The X-570 with Autowinder G. The X-570 can also use the Motor Drive 1, which dramatically improves the off-tripod handling of the camera, particularly with longer lenses. I normally use the Autowinder G with the X-570 because I tend to use the X-570 for architectural shots and landscapes, and unlike the Motor Drive 1 the Autowinder G has a centrally located tripod mount.    

The Minolta X-570 was released in April 1983, two years after the X-700 and was sold as a less expensive alternative to that award winning and very popular camera. Sold as the X-500 in Europe and Asia, and the X-570 in the US market, it never gained the popularity of the X-700 and is still under-rated by many.

What is not recognised by many photographers is that the X-570 is actually in many respects a better camera for the advanced amateur than its more expensive elder sibling. The key to the success of the X-700 with the general public is generally recognised as the camera's Program Mode, which enabled even people with no photographic knowledge to take good photographs. It basically turned the camera into the SLR version of a point and shoot - similar to many of the SLRs today. This feature is only infrequently used by more advanced photographers, who prefer the control over depth of field and exposure provided by the Aperture Priority or Metered Manual modes.

The reason that the X-570 is recognised as more superior by advanced users is that in the period between the release of the X-700 and the X-570, Minolta looked at ways to enhance the performance of the camera through changes to the electronics. While the actual changes were small, they made a huge difference to the camera's value to advanced amateurs.

The first of these changes was the introduction of a display of the selected shutter speed in the viewfinder when shooting in manual mode. Unlike previous bodies such as the XD series, the X-700 did not have a display of the actual manually set shutter speed in the viewfinder, meaning that photographers had to move their eye from the viewfinder to confirm the set speed. The X-570 addressed this problem, not with a mechanical shutter speed display like earlier bodies, but instead through simply displaying the selected shutter speed as a blinking LED in the viewfinder, whereas the metered speed was a constant LED. This simple change makes the X-570 an absolute pleasure to use in manual mode, and means that a photographer need never take his eye from the viewfinder.

The viewfinder features in the X-500.
Image Copyright Minolta

The second change made was again a simple matter of electronics. The X-700 is designed so that when a dedicated flash is attached, the camera will only fire at the sync speed of 1/60th of a second. However, sometimes photographers will wish to obtain additional natural light in a low-light scene to enable a more natural image. The X-570 enables a photographer to set a shutter speed slower than the sync speed through the use of the AE lock button. When the flash is on, simply activate the AE Lock and shoot. The camera will use a shutter speed sufficient to provide detail in the background, while still ensuring a nicely exposed foreground through the use of flash.

Other changes include the fact that the X-570 records the correct light meter reading even when using depth of field preview. Unlike the X-700, when the depth of field preview button is activated, the camera automatically disengages the aperture simulator, so the camera disregards the setting on the aperture ring, and simply meters through the lens. This means that the correct shutter speed is shown even when stopped down. The X-700 does not have this feature, and as a result the displayed shutter speed in the viewfinder of the X-700 is not accurate when the depth of field preview is activated.

Additionally, the X-570 displays an 'A' for aperture priority when a PX series flash is connected and switched to TTL mode. When the flash is switched to manual, this symbol is not displayed. Accordingly, a user can tell simply looking through the viewfinder that the flash is TTL compatible and set to that function. While a minor difference, the X-700 lacks this feature.

Given the excellent prices that Minolta gear is available for on the second hand market, this camera makes an excellent choice for an advanced amateur seeking a sturdy and lightweight body at a reasonable price. Although rarer than the ubiquitous X-700, its lower profile generally means that you can generally purchase one for a lot less. In fact I purchased my X-570 for the grand total of US$30!! (although a price of around $80 - $100 on eBay would be more common).

As with all Minolta manual focus cameras it accepts the full range of Minolta non-AF lenses, and as an added bonus it is fully compatible with the 'Minolta Program System' accessories. Refer to the 'Lenses' and 'Accessories' areas of this site for more detail.

Features incorporated into the X-570 include:

  • Electronically controlled stepless shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 4 seconds for aperture priority mode, and 1/1000 to 1 second plus “B” for metered manual mode.
  • Touch-switch meter activation without having to depress the shutter release.
  • Very bright acute-matte viewfinder screen with details of selected aperture, camera mode (“M” or “A”) and camera recommended/selected shutter speed. In manual mode the user set shutter speed is indicated by a blinking LED. Viewfinder shows 95% of film frame area, at a huge 0.9x magnification. A range of interchangeable screens was available (see here).
  • Automatic exposure lock button.
  • Remote shutter release that will accept both electronic and manual shutter releases.
  • Audible slow speed alert when required shutter speed will be 1/30 second or less (can be disabled).
  • Silicon photocell TTL centre weighted meter, measured at full aperture for normal display, then at taking aperture for automatic exposure calculation, with a second meter for measuring off the film during TTL flash operation. Automatic exposure range EV1 to EV18.
  • ISO 12 to 3200 film speed range.
  • Horizontal traverse silk shutter, enabling maximum sync speed of 1/60 sec.
  • Plastic body construction, encased in light metal.
  • Can be used with the Auto Winder G for motor driven sequences of up to 2 frames per second, or with the Motor Drive 1 for exposure sequences at up to an amazing 3.5 frames per second.
  • Depth of field preview button.
  • Plastic shutter blind attached to strap for tripod use (won't mess up your metering).
  • PC connection for studio flash use.
  • Film “safe-load” indicator.
  • Audible and visible self timer (LED). Audible alert can be disengaged.
The X-500 was name given to the X-570 model in Europe and Asia. Normally found as a chrome body, this is one of the rarer black X-500's. Photo courtesy Dag Engebretsen

As detailed previously, the X-570 followed Minolta's traditional pattern of naming cameras differently in different markets, being called the X-500 in Europe and Asia. Interestingly, the X-500 was normally sold as a chrome body, but is available in black (albeit very rare), while the X-570 was only produced in black.

The X-570 is without a doubt the most highly respected of the X Series cameras amongst serious photographers. Even though an X-700 was my very first SLR (and accordingly I had a soft spot for it) I sold it after I purchased my X-570. The TTL metering of the X-700 is duplicated in this body, and with the easy to use full information viefinder it makes shooting on manual a breeze.

I see the X-700 as a camera to give to a new photographer, where the program mode might have some benefit until they learn the basics of exposure, depth of field etc. On the other hand, the X-570 is the right choice for someone who already has a basic knowledge of these things and wants a hard working and intuitive tool to use.

The X-570 drew on the Minolta Program System ('MPS') created for the X-700, and accordingly the accessories available for the camera are numerous. These accessories included items such as dedicated flash units, a motor drive and autowinder, a power grip to supplement flash batteries, a data back, a multi function back and a wireless controller.

Together these facts make the X-570 an undiscovered gem, and an absolute steal at current prices. If you don't own one already, buy one, you surely won't regret it!

Image Copyright Minolta
Thanks to Andrew Duncan for providing the scans from the Minolta brochure included in the above review.