The Minolta XK | XM SLR
Basic Camera Operations: Part II

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XK Motor Satosh Oka.jpg (18k) Loading...
Back view of a XK Motor. In many ways, I thought it was a great piece of imaging tool - both from the perspective of a collector and photographer. It reminds me so much about the Nikon F3/MD-4 combination which both set ups have so much in common of which the very well received Nikon body only appeared in the market place sometime in 1980.

So, you can say the XK was indeed ahead of its competition. But what has gone wrong ? May be it was a little untimely, as market is still dominated by hard core battery independent users. But whatever, it remains as a master piece in the course of history with the development of SLR cameras .

Credit: The XK | XM Motor Back view, courtesy of Satosh Oka.

IMPORTANT: Should viewing become impossible because the mirror of your XK remains up after the shutter is released, DON'T PANIC ! it does NOT mean that the camera needs repair. Just as any of the modern autofocus camera, the XK needs battery power to function (With the luxury of a few mechanical back up speed that still allow you to take pictures). The automatic electronic features of the model cause this to happen if you release the shutter:

1) When battery voltage is insufficient at an electronic setting or;
2) When current is off on automatic mode or when no finder is installed. To restore viewing and usual function, install a new set of battery(ies) and all camera function should restore.

I would just like to make a couple of observations:

It might be worth making the point that there were two different AE finders available for the camera :- the 'Auto Electro' and the 'AE-S'. The Auto Electro was of course the first version and had CDS cells, while the AE-S was later and had a Silicon sensor. Interestingly, my XM manual indicates that both finders were available at the same time. The AE-S was though rather more expensive, and I think it was about the same cost as a bare XM body. Though both these finders are actually rather more complex than a 'simple' camera body. For in addition to all the optics, AE metering, and 'various bits of string' they also contained a complete set of shutter timing electronics as well. (Yes an XM with an auto finder contained two complete sets of shutter electronics.) So it is probable that CDS finders remained standard fit on the manual bodies, while the Silicon finders were supplied with the motor because of their much faster responses.

The AE-S finder might actually also be the very first 'implementation of silicon sensors in 35mm photography (or any other type of photography for that matter). The AE-S finder was though 'only' centre weighted (as opposed to Minolta's established 'CLC' system), but was much more sensitive. It is also far nicer to look through with all those LED's and the two switchable scales...

The other point is to do with the shutter. Sometimes when you have a flat battery, or are not pressing the 'senswitch', or have not turned the camera on etc - if you fire the shutter, the mirror can remain locked in the up position.

Normally when you press the shutter release, all sorts of things happen:

Something like this:

1 - Mirror flips up, 1st blind released, shutter timing electronics started, 2 - After 'the proper time' the electronics release the 2nd blind which follows the 1st blind across the focal plain.
3 - When the 2nd blind hits its break, this 'impact' causes it to release a couple of fairly powerful springs that 're-charge' the mirror, causing it to flip back down. (When the mirror is down it is actually under some tension - so that it can flip up rapidly)

When there is a problem - like flat batteries etc - the shutter firing sequence may not be quite correct and 2nd blind may not trip those mirror 're-charge' springs.

Now despite what the manual says, you might sometime be confronted by a relatively dead camera with a locked up mirror. I don.t recall where I first found this out, it might have been while talking to one of their service people, but you can actually re-set a locked up mirror without taking the camera apart. If you open the battery hatch and look carefully around the inside rim of the hatch, near where the 'C' is engraved you will find a little lever. If you push this towards the rear of the camera, this should trip the mirror back down.

Gino Mancini <>

Battery and Power

Open cover.jpg (5k)
Two 1.5-volt silver-oxide batteries, Mallory MS-76 or Eveready S-76 or equivalent, supply the power for controlling electronic shutter speeds and for meter and electronic exposure control when applicable.
* Relative article on mechanical and electronic cameras:

Installing Batteries

1. Using a coin or similar object, turn the battery chamber cover until the dot on it is aligned with "O" on the camera base plate and remove the cover.

2. Handling them only by the edges, insert two of the specified batteries plus (+) side ou into the sleeve on the inside of the cover. If batteries are inserted improperly, they will not make contact, and no current will flow
3. Replace the cover and return the dot to "C" position.

Minolta XK top view Credit: Image(s) courtesy of Brian Balogh® from
Brian's Camera Shop (formerly Fotoworks) 674 Elgin Street Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 3B4 Canada (905)868-8256-phoneImage copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Something relates to battery issues (Boring, it may sound but you still have to digest...):

Similar with the XD-7, the XK is an electronic camera, you have to install battery to power its main functions like the metering, electronically control and timed shutter. This applies on all the later electronic camera models regardless of brands made.

