XD Series Accessories
 
 
 
 
Minolta had a range of accessories to support the XD series, including dedicated flash units, an auto winder, a power grip to supplement flash batteries, and a data back.
 
 
X Series Flash Units
 
 
When the XD bodies were first released they became the first bodies to incorporate an automatic flash sync pin on the flash mount. This pin alerts the camera that an X Series flash is fully charged, and automatically sets the camera to flash sync (1/100 sec) and activates a blinking “flash ready” signal in the viewfinder. Upon release, Minolta had only the Auto Electroflash 200X available, but as time progressed many of the existing non-dedicated flash designs were converted to dedicated models. By mid-way through the life of the XD11 there were four X-series flash units available, being the 320X, 200X, 132X and 118X.
 
     
 
Auto Electroflash 320X
 
 
 
 
The 320X flash, the top of the line flashgun manufactured by Minolta for the XD Series Cameras, demonstrating its capacity for bounce and swivel operation.
 
 
The 320X was the flagship of Minolta’s Auto Electroflash models. Based off the previous 320 (undedicated) it boasted a guide number of 32 in metres, had bounce and swivel capability, and used thyristor circuitry. Thyristor circuitry was a huge advantage for users, as it enabled the capacitor of a flash to only discharge the amount of power required for a flash, rather than it’s whole charge. In practical terms, this resulted in faster recharge times and longer battery life.
 
   
In addition, the 320X incorporated three “auto” settings for automatic flash operation (simply select the F-stop indicated by the flash for perfect exposures) and an adjustable power setting in manual mode from full power down to 1/16th power. This makes the 320X a very handy tool in the home studio, as its power can be adjusted based upon flashmeter readings or calculation to get whatever lighting ratio is desired.
 
         
 
The 320X had an accessory filter set, which included two difusers (for flash coverage down to 24mm), one concentrator (for extra flash range using telephoto lenses), a neutral density filter and 5 coloured filters for creative use. It is noted that because of their identical dimensions, the filter set for the 320X will fit the 360PX, and vice-versa. Price can vary depending on if it is advertised for the 360PX as well as the 320X. However, if advertised correctly this set is likely to sell for over US$50.
   
 
The 320X is a very high featured Auto flash, and if you don't own a camera with TTL flash capabilities (ie. the X-700 or X-500/570) there is no real reason to select the later model 360PX over the 320X. An added bonus is that at approximately US$50-$55 on ebay the 320X normally sells for less than half the price of the 360PX.
 
 
Auto Electroflash 200X
 
 


 
 

The Auto Electroflash 200X.

   
   
   
 
The 200X had a guide number of 20 in metres, and had two automatic exposure settings, plus full manual. The 200X also incorporated thyristor circuitry enabling winder syncronisation and battery saving. Unfortunately the lack of bounce capability limits the capacity of users to obtain flash photos where their subjects don't look like the "deer in the headlights" .
 
   

This shot of the rear of the flash shows its settings, including two auto settings (as opposed to three in the 320X) and a low and high manual setting. The flash is basically the precursor to the 280PX, introduced with the X-Series of accessories.

The Auto Electroflash 200X can normally be purchased on ebay for under US$20. This makes it exceptionally good value for someone seeking a basic flash unit for use with any camera. However, given the low price of the 320X, I would recommend anyone interested in good flash results pay the extra US$30 and invest in quality and features that really make a difference.

 
         
 
Auto Electroflash 132X
 
     
 

 

Based on the previous generation Auto 32 Electroflash the 132X had a high guide number of 32 in metres, and incorporated a bounce (but not swivel) head. The big difference with the 132X is that it lacks the thyristor circuitry that saves the unused charge in the capacitor when the flash is used at less than full power. This means that it is unsuitable for continuous Auto Winder use, and will use batteries faster than the 320X and 200X. However, for infrequent users of flash it would make a very good cost-effective choice giving the advantages of bounce flash for a very low price.

