and then pressed the shutter button. The X-700 took care of the rest.

A used Minolta X-700 camera reignited my passion for 35mm film photography. It's funny how certain cameras click with you, pun intended. My Pentax SP II and ES II were nostalgic buys, but using them felt more like a chore than a joy.

In the summer of 2020, I took my X-700 for a day trip with Bhavna down the shore, and I had an entirely exciting experience. The X-700 just felt right in my hands, and the shots I got were some of my favourites.

That experience sparked my curiosity to dig deeper into the world of Minolta cameras. It's incredible how the right camera can inspire and motivate you to explore your craft further. Now, I'm on a journey to learn all there is to know about Minolta's gems. Who knows what photographic adventures lie ahead?

While aperture priority shooting is my default for any camera, I was concerned that there would be action shots where exposure priority would be needed. Did Minolta have an exposure-priority 35mm film camera that was as fun to use as the X-700? My search discovered that Minolta had created a professional-quality modern multimode Minolta "X series" SLRs mostly made of metal- the XD-5, XDs, XD-7 and XD-11.

Minolta had some interesting naming conventions for its products, making a point to have distinct names in the Japanese, European and US markets for almost everything. The XD-7 is the European and Japanese market version of the XD-11: same camera, different badge. The XD-11 was sold in silver and black models. I found many silver-bodied XD-11s for sale online, but I prefer the black body. The black model was more expensive, and consequently, fewer were sold. Thus, the black XD-11 body is much more costly and desirable in today's used market. After several weeks of searching eBay, Etsy, KEH and anywhere else that sold film cameras, I found an XD-11 body on Facebook Marketplace. After a quick negotiation on price and an agreement that I would pay shipping instead of collecting in person, my "new-to-me" camera arrived from Pennsylvania.

The X series uses Minolta MD and MC mount lenses. Unlike MC lenses, MD lenses have an extra coupling arm for use with multimode metering. The older MC (Meter Coupled) lenses can be used on "X series" cameras but not in the exposure-priority mode.

Minolta XD-11
Minolta XD-11 · Friday 1 January 2021 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

My XD-11 camera was sold as "body-only", but this was not a problem since I already had a standard MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 and a JC Penny 80-200 Zoom that came with the Minolta X-700. The MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 is a superlens, but I prefer a field of view closer to that of the human eye for general use. A few months later, I purchased an MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 lens, a versatile manual focus lens often hailed for its solid performance and compact design. Its 45mm focal length falls within the "normal" range, making it great for everyday photography. This became my primary lens for the XD-11.

Released in 1977, the XD11 was the world's first camera with aperture priority, shutter priority, and a fully metered manual mode.
Minolta developed the XD-11 in conjunction with Leitz, with some websites claiming that the body was the basis for the Leica R4 and, later, as the chassis for the Leica R5, R6 and R7. Leica introduced a more advanced metering system into the body (including spot metering). Still, most other camera features are evident in both bodies.

Inside the film bay, the take-up spool and rewind crank are about as vanilla as possible. Pull up on the crank when loading film, and the door opens. The take-up spool grabs the film leader with authority and pulls it around and into place without hinting at a missed load. Unlike the X-700, the XD-11 has a film load indicator, a minor but delightful feature in a few other era cameras.

The XD-11's fresnel, micro prism spot viewfinder screen is about efficiency. Metered manual mode conveniently displays your chosen aperture and shutter speed, so you don't have to look away. This keeps you immersed in the shot, helping you maintain your creative flow and ensuring accurate settings simultaneously.

Minolta XD-11
Minolta XD-11 · Friday 1 January 2021 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The XD-11 camera features a Silicon photocell TTL centre weighted meter, which uses silicon photocells to measure light for exposure accurately. This metering system prioritises the central part of the frame when calculating exposure, striking a balance between accuracy and simplicity. This technology made the XD-11 a reliable choice for photographers.

The ASA range of the XD-11 camera typically spans from ASA 25 to ASA 1600. Remember that these are traditional film sensitivity settings, as digital cameras nowadays use ISO to indicate sensitivity. While I have exposed a 35mm roll of RPX 25, I'm not fond of grain, so I will likely never expose 35mm film at ASA higher than 400.

