Published June 28th 2006

Minolta XM

A flagship camera and a great and extremely flexible tool

An old self portrait of me and my XM. The camera is seen with the vertical finder and my trusty Braun flash.
[Martin Joergensen]

The XM was a fantastic camera! I owned two of them -- not at once unfortunately, but one at a time. My first XM body was stolen while travelling on train in Spain. The second one I wore down to the bones on my way towards an auto focus system. Its shutter just stopped working at one point, and I was unable to repair it myself and unwilling to pay anybody to do it for me. I bought both of them used in a local shop, and it was sheer luck that I was able to find them.

The XM was a perfect camera for a guy like me. It was a fantastic photographic tool and it had all the facilities that a guy could dream of including such luxurious things as exchangeable finders, automatic exposure, lots of controls and altogether a very well thought through system camera. It was quite innovative in many areas, but still lagged commercially behind its competitors from Nikon (F2) and Canon (F-1).

Over the years I was able to get my hands on several nice accessories such as a couple of finders -- plain prism and vertical finder -- and several different focusing screens.

The vertical viewer as seen on the picture in the beginning of the article

High performance

I remember the XM as a real high performance camera with an immediate reaction to almost anything I did. Its fastest shutter speed was an amazing 1/2000th of a second, which was something back then.

The battered AE finder from my Minolta XM
The feeling of this camera was one of metal. I don't remember many parts that were plastic. The metal covering the finder -- which I still have -- is brass with a layer of black paint. Mine has been battered so much that the paint is coming off in places. The ability to change the finder was actually very useful, and I used my vertical finder a lot. This was just a shaft shading the focusing screen and as such a perfect waist level finder, which I only have found since in my digital Canon Powershot A80 with its flip out LCD. The vertical finder also had a magnifier built-in, which gave very good focussing control when shooting macro at a low stance.


More about the XM can be found on
Photography in Malaysia

But apart from that there isn't much good information on the web about this excellent camera, which I really loved.
One can be found for sale now and then, but apart from that I never see any.

Rokkorfiles has now added an impressing three-page overview over the Minolta XM (XK), which is a must-visit for any fan of this phenomenal camera. Lots of original pictures of bodies and parts, and a detailed breakdown of the history of Minolta's film era flagship.
Gear mentioned: