The Minolta Dynax 700si is a high spec 35mm autofocus camera made for pro or serious amateur photographers by Minolta in about 1993.
These pictures can be viewed full size here.
I bought this camera as part of a job lot of Minolta Dynax cameras, and in fact I originally bought the set because of another camera in the lot. I paid £25 for 7 Dynax bodies, and the particular camera that took my eye was a Dynax 7xi. When I received the package with all the cameras in however, I found there was a 700si which was from the series which followed the 7xi and which was without doubt the best of the bunch.
None of the units has batteries fitted, but when I popped a CR2 into the battery compartment of the 700si it sprang to life, and when I fitted the standard kit lens from my Dynax 5 everything seemed to work perfectly.
Physically the camera seems to be in almost show room condition with hardly a mark anywhere on the body. All the controls seem to work perfectly and even the viewfinder seems to be remarkably free of any dirt of grime.
Minolta Dynax 700si Description
The Dynax 700si is a typical 1990s camera – quite ugly in many ways but incredibly well specified.
The construction is plastic, but it seems to be quite a hard wearing plastic and pretty solid with very little flex. The shape of the grip fits nicely in the hand and the controls fall easily under the thumb and fingers to allow easy control of the various functions. The camera has two control wheels, front and back, which follow the normal pattern of controlling the aperture and/or shutter speed depending on the mode the camera is in. These control wheels are also used for adjusting exposure mode, drive mode etc when combined with one of the numerous function buttons on the camera.
In common with the later Dynax series cameras, the 700 si has an eye start function which turns on the auto focus and metering as soon as the camera is brought up to the eye. This is either an incredibly useful function, or completely annoying, depending on your point of view, but fortunately on the 700si it can be turned off with a switch at the bottom of the back of the camera.
The top plate is dominated by a large multi function display with all the information you would expect to find on a serious camera, although it doesn’t seem to be illuminated, or if it is I couldn’t find the enabling button.
On the side of the camera is a flap which opens to reveal one of the really interesting features of the 700si – the memory card holder. I’ll go into a few more details of that later but just say now that the door of the memory card holder has additional buttons to set drive mode, flash mode, ISO and metering pattern.
Although I haven’t yet put a film through the camera I can tell that the auto focus seems to respond quite quickly, the drive works quickly and the camera seems nice to handle. There are a load of really interesting features but I’m just going to highlight the ones I find most appealing in this initial, descriptive article.
The memory card feature was introduced on the earlier series of Dynax cameras as a way for photographers to add additional functionality to their camera by plugging in cards which carry out a specific purpose. For example, it was possible to buy a card which added Aperture Priority and `Shutter speed Priority auto exposure to cameras which were only supplied with Program mode by default. This meant you could buy a cheaper camera to start with which would be great for snap shots, and then upgrade the camera later by buying the AE data card. Lots of additional cards were sold to add what would now be thought of as ‘scene modes’.
By the time the 700si was introduced, most of the extra functionality was already available in the body of the camera so that idea wasn’t particularly useful on this model, but one of the options was a ‘data memory card’ which allows the camera to record all the metadata about the pictures being taken. This means the aperture, shutter speed, metering mode etc for each frame was recorded as the picture was taken. Although we take that for granted these days with our digital cameras, it was quite a novel idea in 1993.
On the opposite side of the camera to the data display is a memory button which allows a complete range of settings to be stored and recalled with a single button press.
This works by setting the camera up to the setting you want, i.e. Exposure mode, aperture, focus mode, metering etc and then move a lever round to the ‘Enter’ position. The data display shows the word ‘Memory’ to confirm that the settings have been recorded, and then the camera can be reset to any other settings. At anytime the small ‘m’ button in the middle of the memory lever can be pressed to recall the settings and reset the camera back the way you set it.
Again that’s a standard feature on any DSLR or mirror-less camera these days but I can’t immediately think of another of my film cameras which offers this.
The viewfinder in the 700si has a nice set of data visible in the frame at the bottom of the display. There is an LED panel under the viewfinder with the usual display of shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, metering mode etc – all standard stuff. The nice add on is the data superimposed over the viewfinder as a sort of ‘heads up’ display. This takes the form of the focus points if they are changed, the spot-metering circle if spot-metering is selected, and a nice bar chart showing +/- 3 stops of under / over exposure when the camera is switched to manual exposure mode.
As I said above there are numerous other features which make this camera an extremely well specified unit and well worth consideration for anyone who is looking for a good quality 35mm film camera. It doesn’t have the physical appeal of some older models, but going by specs alone it’s a pretty attractive proposition.
I was extremely lucky to find this camera for only a few pounds, but they are generally available for around about the £30 to £50 mark which actually sounds quite a good deal.
Once I’ve put a film through the camera I’ll publish the pictures and then I’ll be able to tell if the camera actually performs as well as the specs suggest.
Minolta Dynax 700si Specifications
- Minolta Dynax 700si 35mm autofocus camera
- Shutter speeds 30sec to 1/8000 sec
- Exposure modes Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program mode
- Program shift available with front and back control dials
- Single button press to return to ‘auto’ mode
- 14 segment matrix metering, centre weighted & spot
- Dedicated spot metering button on back panel
- 4 point autofocus system with focus point selection or auto selection
- Back panel AF button allows auto focus & focus point selection
- Automatic film loading and transport with automatic rewind
- Single shot, multiple shot, multi exposure drive modes
- Exposure compensation of +/- 3 stops
- Bracketed mode +/- 0.5 stop
- TTL flash metering and sync up to 1/200sec
- AF illumination lamp
- In built flash
- Eye start which can be turned on & off
- DX coded film speed plus override
- ISO 6 to 6400 film speed
- Camera settings memory
- Datacard slot for program enhancement + picture metadata recording
- Ser No: 55703437
- Manual available on-line here