Film Cameras: Minolta X-570

Continuing here in my second post on film cameras. All of you camera addicts out there remember the cameras I write about I have actually used and have extensive knowledge of and experience with. Therefore they are my favorites for good reason. But stayed tuned, as I will also share with you some popular cameras that I have owned and used which proved to be a major disappointment.

I bought this Minolta X-570 back in the summer of 1985. One of the reasons for choosing the X570 over the X700 (the later of which I ended up purchasing four of) was that one could see the selected shutter speed, the suggested metering speed along with the aperture without removing your eye from the viewfinder. Amazing. The then top of the line X700, had all of this except the selected shutter speed, which means you have to remove your eye from the viewfinder and look at the shutter dial.

The X370, X570, X700 (X300, X500 in other countries) are often dismissed in the professional world as ‘cheap plastic cameras’. Not true. While the top of the prism is plastic, it’s very intentional. Something Minolta had been doing for decades. The resin used is a ‘high impact’ polycarbonate that is nearly impossible to destroy, I say nearly because mine is actually cracked and broken after the camera fell thirty feet onto hard concrete. Factor that the next time you look at a Nikon or Canon with a dented prism. The rest of the upper body is all-metal, with paint over brass for heavy handling and finger acids.

You will notice that Minolta cameras and lenses almost always retain their original paintwork whereas other top brands i.e. Nikon, Canon, Leica, brass easily. The paint protects the body, and Minolta paintwork is top-drawer. The finest and most robust you will ever see on a camera.

This particular X570 has seen years of personal use, decades of hard professional use. It has been dropped, thrown down (long story), knocked down (from a two story balcony during a photo shoot), hit hard enough to dislodge the lens (drunk groomsman).

It has experienced hard rain, extreme heat and severe cold. It has shot hundreds of weddings, models, musicians and portraits all without complaint. The internal meter is the most accurate of any camera I have ever owned and the super bright viewfinder is a pleasure to use.

These days it sits quietly in an aluminum flight case, battered, tattered, covered in gaffers tape waiting for its next assignment. With the exception of a routine CLA the camera has never been in for repair. The rubberized cloth focal plane shutter curtains are as tight and taut as when new.

I have an extensive collection of lenses but mostly use this with it’s original super sharp MD 50mm f1.7 prime lens (noticed the dented filter ring) along with an incredible Vivitar 100mm f2.8 prime for portraits and models. The camera is almost always mounted on a Minolta MD-1 professional motor drive, which is another indestructible piece of gear.

If you are serious about 35mm film, this is an excellent choice.