Unlike the more well-known Minolta XD series from which the Leica R SLRs were based on, the XG series is aimed for budget buyers. Thus, instead of having both aperture priority and shutter priority auto, XG series cameras only offer the former. Although there is still manual override on most models (except the XG-A), the meter does not function in this mode. Moreover, shutters on the XG series are cloth-made and horizontal-traverse which limits the sync-speed to only 1/60 seconds (compared to 1/100 seconds on the XD cameras) and it only works on battery including bulb mode (XD series has mechanical speeds 1/100 seconds and B). Finally, while not critical in the days of fast standard lenses come “standard” on most SLRs, most XG series focusing screens are dimmer than the XD series counterparts.
The XG-1, the focus of this post, is the second camera in the XG series. It is a “simpler” version of the XG-7 released a year ago in 1977. The main difference is the slow speed shutter displays in the viewfinder are all stripped down to a single low-light LED. Nevertheless, the XG-1 still offer adequate functionalities to its intended buyers who would use the camera mostly in aperture priority auto with only occasional need on manual override. Exposure compensation switch with a range of +/-2 EV is placed right beside the shutter dial. Although it seems the “white bar” beside the “A” is a lever that moves, it is actually the “A” that moves and acts as a pointer to the compensation value. The electronic self-timer with LED and “beep” sound is a convenient feature for many occasions and for sure a nice “high-tech” touch in late 1970s (self-timers on the XD series are mechanical).
The standard lens for the XG-1 is a MD Rokkor 45mm f2. Like the earlier MC Rokkors, MD lenses have external meter couplers which work pretty much the same way as an Nikon AI lens. In addition, MD Rokkors add an internal coupler which facilitates the shutter priority auto exposure and viewfinder displays of the XD series cameras. In terms of optical quality, this 45mm f2 is only a relatively average performer (I had only a roll ran through the camera) though it still upholds the reputation of normal lens being fast in speed, good in quality, and economical in price. However, I have to admit its pancake look is very attractive and the slightly wider 45mm focal length suites me more (I loves to use a 28mm on my APS-C DSLR) than the more “standard” 50~55mm. Below are two sample photos taken with Kodak ProFoto XL 100 color negative.
My Minolta XG-1
This camera was given to me from a friend so that I can either donate it to a photo club or use it as a loaner camera for film photography workshops. Personally, I has never been a fan of Minolta cameras (not saying that they are bad). However, it still offers enough features for the new generation to experience what film photography is really like.
Status: Loaner Camera