Minolta SRT 100 Review

I like the feel of this 35-40 year old Minolta SLR.  But then I’m a big fan of Japanese SLRs from the 1960’s and 1970’s as you can read from my Canon QL17 review and my Canon FTb review.  But today I’m writing about my durable Minolta SRT 100 with its 50mm 1.7 Rokkor lens, purchased in March/April of 2012.

Minolta SRT 100, Front View

Minolta SRT 100, Front View

Without repairs, with just a new battery and ASA 200 speed film, this camera went a perfect 24 for 24 for one roll of film.  Every exposure came out well metered and decent.  All the photos with this Minolta SRT 100 were taken on overcast days, perhaps that helped the metering system.

Minolta SRT 100, Grace and Kostner, Chicago, IL

Minolta SRT 100, Grace and Kostner, Chicago, IL

But the Rokkor files thinks the Minolta SRT 100 is a stripped down camera compared to other Minoltas in the SRT line.  They have a wonderful website but I’ll beg to differ on their opinion on the Minolta SRT 100.  If I had purchased this Minolta between 1970 and 1975 it would have been a purchase of a “stripped down” SRT Minolta.  But since I found and purchased this Minolta SRT 100 that works with just a new battery after 40 years, I’d say it was a good purchase.

This is another purchase from a quirky antique shop on Chicago’s far north side.  Sorry, I’m not giving its name away.  But let’s just say you can find several antique shops on North Broadway as you go north of Foster in Chicago, IL.  I purchased this camera for $20 and considered it a fair price for a Minolta SRT 100 that worked fine in the store plus a 50mm 1.7 Rokkor lens.

Initial Impressions on my Minolta SRT 100 Camera, Quirky Battery Cover

It’s fun having a slightly better knowledge of used 35mm film cameras than I did one or two years ago.  This is what I learned about the Minolta SRT 100 in the antique store.

  1. Lens.  I found this camera with a MC Rokkor-PF, 1.7 50mm lens.  Clear filter included with a scratch free and fungus free lens.
  2. Body.  At the time of purchase I thought the body was in good shape.  The bottom of the cameras has a few scratches which are common for cameras without cases.
  3. Shutter speeds.  I tested all shutter speeds in the store and they all sounded accurate and worked.  If you purchase a camera with shutter speeds that don’t work, it’s a problem camera.  Some old SLRs have trouble with their lower speeds.  Again, this Minolta SRT 100 was fine in the store.
  4. Aperture.  I opened up the back of the camera, pointed the camera to the artificial lights, adjusted the aperture, and tested different aperture sizes to see if they were working.  Tested OK.
  5. Film advance.  I opened the back of the camera and fired the shutter several times.  The film advance mechanism seemed to be working properly.
  6. View finder.  Small debris or tiny black pieces in the viewfinder.  I decided I could live with that defect.
  7. Battery chamber.  No battery but at least the battery chamber was in good shape, no sign of battery acid.  The battery chamber is on the left side by the rewind crank.
  8. Mirror foam.  There is a piece of foam that absorbs the shock of the mirror when it flips after depressing the shutter button.  This foam was badly degraded.  In the long term this meant a repair, in the short term it would be OK.
  9. QUIRKY BATTERY COVER.  Before you can examine the battery chamber you will need to remove it.  Using a coin to unscrew the battery cover won’t help you.  The battery cover is a cover at the bottom of the camera with two tiny holes at zero degrees and 180 degrees.  A strong tweezers may help you unscrew the battery cover but I use a Hi-Tech 1421 device I purchased at an auto store.  It’s called a snap ring pliers.  One reader commented that he uses his thumb to unscrew the battery cover.  Sometimes you need more than your thumb.
Minolta SRT 100, Bottom with Snap Ring Pliers

Minolta SRT 100, Bottom with Snap Ring Pliers

I love the solidity of the 1960’s and 1970’s Japanese cameras.  I offered $20 to the clerk, she texted the owner, and the owner texted back to take the offer.

Minolta SRT 100 Review – Technical Details

I know that visitors want specs, but I’m not a spec kind of guy.  Neither am I willing to steal somebody else’s work off the Internet.  So if you want terrific detail on specifications go to the Butkus manuals.  But for now, here are my simple technical details.

