Every photographer has a sentimental attachment to the first camera they ever owned. The Minolta X-370 isn’t that camera for me, but it is the camera that got me hooked on film photography. Mine was given to me by my grandfather, who was a contractor and used this camera to photograph job sites back in the days before digital. Because it has Aperture Priority mode, it was the perfect camera for me as a beginner who didn’t understand the relationship between exposure, aperture, and film speed.
Aesthetics and feel. The X-370 is a run of the mill consumer-level SLR. It doesn’t feel like a premium product, but that’s okay, as it kept prices low. Plastic and composite materials are used where possible, which keeps the camera fairly light. I’ve noticed many Minolta lenses, particularly the MD series, are pretty light too. With that said neither the camera nor lenses feel cheap.
Reliability. For the most part, my X-370 has operated flawlessly. However there have been a few times where frames have overlapped, leading to partial double exposures, and once where it jammed completely in 6 degree F weather. Recently I’ve been getting one double exposed frame per 36 exposure roll, so haven’t been using it as much. The issues I’ve had with this camera seem to be due to mechanical, rather than electronic failures. The light meter has always been accurate.
Image character. I’ve found that Minolta lenses are a pretty good value for the price. The Rokkor 45mm f2 is one of my favorites because of its compact size. The 28mm f2.8 is relatively inexpensive as well, and is a solid performer and relatively small as well. I recently got the 24mm f2.8 which is extremely sharp, but quite a bit bigger and heavier.
Operation. The X-370 is thoughtfully, if not creatively designed. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. One feature I really like is that the light meter turns on when your finger is on the shutter button, but automatically turns off after a few seconds to conserve battery even if the camera isn’t switched off. The shutter speed dial is somewhat stiff on mine, so it’s difficult to manually change the shutter speeds, but I leave the camera in Aperture Priority (A) mode 95% of the time anyway. For the most part, the light meter is accurate.
While the X-370 lacks some of the features of higher end models like Depth of Field (DOF) preview and exposure compensation, I find I rarely miss them.
Conclusion. The Minolta X-370 is a great consumer-level camera. It does everything it was designed to do well. From a design standpoint, there aren’t really any quirks or caveats – it’s a solid camera. Unfortunately I don’t use it much any more due to the periodic mechanical issues listed above. But the bodies are cheap and they serve as a good entry into the Minolta lens system.