Vintage camera collection – Minolta X-300 35mm SLR

This is my review of another camera in my growing 35mm camera collection – this time a Minolta camera, the X-300.

This is a manual focus camera from the early 1990’s from one of the ‘big 5’ camera manufacturers of the time who were Pentax, Nikon, Minolta, Canon and Olympus. I would guess that it’s an entry level camera but it has some nice touches. In the pictures below it looks quite grubby, but this is mostly because the pictures emphasis the dirt – it’s actually not that bad when held in the hand, however I think I’ll give it a good clean!

The body of the camera is fairly lightweight and seems to be made of a silvered plastic rather than metal. It’s quite a minimalist design with only a main switch, iso selection dial and rewind lever on one side of the top plate and shutter release, film advance lever and shutter speed dial on the other side. I think that Minolta were very good at design. I found on my Minolta Dynax 5 that all the controls were easy to get to whilst the camera was at your eye and this camera is the same.

Exposure Modes

The camera has three exposure modes :

  • Aperture priority mode – This is entered by turning the shutter speed dial to ‘Auto’ and setting the aperture to the value you want.
  • Program mode – To go ‘fully auto’ the shutter speed dial is set to ‘Auto’ and the aperture is set to f/22 and then locked in place with a small lever on the lens
  • Manual mode – Set the shutter and aperture to the exposure you want and you are in manual mode

There is no exposure compensation dial but there is an exposure lock switch so it’s possible to use the ‘meter on the area you want, lock the exposure and re-compose’ trick instead.

The exposure information is displayed in the viewfinder as a list of the possible shutter speeds with an led illuminated next to the selected speed. When switched to manual mode these led’s change to show the metered value as a steady led and the set value as a flashing led. By adjusting the speed / aperture combination so the flashing led matched the solid one, you can set the exposure as close to the metered value as you want. The metering works over the range of 12 – 3200 in 1/3 stop steps, which covers every film I’ve ever seen, and is powered by two SR44 cells.

Other features

Other nice touches on this camera are the touch sensitive shutter button, which turns the exposure system on as soon as your finger makes contact with the button, and the electronic self timer which, like modern cameras, flashes to let you know it’s started it’s countdown.

  • 35mm film SLR
  • Minolta SR/MD bayonet mount
  • ISO range 12 to 3200
  • Fully automatic exposure mode
  • Aperture priority mode
  • Manual mode.
  • Touch activated exposure metering
  • AEL lock
  • Electronic self timer
  • Flash hot shoe and sync socket.
  • Split-image rangefinder style focusing aid and micro prism in the viewfinder
  • Power winder accessory available
  • Rapid film advance lever
  • Manual available on-line here

Lens/Camera performance

The lens fitted to this camera is a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 multi-coated unit with a plastic Minolta SR/MD bayonet mount. Although it doesn’t look anything special I’ve used this lens on my Sony Nex 6 with an adapter and it’s a pretty solid performer. I’ve included the shots here as well in the gallery below.

Since the lens is a major part in determining the quality of a picture in 35mm photography (well all photography but with 35mm photography all cameras could have the same film loaded so the lens and exposure system really defined the camera) these pictures are a useful indication of how well the camera would perform.

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7 thoughts on “Vintage camera collection – Minolta X-300 35mm SLR

  1. No Minolta SR/MD lens ever had a plastic mount. Can you show me one? Even in the pic you have here nothing looks plastic in mount area.

    • You could very well be right – at first glance the black material under the silver bayonet fitting looked plastic, but after another examination it probably is metal. I’ll amend the post – thanks

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