I got this body in a second hand shop in Japan. I was looking for a Minolta auto focus lens as I seemed to have given all mine away. I thought I might as well look for a cheap body that I hadn’t tried before to keep the lens safe. That turned out to be quite tricky as Minolta cameras are the most common ones to be found in junk shops in Japan. Not because they are bad, but because there are just a lot of them around. Well, I eventually found this one. The body was about $3 which was cheaper than an actual lens cover. It even had a working battery in it already. Bargain! But gosh it was heavy when combined with the lens I found, a Tamron 28-200mm. I wanted a 50mm, but I could only find zoom lenses in the junk section.
In fact, I was so worried about the weight and excess baggage on this trip that I tried the camera straight away to make sure it worked. I didn’t want to bother packing a body that didn’t work. I carried this camera as hand luggage around my neck, but I still had too much luggage and was charged $110 yikes.
The 8700i was produced from around 1990 and was one of their top models. It has the card slot for different programs, but I didn’t have any card. You can find more technical details here. There you will see that the top shutter speed is 1/8000th, wow. Remember this camera is 30 years old and not their top professional model. That is impressive. I have the Nikon F90x which also goes that high, so maybe I will have to compare them.
I used this camera on a day out in Yokohama, visiting my friend and her little boy. Here are the test shots.
I found the camera fairly quiet. So quiet that I told my friend I thought it wasn’t working, but I would finish the film anyway to be sure. The lens was very responsive to touch, quick to focus. I took a couple of shots on a train station platform to try out the zoom on the lens. It captured the boy at top zoom on his bike, though admittedly he wasn’t exactly mr speedy. But the quick focusing at that distance was impressive. The exposure choices are spot on, even in bright sun and shade. There was also a multi exposure feature which I had a play with. What a cracking not so little camera. I think I prefer the Nikon F90x, but this one was much cheaper and a great alternative. I think I might keep this…for a lens cover..plus I absolutely don’t care about it so it will be great to take places it might get damaged. I might not even remove the stickers for posterity.
I wouldn’t say this was an accidental buy, but a curiosity based one. I bought two lenses for a Canon camera body I had, both the lenses said Canon and I didn’t look beyond that. They were clean and that was my main concern. It turned out one of the lenses didn’t fit. So now here I was with a lens and no idea which make it belonged to. Of course, I have a few camera bodies lying around and I tried it on all of them, but it didn’t fit any of them. So my last resort was looking through photos of the lens online and checking the mounts similarities. After a bit of looking, I decided it looked like a Minolta. The next time I went wombling I looked for a clean Minolta body and found the alpha sweet from 1999. And just like the glass slipper, it fit.
It was wrapped in plastic so I didn’t get a chance to look in the viewfinder. If I had I might have changed my mind about getting it, there was a serious yellow stain.
That is focused on a white wall. I read on a few forums that it was probably the adhesive used for the pentaprism. As it was not on the lens I figured it probably would not affect the photos. Some forums said to leave the camera in the sun and the UV ray would probably reduce the staining. I might try that…when there is some sun.
It felt light to hold, perfectly fitted my tiny hands, very easy to use, all the settings you might need, just the yellow stain. I wasn’t too worried. If you want more technical details, look here.
This is an entry-level SLR and it is perfectly fine if you are getting into film photography. It does the job, it doesn’t wow.
Here are my test shots…no yellowing 🙂
You can see I tried out the multi-exposure function for fun. I said I would keep the Pentax MZ-30 due it having this function, but the battery lid on that camera was weak. Apart from the yellow issue, this camera is in a much better condition so I think I will keep this one and get rid of the other.
I was unsure whether to buy this junk bin camera given the obvious damage to the side. It was also covered in stickers with a variety of prices. The lowest was $3 and that is what I paid for it. The lens was a bit more, but it looked in better condition though still was covered in masses of price stickers. I hate that. It took ages to clean them all off before I could even begin to think about whether they worked.
This camera is was originally produced in 1991. You can get some more technical data here. When I walked around with it I noticed that when it was turned on and next to my body, it was trying to focus on stuff. It turns out the two bars on the front of the camera operate the auto eye focusing system. If you cover the dot on the right of the eyepiece, preferably with your eye, and hold the camera covering these two bars with your hand, the camera will automatically focus on the subject. You do not need to press the shutter. You can press the shutter half way to achieve the same results, so it is a bit fancy and superfluous. Pressing the shutter halfway also locks the automatic focusing. The button on the back saying ASZ is for an automatic zoom system, but it only works with certain lenses. I did not have that lens, so have no idea if it would be useful.
I loaded the camera with fresh Fuji 100 film and went for a walk along the Tachikawa river. I find it funny to write that as ‘kawa’ means river, so really I am writing Tachi river river. Anyway, I made a map of the walk. which you can find on my other blog here. This was walk 7 and here are the test shots.
Wow, not bad for $3, every shot is perfectly exposed. The walk was lovely too. The last place is a sake brewery. I bought 3 bottles and had to carry them for the rest of my journey, stupid thing to do given I was also carrying 3 cameras. I was supposed to go to a firefly festival, but with the heat, the walk, and the weight of my bag I decided to give up and go home. BUT, the camera was great. It worked perfectly and was easy to use. It didn’t have many functions, so not much better than a point and shoot. The olympus mju would have served just as well, but not have been as much fun to use. I also tried a very similar camera here, I gave that camera to a friend and always kind of regretted it. Anyway, it seems Minolta do indeed make great cheap SLRs.
Keep or sell: Given the damage to the body I think I will give this one away. Plus along the walk, I saw many cyclists and realised I really missed my bike. I might finish the cameras testing the cameras I have then return to cycling. I think I have about 10 in various places.