Can a 40 year-old Camera Create an Image?

Minolta SRT-101, Film Camera, 35mm Film, Film Beginnings

For my Film Beginnings Project I picked the 35mm manual focus SLR Minolta SRT-101 (1966 – 1976). I have no intentions on giving extensive camera reviews but instead, I will share some of my hands-on experiences with any camera I might use during this project.

Welcome! As a long time digital photographer, I recently started a project that involves shooting 35mm film. You can find a few of my Street Photography digital images here: www.instagram.com/dspaedt. But when it comes to film, what can a Minolta SRT-101 do?

I picked this camera for the following reasons:

  • Inexpensive 
  • Uses 35mm Film 
  • Contains a Light Meter and I prefer cameras with meters 
  • Solid Build, Durable and Simple 
  • Will function without a working meter 
  • Bright & Sharp Viewfinder 

My biggest complaint once I received it was that it uses a unique battery but I knew that before I made the purchase. Specialty shops like Adorama and B&H photo sell these unique batteries or you can use a higher voltage substitute but the belief is that a higher voltage battery can affect the accuracy of the light meter. The battery I choose was the Wein EPX-625. It has worked without issue and provides accurate meter readings for me. Another bonus of this camera is that even without a battery it is still functional and only lacks a light meter reading.  I was lucky to get a Minolta SRT-101 that is in fantastic shape with everything working. The viewfinder and mirror have a fair amount of debris in it but it’s not so excessive to be a deal breaker. The viewfinder is large and bright.  The lens I settled on is the Minolta MD Rokkor-X MD 50mm 1:1.4. Over the years I’ve become addicted to faster lenses and whenever I have the opportunity or means I always choose faster lens over their slower counterparts.

Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm 1:1.4, Film Beginnings1:1.4, Film Beginnings
Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm 1:1.4, Film Beginnings, Manual Focus

The camera is heavy for its size and has a very solid feel. It’s like a small brick! The loading of the film, setting ISO and shutter speed adjustment all seem natural and intuitive. The film advance lever and shutter release are well placed and operate smoothly. With some googling and a solid camera review page such as the one Ken Rockwell provides, you should be able to find all the specifics on the Minolta SRT-101’s operation and battery details. The camera has been a pleasure to use. My biggest hurdle is once again becoming accustomed to manual focusing. I haven’t been forced to manual focus a camera in over 20 years. I’ve found it takes practice and a bit of trust in yourself to know you’ve landed on the “in focus” spot. I repeat the cycle of turning through the focus to out of focus and then back into focus too many times.

Minolta SRT 101-Out Of Focus-Manual Focus SLR-Film-Beginnings
Minolta SRT 101-Out Of Focus-Manual Focus SLR-Film-Beginnings

The Minolta SRT-101 was first produced in 1966 and stopped production in 1976. It amazes me that I am able to use a camera that is over 50 years old and is at least 40 years to produce images. At this time I plan to use this camera often throughout 2018 as I journey along in my Film Beginnings Project.

“Beginning January 1st, 2018 I’ve decided to commit to shooting at least two rolls of film per month and to do a 365-day film photo challenge. Along the way, I’ll blog about my experiences here. The 365-day film photo challenge will require me to shoot at least one film image each day for a year. I decided not to impose any other rules for both of the challenges. The images for both projects can be of anything and for any reason. At first thought, it seems easy enough but what you don’t know is that prior to November of 2017 I had not shot on film in over 15 years. Because of that, Film Beginnings is now born . . .”

And today those two challenges have officially begun. For the past two months, I’ve enjoyed my brief experiment and I’m looking forward to what the next year of Film Beginnings will bring.

Kalamazoo-Downtown-Before Parade-Minolta SRT 101-Ilford XP2 Super 400-Film Beginnings
Kalamazoo-Downtown-Before Parade-Minolta SRT 101-Ilford XP2 Super 400-Film Beginnings

Camera Donation Page

My Film Beginnings Project has also intrigued me to try using other 35mm film cameras along the way. If you have a working 35mm film camera that you no longer use please take a look here to see what I’m thinking. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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4 Comments

  1. Solid choice. One tip: I’ve had excellent luck with alkaline 625 cells in these older cameras. The voltage is a little different from the old mercury cells and their Wein-cell replacements. But the Wein cells don’t last very long. The alkaline cell’s voltage difference could theoretically result in misexposure. But because I use negative film almost exclusively, its exposure latitude has always made up for it. I use the alkaline cells without worry.

    1. Thank you for the tips! Once the Wein-cell quits I’ll give alkaline 625’s a go. I went with the Wein-cell because of the exposure concerns I had read about. However, same for me, I’ll probably only shoot negative film. I hope it works because it’ll be a lot cheaper and less fuss. I’m sure it will.

  2. Another battery alternative exists, using inexpensive zinc air hearing aid batteries. You only need a short little piece of insulated wire to act as a ring inside the battery compartment and then drop the hearing aid cell in place. My first one lasted a year! And they only cost about a buck apiece. The blue tabbed batteries in a grocery store rack.

    The ring is necessary because the zinc air cells are smaller.

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