Despite their best efforts no camera manufacturer ever achieved a long zoom point and shoot film camera that provided exceptional lens performance across the entire frame and good light gathering ability. It really would be asking a lot: compact, light, fast, control of distortion, no vingetting, sharp. Those are a lot of factors to consider. You can not have your cake and eat it too, there is a reason for SLR’s and large fast corrected lenses. Even so this was a pretty good attempt by Minolta to provide a versatile camera with a quality lens. The 38-140mm f3.5-9.4 has 8 elements in 7 groups and shows little vignetting and good consistent image quality at all zoom settings across the entire frame. When set to macro it will focus down to 1.6ft.
It’s now 20 years since this camera first came out and photography has obviously moved on so the question needs to be asked if there is any point to a point and shoot like this. The answer is yes the Minolta Riva Zoom 140EX is one of the best long zoom point and shoots. It’s a large camera for it’s type but the lens is just that little bit faster than it’s competitors.
As each year passes and shooting film becomes more and more of a niche activity certain cameras and their lenses continue to decrease in price. Its for this reason that I am able to build camera kits around a camera or a lens mount for less money than any one of the separate parts once cost. Before I ever considered doing this I had my Minolta X700 which I was very fond of and while using it for the most part I ignored the autofocus camera world. So while I had Minolta lenses none of them would be compatible with this camera with its A-mount and autofocus. Over the last several years though, as I’ve picked up various other cameras mostly fixed lens point and shoots and rangefinders, I’ve added to this Minolta kit. However I had never shot with it until now. While it would be nice to have a few more lenses its certainly enough for most photography.
So the lenses that I have for my A-mount kit are: 28mm f2.8 , 35-70mm f4, 50mm f1.7 , 70-210mm f4 a good general set of lenses two primes and two zooms from 28mm to 210mm.
The Maxxum 5 is a well rounded, if somewhat cheap, SLR with plenty of controls but it’s really all about the lenses. The autofocus system has 7 points that illuminate in the viewfinder it struggles in low light but I’ve found that it is quite accurate. The film used here was Agfa 400 which turned out a little extra grainy possibly because I pushed the number of rolls I developed with that chemistry a little too far.