Let The Sunshine In: Light Leaks & My Minolta XE-7

The Minolta XE-7 is one of my favorite cameras. When it comes to film cameras, I have a soft spot for Minolta for some reason and the XE-7 sits near the top of the heap. It’s amazingly sturdy and it’s heavy. And that shutter is oh so satisfying to click.

Mine has some brassing on the corners that just adds to the XE-7’s vintage charm. 

It also has deteriorated light seals. They’re dead. Gone.

I’ve known that for some time now. So whenever I decide I’m going to be using the XE-7 I know I need to tape up the back after loading the film.

Yeah, I could replace the seals…but that would just make too much sense.

Besides, I have a few rolls of black electrical type lying around. It has to be good for something. I’ve decided that “something” is taping up the back of my cameras when any one of them begins suffering light leaks.

During a typical New York winter there are plenty of days when I’ve gotten away with not applying any tape to the camera – when there’s not much sun, there’s not much to worry about.

But on a recent sunny day, I left home with my XE-7 essentially naked. Untaped.

I spent the day shooting a roll of Ilford HP5+ and not even thinking about my dead light seals. When I developed the film a couple of days later, I knew there was a problem as soon as I pulled the reel out of the tank.

My immediate reaction to seeing the not-quite-right negatives was an incredulous, “What is THIS?!”

Followed quite immediately by a more subdued, “Oh yeah. I forgot to tape up the camera.”

I scanned the negatives and ended up with 5 shots that I think look pretty cool, so I’m keeping them.

Doing a proper light seal replacement hasn’t made its way onto my Reminders list.

“Buy more black tape” is on there though. I just need to remember to use it.


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