  1. Produced.  Production started in 1971.
  2. Camera type.  35mm SLR.
  3. Lens mount.  Minolta bayonet mount.
  4. Shutter.  B and 1 second to 1/500 of a second.
  5. Film Speed Scale.  ASA 6-6400.
  6. Exposure Meter.  Through the lens metering system.  Match needle meter through the viewfinder.

When I purchased this camera it felt good in my hands.  But then, I haven’t met a Japanese SLR from the 1960’s or 1970’s that didn’t feel well made.  It’s very heavy with its 50mm lens.

Provenance or History

I prefer purchasing cameras at garage sales or even on Craigslist where I can learn something about my new, old camera.  But no history on this camera.  I admit it, I sometimes feel a little sad for cameras sold without a history.

Wouldn’t it be more fun knowing who owned a camera, where the camera has been, and even some of the old photos of a camera?  But this Minolta SRT 100 comes to me without a history.

I enjoy reading the Photography Review articles on the cameras I own.  But the Minolta SRT series had only 8 reviews at Photography Review.  It’s a bit voyeuristic reading how much people have loved their old cameras on websites (I guess that’s part of what I do also).

My Repairs for the Minolta SRT 100, One Needed

No immediate repairs needed, thankfully.

If I decide to use this camera frequently, I will need to repair the degraded foam inside the camera that absorbs the shock of the SLR mirror after each shot.  But for one roll of film, it’s OK.  Below, look to the right of the Minolta logo and the lens mount, you will see a vertical piece of foam that is worn and degraded.

Minolta SRT 100, Degraded Mirror Slap Foam

Minolta SRT 100, Degraded Mirror Slap Foam

Minolta SRT 100 Battery

This is another mercury battery you can’t purchase in the United States anymore.  I hear rumors that you can buy mercury camera batteries in Canada.

Try a 1.35 volt zinc-air battery to replace the mercury battery used in the Minolta SRT 100.  Or better still, consider purchasing a light meter.  Luckily, my 1.35 volt zinc-air battery works on my Canon QL17, my Canon FTb, and finally my Minolta SRT 100.

How does the Minolta SRT 100 feel?

Historically, this camera was not considered professional grade.  But if you find a Minolta SRT 100 that works fine without repair, it will seem “professional” enough to you.  Purchasing old 35mm film cameras is all about personal ROI.  What is the personal satisfaction and Return On Investment that an older camera brings to the new owner.

Nice features of the Minolta SRT 100.

    1. Solid, and heavy.  Yes, I’ve used that phrase before to describe other cameras.  But for a 30 minute walk in Chicago I don’t mind having the Minolta SRT 100 over my shoulder.  Hiking with my camera bag, Minolta SRT 100, two lenses, and light meter is a different story.  That would be very heavy.
    2. Feels good.  Yes, it feels good when you shoot it.  It felt very solid as a mechanical device.
    3. Half Stop Lens.  The Rokkor lens I had seems to have a “half stop” aperture feature.  I can adjust the aperture half way between f16 and f8 while the light meter responds to those changes.  I like that feature and wish other old lenses had the same feature.

Match needle metering

    .  I like match needle metering much more than the LED light metering of some of my other cameras.  If the “needle” is within the “circle” in the viewfinder, the camera thinks you have the correct exposure.

Problems?  Yes.

  1. Battery problem.  This camera was built around a mercury battery.  That’s now against the law in the United States.  Finding a replacement that gives you the same voltage will be a problem.  But perhaps finding the correct battery is worth it to use this camera.  This seems to be the correct replacement for the mercury battery, this is a Wein MRB625 1.35v Zinc-Air battery.
  2. Loading film.  After testing two cameras in a row that had the the Canon QL film load system (see my Canon QL17 review and my Canon FTb review) I had to re-learn the old fashioned film load method of the Minolta.  I found a very old test roll of film, loaded it into the Minolta SRT 100, and shot 24 exposures.  During the process, the film rewind mechanism was advancing with every shot (a good sign the film is engaged and advancing).  Then I rewound the film 3/4 to doubly check that the film transport had worked properly.  I removed the expired film and loaded my good film with the belief that film transport for this Minolta SRT 100 worked fine.

Minolta SRT 100 Sample Photos on North Milwaukee, Chicago, IL

In April 2012 on a rainy afternoon, I took a stroll north to south from Milwaukee and Addison (Schurz High School) to Milwaukee and Belmont (Federico Garcia Lorca Elementary School), Chicago, IL.  Although not great photos, I’m pleased to say every photo I took in the rain with this 35-50 year old Minolta SRT 100 was exposed properly.

