Other Accessories

In addition to all of the accessories specifically developed for the XD and X Series cameras, Minolta and other manufacturers developed many accessories that are very handy for the Minolta manual focus photographer.

This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but simply some of the accessories that I have used and have found to be very useful.

Minolta Flash Meter IV
The Flashmeter IV is a very high specification meter, and has an "analyze" function for flash and ambient calculation which is very useful given the Minolta manual focus cameras I use lack an automatic daylight fill flash function.

At its release in 1988 the Minolta Flash Meter IV was the most advanced exposure meter available for measuring both flash and ambient light sources. A large LCD data panel shows complete exposure information in both analog and digital forms. A built in microcomputer and memory function make it easy to calculate exposure for highlights, shadows, or an average of two areas.

The meter features ambient light sensitivity of EV -2 to EV 19.5, and has measurements in tenths of a stop. It comes with the hemispherical diffuser pictured above, as well as a flat diffuser (for uni-directional measurement) and a reflected light attachment with a 40 degree angle of acceptance. Optional 5 and 10 degree viewfinders were available, enabling the meter to be used as a spot meter for ambient and flash metering.

Personally, I have found the Flashmeter IV a little difficult to master due to its complexity, but once a photographer is used to working with it the range of features available are excellent. It is sturdy and has an excellent reputation for reliability. It is a much better meter than the Minolta Auto Meter IV, and even has more advanced features than the current Auto Meter V. Finally, at around US$200 - $220 on ebay it is exceptional value.

I used it extensively until my recent trip to America when I purchased the new Flashmeter VI for its capacity to incorporate both spot and flashmetering in one unit.

Minolta Auto Spot II Digital
The Minolta Auto Spot II digital - solid construction, and incredibly accurate

The Minolta Auto Spot II Digital is a digital spotmeter that has a 1 degree angle of acceptance and a working range of EV 1 to EV 20. It provides outputs as both EV, or shutter / f stop values. The meter is very easy to use and my example is accurate at all EV levels. This is very impressive given it calculates EV to 1/10th stop. Naturally, when released this meter was the state of the art in spot meters, and was designed for professional use, so accuracy and reliability was paramount.

Given that none of the Minolta manual focus cameras that I use have a built in spot meter, I used the Auto Spot II Digital to help calculate critical exposures, or for black and white photography using the zone system. Now after my purchase of the Flashmeter VI with its built in spotmeter, this meter has gone on to assist another friend with his exposures.

Minolta Flashmeter VI
The Minolta Flash Meter VI - Incredibly compact, high featured and easy to use, it is the state of the art in Flash Meters.

The Minolta Flash Meter VI is Minolta's newest professional meter, and combines a flashmeter with a spotmeter in a single compact integrated unit. Features of the Flash Meter VI include:

  • Ambient readings from minus 2 EV to 19.9 EV
  • Flash readings from f/1.0 to f/128
  • Parallax free optical system for accurate measurement regardless of distance to subject. The spotmeter is a true 1 degree meter with a measuring range of EV 2 to 24.5.
  • A "latitude" function that can display the latitude for your selected film type and help you determine where highlights and shadows will fall, through multiple ambient or spot readings (or a combination of both).
  • "Analyze" feature that determines the ratio of flash to ambient light when in mixed lighting situations.

All together the Flash Meter VI is an excellent choice for a manual minolta user, providing both spot metering capability plus daytime flash evaluation, two features that are missing from the Minolta manual focus SLR range.

Minolta Anglefinder Vn
The Anglefinder Vn is like the American Express Card - Don't leave home without one!
The Anglefinder Vn provides selectable dual magnification (1x or 2X for critical focusing), 360 degree rotation (hence useable in landscape or portrait orientation) and -9 to +3 diopter adjustment. Basically, for anyone who uses their camera below eyepoint it is an indispensable tool. The anglefinder Vn can still be purchased from most online mail order stores (eg. B & H Photo $109.95) and is worth every cent. If you do not have one, then get one - you won't regret it.
Minolta Auto Bellows I with Macro Rail
The Auto Bellows 1 with Macro Rail with a 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor lens. With this combination magnification of up to 3 times can be achieved.
The Auto Bellows 1 attaches to your Minolta camera the same way as a lens, and enables magnification of between 0.7 times and 3.0 times with a standard 50mm lens. The bellows incorporates an automatic diaphragm coupling device that allows focusing and viewing at full aperture, with the lens stopping down at the moment of exposure.
The full Auto Bellows 1 kit with Macro Rail, Macro Stand, Slide Copier and reversing ring
The Macro Rail is an exceptionally useful tool for Macrography, with or without the Auto Bellows 1. I personally use it more with my 100mm f/3.5 MD Macro Rokkor-X. This is because when shooting macro photographs the focusing is actually achieved by moving the camera closer or further away. Accordingly, once I have decided on a suitable magnification level with the focus ring of the macro lens, I can then adjust focus using the macro rail without having to move my tripod.
NPC Pro Back II Polaroid Back
The NPC Pro Back II on my XD7.

The NPC Proback II instant film backs use a free-floating fibre optic lens to transfer the image from the camera film plane to the Polaroid film plane without any degradation of the image. Because the fiber optic bundle is in complete contact with the Polaroid film, the image is transferred with absolute sharpness and fidelity. There is no light loss and no color shift.

The Proback II lets you make two independent contact size images on each sheet of Polaroid film simply by pulling the white film tab to a predetermined position before taking the second picture. Instantly, you can do a side-by-side comparison to evaluate varying composition, subtle lighting changes, or results produced by lenses of different focal lengths.

Manufactured with the highest quality materials, the light seal mechanism is composed of stainless steel and beryllium copper. All other interface components are black anodized aluminum and stainless steel.

The shot above demonstrates how exposure can be checked side-by-side on the polaroid sheet prior to starting the shoot.

The NPC Polaroid backs are prohibitively expensive new (US$925 for the back for a XD11) but are much less expensive second hand. As more professional photographers switch to digital, polaroid backs are becoming readily available, however naturally more for the Canon and Nikon systems. My back was actually for a Leica R4-R7, however given the fact that the R4 and XD11 have identical backs it fit perfectly on to my camera.

If you need immediate feedback on exposure then this is the way to get it, however at the price of the back (US$200 - $300) and the film (US$1 per frame) it is only for the very keen.

Other Accessories
Other accessories I use not specifically detailed above include the following:
Manfrotto 055 PRO B Tripod with 460MG Magnesium Head
Manfrotto 680 B Monopod with 234 RC Head
Lowepro Omni Trekker
Lowepro Orion Trekker Backpack
Lowepro Street & Field Film Organiser AW
Lowepro Orion Trekker Beltpack
Altrex TTL Hotshoe Sync Cable for X-700
Cokin "P" Series Graduated Filters and Polarisers

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Image Copyright Minolta 1990