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Film Camera Review, Minolta XD-5 35mm MF SLR Film Camera

Minolta XD-5 35mm MF SLR Film Camera

The junior version of the much-acclaimed Minolta XD 35mm manual focus SLR film camera.

The Minolta XD-5, a 'junior' and a less pricey version of the much-acclaimed professional-quality Minolta XD (XD-7 in the US, XD-11 in Europe), was introduced by Minolta of Japan in 1979, a couple of years after the launch of the XD. The XD-5 has a similar design and build functionally as the XD (XD-7 / XD-11), which incidentally, was developed in conjunction with Leica and the subsequent release of the Leica R4, and later, the R5, R6, and R7 SLR film cameras.

While the mechanical and electronic components of both series, including the electronically-controlled Seiko shutter, are said to be identical, the XD-5 does not come with the aperture readout in the viewfinder, viewfinder blind, and film safe load indicator. Both series, however, come with the choice of a metering system that includes metered-manual, shutter- and aperture-priority exposure modes.

Minolta XD-5, MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

Camera-wise, the Minolta XD-5 is a manual focus auto-exposure 35mm SLR film camera with an electronically controlled vertical-travel metal-plate focal-plane shutter with a (stepless in automatic mode, stepped in manual mode) speed range from 1 second to 1/1000th second, plus 'X' (1/100 sec.), and 'B' and 'O' (1/100 sec.) which can operate without batteries.

Metering on the XD-5 is TTL (Through-the-Lens) center-weighted, and the camera is usable with film speed rated at ISO 12 to 3200, with -2 to +2 exposure compensation in both manual or metered modes. The XD-5 is also fitted with a depth-of-field preview button, an 'X' sync terminal, and a variable 10-second delay self-timer activated by the shutter release button.

Basic Camera Features

Aside from the model name decal, and the missing scale illumination window located to the left on the front ridge of the pentaprism of the XD (XD-7/XD-11), the outward appearance of both models is strikingly similar.

Minolta XD-5, Front

The XD-5 has a straightforward rectangular front with rounded corners, with the lens mount housing slightly off-center to the right, with the self-timer lever located on the lower left of the mount. Aligned vertically on the right of the mount vertical are the depth-of-field preview button, the x-sync terminal, and the lens release button.

Minolta XD-5, Top

On the far left of the top plane is the pull-up film rewind crank/film back release latch, integrated on the same axis with the press-button to rotate the film ISO dial, and the push-in to adjust the exposure compensation lever.

Square on top of the lens mount housing is the pentaprism hump and the accessory hot shoe.

To the right of the pentaprism hump is the integrated shutter release button, surrounded by the shutter speed dial, the 'M' (Manual), 'A' (Aperture), and 'S' (Shutter) meter mode dial selector, and to its right, the film forward crank, and film counter window.

Minolta XD-5, Back

The backplane of the XD-5 has only the viewfinder eyepiece on the back of the top plane, and the film back is fitted with a memo tab holder and the DIN/ASA conversion scale.

Minolta XD-5, Bottom

The bottom plate of the camera is also a simple layout with (from left to right) the winder-pin socket, the film advance release button which is also used to set the camera for multiple exposure shots, the tripod socket, and the battery chamber cover.

Minolta XD-5, Film box

The film box is a standard quick-load system as seen on most SLR film cameras of the era with the standard film canister chamber located on the left, the shutter window, film advance sprocket gear, and the multi-pin take-up spool lining up to the right.

Film Loading and Rewind

Minolta XD-5, Film loading

The film is loaded into the camera by first inserting its canister into the leftmost chamber, pulling the film tab end right across the back, and inserted into one of the inner slots of the take-up spool. The film is wound emulsion side up.

Make sure that the film is properly tensioned across the opening, and that the perforations on the film edge are properly aligned with the sprocket gear before closing the back. Do the standard 2-blank shots after closing the film back to forward the film to frame 1, and you are ready to go.

To rewind, press the film rewind release button located on the bottom plane of the camera, flip the rewind crank out, and crank in the clockwise direction until the film is completely wound back into its canister before taking the canister out and sent for processing.

Viewfinder Readout

Minolta XD-5, Viewfinder Readout

The viewfinder is a Fresnel-field screen with a patterned matt field and a central split-image focusing spot with 94% image display. To the right of the rather plain display screen is a battery of 10 vertical red LEDs with over and under LED indicators, and a blinking upper LED display for flash-ready mode when the camera is fitted with a dedicated flash unit.

In aperture-priority mode, the bar will display the shutter speed scale from 1/1000th to 1 second, while in shutter-priority mode, the bar will display the aperture opening scale which ranges from F32 to F1.4, regardless of the lens you have fitted to the camera. Intermediate setting selection is indicated by a pair of lighted LEDs.

Exposure Modes

Minolta XD-5, Shooting modes

As mentioned earlier, you can use the XD-5 to shoot either in fully manual metered mode or with a choice of either shutter or aperture priority.

Metered Manual - In fully metered manual mode, set the mode switch 'M', select the shutter speed (from '1' to '1000) you want to shoot with, and adjust the lens aperture opening until the LED light that corresponds to the shutter speed setting you set lights up.

Aperture Priority - With the meter mode switch set to 'A', set the lens aperture opening you want to shoot with, and the camera will set the shutter speed automatically as you take the shot.

Shutter Priority - For shutter priority operation, set the meter mode dial to 'S', align the green f-number indicator of the lens aperture ring to the index mark, set the shutter speed you want to shoot with, and the camera will set the lens aperture opening automatically as you take the shot.

Minolta XD-5, MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7

The one mode that you will definitely not get from this camera is a program mode which is more common on later model cameras such as the Minolta X-700 or Canon AE-1 Program... See Anonymous's comment below!

Multiple Exposure Mode

You can enable the multiple exposure mode on the XD-5 by forwarding the film forward crank while pressing the rewind release button simultaneously.

Self-Timer Mode

The 10-second delay self-timer is enabled when the self-timer lever is rotated outward from its rest position as far as it will go and is activated when the shutter-release button is pressed.

Camera Body Weight

The compact and lightweight Minolta XD-5 has a body weight of 525 grams without batteries.

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  1. best of the best optics, with a real profesional body, a silice photo light metering without compromises a accurate quality photo results. One of my best cameras in 80s,

  2. "The one mode that you will definitely not get from this camera is a program mode..." Not quite. This camera, like its older sibling the XD-11, features the "final check metering system." Basically, in either of the priority modes, a moment before the shutter opens the camera takes an immediate meter reading, and if the set shutter or aperture won't result in a proper exposure, the camera adjusts.

    So for example, if I have my lens set at the smallest aperture (f/16 or f/22), and my shutter speed set at 1/125th sec., and the mode dial set to shutter priority, the camera will take a reading as soon as I press the shutter. If the maximum aperture of the lens does not provide a correct exposure, the camera will lengthen the exposure time to 1/60th. If it's overexposed at f/16, it will bump the exposure setting up to 1/250th.

    After the Canon A-1 became popular, Minolta attempted to highlight this with their "Go on Green" campaign. Later versions of the XD-5 and XD-11 had 1/125 painted green on the shutter dial. The idea was you would set the lens to its highest aperature (painted green), the mode to "S" for shutter priority (also painted green), and finally to the newly green 1/125th setting. Voila, you're now in program exposure mode.


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