5 frames with...

5 frames with a Minolta Dynax 7000 – By Dorian Farrimond

I can completely understand why you’d think a Dynax 7000 is an irrational choice of camera. Even when it launched, photographers were wary of all the complex electronics that could cause problems. Whether that was a valid concern at the time is debatable, but it’s definitely something to think about 30 years later. A nice metal-bodied manual-focus SLR from the 1970s will be with you as long as you want it to be – if it breaks it can be repaired, and if you decide to sell, it will be worth more than you paid for it. This camera is none of those things.

Even worse, the autofocus is first generation so it’s slow and doesn’t always do what you want it do. Instead of a wheel to control aperture or shutter speed, there are buttons, which aren’t a total usability fail, but they are more fiddly. The top LCD display is always-on, which usefully shows the film counter even when the camera is off (or as off as it gets), but this drains the batteries even while not being used. The design is very angular and has sharp edges. It looks great to my eyes but isn’t what you’d call ergonomic. Once, I put the eyecup to my eye too quickly and missed, hitting my brow with a sharp chunk of solid plastic around the pentaprism. Ouch!

Despite all this, the Dynax 7000 is still my all-time favourite camera. I’m an 80’s kid, which makes me a sucker for things like grey velour car seats with red piping. I like cars and bikes to have big writing on the side which shouts about the technology within. Angular, statement-making designs are just fine with me. And this camera is unmistakably that.

When my Dad decided to get a proper camera back in the 80’s, he asked my uncle for advice. My uncle was a real photographer and used Olympus kit. He was well aware of the new Minolta though, and while it wasn’t for him, he recommended it to my Dad who was more of an amateur. Sound logic, and the Dynax was soon purchased, which meant I got lots of opportunity to play with it. I’d just point at different things and half-press the shutter button to see the image snap into focus in the viewfinder. While having my own Dynax at age 11 would have been a bit ridiculous, I still lusted after it. It was so cool and high tech.

Decades later my Dad’s Dynax 7000 died, and a local camera shop advised him to get a Dynax 505si as a replacement. I still have that camera, and despite it being much newer than the 7000, it’s not as fun to use, and has aged much worse with all the blue viewfinder discolouration that blights many Minolta models from the late 90’s and early 2000s.

With that in mind, I recently picked up a lovely example of a Dynax 7000 off eBay, for very little money. The market definitely prices in the reliability concerns. While a less high-tech, manual-focus Minolta SLR can command £150 and upwards, a Dynax 7000 is only ever £20. Only prepared to pay for a scruffy one? That will be £20 please. Want a stunning pristine example as a display piece? Just keep searching a bit longer, but it will still only cost you £20.

While every Dynax 7000 is now old, and has lots of electronics, it was made in Japan in an era where I would argue the quality was higher than what came after it in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, as production transitioned to countries offering cheaper manufacturing, along with cost cutting from the threat of digital. This is what I tell myself when I want to believe my 7000 will last forever.

On a recent trip to York, it was 6 years to the day since my Dad passed away, so I put on his old Seiko digital watch and took the 7000 instead of the 700si I use more often. I shot a roll of Ektar 100 round the city, and while the success rate of the photos was lower than the 700si (quite likely my fault), there were a few decent shots.

It was an unusually warm and bright February day in the UK, and the light in the park at the side of York Minster was beautiful. The Shambles was extremely busy with tourists due to the Harry Potter connection, and challenging to photograph because the street is so narrow, with bad light at lower levels, and then a very bright sky in the middle. Most of those shots weren’t keepers!

When the 7000 hits the mark though, it makes photographs that are beautifully clear and colourful, especially with the added punch of Ektar 100. The lens used on all photos is the Minolta 50mm f1.7 – the black version which matches the 7000 body perfectly. I know about the f1.4 version but couldn’t afford it!

Hope you enjoy the pictures and please let me know what you think of them, or your experiences with this camera!  The 7000 is always a pleasure to use – it feels like a privilege to use such a legendary camera from another era.

Keep in touch on instagram, or my (creaky and soon to be replaced) personal blog.

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18 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    CLARE HENNESSEY
    April 27, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Gorgeous images, Minolta glass is excellent. Thank you for your post. I have a 7700i, I haven’t used much, funny thing is though, the rubber grip is in very good condition, mostly they’re falling to pieces. Your 7000 is the tidiest one I’ve ever seen.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dorian Farrimond
      April 28, 2019 at 10:12 am

      Many thanks! I completely understand what you are saying about the grips, many are falling apart.It took a long time to find a good example. If you want one like this, they can be found but it does take some time. Another possibly for the 7000 is searching for the BH-70T Lithium battery holder, which helps with the camera’s appetite for munching AAA batteries, and they can sometimes be found new or nearly new. This could tidy up a deterorating grip.

