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A Minolta XD-5 for $40: a good first camera?

Summar Alsemeiry , Nov 14, 2006; 05:23 a.m.

First: I found the camera while combing the glass display at a used electronics/book store; it comes with a bag and I believe a few lenses. I am constricted financially, and by trading in a few DVDs and CDs I may be able to buy this durable camera, with a week to return it if anything should be wrong. By January I will leave for college outside of Arizona, and I'm experiencing nostalgia beforehand. I might get detailed photos through this camera, even in dim places and with movement. Perhaps even on the Greyhound trip, of the bus and the passing landscape.

But, I'm green to the tips of my ears. I have many questions which run to batteries (and how can cameras work without batteries?), to which types of lenses and film are possible to use with a certain camera, to what exactly would I be missing out, compared to a XD-11/7? The greatest explanation I've found is "aperture readout in the viewfinder, the viewfinder blind, and the film safe load indicator"-but what does it mean practically, what cannot be done without these features? And how can I tell if the camera is damaged before I buy it?

And because of the above documented naivete, I may not recognize if the shape this camera is in be ill or not. Am I too worried? Am I hoping for too much from this camera, should I buy a cheap frame and expensive lenses? And, what was your first camera, and how did you stumble through the tangle of lenses and focal lengths, the woods of film, and the many developing places?

I would appreciate any help, be it links, book recommendations, advice, and/or recollections. This has been an engaging site to explore, with much less repetition than on many forums.


Peter Blaise , Nov 14, 2006; 06:54 a.m.

Minolta XD-5 for $40 is GREAT camera - first and last!


Hi and welcome, Summar,

If you're into film capture, it's a great place to start, especially since Minolta ergonomics and controls are so swell. Read more on the camera at

http :// www.mir . com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/minoltaxd711/basicimages/index . htm


and enjoy. Alternatively, buy any NEW camera for the manufacturer's warranty and support away from selling store, although after a short period (Panasonic is 90 days?) you're on your own anyway. Others may tell you to go digital since you can control the entire photo imaging process in-house (got a computer or printer?), but digital is not the only way, and film is still cheapest for penultimate qualities of your negatives and occasional (comparatively) shooting (unless you use, say, free college darkroom facilities?) - digital gets cheaper quickly after a certain number of shots - $300 in 2 weeks was my threshold to buy digital rather than stay with film.

Yes, you have too many questions at the moment since the MEANING of the answers depends on your interpretation of personal experience, which you admit you haven't any yet. SO buy it, learn, and enjoy - it's the cheapest tuition you'll find for the kind of photographic education you're after.

Let us know what you do. -- Click! Peter Blaise, Minolta Rokkor Alpha DiMage Photographer

PS - The only thing cheaper is single-use cameras, $5US and up, with cheap lab processing (Wal Mart?) can stretch $40 a long way. Heck, the same people who poo poo $5 single use cameras spend $200 on LensBabies (don't ask!). Summar, you have all the options, decide, dive in and learn by doing. $40 is NOT a big risk - spend it!

Malcolm Denton , Nov 14, 2006; 10:08 a.m.


Check out further info on these sites ;



The mir-com site has a downloadable manual.

Mike Gammill , Nov 14, 2006; 08:33 p.m.

Check to see if shutter speeds vary as light levels change. You can do this in the aperture priority mode. An added attraction of the XD-5 is that if the batteries die, you still have a mechanical 1/100 second plus B. Tons of lenses used and even new old stock are available. Search the older posts for recommendations from other posters as to which lenses to look for.

Summar Alsemeiry , Nov 20, 2006; 08:05 a.m.

I'm sorry, this is a long post filled with apprehensive first camera ownee questions. I would appreciate answers if anyone has the time or patience, otherwise feel free to pass them by. The main gist of this post is this: I bought the XD-5 on Saturday. Along with it is a Vvitar 75-205mm f/3.8, Macro Focusing zoom, and a MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7.

Are these good lenses, and how can they be used to take good photographs? (with some detail?) How can I tell how well they will work, without clicking the shutter? What should I expect when clicking the shutter with the 50mm with the smallest aperture? And what does a small depth of field mean-and is it had with the widest aperture? (I'm confused about the significance of the tiny lighted space when previewing the Depth of field at smallest aperture.) [sorry, I've been looking at reviews of various Rokkor lenses, and its fascinating to see what can be done. The 100mm macro lenses are amazing, yet beyond the grasp of my funds. The strange detail upclose, can it be captured as well any other way? I've heard of combining a telephoto lens with a wide angle or normal in reverse to get some magnification (combining the two lenses with scotch tape. Has anyone heard of this? I found it in a 1979 book by Lester Lefkowitz, The Manual of Close-up Photography.]

I've seen 135mm and 28mm recommended on this sight as a good beginner set. I understand the 28mm will give a wider view, with more focus even on far objects-but the 135mm I still don't know its qualities and uses. And apparently a 45mm is a sharp lens with a wider view-but does it give better detail? How are the details on the 50 and 75-205mm? And what is a pancake lens?

I can't follow the shutter-aperture advise yet: I'm waiting for batteries, and I assume I will need film to follow the advise, correct? (And to make sure the camera works anyway I'll need film. Would a cheap film be practical? Might it temper the results too much?)

And finally, I'm not sure if the lens is placed correctly. Nor I'm i sure if I am focusing correctly and am just expecting too much detail to appear, or the smudges are obscuring things, or I'm failing to take low light into account.

Other than that I'm fond of it, and wish to take care of it and use it well, and hope I may use it for photographs for years to come.

Summar Alsemeiry , Nov 20, 2006; 05:28 p.m.

Thanks everyone who replied.-Forgot to be polite in my early morning post.

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