The XG7 with Autowinder G from a Minolta brochure for the camera. When released its design was very modern and stylish, and it still remains an attractive-looking camera today.    

The Minolta XG Series of cameras commenced in 1977 with the launch of the XG7 which coincided with the release of the new XD Series body, the XD11 (XD in Japan, XD7 in Europe and Oceania). The new cameras were designed to provide automatic exposure photography to users at a lower cost than the XD bodies, and as a result they fell between the XD Series and the mechanical SR-T Series that was still in production.

The design of the new XG Series reflected the advances in electronics and miniaturisation being achieved at the time, and boasted a much smaller body than the XE and SR-T cameras that had preceded it. The XG Series proved to be a very successful range for Minolta, with its simplicity of use and compact size proving very popular in the marketplace. Additionally, like the XD Series the cameras would accept an auto winder (in this case the Minolta Auto Winder G) that provided motorised frame advance at up to two frames per second.

The XG Series cameras all used a centre-weighted CdS cell exposure meter as opposed to the new silicon cell meters introduced with the XD series. Accordingly, their effective range and responsiveness was not as great as the XD, but the metering range of EV2-17 at ISO 100 with f/1.4 lens was more than adequate for most users. They are equipped with a horizontal-traverse cloth focal plane shutter providing speeds of 1 second to 1/1000th second, with X-sync at 1/60 and a "Bulb" setting for long exposures.

The XG series cameras are basically designed to be used in aperture priority auto-exposure mode for ease of use. Accordingly, the exposure system is aperture priority auto-exposure with step-less shutter speeds, ±2 EV, with manual shutter speed settings available on most models. An over-range lock engages if a shutter speed higher than 1/1000th second is necessary, to prevent over-exposure.

While manual shutter speed settings are available on most XG Series cameras, the metering display is normally inactive if manual mode is engaged, making use of manual shutter speeds a more difficult process than that available with the XD Series. There are some exceptions to this rule, however most XG cameras are not really designed for manual use.

Other features of the XG Series include:

  • An over-sized mirror which eliminates telephoto cut-off even with the longest lenses (other manufacturers often used smaller mirrors which had a blacked out portion at the top of the frame when telephoto leneses were used).
  • PM type focusing screen, with a horizontal bi-prism surrounded by a micro-prism band for easier focusing.
  • An electronic shutter release with touch-switch shutter button, which means that when the main switch is turned on the LED metering display is activated with a simple touch of your finger on the shutter release.
  • A shutter release socket which accepted both electronic release or traditional cable releases.
  • An electronic self-timer, which counts down ten seconds with the battery check light on the front of the body, plus an audible beep if so equipped.
  • A hot flash shoe with the X terminal to automatically select the 1/60th second X-sync. when a dedicated flash is attached and charged, which will also activate a blinking flash-ready LED in the view-finder. A PC flash sync. terminal was also provided.
  • A film safe-load signal on top above the frame counter.

Often over-looked by Minolta enthusiasts, particularly now as used prices are similar to more capable bodies, the range nevertheless offers capable cameras with as many features as the average photographer needs, and of course they take all Minolta manual focus lenses. Even the lowliest XG-A can produce stunning photographs, and probably would not inhibit most amateurs' shooting styles. In fact the ease of use of the XG Series cameras can make them an excellent camera for less experienced photographers, which goes a long way to explaining their popularity during their lifetime.


The first XG camera was the XG7, released in October 1977. In line with Minolta's practice of naming cameras differently in different markets, the body was called the XG-E in Japan and the XG2 in Europe.

As detailed previously, it had several features which placed it lower than an XD including the cloth shutter, CdS meter and a lesser viewfinder display. Additionally, the viewfinder was less bright, and the camera lacked the XD's Shutter Priority exposure mode. However, having aperture-priority auto exposure, and a smaller, lighter body compared to the mechanical SR-Ts which were also being sold, was a big benefit for the upwardly-mobile photographer of the late-1970s.