The Minolta XD-11 uses two 1.5v silver button (S76/SR44) batteries. It can be used without batteries but will lose automatic exposure and light meter functions. You'd need to set exposure manually using your knowledge or an external light meter. If you're comfortable with manual settings, it's feasible; otherwise, having fresh batteries would maintain the camera's automatic features.

The Depth of Field (DoF) preview button on the XD-11 camera lets you check how much of your scene will be in focus at the selected aperture. It's a helpful feature for adjusting focus and composition before capturing the shot.

The "safe-load" indicator on the XD-11 is a valuable feature that helps users load film accurately, minimising the risk of misalignment or incomplete loading. It provides a visual confirmation that the film is securely in place, assuring the overall reliability of the camera during the film-loading process.

Minolta XD-11
Minolta XD-11 with MD Rokkor-X 45mm F:2 · Friday 1 January 2021 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The Self-timer on the XD-11 offers a delay option for hassle-free self-portraits or group shots. It's a handy feature that lets you compose your shot before the shutter clicks.

Shutter priority mode on the XD-11 lets you choose the desired shutter speed while the camera handles the aperture. It's handy for controlling motion in your shots, whether freezing action with a high speed or adding motion blur with a low one. It strikes a nice balance between manual control and convenience.

The XD-11 camera has a Seiko electronically controlled metal focal plane shutter with step-less speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second in automatic and stepped speeds, including "B" in metered manual mode. Flash sync operates at 1/100s with the "X" shutter dial setting. The XD-11 offers full mechanical operation at settings "O" (1/100 sec) and "B." In shutter priority mode, it provides electronic automatic aperture control and a final check metering system. This ensures exposure accuracy by stopping the lens down for assessment, a feature shared with the Minolta X-700. The XD-11 combines electronic innovation with mechanical reliability for precise photographic outcomes.

The Minolta XD-11 offers an exposure compensation range of around ±2 EV in 13 EV steps. This allows you to adjust brightness by up to two stops in either direction for creative control in your film photography.

The Minolta XD-11 weighs about 620 grams (1.37 pounds) and measures around 142mm (5.6 inches) in width, 92mm (3.6 inches) in height and 48mm (1.9 inches) in depth. Minolta balanced a solid build and manageable weight for that era.

I've had experience with 35mm film SLRs, so using the XD-11 was old hat. However, I took the time to review the manual to ensure I was using it correctly. Unless mentioned otherwise, all the photos were taken using the aperture-priority mode.

Brick Farm Tavern July 4th BBQ
Brick Farm Tavern July 4th BBQ · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Beneduce Vineyards Gewürztraminer
Beneduce Vineyards Gewürztraminer · Saturday 14 August 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2
Race Street, Frenchtown
Race Street, Frenchtown · Sunday 19 December 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7
Bhavna · Saturday 22 January 2022 · Minolta XD-11 · MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2
Asbury Park Boardwalk
Asbury Park Boardwalk · Sunday 24 April 2022 · Minolta XD-11 · MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2
Asbury Park Boardwalk
Kingston Locktender's House · Sunday 5 March 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2

If you like Minolta SLRs, you might also enjoy my reviews of the XD-11, the X-700, and the XG-1. Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

Experience Report: Minolta X-700

Sharing my thoughts on a time-tested SLR with an elegant design and user-friendly interface that pays homage to Minolta's reputation as a camera manufacturer.

I purchased my first 35mm film camera, a Pentax P3, in 1987 for a college photography course. However, after buying my first digital camera in 2000, I stopped using the Pentax P3. It wasn't until the summer of 2019 that I picked it up again.

I prefer aperture priority, and I wanted to try out some unusual film stocks that don’t have DX coded. The Pentax P3 has Shutter Priority and Program Autoexposure modes only. The Pentax P3 does not have manual ISO settings. The DX coding on the film canister determines the ISO setting on the P3. These are the main reasons I purchased the Minolta X-700. At the time of [purchase in 2020], it had been nearly twenty-five years since I used a manual focus 35mm film camera.