      Hope your 7700i lasts forever!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Krishna Kumar
    April 27, 2019 at 11:30 am

    In spite of all it’s listed shortcomings by you,
    I cannot stop loving this innovative piece of electronics and excellent choice of optics…
    Having lived through three decades and seven models of Minolta I consider myself to be a diehard fan of Minolta … !
    Sadly this particular model proved evasive for me in spite of a committed search in the used camera market…
    And, with the 50mm f/1.4 optic it simply produced best results every time all the time…
    Thanks for bringing back the fond old memories of the mighty Minolta 7000 …
    -Krishna Kumar, India

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dorian Farrimond
      April 28, 2019 at 10:14 am

      Great to hear that you also love this camera! If you really want one, there are a decent amount available here in the UK, but postage costs could be a problem for you.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Terry B
    April 27, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Dorian, thanks for posting and the interesting background to your liking of this camera. I well remember when it was released. I was considered the photographer in the office because I used gear most had never heard of or seen, Nikon, Minolta MF, Leica and a Mamiya C330. The Mamiya caused a bit of a stir as during the lunch break I nipped out and came back with the C330.

    But trumping this was some years later when a colleague arrived back from his lunch break with this brand new gizmo, an AF Minolta, and it even got me interested. We were all over it. Considering the technology back then, this was amazing. It focused on everything, except a plain wall. Then, for me, came the no-no. I discovered it couldn’t accept my Minolta MF lenses, so out the window went the possibility of getting one and buying AF lenses as and when.

    I did eventually, out of curiosity, end up with an AF Minolta, the 800si, about four years ago. Condition wasn’t bad, and it worked, all for £35 inc. a zoom lens. The big problem was I needed a book to find out how to use it! It was too complicated, photography needs at least to be fun, and I never have put a film through it.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dorian Farrimond
      April 28, 2019 at 10:21 am

      Great story, thanks for sharing! That Mamiya is a beauty.

      Completely agree on the control complexity. Perhaps you could think about finding a Minolta 600si Classic? Those were a step back to a more natural manual control system and I believe they went down very well at the time. Tidy ones are quite hard to find though.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Malcolm Myers
    April 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    As a kid of the 80’s myself I remember this camera being launched. It was the darling of the photo press for a couple of years. I’m glad you’re still enjoying it and thanks for sharing the photos.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dorian Farrimond
      April 28, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Thank you Malcolm! It really moved the game on didn’t it.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Murray Kriner
    April 27, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Fab writing & moments scored. Own many 1st Gen auto-focus SLR’s from the era, having an affinity for both Konica & Minolta cameras. Their cutting edge philosophies have both benefited and also grounded the industry to go where it has today. They may never win a beauty contest, but broke the mold every time. Look forward to any of your thoughts in the future. Very best wishes my friend.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Scott Edwards
    April 27, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Schweet pics!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Michael McDermott
    April 28, 2019 at 2:38 am

    Over in the U.S. these are called the Maxxum 7000. I happen to have two working models along with a working 9000. I too find the shape attractive although the Dynax 7 and the Dynax/Maxxum 7D are much easier to cradle in your hands. Just reskinned one as the rubber like grip harden and cracked off. Speed of focus was never an issue with me as I am a person who takes their time in composing a shot. Even with the 7D I never just shoot away. Being as how my first SLR, in 1972 was an SRT-101, I am a huge fan of Minolta and have most of their worthwhile film cameras up to the 7000/9000. After that only the 7 and the 600si attracted my attention.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dorian Farrimond
      April 28, 2019 at 10:30 am

      I think plenty people could be interested in how you reskinned your camera – I did look into buying one in need of improvement, and wondered how well self-adhesive rubber or vinyl would work.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    William Parker
    April 28, 2019 at 7:18 am

    It certainly looks the part, enjoy it.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    JW
    April 28, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Pretty sure that’s a maxxum not a dynex

  • Avatar
    Reply
    ernest
    May 14, 2019 at 6:23 am

    Hi there.. I have a minolta maxxum 7000 recently.. But viewfinder are not sharp even at focus point.. Are your maxxum is same like mine??

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dorian Farrimond
      May 14, 2019 at 8:59 am

      Have you tried the quick things like checking the mirror and cleaning the viewfinder?

      On my camera, if I look closely at the viewfinder image there’s a faint grey grain as if the mirror has deteriorated, but it’s not bad. Definitely no blur of clouding.

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