18 Aug 2014

Minolta X-300 SLR Review

This is an overview/review of the Minolta X-300 SLR camera body.

This was in fact the very first ancient classic-looking SLR that I put my hands on, with a 50mm f1.7 prime. This was the first full frame + fast prime combination that I ever looked through. Having been used to a crop-sensor DSLR and its 18-55mm f3.5 kit lens (2 stops less light), the viewfinder on the minolta was such a pleasure to look through with that beautiful microprism thing in the middle for fine focusing.

I did not use that camera, however. The wind lever was stuck and the shutter release button did nothing. I let it go for £5 on top of the lenses that I had for it. The man who took it was very happy when he put 2x LR44 (A76) button cell batteries in it and it worked like a charm. This has to be the first and most negative point to mention about this camera. I do not like a camera that will not work without batteries. They run out, you're stuck.

When batteries are present and the camera is turned on, the viewfinder shows the metered shutter value in red LED dots to the right of it. In the top right corner one of two letters will be lit: A if your shutter dial is set to Auto, or M if you're in Manual mode. To lock a metered reading, you press the AEL thing on the front of the camera body, cleverly combined with the Self-Timer in a single two-directional switch that you can press with your middle finger to lock while reserving your index for the shutter release.

The second point to mention is that this is an Aperture Priority camera only. It does not support a fully automatic P mode where the camera sets both the aperture and shutter speed based on your ISO and available light, and similarly no TV (shutter priority mode) where you set the shutter manually and let the camera choose the appropriate aperture value. This is simply because this camera does not have a facility to automatically control the aperture. You can either use it in full manual mode, or Av mode simply by setting the shutter speed dial to Auto.

This camera also lacks a PC-sync port, so that rules out the option to sync your studio strobes, or some old pc-sync-only flashes such as hammerheads, without the use of a hotshoe-to-pcsync adapter.

It also lacks a depth of field preview button, as there is nothing to pull that aperture lever until you actually release the shutter. When you dial in a different aperture value, the aperture actually stays open until the shutter is released so there is no way of previewing your depth of field if you ever need to do that. On the plus side, this maintains a bright viewfinder and the shallowest possible depth of field for fine focusing.

The last useful thing that I think this camera lacks is an exposure compensation switch. It is not the end of the world to live without one though, as you can always compensate by changing the ISO value (lying to your camera) so that it exposes an extra stop for a lower-speed film, or minus a stop for a high-speed film.

Giving up the things mentioned above, you get a nice, durable, very simple to use without any complications, film SLR capable of producing stunning photos thanks to the Rokkor glass which has some interesting entries in its lineup. It is interesting to mention that the mount for this camera is actually called SR, while the often wrongly used MD designates a generation of lenses, according to this document.

The video below is my overview of it, showing where all the functions are located. I hope you find it useful. Please hit subscribe to support what I'm doing.

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