Minolta Alpha Sweet 35mm AF SLR

Minolta Alpha Sweet 35mm AF Film SLR

Minolta Alpha Sweet 35mm AF SLR

'Film Camera Review - A quick look review at the Minolta Alpha Sweet (Maxxum XTSI,  Dynax 505si Super), a full-function lightweight AE multi-program SLR camera'


Introduction and Overview

Minolta launched the A-mount system and the introduction of the Minolta Alpha 7000 (Maxxum 7000 in the US, and Dynax 7000 AF in Europe), the world's first body-integral AF (autofocus) camera, in 1985, and continued for the next 20 year till 2006 when Konica/Minolta was acquired by Sony.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, View
The range of products was a mix of 35mm SLR cameras designed both for the professional, advanced enthusiasts, and the beginner market of which the Minolta Alpha Sweet (Maxxum XTSI in the US, Dynax 505si Super in Europe), is one of them.

The Minolta Alpha Sweet, a fourth-generation model, was introduced in 1998 as a budget version of the more advanced Minolta Dynax 700si (1993). It is a lightweight 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.

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

This is an HD version of the video originally posted at Gary Friedman's blog: http://friedmanarchives.blogspot.com/2012/02/top-10-best-and-worst-minolta-cameras.html People wanting to know "Where's the list of the worst Minoltas?" can find it on my blog at my April 2012 blog post: http://friedmanarchives.blogspot.com/2012/04/are-kit-lenses-worthless.html (Scroll half-way down.)

The camera, which has a bodyweight of 375/385 grams without battery, is compatible with all Minolta's A-mount lenses.

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.


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 with 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, shows only about 90% of the film frame, comes with a vertical information bar located on the left of the screen. The information displayed in the red and green on the LED display 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, the 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

Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4
I had the chance of using the Minolta Alpha Sweet with both the AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 and an AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7 prime and came away very pleased with images from both sessions. Did a few shots in panorama mode which are equally exciting, as you can see from the images below.

The camera is superlatively easy to use. Just set the selector dial to Programmed Auto, or jiggle your way through the choice of Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, Fully Manual, or any of the Scene Modes and shoot away. Your images are sure to be perfectly focussed and exposed.

Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 01
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 02
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 03
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 04
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 05
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 06
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 35-70mm F4 

Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7 01
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7 02
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7 03
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7 04
Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7 05

Minolta Alpha Sweet, AF Maxxum 50mm F1.7

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.

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.


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