Around the time that everybody was 'going digital' (about ten years ago), my last film kit before selling up and joining the herd was a Minolta 600si Classic - another lovely (and dare I say 'Classic') camera. Unfortunately, this was also the time that Minolta as a camera company was going through tough times - merging initially with Konica, only to then end up being brought out by electronics giant Sony. There was a lot of uncertainty around the future of Minolta cameras during those few years, so I (and a good many others) didn't invest in them when looking at a digital system.
With the sale to Sony, history has proven that the Minolta system (and more importantly the 'A' mount for lenses) did, in fact, have staying power - and that perhaps my reticence was a little hasty? But Canon and Nikon were aggressive competitors, and I wasn't the only one tempted over to the dark side :-)
But now, with my renewed interest in film, and a stock of Minolta lenses on hand from a pro photographer friend who did stick with them, I get to once again re-visit my love affair with Minolta. And I intend to do just that - beginning with the Minolta 7000.
It was also revolutionary in that it was the first Minolta to adopt the new 'A' mount - and the first camera to facilitate a body-integrated auto focus design. Yes folks, auto-focus came of age with the Minolta 7000. The camera was a huge success, and catapulted Minolta back into the top echelons of the Big 5 camera manufacturers. In fact it was so successful, it had other manufacturers (like Canon and Nikon) scrambling back to their engineering departments to re-think their own camera lines. If not for the Minolta 7000, Canon's own EOS line of cameras may have taken a lot longer with their development.
|A design aesthetic straight out of Robocop|
This is the beginnings of auto focus that we know and love today, so don't expect stellar focus performance. The screw-driven motor sounds like an electric drill set to high, and its single focus detection point takes time locking on. But lock on it does, and Minolta deserved all the kudos it received by bringing body-integrated autofocus to the world of photography.
I'm looking forward to putting a roll of 35mm through this camera. She may be almost thirty years old, but I bet she performs as reliably as the day she was made. Apart from a slight 'whitening' of the hand-grip plastic (a common issue with this era of camera), and a little lcd 'bleed' on one edge, my copy of the 7000 looks to be in fantastic nick. A fresh set of 4 triple A's (yes, it takes 'common' batteries - yay) and I should be good to go. Will post images soon.