Walking With The Minolta SRT101 and The Rokkor 58mm f1.4 Lens

When it comes to a beautiful vintage camera, I am a sucker.

I went to a thrift store looking for camera treasures and I spotted this old camera in the glass case. It was $30, a super clean vintage camera mounted with a fast prime lens. How could I say no to giving it a good home?

I have used an SRT 101 a few years ago and I really liked it. I’ve just never seen an affordable one in nice enough condition to buy. This particular camera is spotless though. The lens is in near mint condition.  I’ll bet this camera was rarely used. Judging from the serial number, 275xxxx this cameras was the second generation 101 made around 1972. Minolta manufactured the SRT-101 between 1970–1973. Minolta went on to make a 102, 201, and 202.

Camera Specs

Type
35mm
Mount type
Minolta SR {meter coupled}
Exposure Meter
TTL – Manually set shutter and aperture. 
Predecessor to the modern matrix metering system, called Contrast Light Compensation (CLC)
Focus
Manual, center microprism
Shutter Speeds
B, 1 second – 1/1000
Flash
Cold Shoe, PC connections for FP and X sync=1/60
Power
1.35-volt 625 mercury battery, I have a 625a 1.5-volt installed, it works fine.
Other
Self-timer, mirror lock-up, depth-of-field preview, shutter speed visible in viewfinder

As you can see from the table above, this is really just a standard fully manual SLR. It’s an easy to handle vintage 35mm camera.

Usability

It’s large, it’s heavy. The viewfinder is large and easy to use. Personally I prefer to have a split-prism over the microprism, but it is still easy to use, I still managed to miss focus a couple of times though. It was the first time that I took the camera.

This is heavy camera and fortunately with me it came with the leather case. I prefer to hold these old cameras with the bottom half. It makes it very comfortable. The Minolta is barely wider than my Pentax Spotmatic F and Nikon FM2n, which both have the cases, are so much easier on the hands. 

I like to add a soft-shutter tab to my shutter buttons on the old SLRs. For me, they make using these cameras a lot more comfortable. The downside to those, they are often accidently pressed because it raises height of the shutter button. This model doesn’t have a shutter button lock. The Pentax Spotmatic has a switch under the shutter button and is very easy to lock and unlock. The Nikon FM2 lock is built into the film advance lever, when pushed into the body it locks the button, to shoot you have to pull the lever away from the body. So to remedy this on the Minolta, I won’t advance the film until I’m ready to shoot again.

The Lens

I could show galleries of pictures I took with the camera, but the this is more of a reflection of the lens and film choice. I shot one roll of Kodak Color Plus, one roll of Kodak T-Max 100, and I adapted the lens to a Sony A7II.

There were several lenses that were available with the camera as apart of the kit.

  • MC Rokkor-PF 55mm 1.7
  • MC Rokkor-PF 55mm 1.9
  • MC Rokkor-PF 58mm 1.4
  • MC Rokkor-PG 58mm 1.2

My camera came with the MC Rokkor-PF 58mm 1.4.

Lens Specs

Max. aperture
f1.4
Min. aperture
f16
Blades
6
Min. Focus Dist.
2ft (.6m)
Filter size
55mm
Weight
10.2oz (290g)
Length focus at ∞ – flange to front ring
 1.6in (41mm) 

It’s not the sharpest lens on the planet, but it takes quite lovely pictures. I really like the handling of this lens. Focus throw is great, not too long or short. It’s also buttery smooth. 

This lens is actually quite beautiful, it compares very well to Canon, Nikon, and Pentax lenses in the same class. It’s sharp, has great contrast, color, and handles nicely.

I particularly like the bokeh of this lens wide open. The six bladed aperture of this lens is just like any other six bladed lens, it makes a hexagon shape when stopped down a little bit. However, the background is so smooth, that I don’t even care.

Gallery: Kodak Color Plus 200

Gallery: Kodak T-Max 100

Gallery: Adapted to the Sony A7II

Conclusion

I really like this camera. It would really make a great starter camera. I know the Nikon, Canon, Pentax cameras are more popular, but this camera is as well built and comfortable as the other cameras.

I got lucky and paid $30 for this camera which was over three times the amount I paid for my Nikon FM2n, and I don’t regret it in the slightest.

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