Thursday, September 4, 2014

Spotlight: Minolta XK

The Minolta XK (also known as the X-1 or XM, depending on the country) was first produced in 1971, and was Minolta Camera Company's first attempt at a fully professional 35mm SLR.

This camera is a monster. It's big, it's heavy, and it's hideous looking. However, hiding under its rough exterior, the Minolta XK is an innovative picture taking machine. While the current professional-level Japanese SLR's at the time (Nikon F-2 and Canon F-1) had perfectly capable match-needle exposure meters, the Minolta XK went a step further and created an aperture priority finder. This finder (see above photo) came standard with the XK, and makes the camera look like it has a massive pointy tumor growing out of it.

Besides the Automatic Exposure (AE) Finder, the XK had a few other mentionable innovations. One of these innovations was the "Senswitch", a long button placed directly where your right hand grips the camera. If you have the metering system switched to off, the "Senswitch" will turn on the system for as long as it's held down. Once the Senswitch is released, the meter will instantly turn back off, saving battery.

Another small yet significant innovation is the exposure compensation switch, located right below the shutter dial. Easily accessed by your thumb, you can push the switch to the right or left to over or under expose by up to two stops while in aperture priority mode. This is the only pre-1980's camera I've used that has exposure compensation easily accessible with your eye to the viewfinder. Most of the time it's a stiff dial located far away from where your fingers are able to easily reach.

The XK sans viewfinder. Notice the lack of shutter speed info...
One gripe I have about the XK's design is how the shutter speed dial is attached to the finder. This means that when you remove the finder, you can't tell what speed you're set at. I wish Minolta had done what Nikon did with their metered prisms, and put a dial on the body as well as on the finder. Oh well.

Here are some photos I took on my XK:

Katie with our cat stroller

Thanks for looking!