In many ways, the X-700 represents the pinnacle of traditional film photography for Minolta. Introduced in 1981, the X-700 featured full programmed exposure with MD lenses (electronically controlled stepless speeds), TTL flash metering, and user-interchangeable focusing screens (which are still available today). It is the last manual focus only SLR body they produced.
But the reason why the X-700 is on my Cool Cameras list is because it is such a joy to shoot with. The viewfinder is exceptionally bright and gives the feeling of being right there. It's hard to describe until you actually look through it, especially with a fast lens such as the MD 50mm f/1.7.
The film advance lever allows for traditional thumb advance, or you can attach a battery powered winder. The X-700 has two different power-on modes. One is silent and lets you go about your business in peace, but the other provides audible warnings in low light conditions when camera shake may affect your shot. I use both depending on the situation.
According to Wikipedia, "The X-700 was awarded the European 'Camera of the Year' award in 1981, and its competitive pricing resulted in its becoming the most successful Minolta camera since the SRT line."
And I can see why. It's a wonderful blending of old and new. In the hand, it feels like a quality SLR with depth of field preview, exposure lock, and exposure compensation. But the sophisticated electronics inside provide effortless exposures.
And for me, I just like the way the X-700 looks. I think it's very handsome. I like the all black look with white lettering, the leatherette touches on front and back, the memo holder with ISO chart, and the subtle grip for the right hand.
And my favorite way to shoot with it is to put the aperture on the green f/22 setting, exposure dial on the green P, and let the camera do the rest. If I need exposure compensation, it's there on the left side of the top deck. And if I do need to control depth of field, I move the exposure mode dial to the orange A, choose the aperture I want, and can see the corresponding shutter speeds in the viewfinder.
There are still plenty of excellent X-700s in the wild. And lots of great optics to go with it, including the wonderful 45mm f/2 Rokkor MD pancake lens that is razor sharp.
I highly recommend taking this cool camera for a spin.