A junk shop find yields a well-rounded 35-year-old SLR model and some other surprises.
A new junk shop, oops, sorry, “nostalgia shop” had opened along King St in Newtown. Normally I ignore these shops, as they trade in old dishes, furniture, and such, and the occasional cameras you find either aren’t in working order or are ludicrously overpriced.
This shop, however, had a stack of Yashica rangefinders and Polaroid Land cameras out front, which got my attention. After dismissing the rangefinders due to broken cranks and light meters, I spotted a Minolta badge peeking out from behind an old flashgun.
I dug around and pulled out an SLR from the 70’s, an XG-1:
After some careful haggling, I walked away parting with only $45, and with a new addition to my collection: Galatea (named after the Salvador Dali painting Galatea of the Spheres)
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.
After some research, I was able to tell that Galatea was a Minolta XG-1(n), released in 1982, which had the then-new rising sun Minolta logo on the front…
…and a memo holder on the back door.
The camera is nicely heavy, without weighing a ton, and the Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 lens is nice and fast. A nice feature is the Touch Switch (much lauded 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 winks out, saving the battery.
But the camera’s real strength, in my opinion, 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!
I loaded up a roll of AGFA APX Black and White film from the Lomography shop & got started.
First thing I noticed is that Galatea’s focus is punishingly precise. Seen here:
Walking up to the bus stop…
Looking in shop windows…
Trying out some bokeh…
One thing I noticed was that the lens’ Infinity setting seemed rather mushy & unclear. I needn’t have worried, as the far-off shots came back pin-sharp:
Down at the Queen Victoria Building…
“But Lucas!” you say. “You were talking about street shooting!” Indeed I was, and here are some of the results of this fast-firing SLR:
All in all, I’m extremely happy with this bargain SLR and would highly recommend it.
*note: some information sources from Wikipedia & Camerapedia.