5 frames with...

5 Frames in hoarfrost wonderland with the Minolta XD-7 & Kodak Portra 160 – By Matthias Steck

January 29, 2020

I‘m a hobby photographer from Munich, Bavaria (Germany), trying to find some time for (mostly) nature and landscape photography besides family and job.

I‘ve always used Minolta gear from the moment my parents unboxed a Minolta X700 on a travel to Sicily in 1983, when I was eight. I just had to restart shooting film when my parents gave me this old X700 in fall 2017, already owning a small collection of manual Minolta lenses to use on Sony mirrorless cameras. “Needing“ a second film camera in a moment of GAS last summer I got by chance a very beautiful Minolta XD-7 from a collector, which lead me to do some more film photography.

On 04 December 2019 I was actually driving to a used car dealer (needing a family van after the birth of my third child) when the light and the hoarfrost in the valley of the small river Paar near Schrobenhausen (Bavaria) made me forget about any van within a minute. I had the XD-7 loaded with my very first roll of Kodak Porta 160, the Minolta MD W.Rokkor 3.5/28mm and the Minolta MD 2/85mm and fortunately a +8 ND-Filter.

The Minolta XD-7 is a joy to handle, the viewfinder is great, the metering is reliable, so I often can use my preferred aperture priority mode and adjusting exposure for backlight is very comfortable.

Minolta MD 2/85mm

Minolta MD W.Rokkor 3.5/28mm

Minolta MD W.Rokkor 3.5/28mm

Minolta MD 2/85mm

Minolta MD 2/85mm

All these pictures I shot within half an hour and I really love the results: The Kodak Portra, known for its colors, brings fantastic shades and structures especially in the almost colorless, sepia toned images.

The lenses, not only the high regarded MD 2/85mm (with lens hood) but also the very cheap MD W.Rokkor 3.5/28mm (without hood) show great sharpness and contrast and do quite well against the light. Some minor flares I removed with GIMP, apart from that (and resizing) I didn’t do any post processing.

All in all I got a look I could not achieve using my digital cameras. For me these image represent very well where I currently want to go with my photography: Showing the beauty of nature, not in a documentary style, but (just a little bit) alienated by classic photographic means.

The film was developed and scanned by MeinFilmLab with a Fuji SP-3000 scanner.

For more photos (mostly digital) – flickr.com/steckmatthias

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Terry B
    January 29, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Matthias, what a wonderful set of images. I particularly love #2. I’m sure you are aware that the XD-7 is an historically important camera as it was the first to provide aperture and shutter priority auto modes, plus full manual metering, when it launched in 1977. I found it a joy to use, with the Winder D and matching flashgun, and that viewfinder image was one of the best, then, and easily one of the best of all time.
    Despite your enforced detour, did you still get the van? 🤔

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment, Terry. I learned about the historic importance of the XD-7 when I got it from the collector, but I really wanted it because it looks so nice 😉
      I just hope that the historically important electronics inside won’t die too soon…
      And yes, a couple of days later I found a used family van and spent ridiculous amounts of money for it. I wish I could have spent this money for photo gear oder travelling…

  • Reply
    John Squillace
    January 29, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Very nicely done, Matthias! I shall have to try more Portra 160 (I’ve been using Portra 400 and 800 almost exclusively; maybe time to branch out!). And congratulations on your new baby!

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you very much John. I haven’t used Portra 160 and Portra 400 enough to tell a lot about the differences in the results. This roll of Portra 160 I only bought because Portra 400 was unavailable in the shop I asked for, but it surely was the right choice for this day.
      Thanks for the congratulations we’re all very glad, also my older children (10 and 7 years).

  • Reply
    Randy Keeler
    January 29, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Matthias, I too am enjoying older Minolta lenses (from 24mm to 500mm). I use A7,A77, and a 1958 Konica IIIA, recently bought a Minolta XE-1 (out for CLA and repair). In Canada where I am it is known as a XE-7. I will develop B&W at home. It also seems that your style is much the same as mine. I am on Flickr, but I am reluctant to post images because of ‘ fine print ‘ in the agreement.

