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Minolta SRT 101 35mm Film SLR - Car Boot Bargain!

My New (25 Years Old!) Minolta SRT 101 with 50mm F1.4My son has just broken up for the Summer Holidays, and the school has sent all the kids home with a plastic film camera (with no film in) so they can record what they got up to... That got me thinking about if it was worth buying a cheap second hand Film SLR, so I decided to have a good look around at our local Sunday Morning car boot sale...


My New (25 Years Old!) Minolta SRT 101 with 50mm F1.4

I have to admit I didn't have a clue what I was looking for. There's always a few old film cameras for sale, but I don't know a thing about Film SLR's, beyond that I wanted to get a name that I recognised.

As we were wandering up and down the stalls, this little beauty caught my eye. I saw "Minolta" and thought, hey, I know that name, so I picked it up and was amazed at how heavy the thing was. I got chatting to the stall-holder, and he explained that it used to belong to his dad, and that his daughter had been the last to use it a couple of years ago.

He knew a little about it, explained that the light-meter battery still worked, and that it took nice pictures. I saw that it had a 50mm prime (fixed focal length) lens, and was amazed to see that it had a F1.4 maximum aperture - that's huge! It was in good condition, the focus and aperture rings seemed smooth enough, and the shutter snapped nice and quick, plus it made a cool sound!

Last Bloom?

I slipped him a tenner, and he threw in a Vivitar 283 Flash, with bracket and sensor lead, so I was doubly happy. We headed to Asda that afternoon, so I bought a 5 pack of Fujifilm ISO 200 35mm film for about £6. After downloading the manual(srt101 manual download), I loaded the film, read the manual again, and was ready to shoot!

Lay Me Down

The SRT 101 is a fully manual, mechanical 35mm SLR. It has a small battery for the built-in light meter, which shows up as a needle in the view-finder, but then the rest is up to you. Turn the control dial to the film speed you're using, select your aperture, check the light meter, then dial in your shutter speed. Incredibly easy!

The SRT 101 was one of the best selling SLR's of the 1970's - because of its build quality, metering capability and good lenses. It had a number of advanced features for the time including a depth of field preview and mirror lock-up for really steady shots.

The flash I was sold didn't work - the Minolta has a "cold shoe", it can't trigger a flash through the bracket on the top, you need a separate lead, but that didn't bother me as I take most of my shots outside anyway.


Over the past couple of days I've been carefully choosing my shots, not wanting to waste any of the 24 exposures (or the cost of getting them developed), taking time to make sure the exposure was right, the manual focus sharp, and the composition OK.

I had exhausted the film this morning, so went back again to Asda to get them developed, with the prints and a CD with the images on as well.


I was nervous and excited as I waited for my photos to be developed. Had I exposed them correctly? Would the camera turn out to be a dud? Would the pictures be awful?

I rushed back to Asda after the allotted time, and I have to say that I was very pleased. The shots you see here are straight off the CD, no editing at all. The prints were lovely, and it was such a joy to be handling my images like proper photographs, instead of pixels on a computer screen.

Watter Lillies

Not all turned out great, you can see the whole set on my flickr photostream, but I loved the DOF (depth of field) effects of the fast lens. I have to say though, that at F1.4, close to subjects, the DOF is tiny, probably only a cm or two, so I think I'll have to practice a bit more, but the background blur is pretty (if you like that sort of thing).

F1.4 DOF

If you look at the images large, they are quite sharp at the smaller apertures, so soon I'll have to do a post comparing the shots from my film Minolta SRT 101 with my Fujifilm S5700.


Learning points? That DOF at the largest apertures is really narrow. The 50mm lens is superb, but needs larger subjects. I need a grad or polarizer to darken my skies and help to boost colour contrast, especially on the grey days I took most of these pictures.


Don't worry, the SRT 101 won't be replacing my Fuji Digital Camera, but I have already reloaded the Minolta with film. I'll be taking it with me anywhere the S5700 goes, then whipping it out for those extra special captures.

Time to start searching eBay for a wide-angle and a telephoto lens.... and some black and white film.... ;-)

Thanks, Rob.

Reader Comments (4)

If by any chance you wish to give that flash unit a try, you can use one of these.

I was kind of itching to take some film again myself. Unfortunately, I neglected to store my 2 Pentax K1000's and lenses properly, so they have all suffered damage due to mildew.

July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterC0mdrData

Thanks, for the link, that'd be great!

Shame about your Pentax Cameras, I really loved the experience of using film, it seemed a lot more "real" than using digital, like I was taking proper photographs and not snapshots.

I guess thats because I rarely print out my images, just look at them on my PC screen, so actually having proper prints was a real treat.

July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

I have just been given a srt101 and would like to get it working but i find the lite meter needle dont move even after changing the battery. can i still use it or can i get it repaired?? I live in sheffield

July 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterroy machin

Hi Roy,

It'd probably cost more than the camera is worth to get it fixed, unless you can get someone to do it for free....

BUT you don't need to bother with the internal light-meter. Just grab yourself a cheap light-meter off eBay, thats all you need!

Cheers, Rob.

July 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

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