Jump to content


Photo

Is the Minolta XL 401 worth buying to learn on?


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 steve dewar

steve dewar

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • UK

Posted 17 October 2009 - 03:59 PM

Hi All,

Im a complete novice with Super 8 although with some shooting experience in video, Im reading and learning and now looking for a simple film camera to get started and test some film stocks against various lighting scenarios.
I know its not the best, running at only 18frames and failing to properly recognise Ektachrome 64T but would the Minolta XL 401 do to gets started? Is the Lens any good? I know what the better camers are, but im not sure if Ill really need one in the begiining, with the cost of film and telecine so hi here in the UK, that would be something for the future.
Many Thanks

Edited by steve dewar, 17 October 2009 - 04:00 PM.

  • 0

#2 Lavern Templeton

Lavern Templeton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
  • Student

Posted 19 October 2009 - 01:10 AM

Hi All,

Im a complete novice with Super 8 although with some shooting experience in video, Im reading and learning and now looking for a simple film camera to get started and test some film stocks against various lighting scenarios.
I know its not the best, running at only 18frames and failing to properly recognise Ektachrome 64T but would the Minolta XL 401 do to gets started? Is the Lens any good? I know what the better camers are, but im not sure if Ill really need one in the begiining, with the cost of film and telecine so hi here in the UK, that would be something for the future.
Many Thanks



Hi, Steve,
I learned on an XL-401 and it is quite nice if you are just beginning. It has single frame shooting for animation and options for automatic timed frame rates, though none exceed 18fps. If you want to shoot some reversal like tri-x or plus-x the camera reads those well and with nice lighting can give great results. Really what you must ask yourself is "Are features such as 24fps, changeable lens, and 64T absolutely necessary?" Or do you just want to get acquainted with film?
Overall, solid camera despite it's (few) flaws.

LT

P.S if you override the light reading on the camera and underexposed by 2/3 of a stop I hear this solves the 64T problem.
  • 0

#3 Steve Phipps

Steve Phipps
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 59 posts
  • Other

Posted 19 October 2009 - 01:13 AM

Hi steve,

I have never used that camera, so I can’t comment about the quality of the lens and its sharpness, but if I read the camera’s feature-list correctly, the Minolta XL 401 seems quite good.

Here is what I think are its desirable features:
  • Auto and manual exposure. Manual exposure is a huge positive. If the camera doesn’t correctly read the 64T notch, then you can just make a manual adjustment. If you find the internal meter is broken or inaccurate, you can just manually meter. Huge, huge positive.
  • Runs on AA-batteries only. This is another huge positive. I know that many people report fine results using the Wein cells (and similar), but I think not needing a special light-meter battery to begin with is a big bonus. The only thing you have to carry is AA’s.
  • Fast lens. f/1.2 is f-a-s-t!
  • Intervalometer.
  • Single-frame.
That’s a nice collection of features!

The 18-fps only is a significant drawback, but I would not be totally put off by it. There really isn’t one Super-8 camera that does everything, and if as you say, you are looking for a camera to experiment and learn with, this looks like a fine one. If it’s in good operating condition and the price makes sense to you, I think it sounds like a winner. If in the future you decided you needed a camera that offered 24/25/30 fps, this one would still cover you for manual-metering, low-light, intervalometer and single-frame use. That's not such a bad investment.

The last thing I would point out to you is, Super-8 cameras are sometimes sold in rough shape. As you observe, since the cost of film, processing and telecine is significant, putting an extra EUR100 into a camera can be a reasonable investment IF it gets you a camera that's more reliable/in better condition/does everything you need.

Hi All,

Im a complete novice with Super 8 although with some shooting experience in video, Im reading and learning and now looking for a simple film camera to get started and test some film stocks against various lighting scenarios.
I know its not the best, running at only 18frames and failing to properly recognise Ektachrome 64T but would the Minolta XL 401 do to gets started? Is the Lens any good? I know what the better camers are, but im not sure if Ill really need one in the begiining, with the cost of film and telecine so hi here in the UK, that would be something for the future.
Many Thanks


  • 0

#4 Charles Doran

Charles Doran
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 65 posts
  • Other