Schurz High School, Chicago, IL

The north end of my walk is anchored by Schurz High School.  I’ve taken many photos of Schurz over the years.  Today I took my Schurz High School photo with the old video store in the foreground.  Now there’s graffiti on the vacant store.  Years ago it was a busy hot dog stand.

Minolta SRT 100, Schurz High School and Empty Store

Minolta SRT 100, Schurz High School and Empty Store

The Quickee Mart

That’s not their real name, that’s what we call it.

Sadly I photographed the Quickee mart one day after it was the scene of an upcoming movie (Superman?  Spiderman?).  Yesterday, the Quickee mart had huge film trucks on its tiny lot, a tent for a barbeque, and lots of activity.  Today it’s returned to its normal self, one short block from Schurz High School.

Minolta SRT 100, North Milwaukee Quickee Mart, Chicago

A Dash of Prosperity on North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL

This cell phone store has been busy and profitable for years.

Minolta SRT 100, Prosperous Mobile Phone Store

Minolta SRT 100, Prosperous Mobile Phone Store

This car wash is busy all the time.

Minolta SRT 100, Prosperous Car Wash, Chicago, IL

Prosperous and Wonderful La Oaxaqueña Restaurant

Here’s the prosperous and highly regarded La Oaxaquena restaurant at 3382 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL.  It has a four star rating out of five stars with 91 reviews on Yelp.  It may look tiny from the outside (green sign) but it has lots of room inside.  Give them a try if you’re in the neighborhood.

Minolta SRT 100, La Oaxaqueña, Chicago, IL

Minolta SRT 100, La Oaxaqueña, Chicago, IL

Recession Condos

Yes there has been a recession, no there are no condos in the next picture.  I call the photo “recession condos” because the vacant lot now awaits development in some near future.

Just before the crash of 2008 and its aftermath, this half block of land was cleared on the 3400 block of North Milwaukee, Chicago, IL.  For now, the block and its weeds is fenced in awaiting a turnaround in the economy.

Minolta SRT 100, North Milwaukee Recession Condos, Chicago, IL

Minolta SRT 100, North Milwaukee Recession Condos, Chicago, IL

I’ve often thought I could do a film expose on America’s post-recession of 2011 and 2012.

Hope on 3200 North Milwaukee:  Federico Garcia Lorca Elementary School

At the south end of my walk today on the 3200 N. block of Milwaukee you’ll find the almost new Federico Garcia  Lorca Elementary School.  It’s a beautiful grade school.  Here’s hoping this southern, educational anchor for the 3200 – 3500 blocks of North Milwaukee Avenue is a beginning of good things to come for the neighborhood.

Minolta SRT 100, Federico Garcia Lorca Elementary School, Chicago, IL

Minolta SRT 100, Federico Garcia Lorca Elementary School, Chicago, IL

Minolta SRT 100 Review – Summary

This Minolta SRT 100 was a good purchase for $20 plus a three dollar battery.  24 out of 24 exposures on my ASA 200 speed film came out fine.

Canon and Nikon cameras are snatched up quickly at garage sales and small antique stores.  Owning a used Minolta may not excite the younger generation.  But if you’re a young (or older) film student trying to learn photography, the Minolta SRT 100 would be a good place to start.  Again, let’s close with a stroll through Kilbourn Park in Chicago, IL on a rainy day (and remember to curb your dog).

Minolta SRT 100, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL

Minolta SRT 100, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL

Thanks for reading my Minolta SRT 100 review today.  If you find an affordable and operational Minolta SRT 100 for $20 and a Rokkor lens, it’s a fair price for a good, old SLR camera.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.


