Guide to the Best Minolta Film Camera

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If you don’t have time to read this article, then the best Minolta film camera is the Minolta XD11.

Using a film camera today can be quite a novelty when we are so used to digital, but if you want a new film camera, where do you start?

Minolta film cameras are one of the best brands to help you get into film photography, as their lens mount has not changed substantially since their first lenses were produced in 1958. You can even use modern Sony lenses on old Minolta film camera bodies in most cases (although often with reduced functionality), since Sony bought what used to be Minolta to launch their digital cameras.

This article covers a short history of Minolta cameras, and gives you some options for the best Minolta film camera, primarily for beginners, but really suitable for anyone who wants to get into film.

If you’ve got a favorite Minolta 35mm film camera that I have not covered here, then leave your suggestions in the comments!

The Best Minolta Film Camera

My Top Pick

One of the Most Popular Minolta Cameras

best minolta film camera
  • Can be used without a battery in fully manual mode
  • First version of aperture and shutter priority
  • Metal body makes it much tougher than alternatives
  • Classic design and very popular
  • Available for around $100
As well as looking good, the Minolta XD-11 offers a superb camera to learn film photography, or to take your shooting to the next level. It has a strong feature-set for new photographers with aperture priority and shutter priority semi-auto modes, plus full manual for those more comfortable shooting with film.
For such a good camera, it’s widely available for a relatively low price on eBay, making it my pick for best Minolta film camera.

Compare the Top Minolta 35mm Film Cameras




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best minolta film camera

[Best Minolta Film Camera]

Classic design; Aperture & shutter priority and manual modes; Good price

Some controls can be stiff

minolta maxxum 9

Similar to modern digital cameras; Professional build quality

Harder to find

Minolta X-570

User friendly; Aperture priority mode; Ideal basic camera

No program mode

Minolta Maxxum 600si

Available with lens for under $100; Various auto-shooting modes

A bit flimsy

Minolta CLE

Leica-like rangefinder; Lightweight and compact; Excellent lenses

Very expensive

Minolta XK

Pro camera; Can use mulitple prisms; Unique design

Difficult to find

Need to Know About Minolta Film Cameras

Before we take a look at the various Minolta film cameras available, it’s worth thinking about the kind of camera that you want, and its compatibility with the various iterations of Minolta lenses.

Manual or Automatic, Electronic or Manual Minolta Cameras

minolta film camera

If you are used to digital cameras, then you will be familiar with the idea that the camera can calculate exposure, lock focus and change pretty much all of the settings dependent on its own integrated microprocessor and the reading it takes from the light meter.

Of course the first cameras were fully mechanical, not using batteries and where you have to set aperture and shutter speed yourself. From the middle of the 20th Century, electronic components have been gradually added to cameras, first with a light meter, then adding various shooting modes and features like auto-film rewinding.

Most of the cameras in this article fall into this category of using some electronic components, but still with many manual-only features when compared to modern cameras.

If you are looking for a camera that handles much more like a digital camera, then don’t look any earlier than a camera from the 90s with Minolta. If you’re happy with full manual controls, then Minolta cameras manufactured in the late 70s to mid 80s are probably around the peak of Minolta’s performance.

Changes to the Lens Mount

minolta lens mount

The Minolta lens mount has been largely fixed since 1958 when the first commercial lenses were produced. It has had some minor revisions over the years though, and these are worth mentioning. Although all Minolta lenses should fit on any Minolta body, regardless of manufacturing years of both, later cameras will be able to extract better performance from the later lenses if they were released following that lens revision.

The lenses released from 1958 to 1983 were full manual SR lenses. They lack any connection to the camera body to pass info on about aperture for use in light metering, and are mainly branded as the Rokkor series. These are generally available for a lower price, but are really only suitable for those that know what they are doing.

The first lenses that offered metering support were the SRT lenses released in 1966, under the MC Rokkor label. They were still manual, but at least allowed you to use a camera with light meter to nail your exposure.

Following the first all manual lenses in 1958, the first autofocus lenses from Minolta were released in 1983. These are the same as the current Sony mount, since Sony bought what became of Minolta to start their digital imaging department, and contain pins for autofocus support and to pass information to the camera body. This means that if you have a Sony digital camera, these lenses can do double-duty on both your Minolta film and Sony digital cameras.

Are Minolta Cameras Good?

Minolta used to be one of the top brands of analog camera, with a long history and many very satisfied customers. Although their cameras are no longer produced, older Minolta film cameras are still exceptional to use and very good value for money when compared with Canon or Nikon film cameras.

Minolta cameras therefore come highly recommended if you are interested in getting back into film photography.

What Is the Best Minolta Film Camera?

You can take a look at the best Minolta film camera by going through the list below as well as their pros and cons so that you can get a fair idea of what each of them offers.

