Minolta 7000

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The Minolta 7000 AF is a historically significant camera, as the first popular autofocus SLR camera. Known as the Maxxum 7000 in North America and a-7000 (Alpha 7000) in Japan. This camera heraleded the era autofocus camera, and was followed by the professional Minolta 9000 and the entry-level Minolta 5000 shortly. Minolta took the bold decision to introduce a whole new mount lens to accomodate for the needs of AF (α - Mount), this mount had a larger diameters and electronic contacts. This mount lens is used up to the Sony-α DSLR cameras.

Autofocus had been tried for a while before the Minolta 7000, the Konica C35AF and the Polaroid SX-70 Sonnar introduced in 1977 and 1978 respectively were the first practical cameras with autofocus. Other companies such as Bolex, Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus had experimented with self-contained auto-focusing lenses that worked with their existing cameras and used their existing lens mounts. In 1983 the Minolta 7000 was preceded by Nikon's professional 35mm SLR Nikon F3AF with built-in through-the-lens contrast focus detection[1]. Minolta burst onto the scene in 1985 with their own in-body auto-focus camera system and changed the SLR camera market forever by having made the technology affordable for photography amateurs.

Minolta took the decision to make a new lens mount, replacing the venerable SR/MC/MD mount. This mount called Minolta A (Alpha) needed a larger diameter bayonet, and electrical connectors on the side to achieve full control of the lens. Minolta also decided to put the electrical motor for focus in the camera using a physycal coupling to the lens. This kept the cost of lenses low, and helped minimize noise. This was not just a manual focus camera with autofocus added. It was truly a revolutionary camera in that it redefined what an SLR was with the addition of computer chips in the camera body, lenses, and accessories. These controlled the camera functions for optimal results. For example, when a lens was mounted, its ROM chip would access the camera's CPU to optimize the program for that lens, and on-camera flash heads zoomed automatically with changes in focal length. This level of sophistication had not previously been brought to market. A built in motor drive and other automated features set the standard for other manufacturers.

The success of the AF innovation was such that and in rapid succession the company released three cameras: the entry-level 5000, the 7000 and the professional 9000) and dozens of lenses, flashes, and accessories to make a completely new fully featured AF system. For the next couple of years Minolta autofocus film cameras dominated the market.

In addition to autofocus, the Maxxum 7000 had manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, and program modes. Knobs and dials were replaced with pushbuttons and internal and external liquid crystal displays (LCD's). Popular with many new buyers, the LCD displays were disliked by some photographers used to the older controls, which lead to the pro version of the camera, the 9000, relying on more mechanical controls. The new camera body utilized a large amount of plastic composites which also came in for both praise and criticism. Minolta had a history of not disguising its plastic construction as had other manufacturers (for example the popular x-700). 7000's were durable cameras.

The camera was sold either with a Minolta AF 50/1.7 ($329.95) or a Minolta AF 35-70mm/4 zooom with macro switch ($399.95).[2] Its zoom setting ring served in macro mode as manual focusing ring.

Early Maxxum 7000 cameras were inscribed "MAXXUM 7000" with a crossed 'XX'. The oil company Exxon considered this a violation of their trademark, as the XX in their logo was linked in a similar fashion. As a result, Minolta was allowed to distribute cameras already produced, but was forced to change the stylistic XX in Maxxum and implement this as a change in new production. All Maxxum cameras to this day have had regularly scripted 'X'.

Unfortunately for Minolta, its autofocus design was found to infringe on the patents of Honeywell, a U.S. corporation. After protracted litigation, Minolta in 1991 was ordered to pay Honeywell damages, penalties, trial costs, and other expenses in a final amount of 127.6 million dollars.[3]

When Pentax and Nikon entered the autofocus segment, both utilized a similar passive array AF system as Minolta, but decided to retain compatibility with their existing manual-focus K and F mounts respectively. Canon, like Minolta, chose to change their mount completely, introducing the EOS 600-series a few years later, breaking the compatibility with the former FL and FD lens mounts. Like Canon, Minolta's decision to orphan its manual-focus mount cost it the support of some loyal customers, but in so doing, it also gained some new customers.