Comments

Minolta SRT 100 Review — 11 Comments

  1. I actually was lucky enough to pick up an srt 100 at Goodwill here in Maine for $5. The winding arm was jammed, but I wiggled it a little and now it winds perfect. I need to re-solder the battery wire as it corroded loose with the old battery. I also would like to clean the inside of the viewfinder, but have yet learned how to remove the top plate to facilitate the repair. Any insight would be appreciated :3

    • Sean,
      It sounds like you’re better at repairs than I am.
      I guess re-doing the battery wires is reasonable because even if you fail, you can still shoot the camera in manual mode.
      Before working so hard on your SRT 100 I would experiment shooting a roll of film through it already. Use a light meter or if you don’t have one using the Sunny 16 rule for exposures. If the roll comes out decent than go ahead with further repairs.
      I suggest picking up a free SLR that’s beat up at a garage sale and experiment with taking off its top plate before working on the Minolta.
      The Minolta SRT 100 really is a nice solid camera. My Minolta SRT100 has flecks in the viewfinder and I could care less. But good luck with your repairs.
      Thanks for dropping by my website. Visit any time and leave a comment.
      Richard

  2. I have two Minoltas; an X570 which I purchased new, and a SRT100 that I puchased later w/Rokkor MC 55 mm lens for $50. The SRT is used strictly for b/w film, and it does seem to have a little focus problem at lower f-stops. Still like to drag it around though. As you stated, it IS a heavy camera, so I have a weapon at the ready if needed!!! Thaks for the tip on the anti-vibration system. I will look into that aspect. My next project is a Yashicamat 24. I do not have a great handle on 6×6 cameras (no manual), so any insights and/or tips would be appreciated

    • John,
      Thanks for visiting my website and commenting on the Minolta SRT 100 Review. I think they’re fun cameras at the right price. I passed on a 4th SRT 100 series camera a few weeks ago. After all, how many 40 year old Minolta SRTs can one person own?
      As for researching the Yashicamat 24, just search Google for Yashicamat 24 Butkus and you’ll find his Butkus’s wonderful website for camera manuals.
      Best Wishes,
      Richard

  3. Thanks for the review. I found this camera in my husband’s closet when I was cleaning today. It would have taken me a long time to get to a photo shop to figure out the battery. I am totally inexperienced with SLRs, but might need to give this one a try. I appreciate the info!

    • Ashleigh,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You always hear about the old Canons or Nikons someone finds in their home. But people say little about the Minoltas. I think the Minolta SRT 100 is a wonderful camera. You’ll enjoy it.

      Richard

  4. Stumbled across your review of the SRT100 while searching the web.

    Bought my SRT100 new in the mid 1970s and it still works as well as the day I took it out of the box. It has travelled around the world with me and taken thousands of shots. Definitely a solid, well-built SLR. The SRT line of cameras were popular in the 1970s when 35mm SLR photography became popular with amateurs who couldn’t afford Nikons. SRT100 was the bottom of the line at that time. The other models 101 and 102? Had a few little extras that the 100 didn’t, but overall not a tremendous difference between them. I also have a Minolta X700 that I bought in the early 1980s and still works great. I’ve expanded my collection to some digital cameras now, but I still love shooting with film and always will. Hope you continue to enjoy your SRT100.

    • Kirk,

      I believe I said in my blog post I could survive just fine if my only film camera was the Minolta SRT100.

      There’s something very soothing about its dependable sound and dependable photos.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

      Richard

  5. I bought for $20.00 a srt 100 with a vivitar 55mm 1:28 lens. it also had the 2x soligor converter. well i put a roll of film in and tried it out.
    It seemed to work fine but the pictures tured out very wavy distorted and in between where it should have advanced to.i’m not much of a photographer so i don’t have a clue what is wrong. any ideas.

    thank you
    blaine

    • Blaine,

      My guess is that you had trouble with film transport in the film.

      When I was new to cameras, I kept around old, expired film to practice loading into a “test” camera, shooting some “fake” photos, and rewinding the film. The trick is to not rewind the film entirely so that it’s tag is still handy to retest on another camera.

      I own Minox that took 3 rolls of film before the photos came out correctly: trouble with film advance.

      I own a German Contaflex where the German manual was incorrectly written. Being German-American, a poorly written German manual is an oxymoron.

      Anyway, don’t give up, put in a roll of film into your Minolta SRT 100 and test the film transport. Perhaps the film wasn’t firmly on the sprockets. Good luck.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      Richard

  6. My very 1st camera was an SRT-100. I recieved it as a gift for my 16th birthday back in 1975. While I don’t use it anymore once in a while I will still get it out of it’s old camera bag just to feel the heft of it. The camera I use today is a Sony Alpha 57. I went with the Sony’s because they used the lenses from my old Minolta Maxxum’s. Still a Minolta guy at heart.

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