Minolta Alpha Sweet 35mm AF Film SLR

Minolta Alpha Sweet 35mm AF Film SLR

Introduction and Overview

Minolta was the innovator when they launched the A-mount system and the introduction of the Minolta Alpha 7000, the world's first body-integral AF (autofocus) camera, in 1985. The Alpha 7000 was a departure from the heavy-duty all-metal construction of previous SLR series to new lightweight polycarbonate bodies. The Alpha 7000 was sold in the US as Maxxum 7000, and in Europe as Dynax 7000 AF.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, View
Minolta continued with the development of the camera system and over the next 20 years produced a string of AF cameras both for the professional and consumer markets. One which was outstanding, one of the most advanced in the market, was the Alpha/Maxxum/Dynax 7, which was launched in 2000.

Slatted in between all these models was the Alpha Sweet (not to be confused with the Alpha Sweet Digital), which intrigued me when I saw it being offered at such a low price on the auction site. I was not familiar with the camera at all, and initial lookup on the Internet did not yield much information about the camera. I paid for it anyway.

It was not until later that I found the camera was sold in the US as Minolta Maxxum XTSI and in Europe as Minolta Dynax 505si Super. Reviews and previews on these models are also frequent on the web.

The Top 10 Best and Worst Minolta Cameras Ever (HD Version)

Why The Minolta Alpha Sweet / Maxxum XTSI / Dynax 505si Super?

The Minolta Alpha Sweet / Maxxum XTSI / Dynax 505si Super is a lightweight, weighs only 375/385 grams without battery, multi-program autofocus 35mm film SLR fitted with an electrically-controlled vertical-transverse focal plane shutter with a shutter speed range from 30 seconds to 1/4000 second, and B for bulb exposure.

The camera is also fitted with a built-in flash unit, a sophisticated 14-segment honeycomb-metering pattern, a three-point Crosscut AF sensor for accurate autofocusing, eye-start operation, accepts films with ISO rating of 25 to 5000 by DX coding, and 6 to 6400 manually in 1/3 EV increments.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, View

Much like the controls you find on a beginner level DSLR, the Alpha Sweet has all user-friendly with PASM exposure modes and a rapid 5 Subject Program (Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait) selection icons along the top edge of the LCD data panel.

The camera is compatible with all Minolta's A-mount lenses, which was launched with the introduction of the integrated autofocus (AF) and motorized film advance Maxxum SLR series in 1985. Camera body weight is only 375/385 grams without battery.


Basic Camera Features

The Alpha Sweet is available in both silver and black, both elegant, with the black having the 'professional' look.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Front

The front of the camera body houses the finger grip, with an integrated Grip Sensor, a control dial, and the Shutter button on the slanted top to the left of the lens mount housing, with the Self-timer lamp located between the two. The built-in flash sits on top of the pentaprism. On the right is the Lens-release lock, just above the Focus-mode button. On the vertical of the lens-mount housing are the Exposure-compensation and the Flash-mode buttons.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Top

The top plate is the housing for the operating controls of the camera. On the left, where you would normally find the rewind lever for crank-and wind film cameras, is the program function dial with selections for Customization, ISO, Red-Eye Reduction, PASM modes, Multiple Exposure / Exposure bracketing, and Wireless/Remote Flash control.

The top of the pentaprism carries an accessory shoe and on the right the LCD Data panel which is integrated with Subject Program icons, with the Subject Program button and the Self-timer/Drive mode button beside it. This intuitive control layout provides quick, easy operation for any skill level.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Back

The back of the camera is rather spartan except for the main switch which is right on the edge of the top plate, with the Spot/AE lock button beside it. Towards the middle of the film back is the Spot AF button, the film window to the left, and on the bottom frame, the Manual-rewind button, and the Eye-start button. An eyepiece sensor is integrated within the eyepiece viewfinder housing.