1. Minolta XD11/XD7/XD [Best Minolta SLR Film Camera]

Minolta XD11 film camera

This Minolta camera is considered to be one of the best options for shooting professionally in manual mode. Its body has a fully metallic build and can offer a good amount of compactness, lightness and well-designed dial placement.

Its accuracy in terms of the manual mode comes from the fact that it has a great ISO range as well as full metering in this mode. You can, of course, still access the automatic modes with aperture and shutter priorities, with this series of cameras the first that Minolta added shutter priority and aperture priority to.

It also includes accurate metering systems that run a second meter check after pressing the shutter to ensure spot-on exposures, and some additional features like a preview option for depth of field.

The Minolta XD 11 / XD 7 / XD is a truly excellent camera that is not only the best Minolta film camera for its performance, but also because it’s available for only around $100 – a bargain for this quality.

Minolta XD11 Features

  • Film Type: 35mm
  • Shutter Speed: 1s to 1/1000 of a second
  • Frames per Second: 2
  • ISO Range (Manual): 12-3200
  • Extras: Aperture priority and shutter priority, self-timer, full metering in manual mode
  • Pros:

  • The first iteration of aperture priority and shutter priority
  • You can operate this camera without a battery if you use it only with its manual settings
  • It has a PC connection that can make transfer processes simpler while also letting you use it properly in studio settings
  • Its body is completely made from metal, ensuring durability and sturdiness
  • The shutter speed and exposure versatility can allow you to capture images of all kinds with a high-quality result
  • Classic design and available for a good price
  • Cons:

  • Certain controls can be a bit tough to use
  • Maintenance can be an issue
Minolta XD11

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2. Minolta Maxxum 9/Alpha 9/Dynax 9

Minolta Maxxum 9 best minolta film camera

Although both of the heavy side and not that easy to find on the used marker for a film camera, the Minolta a9 is a stunning example of a 35mm film camera suitable for professional use.

This is a relatively modern camera, released in 1999 towards the end of the film era, and so has a very familiar feature-set to those moving on from digital cameras. It’s totally weatherproof with its steel chassis, lots of function dials and unique features like eye start.

It has a quality metering system divided into 14 sections, delivering accurate meter readings as well as having a spectacular shutter speed of 1/12,000 second.

This camera can be quite versatile, helping you capture a range of images that can include still-life as well as fast motion due to the control that the shutter speed can provide.

If you’re worried that you won’t easily be able to transition from digital to film, then there is no better camera than the Minolta a9. The fact that this is also a professional’s powerhouse only helps to seal the deal.

Minolta Alpha 9 Features

  • Film Type: 35mm
  • Shutter Speed: 30s to 1/12,000 of a second
  • Frames per Second: 5.5
  • ISO Range (Manual): 6-6400
  • Extras: Focus lock, self-timer, auto exposure
  • Pros:

  • Wide range of features that are familiar to digital camera users
  • Several components have locks on them to prevent the risk of accidentally changing settings
  • Noteworthy shutter speed for a film camera
  • It offers protection against harsh weather conditions, ensuring durability and reliability
  • Illuminated controls so that you can access them easily in the dark
  • Cons:

  • It can become a bit heavy if using it for a long time
  • Fairly noisy
Minolta Alpha 9

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3. Minolta X-570/X-500

Minolta X-570

The Minolta X-570 or X-500 came into being in 1983 and offers fully manual modes or aperture priority. It is pretty sturdy but remains light and compact, and is a really good choice for a carry-around camera.

The shutter speeds in this camera can vary a bit in automatic and manual modes, with the former providing a speed of 4s to 1/1000 of a second and the latter providing 1s to 1/1000 of a second.

There’s no program mode, so it might not be suited to total beginners, but the aperture priority offers some automatic exposure control, and the low price makes this an excellent Minolta film camera for beginners.

Minolta X-570 Features

  • Film Type: 35mm
  • Shutter Speed: 1s to 1/1000 of a second
  • Frames per Second: 2
  • ISO Range (Manual): 12-3200
  • Extras: Auto exposure lock, PC connection, self-timer, depth-of-field preview button
  • Pros:

  • Aperture priority mode and manual shooting mode
  • Has an autoexposure lock
  • It comes with a PC connection, allowing you to set it up in a studio setting whenever the requirement arises
  • Basic, ideal camera for trying out Minolta
  • Cons:

  • No program mode
Minolta X-570

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4. Minolta Maxxum 600si/Dynax 600si Classic/507si

Minolta Maxxum 600si

This Minolta camera came out in 1995, with one of its defining features being the fact that it comes with knobs and dials instead of buttons. This gives it a more vintage appeal for those who prefer that kind of design.

With a versatile shutter speed and plenty of shooting modes, you can manage use this camera for a wide variety of styles of photography. The flash sync and 14-section metering system are also worth noting here.

