5 frames with... Guest Photos

5 frames with… #99 the Minolta Dynax 3000i & Minolta AF Zoom 35-80mm f/4-5.6 – by Charles Higham

In the 1980s Minolta must have identified a market for a user-friendly point-and-shoot autofocus SLR. The shiny plastic Dynax 3000i body requires a 2CR5 battery and is compact but feels solid. It has a built in motorised film winder, on/off switch, self-timer button and another button if you want faster shutter speeds. The LCD panel shows frame count, battery charge, standard setting or high speed setting as mentioned above, and self-timer indicator. That’s it. There’s virtually no control. I found out online that shutter speeds go from 4 seconds to 1/1000. However, you won’t know what the camera selects as no exposure information is displayed. The viewfinder is pretty ordinary and LEDs accompanied by a beep indicate autofocus and under/overexposure.

The kit lens sold with the Minolta Dynax 3000i was the AF Zoom 35-80mm f/4-5.6. It’s plastic with a metal mount and it looks and feels like the budget kit lens it is. It has a clunky built-in lens cap. There’s an auto/manual focus switch, and the zoom is operated manually. There’s no aperture ring. The filter thread is a diminutive 46mm.

According to most reviewers the lens is not good. Comments such as ‘easily the worst lens I’ve ever tested’ and ‘there is no reason to buy this lens’ are typical. I decided to ignore this litany of disappointment and loaded up with Fuji Superia 400.

I enjoyed this camera and lens combination because it’s simple. Assuming the autofocus has locked on after a half press of the shutter button, you can fire away. For most daylight photography the autofocus rarely struggled. There’s always the manual focus option but I never needed to use it.

I didn’t have a more distinguished Minolta AF lens to try, but the fun for me was to use the lens I found on the camera. It has quite pronounced distortion even at the modest 35mm wide angle. I guess Minolta weren’t expecting people to take pictures of buildings with this lens. I don’t know what aperture or shutter speeds were used in these photos shot in Oxford, because it was entirely up to the Minolta Dynax 3000i and it wasn’t saying.

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  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 8:57 am

    I just never get AF cameras on film. XD7 all the way 😉

  • Reply
    Ken Hindle-May
    February 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    The lens is not the sharpest but I find the tones and saturation pleasing. That seems to have been the aim with a lot of these budget SLR kit lenses. It reminds me of the 35-135mm F/4-5.6 that came with my EOS 10s.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    So weird! Just received one of these last week, havent gotten to test it out yet but I will soon! I am slightly put off by the P mode, but at the same time I want to experiment with seeing what the camera is able to do all by itself. Minolta Dynax’s seem to have been largely forgotten, and they are excellent performers.

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