For QD models, the control and display of the data back are on the film back, together with the Spot/AF button.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Bottom

The bottom is all plain except for the battery chamber cover and the tripod socket.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Film box

The film box is a sophisticated array of technology starting the DX sensor film chamber, the vertical blade shutter window, pick up sprocket, and the auto-powered take-up spool. Film loading is a simple drop and close, but make sure that the film lead is lined up with the red mark of the take-up spool area. Film rewind can be customized to retain the film lead from being fully wound back into the canister.


Viewfinder Readout

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Viewfinder Info
The viewfinder, which is slightly smallish, showing only about 90% of the film frame, comes with a vertical information bar located on the left of the screen. The multitude of information shown in the red and green led display unit includes:
  • Focus signals
  • Focus-area indicator
  • Shutter speed display
  • Exposure-compensation indicator
  • Aperture/Exposure-compensation display
  • Spot/AE-lock indicator
  • High-speed sync indicator, and
  • Flash signal.
The 14-segment honeycomb-metering pattern, normally found on higher priced AF SLR models, uses a sophisticated logic technology that continuously adjusts the metering pattern by weighing each segment according to the scene, subject's position in the frame, and the lighting conditions. The eyepiece sensor on the Alpha Sweet can be customized to work on power-up or be activated with the grip-sensor.


LCD Panel Info

Minolta Alpha Sweet, LCD Data Panel
You can move to the more creative aspect of your image capture with the Shutter, Aperture, or fully Manual modes.

These are prior settings which are set by pressing the Function Button located in the middle of the PASM dial on the left of the top plate while selecting the A, S, or M mode by rotating the control dial located under the shutter release button on the front part of the camera body.

In full Manual mode, aperture setting is handled by the control dial, while setting the aperture requires you to press and hold the exposure compensation button located on the left of the lens mount housing while rotating the control dial to select the aperture setting.

All information relevant to the settings on the camera, and image capture vitals are available as part of the Data Panel display.


Program Controls

Much like the controls you find on a beginner level DSLR, the Alpha Sweet has all the trappings of a user-friendly system that comes with:
  • PASM and 5 Subject Program (Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait) modes,
  • a sophisticated 14-segment honeycomb-metering pattern,
  • a three-point Crosscut AF sensor for accurate autofocusing,
  • an eye-start operation,
  • and a rapid subject-program mode selection icon along the top edge of the LCD data panel.

Point-and-Shoot Simplicity

With most of the complications of using a traditional film camera removed, which includes loading and unloading the camera, setting film ISO speed, understanding the elements of exposure settings focusing, shutter and film forward operations, using the Alpha Sweet is down to an almost point-and-shoot simplicity.

The motorized film advance mechanism advances the film automatically advances the film to the correct shooting frame, and dutifully rewinds it back into the film canister once all the images have been exposed.


Shooting Modes

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Shooting Modes
Besides shooting in Programmed automation mode, you will also have access to simple scene mode settings which include Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait settings.

These will vary the aperture/speed setting of the camera to adjust:
  • to a shallower depth of field for portraits, or the greatest of landscapes,
  • the best aperture/speed setting for macros, fastest possible shutter speed for sports,
  • and the largest aperture with longer shutter speed for night portraits, which will also capture some of the background ambiances of the scene.

Battery

The Minolta Alpha Sweet / Maxxum XTSI / Dynax 505si Super requires a pair of 2CR2 Lithium batteries to operate.


Lens Compatibility

Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF lenses

The Alpha Sweet will accept all Minolta's A-mount lenses, which was first released in 1985 with the introduction of Maxxum series SLRs. Generally, all these lenses will also work on Sony Alpha cameras, and the E-mount NEX range, if used with an LA-EA1 or 2 adapters, although there may be restrictions.


Using The Camera

Well, there you go. If you are thinking about going into, or back to, film photography, and if you looking for a superb lightweight autofocus 35mm film SLR with well-advanced capabilities, then the Alpha Sweet may be the one you should consider looking at.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, Front oblique

Compared to other later camera models that do not have PASM functions, and scene modes, or customized functions, and a top shutter speed of 1/4000 second, and with offer prices that low. I am very pleased with the unit that I have and will not be parting with it too soon.



Resource Links:
ImagingPixel
The Exposure Triangle: Understanding How Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO Work Together

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