In 1987 Minolta presented another pioneering product, the video CCD camera back SB-70 to convert the camera into a 307.000 Pixel still camera based on analog video electronics. The camera back wrote its image data onto special 2" floppy disks. The camera back worked with a VHS-like analog imaging and recording technology, with a small crop factor 2 video CCD chip. One disk could store 25 or 50 images, depending on the chosen image quality.[4]


  • Year of launch: 1985
  • Manufacturer: Minolta
  • Type: single lens reflex camera
  • Lens mount: Minolta (α) A-bayonet
  • Film type: 35mm film with speeds of 25 to 6400 ISO, with auto DX
  • Metering element: Center-weighed silicon photo cell.
  • Metering range: -1 to 20 EV
  • Focusing: autofocus. Single point with 2 to 19 EV range.
  • Programs: Aperture Priority, Speed Priority, Program and Manual modes - User select program shift available
  • Shutter: Focal plane shutter with speeds from 30 to 1/2000 sec. B
  • Film advance: fully auto advance at 2 fps with auto rewind
  • Viewfinder: 0.85 magnification x 94% coverage, shutter and aperture LED display.
  • Flash: TTL flash possible with Minolta compatible units.
  • Power: 4x AAA battery in BH70-S holder. Holders for 4AA or 1 2CR5 batteries available
    • Internal battery CR2016 (3V) located under a metal plate in the battery compartment
  • Dimensions: approx 143 × 92 × 60mm
  • Weight: 601g (body only)
  • Accessories:
    • Data Back 70 or Program Back 70
    • Battery holders BH70-L (4xAA) or BH70-T (Lithium 2CR5)
    • Eye piece correction
    • Remote controller IR-1N


  1. Nikon F3AF, presented in 1983 together with a portrait AF Nikkor lens and a tele AF Nikkor lens, see Modern Classic SLRs: Nikon F3AF
  2. Bob Schalberg. Minolta Maxxum - A full autofocus SLR system that really works. Popular Photography March 1985, page70
  3. Article, "Minolta Credit Rating Downgraded by Moody's", July 11, 1992, NY Times
  4. SB-70/SB-90 camera back data at M. Hohner's


Minolta Classic Cameras
Vest (or Best) | V2 | SR-2 | SRT 101 | XE | XD | CLE | 7000 | 9000 | 800 si
Japan Camera Grand Prix
Camera of the year

1984: Nikon FA | 1985: Minolta α-7000 | 1986: Canon T90 | 1987: Canon EOS 650 | 1988: Kyocera Samurai | 1989: Nikon F4 | 1990: Canon EOS 10 | 1991: Contax RTS III | 1992: Pentax Z-1 | 1993: Canon EOS 5 | 1994: Minolta α-707si | 1995: Contax G1 | 1996: Minolta TC-1 | 1997: Nikon F5 | 1998: Pentax 645N | 1999: Minolta α-9 | 2000: Canon EOS-1V | 2001: Minolta α-7 | 2002: Canon EOS-1D | 2003: Canon EOS-1Ds | 2004: Nikon D70 | 2005: Konica Minolta α-7 Digital | 2006: Nikon D200 | 2007: Pentax K10D | 2008: Nikon D3 | 2009: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | 2010: Olympus Pen E-P1 | 2011: Pentax 645D | 2012: Nikon D800 | 2013: Sony DSC-RX1 | 2014: Nikon Df | 2015: Canon EOS 7D Mark II | 2016: Sony α7R II | 2017: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II | 2018: Sony α9 | 2019: Lumix S1R | 2020: Sony α7R IV | 2021: Sony α1 | 2022: Nikon Z9 | 2023: Sony α7R V

Special Prize
1990: Konica Kanpai | 1991: Fuji Cardia Travel Mini Dual-P | 1992: Konica Hexar | 1993: Nikonos RS | Sigma SA300 | 1994: Olympus µ[mju:] Zoom Panorama | 1995: Ricoh R1 | 1996: Fujifilm GA645 | 1997: Canon IXY | Contax AX | 1998: Olympus C1400L | 1999: Nikon Coolpix 950 | Tamron AF28-300mm F3.5-6.3 LD Aspherical IF MACRO lens | 2000: Nikon D1 | Konica Hexar RF | 2001: Bronica RF645 | Fujichrome 100F/400F film | 2002: Minolta DiMAGE X | Nikon FM3A | 2003: Fujifilm GX645AF | Hasselblad H1 | 2004: Canon EOS Kiss Digital | Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM lens | 2005: Nikon F6 | Epson R-D1 | 2006: Ricoh GR Digital | Zeiss Ikon | 2007: Sony α100 | Adobe Lightroom software | 2008: Sigma DP1 | Fujichrome Velvia 50 film | 2009: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 | Casio EXILIM EX-FC100 | 2010: Sony Exmor R sensor | Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM lens | 2011: Fujifilm X100 | Epson MAXART PX-5V (R3000) printer |

2012: Sony NEX 7 | 2013: Canon EOS 6D | Sigma DP1 / DP2 / DP3 Merrill 2014: Olympus OM-D EM-1 | Canon EOS 70D | Ricoh Theta