Minolta Dynax 600si / Maxxum 600si

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This particular Minolta 35mm film AF SLR camera was identified as a Dynax 600si Classic in Europe, Maxxum 600si in North America. For brevity in this article, it will simply be referred to as the 600si. Released in 1995, the 600si quickly assumed cult status. Instead of push buttons and menus that had become the norm for this kind of camera, the 600si was equipped with knobs and dials. It became known as the AF camera for people who liked older style SLR's. A vertical control grip was also available.

The electronic controlled shutter is vertical travelling with speeds from 30s to 1/4000 sec, plus bulb mode and a flash sync of 1/200 of a sec. The metering is a TTL based system using a 14 segment silicon photo cell. It has a sensitivity of 0 to 20 EV and in spot mode 3 to 20 EV (ISO 100, 50mm f/1,4. Metering is based on using DX encoded film, which can also be manually set from 6 to 6400 ISO in 1/3 inc. The exposure modes include, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual exposure.

The viewfinder has a diopter adjustment with a range of -2.5 to 0.5. The film transport has a motorized drive with film automatically advancing after exposure. Drive modes includes single frame, continuous for up to 2 fps, and self-timer. The built-in flash has a GN of 12. The camera is powered by two 2CR5 batteries.

A version with a panorama feature (that masked the film plane from 36x24mm or 1.5:1 aspect ratio to 36x12mm or 3:1 aspect ratio) and a quartz date back, was released as the Dynax 650si / Maxxum 650si and the Alpha 507si in Japan.

Control Knobs

With this camera, Minolta introduced a new user interface system that was a throwback to the cameras of yesteryear. The current philosophy of that time was to manipulate the camera controls via menus and button or dial combinations. Minolta's own rugged 9xi was an example of this. As good as that system was, there was an increasing demand for a camera that was easier to use. Thus came the 600si. Like cameras of the past, this one had each dial assigned to perform one function alone. There are separate knobs for flash and exposure compensation, drive mode, and exposure mode. Rotating switches on the back controlled AF and metering modes.

Influence on other camera designs

Its control interface became so popular that it set the design precedent for some later Minolta, Pentax, and Canon SLR's. The Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 7, 7D, 5D, 9, and 9Ti, are direct descendants of the 600si as is Sony's A100. The design also influenced Minolta's Dimage cameras. The interface designs of other cameras such as the Pentax's MZ-5 and 5n (plus others), and Canon's EOS Elan II/50 and 7 series were also influenced by the 600si.