Minolta Maxxum 7000 — First 35mm All-Auto SLR

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Minolta Maxxum 7000 (1985)
Minolta Maxxum 7000 (1985)

From time-to-time, PHSNE’s warehouse crew comes across an unusual camera as they sift through donations and prepare for auctions. One recent find was a Minolta Maxxum 7000, destined for Photographica 89, PHSNE’s one-day dealer show, sale, and auction for everything photographic on April 23, 2022—so long as COVID-19 doesn’t interfere.

Introduced 37 years ago in February 1985, the Maxxum 7000 35mm SLR was also known as the 7000 AF in Europe and the α-7000 in Japan. It was the first all-auto (exposure, focus, film advance) 35mm SLR. It featured “both integrated autofocus (AF) and motorized film advance, the standard configuration for later amateur and professional single lens reflex cameras.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minolta_Maxxum_7000

With the focusing drive inside the camera body, along with the AF sensors, the lenses could be smaller and less costly. The aperture and focus were mechanically-driven through the lens mount from the camera body.  However, electronically-controlled buttons on the camera body replaced the mechanical aperture ring on the lens, and the setting was displayed electronically on top of the camera body and in the viewfinder. The metal housing of older Minolta SLR cameras was replaced with a lighter, cheaper body made of plastics. In other respects, the Maxxum offered most of the standard features of other cameras of the day, with the exception of a rather low flash sync speed (1/125 sec.) and no multi-exposure capability.

Minolta ran into trademark and patent issues with the Maxxum. Minolta was forced to change the Maxxum’s logo when Exxon argued the crossed XX logo was similar to theirs. Minolta also ran afoul of Honeywell’s autofocus patents, resulting in a fine of over $125 million. At Google Books read the Pop Photo May, 2006 article by Herbert Keppler, with a photo of the now-vanished Maxxum crossed xx body, along with Keppler’s assessment of Minolta’s troubles in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The new ‘A’ system included a new lens mount that was not compatible with Minolta’s earlier cameras. The ‘A’ system still exists today, updated as new technologies enabled new functions. Sony now owns the α (Alpha) system. Konica and Minolta merged in 2003, and then transferred their assets to Sony in 2006.

(detail) Minolta Maxxum 7000 top left control buttons

(detail) Minolta Maxxum 7000 top left control buttons

A review of the Maxxum 7000 by Kevin Lane writes: “The biggest break from the X-700 (and virtually all other previous SLRs) was how the camera is operated. Instead of the traditional dials, the Maxxum 7000 uses four top placed buttons and two sets of up/down buttons to set the camera. This can be as simple as setting the exposure mode to Program and then shoot away, allowing the camera to choose aperture and shutter speed while it also focuses the lens. In Program mode, the Maxxum 7000 becomes a hefty but highly accurate point-and-shoot.” https://kosmofoto.com/2021/05/minolta-maxxum-7000-review/

Another reviewer, Ken Rockwell, wrote: “The Maxxum 7000 has center-weighted metering, a body-integral AF system, and full digital computer control. The AF motor is in the camera and drives the lens through a screwdriver connection poking out of the lens mount. The MAXXUM 7000 has a life-sensing touch switch: just touch it and the meter wakes up without needing any pressure on the button. Press a little more to turn on and lock AF and press the rest of the way to shoot.” https://www.kenrockwell.com/minolta/maxxum/7000.htm

Let’s hope there’s a buyer out there just waiting for the chance to pick up a Minolta Maxxum 7000.

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May 1 — Philip Pressel & the Hexagon KH-9 Spy Satellite Stereo Camera
June 5 — Vladimir Khazan on the Exakta

To everyone who participated in this year’s Photographica 89 — Thank You!

Get ready for 2023: PHSNE’s 50th year and Photographica 90

Dealers: Contact Show Manager John Dockery

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Coming Up

May 1 – Philip Pressel & the Hexagon KH-9 Spy Satellite Stereo Camera

June 5 – Vladimir Khazan on the Exakta

A Big Thank You

To everyone who participated in the years’ Photographica 89!

Get ready for 2023: PHSNE’s 50th year and Photographica 90

Dealers contact show manager John Dockery through the