I bought the Minolta X-700 in 2020 because the Pentax P3 lacked certain features I preferred, such as aperture priority and manual ISO settings. The Minolta X-700 offered these features and more. It was the first manual focus 35mm film camera I had used in nearly twenty-five years.

AMA Pizza e Cucina at Flounder Brewing's Beer Garden | Saturday 10 October, 2020 | Minolta X-700 | 45mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X

The Minolta X-700 was first manufactured in 1981. It quickly gained popularity and became one of Minolta’s most successful 35mm SLR cameras. The Minolta X-700 is still highly regarded for its advanced features and user-friendly design, making it a favourite among amateur and professional photographers. Its introduction marked a significant milestone in the history of Minolta cameras.

The Minolta X-700 had several competitors during its time, but one notable rival was the Canon AE-1. The Canon AE-1 was also a highly popular 35mm SLR camera introduced a few years before the Minolta X-700 in 1976. Both cameras offered advanced features and were targeted at photography enthusiasts. The Canon AE-1 gained a strong following due to its reliable performance, innovative design, and extensive system compatibility. The competition between the Minolta X-700 and the Canon AE-1 was fierce, with both cameras vying for the attention of photographers seeking a high-quality SLR camera.

Sunday 21 August 2022 · Minolta X-700 · MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2

The Minolta X-700 has a range of exposure modes to cater to different shooting scenarios and user preferences. In its day, the Minolta X-700 introduced a revolutionary Program mode, which allows photographers to rely on the camera's built-in exposure program. In this mode, the camera automatically selects both the aperture and the shutter speed based on the lighting conditions. I will typically use this when the lighting changes rapidly between scenes.

The Minolta X-700 has TTL metering, which measures light levels through the lens to the light meter. This technology ensures accurate exposure readings and improves the overall precision of the camera's automatic and manual exposure settings. I am not a fan of using the Sunny 16 rule. I can’t imagine using a camera without TTL metering.

The Minolta X-700 has an Aperture Priority mode, denoted by the "A" on the mode dial. In this mode, I can manually select the desired aperture value, and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed to achieve the appropriate exposure. Aperture Priority mode provides greater control over the depth of field. Aperture Priority mode is the default setup on all of my cameras, digital or analogue. As long as the camera can maintain a usable ISO and shutter speed, I have control over what elements in the photograph are in focus. I don’t care much about shutter speed unless I do fast action or long-exposure photography.

The Minolta X-700 allows photographers to create multiple exposures on a single frame, enabling artistic and experimental image compositions. Multiple-exposure photography is something I have done a handful of times on a digital ILC1. It’s not my cup of tea.

Garfield Way · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400

The Minolta X-700 does not have a Shutter Priority mode. I expect to photograph slow-moving (street scenes, etc.) or stationary subjects (landscapes)—the Aperture Priority mode is good enough for most of what I intended to photograph.

The Minolta X-700 has a wide range of shutter speeds, from 1 second to 1/1000th of a second. This range allows me to capture subjects in various lighting conditions, from long exposures to freeze fast-moving action. In traditional mechanical shutters, the speed is set using discrete settings, such as 1/1000, 1500, 1250, and so on. However, the Minolta X-700's shutter operates differently. In aperture priority mode, the Minolta X-700's step-less shutter mechanism utilises an electronically controlled cloth focal-plane shutter. Instead of having fixed shutter speed settings, the camera can adjust the shutter speed continuously within a specific range.

Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400

The Minolta X-700 features a Manual mode, marked by an "M" on the mode dial. In this mode, I can control the aperture and the shutter speed settings for precise exposure adjustments based on personal preferences or creative needs. Manual mode is useless in any situation (e.g. bird photography, sports, street) requiring quick adjustments to aperture and shutter speed. I rarely use this mode unless I photograph landscapes, and even then, I would default to aperture priority mode. f/16 anyone?

The Minolta X-700 has a Bulb mode, designated by a "B" on the mode dial. When the camera is set to Bulb mode, the shutter remains open as long as the shutter button is held down. This mode is ideal for long-exposure photography, such as capturing star trails or fireworks. I have not done any long-exposure photographs on a film camera.