The features listed above are reflected in the price of the body. The July 1978 issue of 'Modern Photography' contains a price list from New York camera retailer B&H Photo which records the XG7 (body only) at a price of US$195.90, compared to the XD11 at $289.90 and the SR-T 201 at $139.90. This price of $195.90 in 1978 equates to a value of $552.70 in 2003 dollars, indicating just how expensive the camera was to purchase. With a 50mm f/1.4 lens the price was $289.90, or $817.90 in 2003 dollars.

Interestingly, during the production of the XG7 the body was switched to a removable screen version, although this feature was never advertised, and no alternative screens were offered for the camera.

The XG7 was available in chrome or black-finished bodies.

The XG7 in black was an attractive looking camera.

The manual for the XG-7 can be downloaded here.

To review the brochure and some advertising for the XG7, simply click on the images below.

The Minolta XG-7 (pdf 1.39MB).
Magazine advertisment for the XG7
The Minolta XG1 - A basic, economical auto-exposure camera

Recognising that there was a market for a less expensive auto-exposure camera than the XG7, in 1978 Minolta released the XG1 onto the market. It differs from the XG7 by having a less informative viewfinder, in that when the shutter speed falls between 1/30th second and 1 second, a single led is activated, which indicates 1/2 second to 1/15th second. Additionally, it is missing the rear film memo holder.

As with the XG7, it is quite a capable and lightweight body, and made an excellent camera for a less serious photographer who was interested in auto-exposure, while still retaining the capability for motorised film advance and full manual exposure.

The manual for the XG-1 can be downloaded here.

To review some of the advertising for the Minolta XG1 camera, simply click on the advertising thumbnails below.


The XG-SE was only available for a short period of time, and was essentailly an XG-7, but with the new Acute-Matte™ focusing screen. It was superceded by the XG-9 in 1979.


The very capable XG9. This image shows the camera's depth of field preview button.

In July 1979 Minolta released a new XG Series camera, the XG9 (XG-S in Japan). This camera essentially replaced the XG7 in the marketplace, and was a significant improvement over that body. It incorporated several changes that together worked to make it a much improved camera for the advanced amateur who wanted more features but could not afford the XD11. At the same time the XG-SE was launched, possibly for the European market, and very similar, if not identically specified as the XG9.

So what was changed in the new XG model? First and foremost, the viewfinder was improved. The focus screen was replaced with the Acute-matte screen incorporated into the XD Series, resulting in significantly improved light transmission and focusing ease. Also, the camera now showed the aperture set on the lens through a periscope system, providing a full information viewfinder when set to auto-exposure mode. Unfortunately the metering system still switched off when the camera was set to manual control.

The camera also now came with a user-removeable back to take the new Data Back G, a device that permitted the date or a frame number to be recorded on the film through the use of LEDs. The camera also accepts the later Quartz Data Back G, that records either the time / date (in any of three combinations), code number (up to 999999) or sequential frame numbers of the film.

The other major change was the inclusion of a depth-of-field preview button for the first time in a XG Series camera. This and the other changes mentioned above make the XG9 and its variants very capable cameras. Like most of the XG models, it was available in both chrome and black finish.

The Minolta XG-A - Designed for snapshot shooters, it has little appeal today.

In 1981 Minolta released the XG-A, an auto exposure camera designed for snapshooters who knew little about photography, or had a low budget, but wanted an SLR body. In 1981 most compact cameras did not have zooms with wide focal lengths, and so photographers seeking the flexibility to shoot with a wide range of focal lengths were generally forced to use SLRs. Enter the XG-A, priced affordably and offering full auto-exposure and the capacity to take the full range of Minolta and third-party lenses.

The camera lost the capacity to use manual exposure (except the X and B settings), and simply retained the full auto-exposure option with a +/- 2 stop adjustment feature. It enjoyed the bright Acute-Matte™ focusing screen with the split image and microprism band, and retained the flash-ready signal in the viewfinder together with a display of the selected shutter speed (albeit like the XG-1, the speeds from 1/2 second to 1/15the second showed as a single LED). Naturally it did not have a depth of field preview feature.

