Competition among SLR manufacturers heated up during the 1970s as use of electronics increased and body size decreased. Minolta’s XG series was their way of competing against Olympus’s OM series and Pentax’s M cameras.
I bought one because I had two Minolta X-700s in a row that failed, but I wanted a body lighter than my SR-T 101 to shoot my MD Rokkor lenses.
When Minolta introduced its XG series of SLRs in 1977, it slotted between the near-pro XD series and all-mechanical SR-T series. The 1 in the name doesn’t mean it was the first of the series — that was the XG 7 — but rather that it is the entry level model. Or at least that’s what it became upon its 1979 introduction. In 1982, the camera’s name gained a hyphen (XG-1) and the new “rising sun” Minolta logo.
The XG 1 is meant to be used in aperture-priority mode. Just set the shutter speed dial to A, choose an aperture, and let the XG 1 do the rest. In aperture-priority mode, the cloth shutter is stepless from 1/1000 to 1 sec. A shutter-speed scale appears inside the viewfinder. When you touch the shutter button, red LEDs light next to the shutter speed the camera chooses. When two consecutive lights glow, the shutter speed is somewhere between the two values.
You can use the XG 1 in manual-exposure mode, too, but the camera offers no indicators that let you find the right exposure. If you want to use the light meter, you’ve got to be in aperture-priority mode. By 1979, silicon-cell meters were the hot new thing, but the XG series stuck with center-weighted CdS-cell meters. At least the XG 1 took films in a wide range of speeds, from 25 to 1600 ASA.
By the way, if you’re a fan of Minolta SLRs, have a look at my reviews of the X-700 (here), the SR-T 101 (here), and the SR-T 202 (here). I’ve also reviewed the big Minolta Hi-Matic 7 rangefinder (here) and the weird Minolta 110 Zoom SLR (here). To see all the cameras I’ve reviewed, click here.
I dropped some Fujicolor 200 into it, along with two LR44 button cells (without which the camera won’t function) and off I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The grounds contain extensive and well-maintained gardens. I have no idea what this plant is, but I sure enjoyed all of its purple.
I read up on the 45mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X lens that came with my XG 1, and some pan its bokeh as more crisp than creamy. I see where they’re coming from, but the effect is hardly unacceptable. The background of this shot reminds me of an impressionist painting.
I wanted to see how the XG 1 handled a subject in motion, so I opened the aperture wide to get a fast shutter speed. As the fellow passed me by, he apologized for getting into my shot! I hollered back at him that I meant for him to be in it.
Statues dot the grounds; this is a detail of my favorite one. The XG 1 handled easily. If I have a complaint, it’s that the shutter button triggers with only light pressure. It’s too easy to trip it before you mean to.
But that’s the worst thing I can say about the XG 1. It quickly became an extension of my eyes and hands. You really can’t ask for more from any camera.
This is accurate: it was eight o’clock in the evening.
The museum grounds were once the country estate of Eli Lilly, who founded pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company here in Indianapolis. His home, Oldfields, still stands on the site. I took this shot in a portico at the back of the enormous house.
To see more from this camera, check out my Minolta XG-1 gallery.
I blew through the entire 24-exposure roll in an hour while wandering these grounds. That’s always a sign I was having a great time with a camera. I seldom warm up to a camera so quickly. If you like aperture-priority shooting, you could do worse than a Minolta MG 1.