The Minolta X-700 had a flash sync speed of 1/60th of a second. This is the standard sync speed for the camera's built-in flash and compatible external flashes, ensuring proper synchronisation between the flash burst and the camera's shutter operation.

Kingston Locktender's House · Minolta XD-11 · ·

The Minolta X-700 utilises the Minolta SR lens mount system, which is compatible with a vast selection of high-quality Minolta lenses. The Minolta SR lens mount system, also known as the Minolta MC/MD mount, is a widely used lens mount introduced by Minolta in the 1960s. The Minolta SR lens mount system is designed for Minolta's manual focus SLR cameras, including the Minolta X-700. It is a proprietary lens mount specific to Minolta cameras, ensuring compatibility between Minolta cameras and Minolta lenses. I have three lenses, the MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7, MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2, and MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm f/2.8, all performing perfectly on the Minolta X-700.

The Minolta SR lens mount system gained popularity due to its adaptability. I can also mount lenses from other brands onto their Minolta cameras through adapter rings. This adaptability expands the range of lenses used with the Minolta X-700, providing me with more options. Adapters were available for various lens mounts, including popular mounts like Nikon F, Canon FD, Pentax K, M42 and more. The M42 screw mount is also a popular camera mount system with many lenses. I bought an M42 to SR mount adapter to use my SMC Takumar 55 mm f/2 lens on my Minolta X-700.

Kingston Grist Mill · Sunday 5 March 2023 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 · ISO 100

The Minolta X-700 has clean lines, a compact and lightweight body, and a modern appearance. The Minolta X-700 has a relatively small and lightweight body, making it easy to carry and handle. My version of the Minolta X-700 has a black body with metallic accents, including the lens mount, shutter release button, and dials. This colour scheme has a timeless and professional look. The Minolta X-700 has a well-designed grip and ergonomic layout of buttons and controls, allowing for comfortable and intuitive handling.

The Minolta X-700 has a well-designed ergonomic layout, with strategically placed controls and buttons for easy operation. The Minolta X-700 has tactile and responsive control dials and buttons. The controls are well-spaced and logically arranged. I find it intuitive to access and adjust settings quickly. The solid feel of the dials and buttons adds to the overall tactile experience of operating the camera. The Minolta X-700 has a user-friendly design, intuitively placed controls, and a straightforward, easy-to-read interface. The camera's layout is straightforward. I quickly familiarised myself with its functions and settings.

Montgomery Hills neighbourhood in the snow
Montgomery Hills · Tuesday 7 March 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 · ISO 50

The Minolta X-700 has a bright, clear viewfinder, which makes for accurate composition and focus. The viewfinder is large, and the informative display, including exposure information and focusing aids, enhances functionality and aesthetics. The Minolta X-700's viewfinder comprehensively displays exposure settings, focus indicators, and battery status. This display makes quick and convenient monitoring of camera settings easy while composing.

The Minolta X-700 has a solid feel. The Minolta X-700 has a durable metal chassis and a robust outer shell, ensuring a sturdy and reliable camera body. The metal construction contributed to its overall durability and longevity.

The Minolta X-700 camera grip provides a comfortable and secure hold, allowing me to handle it for extended periods without discomfort. I think that Minolta struck a balance between being lightweight and substantial. While not the lightest camera in its class, the Minolta X-700 has a manageable weight that I can comfortably carry and use for extended periods. Its size and form factor make it portable and convenient for on-the-go photography.

Montgomery Hills neighbourhood in the snow
Montgomery Hills · Tuesday 7 March 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 · ISO 50

The Minolta X-700 has a sleek, classic design aesthetic that appeals to me.
The Minolta X-700’s timeless design has stood the test of time. Its clean lines, smooth contours, and balanced proportions gave it an elegant and understated look. The camera's design exudes a sense of simplicity and sophistication, which is visually appealing. Minolta used a minimalist design, with minimal ornamentation and a focus on functionality. The camera's exterior features clean, uncluttered surfaces, highlighting the essential elements for intuitive operation.

The Minolta X-700 uses high-quality materials, including a sturdy metal chassis and a durable outer shell. The choice of materials ensures durability and adds a premium feel to the camera's design.