The XK can be considered as a front runner of AE automation. Early days of auto cameras need to "convince" hard-core mechanical SLR users to think automatic cameras are very reliable and dependable. That means during the stage of designing a 'new' model, a lot of emphasize are concentrating around power efficiency issue. Those days, most MF camera bodies need only tiny button cell(s) to power either its metering in the case of mechanical bodies or its electronically timed shutter and metering circuitry for about a year (Depends on usage). A popular feature on electronic model is usually supplied with a mechanical back up lever feature plus the "B" setting - just in case the all important cells fail to function normally or depleted halfway during a photo session.

The battery compartment is located on the camera base, just next to the tripod socket. You can simply remove the battery clip by inserting a coin into the slotted battery chamber lid and turning it in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure the battery contacts are clean.
As most problems arise from electronic cameras are battery related. Sometimes, even an invisible film can prevent proper contact like your sebum or oily finger tips. Generally, as for normal guideline in camera care, never hold any cells in the center, only at the side.

You may use either a clean cloth to clean off a light layer of oxidation, and a pencil eraser will remove heavier deposits that may deposited at the cells' polarity marks front and back or the contact point (battery clip) inside the camera battery compartment. After correct installation, insert the holder back into the battery chamber using a coin to screw it securely into place and your camera will be ready to function. If it doesn't, open and check the polarity marks on the cells.

You may think this is a joke to tell you all these simple basic steps in handling the battery(ies). But over the years, I did came across many instances where the corrosive or bad contacts inside battery chamber was the main culprit which cause the camera fails to function normally. This applies to many other cameras, resulting generally in failed metering for the mechanical or any full blown AE bodies. Thus, in any case, IF you happen to lay off your camera for a extended period of time unattended, it is always a good practice to remove the cells inside the camera.

Testing Batteries

Depress the battery checker lever toward the bottom of the camera. If the red lamp lights, batteries are serviceable. Test batteries immediately after installing them.
If the lamp does not light, make sure that they have been inserted correctly.

Batteries should be tested from time to time thereafter, particularly before starting picture taking sessions or trips. A set of batteries will usually last for about one year.

Switching Power On and Off

One of the most amazing feature can be found in the XK is the innovative sensor switch. It reminds me of the eye-start autofocus feature found in the modern Dynax range of cameras.

With the Auto Electro Finder, power for metering and electronic exposure control will be on whenever the Auto Senswitch is being touched and off when it is not, provided the finder power switch is in the "OFF" position. Turning the finder power switch to the "ON" position, however, will override the Auto Senswitch and keep power on even though it is not being touched.

Note: (The finder power switch should be used for unmanned auto exposure, tripod shooting, or when the camera is not held as normal. Some may wish to keep it on whenever they are using the camera.)

Caution: To avoid possible/e excessive battery drain from the exposure warning signal, however, make sure the finder power switch is turned off when the camera is not in use. However, with non-metering finders (There are another three finders: Plain, High Magnification and Waist level finder), it is unnecessary to turn power on and off. The camera will use power only when the electronic shutter is released.

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Basic Camera Operations XK/XM/X-1: 5 Parts
Specification for XK/XM/X-1:
Main Reference Map for XK/XM/X-1:
HTML | PDF (250k)
Additional info on
XK | XM Motor - by Satosh Oka
More images on XK Motor By : Stephen Schwartz (New)
XK USA fold-out Product brochure in HTML files
and a huge
PDF (1.3MB) copy. Contributed by : Mark Wasmer

Some fabulous views of the Internal Structures that made up of a Minolta XM by Gino Mancini (New);Three great images of a Minolta XM/XM Motor scanned by Hervé Prigent of France (New)

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Credit: Satosh Oka for his superp imagery of the XK Motor and XD-7; ® Stephen Schwartz, for his images of the XK Motor appearing in this site. Mark Wasmer, for his collection of the original marketing brochure. Oleg Volk, who has given me some help; Dick Sullivan whom I had used some references in his site; Hervé Prigent <>of France for his great scanned images from brochure of Minolta XM/XM Motor; Gino Mancini <> for his images of the internal structure of the XM; CYLeow ® , photo editor of the Star newspaper, Malaysia, Mr Poon from Poon photo for their input on Minolta older SLR bodies. Minolta, XD-7, XK, XM, X1, Rokkor, MC lenses are either registered tradenames or trade mark of Milnolta Optical Co. Ltd, Japan. A site dedicted to all Minolta fans worldwide. Made with an Imac.