5 Frames with a Minolta XD7 and Kodak Vision 3 250D

By Nico Ghirlando

Does the camera I am using at the time affect the images I make? Perhaps. I’m not so sure. It certainly it affects the enjoyment of the process. But is the process important or is the result what matters? Certainly to the viewer, but the viewer is not the one making the work.

There is a huge trend –and I am guilty of it– of relentlessly listing the gear used to make an image. And although, in every gallery of paintings there is more often than not a caption that may state “oil on canvas”, or “mixed media on board’ for example, it is seen as gauche to list the camera, lens and film used when it comes to photography. Yet I find it interesting. For one thing, in the modern era it now separates the work from AI or digital, even though all work now goes through a digital process before being seen on the internet, but for another, it allows you to see results achievable with the different film stocks, lenses and bodies. What it doesn’t do, however, is tell you how it feels.

Cameras all sit differently to the eye, in the hand, in the winding and focusing. It’s rather like having a collection of cars, they all feel different to drive even though they all get you to the destination. Which one do you fancy taking out today? Is it a long trip or are you popping to the shops? My Casio tells the same time as a Rolex.

I have quite a few cameras these days, mostly Nikons, but Minolta has always had a small corner of my heart. The joy of the old and second hand is you can now have the camera of your past dreams when at the time there was no way you could afford the professional gear. And people have always been making the most amazing work since before flashy LEDs and auto this and that were added to what is still, essentially the same process as it has been since the invention of photography. Light through a lens into a dark box onto an emulsion.

Saying that, though, when I pick up my Minolta XD7 something stirs in my loins. It’s beautiful. Solid, weighty, smooth to use and just feels good. The film advance may be the nicest out of all the cameras I’ve shot with over the years and the sound of the shutter is like an angel whispering. The way the Rokkor lens renders colours and tones feels very different to my Nikkor lenses, which, although I think are great, rarely give me that magical feeling. That is why this Minolta has become, in the year I’ve owned it, a permanent fixture in the bag. It calls to me, like a siren on the rocks. And I’ve yet to be disappointed, which is why, with its fresh new tan leatherette and replacement light seals I feel I’ve given it more favourable treatment than the others in the cupboard which I very much view as tools to get the job done.

This one, though, is probably the one I’d rescue out of them all. Probably. A favourite child? Perhaps. Maybe I’d also grab the Nikon F100. Or hold on, perhaps the F2? No, maybe the Zeiss Ikoflex. Oh I don’t know. Maybe I could grab two. And in which case, this XD7 would definitely be one of them.

Here are five images I made in London over July to October 2023, shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D. A favourite film stock of mine, not least because of its price, but also because I love the quality of the colour, the latitude and the fact so many great films were shot on it. And, as it’s a film film stock, I feel less guilty about adjustments made through any grading or colour tweaks in printing. After all, that’s what they do in the movies.

Many thanks for reading and viewing. You can find me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/nicolas_ghirlando/
and also at https://nicolasghirlando.co.uk/

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Comments

Dave Shrewsbury on 5 Frames with a Minolta XD7 and Kodak Vision 3 250D

Comment posted: 23/01/2024

Fantastic article, Nico. I'm in a similar position as you... I have a lot of different cameras and they all take pictures about the same, but the feel I get from them is drastically different and can affect my shooting experience. I find that random people stop and talk to me a lot more often if I'm carrying my Leica M2, Canon P, or Yashica Mat. This causes them to open up and be more willing to let me take a photo of them. Also like you, I have a special place in my heart for Minolta. One of my absolute favorite cameras is my Minolta X700, and I almost feel guilty for loving it so much because it's so simple. But I think the beauty is in its simplicity, and it feels great in my hands and has never let me down. I was gifted an XE-7 which has a stuck mirror, and I think you've inspired me to send that in for a CLA. Lovely photos and great article. Thanks!
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Gary Smith on 5 Frames with a Minolta XD7 and Kodak Vision 3 250D

Comment posted: 23/01/2024

I love the light through that grape leaf! Transcendent! Would have liked a shot of the top plate.
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Ken on 5 Frames with a Minolta XD7 and Kodak Vision 3 250D

Comment posted: 21/01/2024

Ohhhh my holy grail Minolta! I found an XD-11 but it bricked almost immediately. Found some repair/cleaning guidelines but my skills in electronics are lacking, at least it came with a decent 50mm. I’m always on the hunt for another. Thanks for re-igniting my GAS!
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Ibraar Hussain on 5 Frames with a Minolta XD7 and Kodak Vision 3 250D

Comment posted: 21/01/2024

Thanks for the write up! Enjoyed that and the photos !! Lovely use of light
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 21/01/2024

And I’m on the lookout for a XD7 ! Have a penchant for lovely manual cameras Need something to keep my Contax RTS II company

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