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Classic Camera Review:  Minolta X-7A

One of several budget-friendly Minolta bodies produced during the 1980s, this X-7A recently showed up as a full kit from a thrift shop.  The price I paid was so low that I was willing to take the risk of having a body with dead capacitors (a common failing to the x-series bodies).  The lens that came on it made the whole deal worthwhile.  Fortunately, it works just fine.   

The X-7A is a simple, yet capable camera with a basic set of useful features.  It is often described as a great beginner’s camera, but that seems to paint the picture of a stripped-down, featureless box with shutter and button.  This is not the case.  I find it to be an elegantly designed, albeit basic, comfortable camera with everything I really need.  

Granted, the features that it has are unremarkable, but comparable with contemporary cameras.  Starting from left to right, across the top, we find the rewind lever, ASA dial and on/off switch.  There’s a hot shoe on the pentaprism, and on the right side we see only the shutter speed selector, film advance lever, shutter release and film counter.  

On the front there is a switch, when in the up position activates the self-timer, and serves as the auto-exposure lock when pressed down.  Around the lens mount there is a cable release socket and the lens unlock button.  

On the bottom there is the battery compartment, tripod bushing and attachment points for motor drives.  Two A76 or equivalent button batteries drive the very capable meter and govern the shutter speeds.  The X-7A can accept the simple Autowinder-G or the faster Motor Drive 1.  

Ergonomically, this camera feels fine in my hand.  I carried the X-700 for years, so to me the form factor is familiar.   So are the electronics.  When the power switch is on, the slightest touch to the smooth shutter release button activates the meter.  The meter stays active for a period of fifteen seconds, at which time (if it is untouched) it shuts off to prevent battery drain.  The batteries seem to last a long time.  The switch shuts everything off.  When carrying in a bag, I would keep the switch on, as the auto-off function prevents significant battery drain, yet keeps the camera in a state of readiness.   When not being carried or used, keeping the switch in the off position makes sense.  

On the shutter speed selector dial, there is an “Auto” setting which allows the camera to be used in aperture-priority mode.  The photographer chooses the aperture, and the camera sets the appropriate shutter speed.  I have found the meter to be very reliable and accurate.  It is only fooled by the extreme lighting situations that would confound all but the modern intelligent metering systems.  One feature it lacks is some indicator that the shutter speed is lower than recommended.  However, that is relative to the focal length of the lens, which the body doesn’t know.  One must simply pay attention to the meter to prevent unsharp images from camera shake.  

So, there is clearly nothing magical, outstanding, or special about this camera.  It holds the film flat, moves it when I want it to, and lets in the right amount of light.  That’s really all I can ask of it.  The real joy of using it is mounting Minolta’s lenses to the front and making photos.  I believe Minolta’s lenses are excellent and under appreciated in the current market.  MD or MC-mount lenses will fit and work equally well.  It came attached to an MD Rokkor-X 50mm f2, one of my favorites.  My first copy of that lens was the subject of the post about the lens fungus (here: ) I plan to review it in greater depth later.  


Designation:  Minolta X-7A 35mm SLR

Introduced:  1985

Weight:  470g (16.6oz)

Shutter:  Horizontal rubberized cloth focal plane shutter, electronically controlled

Shutter Speed Range:  1-1/1000 second plus bulb

Flash Sync:  1/60 second

ASA Range:  12-3200

Meter:  LED scale with recommended shutter speed in viewfinder, over/under arrows.

Hot Shoe:  Yes

PC Socket:  No

Battery:  2 x A76 or equivalent

Self-timer:  Yes

Auto-exposure Lock:  Yes

DOF Preview:  No

Mirror Lockup:  No