Back in 2016 we did a blog post entitled ‘Shot with film’. Looking at our blog stats, I was surprised to find that this is the most visited post by far. I mentioned back then that I would dig up some of my well used film cameras and share them with you. Here is the first one.
This is my all time favorite SLR camera. Now before you photographers get all bent out of shape, this is my favorite, not yours.
Having owned and used what I consider many of the great ones (Nikon F2, F3, F4, Canon F1, EF, Minolta XM, X-700, X-570, Leica R3, R4, R6, Leica M4, M6, Cl), the Minolta XE-7 easily stands out.
The Minolta XE-7 (the XE in Japan, and XE-1 in Europe) was built in collaboration with Leitz, using an electronic Copal focal plane shutter. The release of which, is so smooth and effortless that mirror lock-up was deemed unnecessary by the engineers that designed the camera. This shutter was also used in the somewhat smaller Minolta XD-7. The Lecia R3, is based on the Minolta XE-7, with the R4-R6 camera series based on the Minolta XD-7 camera.
I bought this one tattered, dirty and well used. After sending it out for a CLA, it has become my favorite. I have since purchased a few NOS Minolta XE-7s, which I use from time to time, but this one has had countless rolls of film run through it, doing duties at weddings, shooting models and rock bands, product photography, studio work and architectural. In our blog post 'Think of Something Pleasant', all of the film shots are with this camera. At this time it is loaded with a roll of Tri-X 100 and I take it with me just to do grab shots of locations that I’ve been and interesting sites I see.
If anyone ever asks me to recommend a film camera, this is the first one that comes to mind. It is extremely well made and finished and has never failed to fire or let me down. Not ever. In fact that is something I can say with every Minolta camera I own. They don’t seem to break, even under extremely hard use.
There will probably be a dozen or so film cameras considered and I will try hard not to take three years to get to the next one. Stay tuned.