Love stories come in more dramatic varieties. But they’re never more true. The 45mm f2 Minolta MD lens was attached to an SR-T 100x I bought in a now-defunct thrift store in Munich. The X-700 followed from eBay soon after. It’s an early model, produced in the 80s when the X-700 was still an exciting and new camera. Automation for the masses.
My X-700 cost me less than 50 Euros in 2013, but it has been fixed, re-fixed and adjusted several times over the past five years for hundreds more. First, the condensers went. They always do in this model. I had them repaired. The camera came back still not working, so I sent it back to the repair shop. The camera came back fixed.
Then, two years later, it started misbehaving again. The image counter broke. This was less than ideal since I was on vacation, and the X-700 was the only serious camera I had brought. I kept snapping away, never knowing how many photos I would still be able to take on any given roll. I wound the film too tight because of this, but the camera kept working.
Most of the images I took with it over the years were with the 45/f2 MD lens. It has a less than stellar reputation, which I suspect is more down to sample variations between lenses than the overall design and quality. It is a small lens, but not a pancake. It still has some grip to it. There are no issues focusing. It is well made, late 70s, early 80s era metal-and-plastic. The metal is in the right spots. The plastic doesn’t annoy.
It’s a fine lens, albeit one with somewhat odd bokeh. Sometimes that’s a plus. Pictures won’t look like they would with other fast Minolta normal lenses. Sometimes it’s a minus: they don’t look like they do with other normal lenses. It’s not always what you want or expect.
After the X-700 broke my heart by failing me in my time of need, I still loved it. I just didn’t trust it anymore. So it sat on a shelf most of the time. I used it with a multi-function back to count frames, but I remained unhappy about the kludgy solution.
In the end, it was clear what I had to do. After almost two years I got around to it. I had the X-700 fixed again. I paid more money, trusting the seasoned repairman to make the camera as good as new. It now is. What I had never noticed is that the camera had not worked in program mode at all. It had not operated the aperture. That meant every picture taken in program mode was taken at f2. Some have a noticeable softness around the edges because of that. This, too, is now fixed. The camera is in better shape than it has been, possibly since it was produced. I am beginning to rebuild trust with it.
And a good thing that is, too. The X-700 and the 45/f2 together make for a full-featured manual focus SLR that is comfortably big for handling but is never so big as to be encumbering. The 45mm lens is that extra tad wider than a 50mm that I always seem to want. It lets you include in the picture exactly what you want. No more and no less; and no fuss.
Take it to the street, and you won’t raise a ruckus. Build it up with a motor drive and a tilting flash and you’ll look like you know what you’re doing. Add the program back for timed exposures, multiple exposures, interval exposures, what have you. It’s a versatile combination.
Both lens and camera have been with me almost since I first rediscovered film photography in late 2013. The things this camera has seen have been moments of my life. Defining ones, small ones, unimportant ones, fun ones. All moments worth saving. Moments that matter. That, perhaps, is why I keep coming back to the Minolta X-700 and the 45/f2 MD lens: the pictures tell stories, yes. But the camera that made them tells a story, too. A love story. Ending still uncertain.