The original auto-focus Minolta camera body remains a decent usable camera today. It is was built to last and can be purchased very inexpensively on eBay everyday. The best part of buying them on eBay is that they often come with a lens and even a complete equipment package – that is a little secret to find old Minolta glass without breaking the bank. Often a listing wont even mention the lens but you can see them in the included listing pictures. (shh don’t tell anyone!)
The 7000 was introduced in 1985 and made until 1988 – priced at $700 with the 50mm f1.7 lens. It was the first SLR to have both auto focus and automatic film advance built in. Although it was not technically the first AF SLR as it was pre-dated by the Nikon F3AF, Chinon CE-5 and Pentax ME F, the Minolta system was more practical since it was self-contained in the body of the camera. It was revolutionary and as a result is often given the credit for being “first” and stole the show.
The Minolta 9000 was also introduced the same year and was aimed at the professional market. Besides apparently higher overall quality the main difference is that the 9000 retained some of the more traditional manual controls. It also featured an attachable motor drive rather than the 7000’s built in system. I have never handled one but I am told they are excellent cameras.
The new Maxxum line brought with it and primarily featured a new lens mount, the A-mount, which was not backwards compatible with Minolta’s manual focus lenses. This mount is still with us today in the Sony Alpha cameras, so some of the great, affordable 30-year old Minolta glass can work on your brand new camera.
When browsing lens listing it’s easy to get confused with similar spec manual focus lens so always look for “Maxxum” or “AF” and NOT “MD” “Rokkor” etc.
There are a million of these cameras out there, so wait for a really nice one at a good price.