Minolta XD-5

Minolta XD-5

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Well when you have one, you have to have two. The XD-5 is to the SRT 101 what the P30T is to the K1000, and now I have a nice two-body Minolta kit. Actually, I bought this one after the 101 but received it first, due to, er, differences in shipping methodologies. And I think I can sum up my impressions in a word: sweet.

The XD-5 is the ‘little brother’ to the hallmark XD-11 (aka XD-7 in the US), a professional-quality modern multimode Minolta SLR mostly made of metal. The XD-5 was stripped of a couple of minor features (aperture readout, film transport check) but retains most of the goodies, most importantly the electronically-controlled Seiko shutter and the innovative multimode adaptive metering. Mmmm… yeaaah.

Here’s how that works. You can set your meter mode switch to Manual, you know what that is. Meter reads and shows over/under arrows in the viewfinder but it’s more like guidelines than actual rules. Or set to A for Aperture priority, and shutter speed gets set automatically; if you’re out of range you’ll see up/down arrows in the viewfinder. Now, if you set to S for shutter priority, you need to first tell the camera the minimum aperture of your MD lens by turning the aperture ring there, and then select a proper shutter speed. The camera does the rest and then some. If lighting conditions change, the camera will automatically adjust exposure to compensate, first by adjusting the aperture and then the shutter, attempting to keep as close to your original settings as possible while maintaining correct exposure. Cool!

The X series uses Minolta MD mount lenses which are like MC but have an extra coupling arm for use with multimode metering. You can mount the older MC (Meter Coupled) lenses but cannot use them for shutter priority exposure. (If that disappoints you enough to want to give up your old MC 1.2 Rokkor-PG in trade for a case of beer give me a call!)

Rokkor lenses are fairly legendary, I know I’ve enjoyed using the ones on my Minolta rangefinders. Minolta had some interesting naming conventions for its products, notably making a point to have different names in the Japanese and US markets for just about everything (XD-11 vs XD-7 for example). OK that’s not so unusual, Nikon and Canon did it (Nikomat/Nikkormat etc.). At any rate, the X on Rokkor-X simply indicates that it was sold outside of Japan (Xport?) but the lenses are otherwise identical. Celtic lenses were a lower-budget line that were basically optically equivalent but without the apochromatic coating, I think kind of like the Nikon E series lenses, the bargains of the Nikon line. Later when they dropped the Celtic line they also dropped the name Rokkor and the lenses were just called ‘Minolta lens’. This 2.0/45mm ‘pancake’ Rokkor is supposed to be one of their sharpest, according to what I’ve read. And 45mm is a good all-around length. Add a 2x converter and you have a quick and dirty lightweight travel kit.

What all the above doesn’t tell you is that this little SLR feels very good in the hands — it’s fairly lightweight and well balanced, possibly a little smaller than I like, heading towards the size of an OM-1 as opposed to, say, an Autoreflex T3. Nice comfortable covering, which I’m told may need replacing as you see with some lines of cameras like the Yashica FX and later Konicas. See cameraleather.com or aki-asahi.com for help with that issue.


Light seals. Plus there were a pathological amount of film chips in the back, mostly stuck to the gummy seals. I think one may have got in to interfere with the winding, or else it was just hesitating from disuse (the autowinder I got in the kit proved that it wasn’t a problem with the shutter itself). Well, a moderate amount of exercise cleared up that stiffness. And helped the camera too.

Tips & Tricks

There is a release button for changing the ASA, and a lever for +2 to -2 EV bracketing. The shutter speed wheel includes both a sync speed X and also an O because Minolta loves you so much! No, it’s a setting to fire the shutter mechanically in the absence of the battery at 1/100 (which also happens to be the sync speed), similar to the Nikon EM. Very cool to know it’s there in case you need it. Maybe Minolta loves you after all…

With the Minolta Electroflash flashes (200X, 132X), a flash ready lamp shows in the viewfinder, and the camera automatically switches to sync speed when releasing the shutter. Sweet indeed.

Here’s a quick overview of the controls:

Minolta XD5 Controls

Also there’s a film memo holder with an ASA-DIN conversion table in it. And as I think I failed to mention there is available a slick little winder that shoots 2FPS on 4 AA batteries.

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