Last year, I used part of my tax refund to buy a Lomography Diana F+ film camera. I had been enjoying shooting with my Canon EOS Rebel T3 for the past few years and was curious as to whether or not I would be interested in getting into film photography. The Diana F+ provided an inexpensive way to test the water. The experiment worked and things escalated quickly. In the intervening year, I purchased a used Canon EOS Rebel 2000, and this year, with part of my tax refund, I bought a used Minolta XE.
I quickly learned to love shooting with the Canon EOS Rebel 2000 which was in production from April 1999 until September 2002. One of the reasons why I took to the Rebel 2000 so easily is that its operation is very similar to that of the Rebel T3. There wasn’t much of a learning curve, and it features auto-focus and convenient settings like program mode.
Despite my fondness for the Rebel 2000, I was curious about shooting with an older, more manual camera. I have used both the Rebel 2000 and Rebel T3 in manual mode but felt I was up for a learning challenge with a fully manual camera.
I had purchased the Rebel 2000 from FStopCameras via Etsy and had been keeping an eye on their new additions. When they offered a Minolta XE, I did some research and decided to go ahead an order it. Both cameras I bought from FStopCameras were in excellent working condition. They provide a helpful level of detail on their cameras so, after two satisfying experiences with them, I trust their merchandise.
The Minolta XE was in production from 1974 through 1977 and met my requirements for being a more manual camera. It is manual focus and manual settings for aperture (f/1.7 – f/16) and shutter speed (1/1000 – 4). It can be used in aperture priority mode. It came with a fixed 50mm lens.
So far, I have taken one roll (Lomography Color Negative 400) with mixed results. It will take me a few rolls before I figure out how to best use this camera.
I particularly struggled with the manual focus. It has what is called a split-image / microprism focusing spot in the viewfinder which I need to get a better understanding of how to use.
I also struggled a bit to get exposures right as many of the photos came out on the dark side. I try to not do much post-production editing on my film photos since I’m trying to learn how to take better photos without relying on fixing errors after the fact. That’s easier to do with digital photos since there is more visual information to work with. Scans of film photos aren’t as forgiving. Many of the pictures were darker than I expected.
I also found the Minolta to be better at closer distances as some of the farther away images were a bit soft and grainy. Part of it could be the film, but I had better luck with the Lomography Color Negative 400 in my Canon EOS Rebel 2000.
Despite the misfires, some of the pictures turned out OK, especially the last few on the roll.
And, despite the misfires, I’m looking forward to getting back out with the Minolta XE now that I know more of its strengths and limitations.