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment Randy. The XE-1 (or XE-7) is also nice, but bigger and heavier than the XD-7, as far as I know. You’ll shurly have a lot of fun with it.

      I have to admit, that I never read Flickr’s “fine print”. I have no interest in using my pictures commercially. What are your concerns regarding Flickr’s terms and conditions ? I always believed (but didn’t know) they were more artist-friendly than Instagram’s terms and conditions.

  • Reply
    JimSangwine
    January 29, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Oh wow, I love this! The 1st and 3rd images in particular look like something out of The Lord of the Rings! Beautiful work Matthias.

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 29, 2020 at 2:20 pm

      .

      • Reply
        Matthias Steck
        January 29, 2020 at 3:40 pm

        Thanks for you kind comment, Jim. It’s very interesting that my shots remind you of The Lord of the Rings, but if you knew the landscape around it wouldn’t. This part of Bavaria is shurly no Lord of the Rings-scenery 😉

  • Reply
    Charles Morgan
    January 29, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Lovely! The MD7 is a great camera, and the Rokkor glass is particularly beautiful with colour. Thanks for sharing these!

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Thank you Charles, I really love Minolta colors as I’ve been using Minolta (SRT and AF) gear for a very long time. For me these are the “natural” colors in Photography (esp. the blue and the green tones), because I’m used to them. I like them also a lot on digital where the differences in color rendering between the various brands are even better to see.

      But I have to admit that I have found a second love 😉 : Zeiss C/Y glass brings also stunning but totally different colors – unfortunately these lenses are much more expensive than Minolta glass.

  • Reply
    Rock
    January 29, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Servus Matthias. Keep shooting analogue. Bavaria is beautiful (I have family in Rosenheim) and should be captured on a beautiful medium such as film emulsion! Nice set of images…..more please.

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 11:01 pm

      Thank you Rock…No worries I’ll keep shooting film, but not exclusively. I really love my Sony A7II, sometimes AF, IBIS, focus magnification and all the other features of a modern camera are very nice to have.

  • Reply
    ANDREW DAVID KARLSON
    January 29, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Matthias–these are really lovely and unearthly images! I especially like your results with the 85mm lens. Thank you for sharing them!

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment Andrew. I got so many encouraging comments here, I’m just happy 🙂
      Light was very special this day and I could shoot exactly on the border between sun and fog – I was just lucky to be in the right time at the right place.
      The Minolta MD 2/85mm is a quite good lens even at today’s standards, very flawless for it’s age. It performs great on digital too.

  • Reply
    Kevin Allan
    January 29, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    An excellent set of images. I sometimes doubt the image quality of 35mm – as I often use MF and LF – but these images are a great showcase for 35mm

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 29, 2020 at 11:33 pm

      Thank you very much Kevin. For my needs there is more than enough resolution in 35mm when shot with a decent lens on a quality film (that is not expired for many years). Scanning 35mm negatives or slides with a decent resolution seems to be more demanding than scanning large MF negatives tough.
      Someday I’ll hopefully also try analog MF, but for now I’m glad with 35mm.

  • Reply
    eric
    January 30, 2020 at 12:01 am

    Whaou. Love it too. Bravo. Great results with one camera and one film : impressive. A kind of magistral lesson !
    THANKS

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 30, 2020 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you very much for your kind words Eric. I’m glad you like my pictures.

  • Reply
    Dave Shrewsbury
    January 30, 2020 at 12:30 am

    Lovely photos, Matthias! I also shoot Minolta (an X700 for me) with Kodak Portra 400, and it’s one of my favorite combinations. Like you said, the beautiful muted colors of the Portra are something I’ve never been able to achieve with digital. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 31, 2020 at 11:41 pm

      Thank you very much Dave. I was really blown about the colors, the whole roll is very nice. It was hard to choose 5 frames. Currently I’m trying Silbersalz35 Cine film, because it’s cheaper than Portra hoping to get decent results too.