Montgomery Hills neighbourhood in the snow
Montgomery Hills · Tuesday 7 March 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 · ISO 50

The Minolta X-700 prominently displays the iconic Minolta branding on the camera body, including the Minolta logo and model name. These brand markings further added to the camera's aesthetic appeal to me and represented Minolta’s legacy and reputation as a reputable camera manufacturer.

The design aesthetic of the Minolta X-700 successfully blends elegance, functionality, and a minimalist approach. Its timeless design, premium materials, and attention to ergonomics contributed to a visually pleasing and user-friendly camera that photographers could be proud to carry and use.

  1. ILC is an acronym for interchangeable lens camera. The key feature of an interchangeable lens camera is its ability to detach and swap lenses. This includes film cameras and digital cameras. ?

Minolta XG-1 - Experience Report

Released in 2021 by the New Classic Film project, EZ400 is a panchromatic black and white negative 35mm film that delivers what some describe as "retro yet sharp images".

I acquired more Minolta photographic gear during the second year of the global pandemic after buying a used X-700 and MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 lens in 2020. I bought a used Minolta XD-11, MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 lens, MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm f/2.8 lens, and other non-Minolta branded lenses. I also bought a used Pentax P3n even though I already had a working Pentax P3 from college. I convinced myself that I needed aperture priority. All of this gear worked, and I enjoyed using them. I had developed some G.A.S.

With poor judgment, I bought two used Minolta XG-1 bodies, one of which the seller told me did not work. I purchased these in person and tested the mechanicals, confirming the seller's claim. I don't remember what I paid, but it was a nominal amount, perhaps $20. One of the camera bodies has a sticky on-off switch. The other camera body had a jammed shutter curtain, but I convinced myself I could fix it.

Carriage Farm · Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

But soon, I lost my enthusiasm for fixing them and put them on a shelf where they sat until a few weeks ago. At the beginning of the year, I decided to simplify and minimise my film photography. I sold the Pentax P3n and SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/1.8 lens. I sold it after replacing my Fujifilm XF27mmF2.8 lens with the Fujifilm XF27mmF2.8 R LM WR lens. It was time to sell the Minolta XG-1s, as is, for parts. But first, I wanted to see if I could successfully expose some frames. I loaded a New Classic EZ 400 cartridge into the Minolta XG-1 with the sticky on-off switch.

Carriage Farm · Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

The New Classic EZ 400 is a black and white film that the Chinese company Luckyfilm manufactured for 35mm cameras. Luckyfilm has been producing photographic materials since 1958. The company produces a range of film products for both professional and amateur photographers, and their products are known for their quality and affordability. New Classic EZ 400 was hyped as a good choice for photographers who want a versatile, high-quality film that can be used in various situations.

Belle Marra · Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

Of the four cartridges of the New Classic EZ 400 I bought last year, I have used two and given two away. This was the last one of the four. Here's what I wrote after the first time I used New Classic EZ.

I exposed the first roll at box speed at Palmer Square and around my neighbourhood. I sent the cassette off for Boutique Film Lab to develop. Here are some frames scanned with an Epson V600 with my scanning workflow. All film frames were exposed at box speed. The results are okay, nothing spectacular. But EZ 400 is low-price and an excellent alternative black and white film to put in my Minolta. I have four more rolls of EZ400. Maybe it will grow on me.

Flounder Brewing · Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

It did not grow on me.

I'm not too fond of the strong contrast and chunky grain. I've said it before. I'm not too fond of grain. I'm not too fond of this film stock. New Classic EZ 400 is more affordable than most black and white film stock, but Kentmere 400 is just as inexpensive, and I got much better results.

Doug Duschl,Head Brewer at Flounder Brewing Co. · Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Name New Classic Film EZ400 400
Type Black and White (negative)
Native ISO 400
Format 35mm
Process Black and White
Lab Boutique Film Labs
Scanner Epson Perfection V600
Software SilverFast 9 SE and Negative Lab Pro
Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 8 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 22 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 22 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 22 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 22 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 22 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7
Sunday 22 January 2023 · Minolta XG-1 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

If you like Minolta SLRs, you might also enjoy my reviews of the XD-11, the X-700, and the XG-1. Or check out all of my camera reviews here.