Posted 21 October 2009 - 11:41 AM

Hi All,

Im a complete novice with Super 8 although with some shooting experience in video, Im reading and learning and now looking for a simple film camera to get started and test some film stocks against various lighting scenarios.
I know its not the best, running at only 18frames and failing to properly recognise Ektachrome 64T but would the Minolta XL 401 do to gets started? Is the Lens any good? I know what the better camers are, but im not sure if Ill really need one in the begiining, with the cost of film and telecine so hi here in the UK, that would be something for the future.
Many Thanks


I used mine for some footage on a narrative short I made as well as bringing it to SE Asia for some vacation footage. It's a good little camera with an adequate lens and is probably the cheapest camera out there with an intervalometer. Here is a page of film clips I put together -- the second one from the left is footage entirely shot with the Minolta 401 ("kodachrome 40 clip").

http://www.westsider....com/clips.html
good luck on your shoot!
  • 0

#5 steve dewar

steve dewar

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • UK

Posted 21 October 2009 - 01:23 PM

I used mine for some footage on a narrative short I made as well as bringing it to SE Asia for some vacation footage. It's a good little camera with an adequate lens and is probably the cheapest camera out there with an intervalometer. Here is a page of film clips I put together -- the second one from the left is footage entirely shot with the Minolta 401 ("kodachrome 40 clip").

http://www.westsider....com/clips.html
good luck on your shoot!



Thanks guys. Charles..your work is excellent. Im afraid I was unable to get the Milnolta in the end I picked up a Bauer S 2035XL which is just by way of an intro...it should arrive in the next few days. I have some old K40 stock to try it out. If only I can figure out how it could cope with E64T...it does have manual aperture overide...If that helps?
  • 0

#6 Charles Doran

Charles Doran
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 65 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 October 2009 - 01:07 PM

Thanks guys. Charles..your work is excellent. Im afraid I was unable to get the Milnolta in the end I picked up a Bauer S 2035XL which is just by way of an intro...it should arrive in the next few days. I have some old K40 stock to try it out. If only I can figure out how it could cope with E64T...it does have manual aperture overide...If that helps?


Personally, I would only shoot with manual override. Having an external light meter was a great help.

If you need a good camera with an intervolometer keep a lookout for the Minolta 401 - it comes up on e-bay all the time. Got mind for around $50USD.
  • 0

#7 Richard Tuohy

Richard Tuohy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 482 posts
  • Other
  • Daylesford, Australia

Posted 24 October 2009 - 07:00 PM

Thanks guys. Charles..your work is excellent. Im afraid I was unable to get the Milnolta in the end I picked up a Bauer S 2035XL which is just by way of an intro...it should arrive in the next few days. I have some old K40 stock to try it out. If only I can figure out how it could cope with E64T...it does have manual aperture overide...If that helps?

There is an easy way to shoot 64t with a bauer. This method exploits the fact that on the tungsten (bulb) filter setting the camera will generate a light meter reading based on 40 asa film, and 40 asa is what 64t is when an 85 filter is employed (as in when the camera is on the 'sun' setting).

- switch the filter switch to 'bulb'
- look through the viewfinder and read the indicated exposure
- switch the filter switch back to 'sun'
- roll the exposure controll to the setting you generated in the second step.

done.

Of course, this only works outside. You don't really need to do the filter switching thing, but it is a good way to start as it actually shows you the correct exposure for 64t shot outdoors.
cheers,
richard
  • 0

#8 steve dewar

steve dewar

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • UK

Posted 25 October 2009 - 05:53 PM

Thanks Richard Thats Brilliant....

The camera came yesterday, and im still checking the controls out. I dont have a manual but i think it is in german anyway, but my first task is to get some film in test, develop and see what happens.
Once ive sussed the settings out, Id like to try the negative 200t stocks, as i like the look of them espeially outside daylight, but well see what happens, its very early days. Will report back my findings. Thanks again.


There is an easy way to shoot 64t with a bauer. This method exploits the fact that on the tungsten (bulb) filter setting the camera will generate a light meter reading based on 40 asa film, and 40 asa is what 64t is when an 85 filter is employed (as in when the camera is on the 'sun' setting).

- switch the filter switch to 'bulb'
- look through the viewfinder and read the indicated exposure
- switch the filter switch back to 'sun'
- roll the exposure controll to the setting you generated in the second step.

done.

Of course, this only works outside. You don't really need to do the filter switching thing, but it is a good way to start as it actually shows you the correct exposure for 64t shot outdoors.
cheers,
richard


  • 0


The Slider

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Opal

Technodolly

CineTape

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Visual Products

Opal

CineLab

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Willys Widgets