This camera has an exposure value (EV) range of 0-20 as well as a reliable viewfinder. To add to the vintage look as well as making it more stable, you can attach a separate grip.

Minolta Maxxum 600si Features

  • Film Type: 35mm
  • Shutter Speed: 30s to 1/4000 of a second
  • Frames per Second: 2
  • ISO Range (Manual): 6-6400
  • Extras: Self-timer, bulb mode, flash sync, control knobs, panorama feature
  • Pros:

  • Available with lens for under $100
  • A panorama feature on one of the versions of this camera can allow you to take wider shots without compromising on the quality
  • The controls and features are more accessible due to the dials and the knobs present on this camera
  • It is lightweight and can easily be carried around to outdoor and remote locations
  • Clear and bright viewfinder, and a small LCD screen to review settings
  • Various manual and automatic shooting modes
  • Cons:

  • The body can feel a bit flimsy
  • It offers fewer frames per second than rivals, so is less suited to action photos
Minolta Maxxum 600si

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5. Minolta CLE [Best Minolta Point and Shoot Film Camera]

Minolta CLE

The Minolta CLE serves as a top-notch rangefinder camera, allowing you to capture a great image with accurate focus in a Leica-like body. It has both manual and aperture priority modes that you can access depending on your skills and requirements.

This camera also has a large viewfinder with focal lengths of 28mm, 40mm and 90mm clearly marked for the M mount lenses that the CLE will accept (it does not accept the normal Minolta lenses).

These M Rokkor lenses were specially designed for this camera, and their quality is superb, and they are all optically very sharp.

This camera was first launched in 1981 but is now very expensive to buy, as it is essentially a Leica but with some electronic functions. Nonetheless, it is clearly a classic design and collector’s piece, and remains a fantastic little camera.

Minolta CLE Features

  • Film Type: 35mm
  • Shutter Speed: 1s to 1/1000 of a second
  • Frames per Second: 2.5
  • ISO Range (Manual): 25-1600
  • Extras: Rangefinder camera, Leica-like, small and light
  • Pros:

  • Reliable rangefinder camera
  • You can use this camera in manual and aperture-priority modes to offer you flexibility in terms of operation
  • Being lightweight and compact, the CLE is ideal for day-to-day photography
  • Sturdily built and should last for decades if looked after
  • Very classic deisgn and a collector’s item
  • Cons:

  • Repair shops can be difficult to find for this model
  • Very expensive
Minolta CLE

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6. Minolta XK/XM/X1

Minolta XK

This camera can be a great option for you if you want versatility and plenty of features. It is also quite easy to use and figure out while offering an excellent manual mode with an ISO range and shutter speed that can capture a wide range of shots.

It comes with interchangeable viewfinders and also has multiple focusing screens, thereby helping you achieve an accurate focus and metering. It has a Senswitch for saving battery that can turn the metering system on or off.

The aperture priority mode is easy to find your way around, and in the Minolta XK you get a very good introduction to the electronic cameras than Minolta would produce following this 1973 model.

Minolta XK Features

  • Film Type: 35mm
  • Shutter Speed: 16s to 1/2000 of a second
  • Frames per Second: 3.5
  • ISO Range (Manual): 12-6400
  • Extras: Interchangeable viewfinders, 11 focusing screens, battery-saving device
  • Pros:

  • Designed as a pro camera, so very durable
  • The precursor to modern electronic cameras
  • Has a battery saving system to prolong battery life
  • Multiple prisms can be used for autoexposure metering
  • Unique design and well loved by enthusiasts
  • Cons:

  • Can be difficult to find
  • Quite expensive
Minolta XK

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Final Thoughts: The Best Minolta 35mm Film Camera

These few models are just an introduction to the vast range of 35mm film cameras that Minolta produced. They are the most popular or overlooked models that I know of, with the Minolta CLE a particular favorite, although far too expensive to consider a purchase.

Out of all the Minolta film cameras, I feel that the Minolta XD11 is the best choice for those who want a taste of Minolta’s lineup, available for around $100, and offering both fantastic manual and semi-automatic modes, this is a serious rival to the Canon film cameras and Nikon film cameras of the day.

My Top Pick

One of the Most Popular Minolta Cameras

best minolta film camera
  • Can be used without a battery in fully manual mode
  • First version of aperture and shutter priority
  • Metal body makes it much tougher than alternatives
  • Classic design and very popular
  • Available for around $100

Read More:

Contax G1 vs G2

How to find the best film cameras for beginners

What’s the best Nikon film camera?

What’s the best Canon film camera?

What’s the best point and shoot film camera?

What are the parts of a film camera?

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2 Responses

  1. Andy
    | Reply

    Minolta x-700 can be used fully manual also has some auto modes.i bought mine new in japan back in 1986.

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