Rummaging through my ever expanding camera collection, I came across the Minolta XG-1 and felt a pang of guilt: I'd had this thing for years, but never used it. High time to go shopping for a fresh battery and take the Minolta out for a walk!
Years ago, when I still got up at six to visit the Queens Day flea market (the early bird catches the worm when it comes to Queens Day in Amsterdam…), I once came home with about three SLR’s. The whole of Amsterdam had just switched to digital, apparently, and they were selling their analogue cameras for next to nothing. One of those was the Minolta XG-1. It soon became clear the battery was flat. Me being a lazy slob, that battery then stayed flat for the next few years, and the Minolta gathered dust in a corner. Until I made some new year’s resolutions earlier this year, and decided: That Minolta has to be brought back to life. The discount shop had some cheap batteries, and as the saying goes: It’s Alive! (Muhahaha!)
The first possibility to try it out presented itself straight away, on January 2, when I want to play outside with some friends: walking around a misty German forest for 4 days. Combined with some fast film (Fuji Superia 1600, to be precise), it turned out to be the perfect testing grounds for the XG-1.
Let’s start with some techno babble: the Minolta XG-1 is a SLR from the early 1980’s, with both an automatic setting, as well as fully manual settings. It’s got a handy light meter built in that, when on automatic, shows the shutter time for a chosen aperture in the viewfinder by means of led lights. Very useful when there’s not too much light available (like in a dark forest in January). Shutter times range from 1 second tot 1/1000s. It’s got the usual features, like a B-setting, hot shoe and self timer.
It’s easy to use. The shutter button is sensitive, but not too sensitive, and a on/off button prevents pictures of the inside of your bag (trust me, I have several of those…). Combined with 1600 iso film it produces some excellent pictures. Compare them to some Diana Mini pics I took during the same trip: I bet you can tell straight away which are the Minolta pics.
The XG-1 performed well indoors, too. The shutter is sensitive enough to get sharp hand-held pictures. And there’s always a sturdy beer glass to serve as a tripod…
The MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.7 lens that came with the XG-1 is a fine all-rounder. Landscapes, portraits, close-ups, it can do it all. Professional photographers mat look down on the automatic setting of a camera, but in difficult light, it’s pretty convenient it you can trust your camera to choose the right exposure time. And if you do want full control, it’s only a small turn on the knob of this camera.
All in all, the Minolta XG-1 was a pleasant surprise for me. I’ll definitely take it on holiday again!