The Minolta Maxxum 7

As I started to work on reducing the number of cameras I have, I considered the things that I was really after with my photography.  I looked at my modest library of photos, and realized most of my favorites were shot with my Maxxum 5’s.  Knowing the cameras are part of the equation, and the lenses are another part of the equation, I figured  if I could get a better camera that used the same glass, I’d be that much farther ahead.

I looked at both the Maxxum 9 and the Maxxum 7, but with the 7 being almost as new as my 5 and virtually as technologically advanced as the first few generations of DSLR’s, I figured it was worth trying a Maxxum 7.  Technically, I ended up with a Dynax 7, which is the European variant of Maxxum 7.  I paid about 60% of the typical eBay price, and I still can’t figure why this camera sold so inexpensively.  Based on the data tracking feature, it has only had 53 rolls of film through it in it’s life began around 2000, so it’s barely been used!

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I’m now on Roll # 56!

From the moment I picked it up, I was in love.  This is the camera I’ve dreamed of owning!  It is so well balanced, it just feels like an extension of my hand.  The shutter is nearly magical; it feels as intoxicating as it sounds.  I probably snapped 50 frames with no film the first night!    Within a day, I was ready to sell all my older SLR’s, and within 5 days, every other SLR I own was up for sale!

This camera is amazing.   I’m not sure a better film SLR ever existed.  Maybe someday I’ll find something better, but the Minolta 7D  was basically this camera with a digital sensor.  Sony bought Minolta and carried on the Dimage DSLR  line as their Alpha series DSLR. But this isn’t digital – it’s still film.  It represents the pinnacle of Minolta’s technology.

Buy a recent Nikon D3S, and you have to make focus decisions like Single, Autofocus, and Continuous Autofocus settings.  The Maxxum 7 is the same, but it simply uses a switch on the front of the camera instead of a menu setting. What are some of the other cool features?  A 13 segment honeycomb metering system that can read out on the LCD display representing the Zone System for exposures as developed by Ansel Adams.

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Exposure Zone Information

 

The Maxxum 7 can track the exposure information for the last 7 rolls of film – basically early EXIF data.   It can shoot 4 frames per second until your exhaust the roll of film – faster than my last DSLR which would do 3 frames per second.  Shutter speeds range from  30 seconds to 1/8000 of a second!  Bulb mode will last pretty much as long as the battery – about 7 hours!

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Seriously – when will I use a shutter speed this fast????

It has wireless flash capabilities to control off camera flashes from the camera itself.  There’s an optional Vertical Grip which i haven’t tracked down yet for  less than the cost of the camera.  The 35 custom function settings are completely defined in the rear LCD; on the Maxxum 5, I needed to consult the manual (and the end result was double exposures at times!).  Oh, and the rear LCD changes orientation from horizontal to vertical based on the camera position!

I’m going all in and replacing the Maxxum 5’s with the 7’s.  I haven’t done any critical shooting yet, in fact I’ve just run and developed one 12 exposure roll through to verify everything was functioning, but I’m so enamored with the Maxxum/Dynax 7 that I just bought a second one today, complete with Minolta Wireless 3600 HS flash and a host of accessories.  This newest one is a Maxxum 7, and it appears to be in even better condition than the first.    I’d like to think my camera hunting has ended.  At the very least, I’m going to focus on shooting the Maxxum 7’s and Hasselblad for the rest of the year and determine if I want to pick a few film stocks to standardize on with the cameras.

I admit, I haven’t spent much time with the later Nikon or Canon autofocus film SLR’s, but I have used some of the modern Canon and Nikon DSLR’s, and frankly I  can’t imagine a better picture-taking experience than the Maxxum 7.   At some point, I’ll probably run off a 24 exposure roll in 6 seconds just because I can!  I may end up with some additional lenses, but I think the existing ones I have (save for the Maxxum 5 kit lens) will fit the bill just fine.

This was at least a $600 camera 10-15 years ago; MSRP was around $850.  I’ve purchased two of them, plus 3 lenses, a flash, a Lowepro backpack, a remote shutter release, some film, and some filters for about $250.  Liquidating my other stuff has more than covered the cost of buying them.  I’m glad my wife challenged me to get rid of some cameras, because now that I found this gem, I don’t know what else I’d use.

Plus, now I have space to store all my developing equipment where I used to house cameras! I still have about 10 rolls of film to develop from the Maxxum 5’s, but soon I’ll be sharing some decent photos from the Maxxum 7’s.  For now, here’s a couple snapshots from the first day I owned it on expired Fuji 100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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