  • Reply
    Bent_Brent
    January 30, 2020 at 12:51 am

    Just plain beautiful.

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 31, 2020 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment, Bent_Brent.

  • Reply
    DeeDee
    January 30, 2020 at 1:48 am

    Beautiful images! Thanks for sharing them and for the write-up. I shared this to several friends.

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 31, 2020 at 11:33 pm

      Thank you very much, Deedee

  • Reply
    Alexey Malyshev
    January 30, 2020 at 2:20 am

    It was published exactly when I’m looking for a Minolta SLR camera, choosing between XD7, X700, X370, some budget SRT101 are considered as well. The main goal is to get amazing Rokkor lenses! I saw some 50mm f1.4 photos, now 80mm f2, and it’s just gorgeous. Maybe you could recommend some other lenses you like?

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 30, 2020 at 11:28 pm

      Hi Alexey,

      there are many good Minolta lenses, some of them still very cheap.

      In my post I used aside from the MD 2/85mm also the MD W.Rokkor 3.5/28mm which is a nice little wide-angle lens. I got it in 2018 for 12 € on eBay. I prefer it over the faster MD W.Rokkor 2.8/28mm (that I also own) because of it’s warmer colors.

      The MD W.Rokkor 2.8/35mm I use quite rarely, because 35mm is not my preferred focal length, but stopped down a little bit it gets very sharp across the frame.

      Also very cheap and small is the MD 2/50mm which struggles with back-light and needs a lens hood, but is very sharp (almost) from wide open and quite free of distortion. The MD 1.7/50mm was on my parents camera, so I’m using it since 1983. A very solid normal lens, also very cheap.

      As I’ve just mentioned in another comment the Minolta MD 2/85mm is an excellent lens even by today’s standards, but expensive. It’s legendary predecessor, the MC 1.7/85mm which is faster but not as flawless, is even more expensive.

      The MC/MD Tele Rokkor 2.8/135mm is a solid but heavy 135mm lens and also quite cheap. I only used it once on film and had focusing issues with my X700. I have to try it another time. On the Sony A7II is performs decent with minor purple fringing issues.

      The MD Tele Rokkor 4/200mm I haven’t used on film yet but sometimes on digital. It’s sharp from wide open but very prone to purple fringing. All my Minolta lenses show in certain light conditions some purple fringing when adapted on digital, but the MD Tele Rokkor 4/200 has the worst purple fringing issues. On film purple fringing should be much less of an issue.

      On the Minolta X700 I use a lot the MD Zoom 3.5-4.5/35-105mm (first Version 1982). It is very versatile with surprising good IQ on film and has a nice macro mode. This is my only Minolta lens I don’t use with adapter on my Sony A7II, because I wasn’t satisfied with IQ on digital.

      On my wishlist there are MC 1.4/58mm or MC 1.7/55mm, MD Macro Rokkor 3.5/50mm and MC/MD 2.5/100mm.

      Regards Matthias

  • Reply
    Rod
    January 30, 2020 at 7:18 am

    Hi Matthias, I just wanted to say that the name in the title HOARFROST WONDERLAND is a perfect fit. Like you said it is amazing light… Sometimes I have to spot everything I’m doing too for just that perfect shot. Very nice colours from Kodak Portra 160, I have only been shooting Portra 400 as the others are a little harder to get a hold of. I have a Minolta XD5, up until last year it was going fine but now the frame advance lever gets stuck on everything but O so it might need a CLA. I’ll have this done soon I hope as like you I love the way it looks, its has perfect ergonomics. It’s also related to the Leica R4. All the best mate happy shooting

    • Reply
      Matthias Steck
      January 30, 2020 at 10:22 pm

      Thank you Rod. I like the title of my post too ;-). As you can see my English is not very good and so I was very glad, when this title came in my mind.

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