Camera Reviews, Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Minolta XG 1

Garrett at the bridge

Minolta SLRs and I have not gotten on well. They are unfailingly delightful to use and return great images — when they work. Which, in my experience, is seldom. I’ve owned two X-700 bodies that developed the well-known stuck winder problem. The fix involves soldering new capacitors. I’ve owned two Maxxum 7000 bodies that developed the common failure of the aperture-control magnet, meaning every photo was taken at f/22. There’s a fix but it involves major disassembly and considerable luck. Even the SR-T 101 and 202 I’ve owned had issues, though less catastrophic. The one reliable Minolta SLR body I’ve owned is this one: an XG 1, from the late 1970s.

Minolta XG-1

This was an advanced amateur camera in its day, chock full of electronics to make the photographer’s job a breeze. It’s an aperture-priority camera, too, which is my favorite way to shoot. Mine came with a 45mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X lens, a good lens with interesting characteristics. Here’s one of my favorite shots on this kit, of my son in his room, on Fujicolor 200.

Garrett, down the hall

For this outing I mounted my 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD lens. It came with the first X-700 I owned and I’d shot it just once before that camera bricked. I’ve kept meaning to shoot it again, so onto the XG 1 it went. I loaded a roll of Agfa Vista 200 but shot it at EI 100. It did lovely work. Minolta’s manual-focus lenses are just so good.

Phlox

My sons were together over my birthday weekend and we took a hike through Starkey Nature Park in Zionsville, where we came upon this old railroad bridge.

Bridge

There are some lovely trails inside Starkey. Zionsville really is a lovely place to live, with a charming downtown and amenities like this middle-of-nowhere getaway right in town. The rents are not for the faint of heart, however. Or the taxes. My inner skinflint wants to run right back to much-less-expensive Indianapolis.

Trail

The camera and lens handled nearly perfectly. The shutter button is electronic — placing your finger on it activates the meter, and a light touch fires the shutter. It’s so light that twice I accidentally fired the shutter and wasted a frame.

What is this?

I sure do love my sons. They’re both back in college now. I really miss the years they were still in public school because I got to see them all the time. They’ve got some of the growing-up troubles typical of entering your 20s, but I think that the big picture looks bright for both of them.

Boys

I carried the XG 1 to work a few days. The building going up next door to my office looks like it’s starting to wrap up. It was hard to frame things in the viewfinder — a line of black schmutz obscures the view in there. I’m not sure when that happened; I don’t remember it being that way the last time I used it. I’m sure it wasn’t that way when I got it. The mirror is clean so it’s got to be inside the prism. I wonder how hard it would be to get in there and clean it up.

Construction

There were just a few shots left on the roll when Damion and I made a quick trip to Thorntown. I wanted to tell him the story of the time his mom got me out of a speeding ticket here largely for being young and blonde and beautiful. It was good to share a happy memory of his mom with him, from a time before he was born. I’m not sure we would have had that moment without “taking a photo walk” as an excuse to get out.

Welcome to Thorntown

Here’s a gallery of the photos I’ve shot with this Minolta XG 1. Check it out!

Standing on Thorntown’s mean streets, I extolled the XG 1’s strong reliability to Damion when the meter stopped responding. I was at the end of the roll; could that have been why? Or was it a weak battery? I’d used those two LR44s in several cameras before. When we got home I swapped in fresh batteries and the meter still didn’t respond. I rewound the film, dropped in a fresh roll (Ultrafine Extreme 100, photos to come). The meter came right to life and was strong through the roll.

Even though I’ve already decided to focus on Nikon and Pentax SLRs, I thought I might keep this XG 1 in case I came upon good Minolta Rokkor glass in my travels. But then I inventoried just those Pentaxes and Nikons and counted fifteen bodies. While doing that I came upon my two Olympus OM-1 bodies and the great set of lenses I have for them, all donated to me by the father of one of my closest friends, and knew I could not part with those either. I just don’t have room for Minoltas after all.

Verdict: Goodbye

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

 

Advertisements
Standard

14 thoughts on “Operation Thin the Herd: Minolta XG 1

  1. Completely agree about Minolta lenses Jim, there as good as I’ve used. The manual focus range of Rokkors are gorgeous, and I’ve had a couple of A/AF mount ones too which were arguably even better, the 50/2.8 macro and 35-70 “baby beercan”.

    Ultimately though I gave them up as a brand for much the same reasons as you. I loved the little X-300 but went through three of them in fairly quick succession. I hung on to a beautiful old all manual SR1-s for a while after that, but then slightly preferred my Spotmatic F, which served the same purpose, and of course uses the perhaps even more special Takumar lenses.

    I had an XG-1 like yours but somehow it didn’t feel as well made as the X700/X300 series, so it didn’t stay long. Which is a redundant point in the end!

    Like

    • Even that late 50/1.7 I shot for this roll delivered outstanding results. I put a roll of b/w through the XG 1 with my 50/1.4 recently too, photos to come. That’s another great lens.

      The XG 1 doesn’t feel rock solid like an old SR-T, that’s for sure. But this little guy just keeps working where none of my other Minolta bodies would. I’ve already sold this camera on, with a delightful 45/2 that came with it. I’ve got the two 50s listed on my For Sale page right now. I know there are people out there who love their Minolta gear and I hope these items can go to people such as them.

      Like

  2. This certainly goes against your mission here but…before you make the ultimate decision on Minolta, you really must try the XD/XD-11/XD-7 line. I’m a die hard Nikon/Pentax/Leica guy, but my XD is one of the nicest SLRs I have ever used. Mine had a smudge in the viewfinder that didn’t impact operation at all, but was annoying. So I sent it to Blue Moon Camera & Machine for a CLA. It has been a solid performer and a pleasure to shoot.

    Like

    • I very seriously considered keeping my 50/1.4 Rokkor-X and go looking for an XD. I’ve wanted to try one for years as they have a stellar reputation. I probably will go after one someday.

      Like

  3. TBM3FAN says:

    You are somewhat like my wife. She is a jinx with cars. I can drive one for years and the moment she drives it the wipers don’t work, or the car is making a noise, or the car is vibrating and so forth. You are a jinx with Minoltas. Now I am not quite sure how many Minolta SLRs I have but it has to be close to 35 yet none of the XG series except the XG-M. The only two that don’t work, were two bodies I bought, because they didn’t work so that I could play with them and they were a 101 and XD-11.

    Like

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    I have never had many problems with my Minolta’s and I have a lot off them but I have to agree with BODEGABAYF2 about the XD7 these are really nice cameras.

    Like

  5. Have to agree with you Jim, Minoltas are great to use but reliability is not a great asset especially as thy age. However as seen here, they take great pics!

    Like

  6. analogphotobug says:

    Interesting……I’ve had no problems with the X-700, but I’ve had two XD-11 fail at unfortunate times.. I have an XG-1 that I’d like to give away….. Maybe to my Emulsive Secret Santa.

    Like

  7. Pingback: THE READING ROOM – NEWS & THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED (WEEK 8: 14TH – 20TH SEPT) - Canny Cameras

Share your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.