Minolta XG1

Posted: December 7, 2014 in film, PHOTOGRAPHY, XG1

One film camera that I always wanted to collect was the Minolta’s. In my eyes they are super cool and a basic old school film camera, such a Minolta XG1, circa 1979, was a must have. 

“Minolta Co., Ltd. was a Japanese worldwide manufacturer of cameras, camera accessories, photocopiers, fax machines, and laser printers. Minolta was founded in Osaka, Japan, in 1928 as Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shōten (日独写真機商店?, meaning Japanese-German camera shop). It is perhaps best known for making the first integrated autofocus 35mm SLR camera system. In 1931, the company adopted its current name, an acronym for “Mechanism, Instruments, Optics, and Lenses by Tashima.”

It was not until 1933 that the brand name appeared on a camera, a copy of the Plaubel Makina simply called “Minolta.” In 2003, Konica Corporation merged with Minolta to form Konica Minolta.

On January 19, 2006, Konica Minolta announced that it was leaving the camera and photo business and that it would sell a portion of its SLR camera business to Sony as part of its move to pull completely out of the business of selling cameras and photographic film.”

 From Wikipedia

This little gem came from ebay and cost me 20 USD.  The camera takes 35 mm film (the common film you can buy at any drug store/supermarket) and is a SLR (single lens reflex, meaning what you see through the viewfinder is exactly what will show up in the photo).  I use a 50 mm 1:2 lens.  This means the frame is about what the human eye sees and the aperture (1:2) can be set to show a good depth of field and work well in low-light situations.  I can swap out the lens for another lens to get different effects (zoom, wide angle, etc).  A flash unit can be easily attached on top.

The Minolta XG-1 was initially released as the more consumer-friendly model compared to the more professional-aimed XD series in 1977. The XG-1 had automatic electronic metering and electronically-controlled shutter speeds from 1s to 1/1000s. 

The camera is solid, without weighing a ton, and the Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 lens is nice and fast. A nice feature is the Touch Switch (much launched in the 70’s), where the moment your finger rests on the shutter button, the electronics inside the viewfinder light up and give a reading. This display lasts for about 15 seconds, then fades out, saving the battery.

But the camera’s real strength,  is in the semi-automatic shooting modes, marked with an A on the shutter speed dial. There are 5 modes: Automatic metering, +1, +2, -1, and -2. Within these automatic modes, all you need to do is set the aperture, and focus, and you’ll get great photos.

What it means for street shooting is that you can set the aperture fairly low, say 2.8 or 5.6, and then just fast focus & shoot!

Minolta no longer makes cameras, but a Minolta XG can be purchased from eBay at very reasonable prices, between $30 and $85, including a lens and other accessories.  Compared to the cost of equal-quality digital cameras, that is a steal.  
As a result, I’m extremely happy with this bargain SLR and would highly recommend it. After I scan some of the results of its testing I will share them with you.

 

Product Description

Same as the XG-9 except: no removable back, aperture info not visible in VF, and limited shutter speed range shown in VF. 1982 modification added Acute matte focusing screen and film memo slot. Also available as XG-SE Special Edition verision. FEATURES INCLUDE: Manual and aperture priority AE metering, center weighted, LED read out for shutter speed scale in VF. Dedicated hot shoe and PC sync terminal. Shutter speed range 1 sec to 1/1000 plus B, (stepless in AE mode), flash sync at 1/60. ASA range 25-1600. Self timer Optional ACCESSORIES: Auto Winder G (2 fps). Recommended flash: 320X, 200X, 132X, 118X, X-series. Optional remote cord S or L.

  • Type: 35mm SLR
  • Exposure-Control Modes: Aperture Priority
  • Lens Mount: Minolta MC or MD
  • Focusing: Manual
  • Shutter: 1/1000th to 1 seconds + Bulb, with sync at 1/60th second
  • Metering: Centerweighted CDS, EV 1 to 18
  • Film-speed Range: ASA 25-1600
  • Mirror: No Mirror Lock-up
  • Flash: Hot shoe, PC cable connection for X sync flash
  • Film Advance: Manual
  • Self Timer: 10 second delay
  • Power: 1-3volt DL 13/N Lithium battery or two “76” silver-oxide button cells
  • Dimensions: 5.4 x 3.5 x 1.95″
  • Weight: 1 lb 8.2 oz

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