 
 

The 132PX came with a soft leatherette case, and a clip on wide angle adapter that took its standard coverage from 35mm to 28mm (at the cost of one stop of power). Additionally, an optional filter set was available for special effects.

The 132X is regularly found for under US$15 on ebay, and at that price it makes a great buy!

   
 
 
Auto Electroflash 118X
 
 
 
         
 

The most compact of all of the Minolta auto flash units, the 118X had a guide number of 18 in metres, with two auto settings plus manual. It was a basic unit with no bounce or swivel capability, and did not include thyristor circuitry.

 
     
 
 

The switch to select the mode (manual or one of two auto settings) is on the side of the flash, and the rear of the flash has a simple flash calculator for use in all modes.

For a simple flash for emergencies that can be carried in a pocket, the 118x may be a worthwhile addition to your kit, particularly as it will likely cost under US$15 wherever you were to find it.

 
     
 
Power Grip I
 
 
 
 

The Power Grip 1 is an external power pack designed to supplement the batteries of the 320X flash for use in motorised mode, or for faster recycle times in general use. It uses a Nicad battery pack which is no longer available, and like all Nicad systems, has a limited life. Given there is no option for the use of AA batteries (like the later Power Grip II) it is difficult to locate a set still in operational condition. However, the AA battery pack from the Power Grip II does also fit the Power Grip 1, and these are still available as a spare part from Minolta. Additionally, for those of a handy nature, the original NiCad battery pack can be dismantled and new cells installed.

The Power Grip 1 takes the flash off camera, but lacks the bounce and swivel features and shutter release button of the later Power Grip II. However, with a bounce and swivel flash such as the 320X the Power Grip 1 may be a cost effective and compact method of getting your flash off camera.

With thanks to Joerg Tillmann for additional information.

 
 
Auto Winder D
 
 
 
   
The Auto Winder D, showing the battery compartment which takes 4 AA batteries
   
 
The Auto Winder D advances film either singly, or continuously at a rate of up to 2 frames per second, stopping automatically at the end of each cartridge. The auto winder takes 4 “AA” size batteries, and will advance up to 70 rolls from a set of alkaline batteries. The Auto Winder D also has a less well known feature that is very handy for the creative photographer, being the capacity to take motor driven multiple exposure sequences.

As detailed in the XD Page, the XD series bodies incorporate a multiple exposure capability through the disengagement of the film wind sprockets when the film release button on the base of the camera is pressed. Minolta advise that multiple exposure motor driven sequences can be made simply by holding the film release lever on the auto winder in the activated position during the exposure. Upon completion, to return the camera to normal operation, simply cover the lens with a lens cap and then activate the shutter twice. The camera is now cocked and ready for your next exposure. Expect the unit to cost around US$40 on ebay.

 
     
 
Quartz Data Back D
 
 
The Quartz data Back D is designed for the XD series bodies, and when activated, records either the time / date (in any of three combinations), code number (up to 999999) or sequential frame numbers of the film. It is simply attached through replacing the rear door, and is activated by a discrete cable to the PC socket of the camera. While useful for some circumstances (research, recording etc.) the placing of the data on the film frame is less optimal for general photography.
 
     
 
Anglefinder V
 
 
 
   
The Minolta Anglefinder V was introduced at the time of the SRT series and is a great accessory, providing a right-way-up image of the entire viewfinder.
   
 

The Anglefinder V (or the later Vn) should be in any serious Minolta photographer's bag. These accessories are useful for low camera angles and also for copy work or macro work using the Autobellows and macro stand. If you have ever tried setting up your camera on its tripod to look up at something higher than yourself and have had to crawl or bend over double underneath the camera to focus you will really appreciate just how useful these accessories can be.

The later Anglefinder Vn incorporates a 2x magnifier, which makes it preferable to the Anglefinder V for fine focus, but both have an adjustable diopter for convenient use for eyeglass wearers. I would expect to pay about US$40-$50 for one of these on ebay.

 
 
 
 
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