Minolta XD series

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Multifunction automation

In 1977, Minolta was the first to combine both TTL aperture-priority and shutter-priority automation in one SLR camera body, this was the Minolta XD-7 / XD-11. The mode switch next to the shutter-speed dial has three positions: "M" (manual), "Auto - A" and "Auto - S". The "A" indicates Aperture-priority mode and the "S" Shutter-priority mode. There is also a hidden Program-mode, securing correct exposure whenever the available aperture-range is insufficient, in which case the shutter speed is adjusted. In fact, this function is always active, checking the exposure immediately before the shutter is fired, by MEASURING the TTL light intensity AFTER the lens aperture is set automatically. Based on this reading, it ADJUSTS the shutter speed as required. To obtain full advantage of the Shutter-priority mode, the lens must be set to its minimum aperture. On the new MD-range of lenses, this setting can be locked by a small switch. Failing to do this, limits the range of apertures available to the automatic mode. There is a "Green line" assisting the correct use of the shutter priority mode, comprising green symbols on the aperture ring and lock, the "S" mode switch position, and the 1/125 sec. on the shutter speed dial. However the green 1/125 sec. is just a suggestion, not mandatory.

The viewfinder

The interchangeable Minolta Acute-Matte focusing screen is exceptionally bright and combines the central split image rangefinder with a micro prism collar which indicates in-focus very accurately. In a special version, this Minolta Acute-Matte screen was also made available for Hasselblad. The finder covers 94% of the actual image and has 0.87 magnification using a 50mm standard lens. The finder window may be closed by flipping a small lever next to it, preventing stray light entering the exposure meter in automatic mode using a remote release. The viewfinder provides comprehensive information without unduly disturbing the image view. At the bottom centre is the actual aperture ring setting visible. Next to it, to the right, is the shutter speed dial setting visible. Along the right side is a vertical column of eleven red LEDs next to a scale of either 11 f-numbers, from 1.4 through 32 in S-mode, or 11 shutter speeds, from 1 through 1000 in A- and M-mode. The scale shown depends on the position of the mode-switch next to the shutter speed dial. One of these LEDs brightens up when the shutter release is depressed slightly, either pointing at the automatically selected value in automatic mode, or the recommended one in the manual mode.

The meter

The camera TTL exposure meter is very accurate and covers light levels from EV 1 through EV 18, with off-the-film metering for precise measurement of the amount of light striking the film during exposure. This metering system was quite sophisticated at the time of the camera's release.

The shutter

The shutter is of the vertical-travel Copal variety and is particularly quiet. The shutter has a 1/100s mechanical shutter speed and a B setting that operates independently of battery power (O).

The controls

The camera's controls feature a shutter speed dial and film advance lever to the right of the finder (when looking from the back of the camera). The shutter release button is located within the shutter speed dial. The shutter release button accepts a standard screw-in cable release. A lever sits between the finder's edge and the shutter speed dial, permitting the user to quickly switch between metered manual (M), aperture priority (A), and shutter speed priortiy (S). On the corner of the camera is a numbered film advance window. Below that on the back corner of the camera is a film "safe load" indicator. To the left of the finder is the film rewind knob, which includes an integrated film speed dial. An exposure compensation (EV) lever is also located along the edge of the rewind knob, allowing exposure adjustments from +2 to -2. Over the course of the camera's production, the EV lever was relocated from the front left corner of the camera to the inside of the rewind knob next to the finder. A depth-of-field (DOF) preview lever and a PC socket are located by the side of the lens mount. A self-timer lever is located on the front of the camera to the left of the lens mount (when viewing from the front of the camera). A lever to disengage the film wind sprockets (for rewinding film) is located on the bottom plate, and provided the additional feature of permitting double exposures. The camera has a built-in eye piece shutter for long exposures with the actuating lever located to the side of the viewfinder.


The camera accepts Minolta's AutoWinder D, permitting automatic frame advance of up to 2 frames per second. The camera does not, however, accept the Motor Winder MD-1, which provides up to 3.5 frames per second, a vertical shutter release button, and a noticeable improvement in ergonomics and handling to the XG and X series of camera. A full range of flashguns was available, including the top-of-the-line 320X which featured swivel/bounce and thyristor circuitry, down to the ultra-compact 118x. Other accessories included the Angle Finder V and a Quartz Data Back.


The XD was the last of Minolta's all metal bodied cameras. It was available in both chrome and black finishes. The black finish was a special anodized process licensed from Leitz, thus it holds up better than black paint. Fewer black models were made, and they typically command a higher price on the used market today. The camera was normally covered in black leatherette. Earlier models had leatherette that was subject to shrinkage, a problem that was resolved with later models. A 50th anniversary edition, available only in black, had optional brown lizard skin leather.

Leica tie-in

The Leica R4 is based on this camera body. Minolta introduced the Rokkor MD lenses for the XD range of cameras, some of these were also made available and sold by Leica, like the 35-70mm/3.5 zoom.


Several versions was produced:

  • the original XD model, which was named XD-11 in USA and Canada and XD-7 in Europe and elsewhere
  • the export model XD-5 which lacked the pre-set aperture and pre-set shutter time info in the viewfinder and the eyepiece shutter
  • the Japan only XD-s which was a XD, where the eyepiece shutter was swapped against a diopter adjustment
  • a Medical model of XD and XD-s was available as a specialized body for scientific and medial applications. This camera was laid out for flash use with a microscope or alike. It lacked the shutter speeds, the automatic modes and the ASA setting. The shutter time was fixed to flash sync at 1/100s.


Pre-set aperture and shutter speed visible
below the viewfinder image. At the right side
the meter's LEDs showing chosen aperture
(in shutter priority mode S , in A mode the

LEDs show the chosen exposure time).


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