James's Camera Collection: Minolta Maxuum 5000i

Minolta Maxuum 5000i W. Germany 35mm cameras
Minolta Maxxum 5000i
Camera type: Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
Approx. date of manufacture: 1989-1992
Lens Mount: Minolta A
Battery: one 2CR5
Approx. original price: $284.95 (body only)
Approx. street value: Low

Autofocus technology advanced quickly when it was new. Just a couple years after the original Maxxum 7000, Minolta came out with its second-generation; they added an i after the number (supposed to mean intelligence). So there was the Maxxum 7000i at the top, the 3000i at the bottom, and this one in-between. Later they made the 8000i the flagship of the series. The third generation series would end in xi (extreme intelligence). I don't have any of those.

5000is must have sold very well because I see them quite often at the thrift shops and online. I got this one at my QTsi for $1 each because of the day's blue-tag special. They were originally priced at $10 which I thought was more than fair (assuming that they worked).

One of the likely reasons it was so cheap is that the rubberized hand-grip is turning milky-gray from its original black. One of my Maxxum 7000s has the same problem, so I assume this is a common ailment. Here's a discussion on Photo.net (I haven't tried any of these remedies yet).

I'm not going to go into the specs, I'm just going to focus on a feature that I haven't seen before. The camera offers full-auto and full-manual exposure modes, that's it. But you could buy Creative Expansion Cards, each of which offered a special auto-exposure mode, such as "portrait", which was shallow depth of field (so a near subject was isolated by a blurred background); "sports action", which was biased for high-shutter speed and continuous autofocus; "automatic depth control", which biased for deep depth of field; "closeup", which was for close focusing; and "A/S", which offered both aperture-priority and shutter-priority modes. The "A/S" card was exclusive to the 5000i.

Minolta 5000i advertisementMine came with the Depth card. The Museum of Obsolete Media says that "around 26 were eventually produced." I don't know how many, if any, of the later cards were compatible with the 5000i. DPReview has a forum thread on the subject.

Interesting gimmick. In 1989 on-board computers were still very limited, so the idea of having extra modes available by plug-&-play seems like a great idea. In practice, I think it would be very easy to lose those cards if you're out somewhere and swapping them in and out.

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

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