The Minolta XG-M. Designed to take the new Motor Drive 1, it also featured new body styling.

The XG-M was released in October 1981 in all areas of the world except Japan. Japan instead got a chrome version of the X-700, which lacked the exposure-lock feature but in all other respects was like the X-700 which went on to dominate the consumer SLR camera market in the early 1980s. Later Japan got the same X-700 as the rest of the world, marketed there as the 'New' X-700. The XG-M had to wait until January 1982 before being released in Japan, where it was called the X-70.

The ‘M’ in the name denotes that this model is capable of mounting the Motor Drive 1, which is not only fast but a great tactile improvement to any camera. This XG introduced the new body style, which was used on most of the models to follow it, including the X-700, and X-570. In fact the style did not change until many years later when the last Minolta manual focus SLR camera, the X-9, had changes to the body to update it to more modern stying. The changes introduced with the XG-M included a different prism cover, a right-hand grip on the front of the body, and the new company logo: Minolta in upper-case with a ‘rising sun’ O.

Additionally, the self timer was moved back to the front of the body, and the main switch is around the shutter-speed dial. Together, all these changes make the camera appear basically like a chrome X-700 without TTL flash capability. However, it still uses a CdS meter, so it's properly in the XG clan, but it's easily the best of them all. Reasons why include the fact that it takes the motor drive, the metering display remains active when the camera is in manual mode, there is an exposure adjustment feature of +/- 2 stops, and there is a depth of field preview button. Additionally, it has a full 1 second to 1/-1000th second shutter speed scale in the view-finder, Acute-Matte™ screen, direct aperture reading periscope, film memo holder, and removeable back.

To read a brochure for the camera, download the pdf by clicking on the image below:

A brochure for the XG-M (pdf 1.28MB)

In October 1980 Minolta released the X-7 into the Japanese market, basically an XG-A, but without the Acute-Matte™ focusing screen and with a beeper that sounded if the shutter speed was below 1/60th second, and the full range of shutter speeds in the viewfinder. It was available in chrome only. Approximately one year later the company released a black model, also in Japan. This featured improvements including the Acute-Matte™ screen and a removeable back, something previously only seen in the more advanced models.

The Minolta XG-1(n) - A new upgraded body style and some other minor improvements.

Released in 1982 as a low-range XG Series model, the (n) stands for ‘new’ and is not actually engraved on the body (though the instruction manual has it on the cover). Much like the previous XG-1, it adds an Acute-Matte™ screen and the new body style, and now has a film memo holder on the back.

The XG-1(n) was an inexpensive camera - 47th Street Photo listed its price as US$139.90 in a 1982 'Modern Photography', compared to $189.90 for an XG-M, $223.90 for an X-700 and $299.90 for an XD11. As a result it was a popular choice amongst photographers on a budget.

To read a brochure for the camera, download the pdf by clicking on the image below:

A brochure for the XG-1(n) (pdf 1.06MB)


The XG Series was an important range of cameras for Minolta, firmly placing them as one of the best value manufacturers in the marketplace. The cameras had features that many photographers wanted, such as an easy to use auto-exposure mode and light weight with compact size. Additionally, they were very affordable. While not as sturdy or full featured as the more expensive models they fulfilled their role admirably.

However, today their attractiveness has waned somewhat for the Minolta manual focus user. With more competent bodies very inexpensive on the used market, the once significant financial savings of the XG series over the X-700 or XD11 are diminished. I would personally recommend that a photographer seeking a good Minolta manual focus camera seek out one of these models instead. However, every XG model can produce amazing images, and they are easy to use and extremely inexpensive now. In fact, many photographers nowadays use an XG camera as a second body, or for hazardous conditions where they would prefer not to risk a better body.

The XG series was superceded by the X-370 and its variants in the early 1980s as the Minolta model for the budget minded consumer, and the last XG model available new (although not the last released) was the XG-A, available for under $100 in 1982, and great value at that price for a new camera.