Superb Reflex Twice: The Minolta SR-T 101 - A Gallery

I just expended time, effort, and brain cells (Ok, that last part may be debatable) to reason why an SR-T 200 is for all intents and purposes, just as usable as an SR-T 101, and then I seem to contradict myself with this posting showing images taken with that very camera.  Am I that much a hypocrite?

In actuality, I'm proving my own point.  The following images were shot with an SR-T 101, and upon reviewing them, I can readily attest that every one of them would have been just as easy to have captured on the SR-T 200.  And I can speak of this having shot both models of camera.

So how did I wind up with an SR-T 101 after making the case for the underdog camera that is the 200?  It's simple really.  The lens.  I spotted this camera for a bargain price with a Minolta Rokkor 28mm wide angle lens attached, so it seemed like a perfect pickup, and it was.  It's a great camera, but so is the model 200 in nearly every way.

Since both the 101 and 200 model will meter down as low as ASA 6, this seemed the perfect chance to shoot another roll of Mr. Brown LOW ISO film on a week in mid-November.  Yet again, this film is increasingly showing itself as a great medium that allows some great strengths: namely limited depth of field photos as well as daytime time exposures!  The following shots were taken with both the 45mm and 28mm lenses and made for a great time out shooting.  Enjoy! 

First shot taken with the both the SR-T 101 and with the 28mm lens in late afternoon light.  I'd forgotten how easy it is to accidentally "appear" in your pictures with wide angle lenses.  I guess this shot is sort of like that first "tester pancake."

Swell Reflex Too: The Minolta SR-T 200

I'm the Quirky Guy with a Camera, and I approve this message:

"In the market for a Pentax K-1000? Do you actually want to use it as a film camera, and do you have no sentimental attachment that makes you specifically want this model?  Do you actually like saving money?  Would you like a camera with nearly identical capabilities to a K-1000 at a fraction of the price?  If so, I present your camera!"

I rarely editorialize in my posts.  I tend to simply lay out my personal observations specific to particular camera model or film, present these observations along with my results, and let you, the reader, make an informed choice from the information I present.  I don't typically get into the heartfelt and often irrational positions that Camera A is "better" than Camera B so you'd better not buy the latter.

But every now and again, I notice something really off about the film world at large to which I feel I need to add a sanity check, and this is very much one of them.

One of the most iconic of 35mm film cameras of the later decades of film's prominence was the Pentax K-1000, a fairly simple 35mm SLR camera offering metered manual shooting and little else in the way of bells and whistles.  For years, it was THE standard camera for photography students and school yearbook offices, largely because it was the cheapest manual control camera available at the time.  It is a ubiquitous piece of film history as classic as a Hershey Chocolate Bar.  And it's also quite overpriced in today's market.


The Peculiar Paradox of the Perplexing Pickwik

To ponder and postulate the perils of my predicament was particularly problematic.  Phooey!

Sure I'm a "camera collector," but not in the most literal sense.  I like to limit myself to working examples of everything I might acquire and I most certainly seek to run at least one roll of film through everything I may have the fortune to pick up.

A few weeks ago, I happened on a bargain of a lot containing 7 cameras that I snagged for just over $20.  While it was just one camera of this batch that really drew me in, I hoped that at least some of the other more basic cameras were in operable condition to be able to use a time or two as well.  Who knows?  Maybe I would discover a new favorite from the motley assortment.  In a marked departure from my usual luck, it turned out that all 7 cameras had fully working shutters and appeared to need just cleaning to be ready to try out. 

One of the more interesting cameras in the batch was an unusual little guy branded as a "Pickwik." It is a true pseudo-TLR complete with two lenses and a small flip up screen designed to frame fixed focus shots in the 3x4 format on 127 film.  Armed with only settings for "Time" and "Inst," it is a particularly simple if interesting little camera.  I gave it a quick look over to get an idea of its operation and put it in the queue for eventual usage.

A unique and certainly oddball among 127 cameras of the era, the Pickwik "TLR" was an interesting pickup for me.

As it turns out, the odd little camera would be the first of this group to be pressed into service.  As I worked my way through my 21 roll assortment of D-i-Y color films, I had some headaches in advancing a roll of 127 film through my Foth Derby.  I realized only later that this turned out to be that I'd used a single ended spool on the take up side of the camera and it was facing the wrong way. Still, I looked forward to the chance to get a few snaps with the Pickwik, and since I had to open the camera in the dark to re-situate the take up spool anyway, I figured I may as well complete the rest of the roll in the Pickwik instead.  I gave it a quick cleaning with cotton swabs, loaded the film and shot the last 6 shots in this unusual little "TLR" camera of sorts.

Only to get results back like this...


Surprisingly Solid Substitute! The Konica C35EF

I stood at the ready, estimated my focus, and fired my first shot with the Konica C35EF.  The needle had indictated an aperture of between f/5.6 and f/8, and the shutter had readily fired at my direction.  Since I was just a few minutes from home, this shot, and the ones to follow, were pretty much snap shots, and by no means critical; yet I still had my hopes they would turn out.  Still, this was a camera that, merely an hour earlier, seemed destined to be sidelined for a while, as my attention focused on more "elegant" members of my collection.

It was this adoration to one of these more revered cameras that actually forced this situation to begin with. I had just received a trio of 12 exposure rolls of expired 100 speed "mystery film" from Ultra Fine. While they surmised it to be Konica film, the labeling strongly suggested it was of Ferrania/Imation origins.  There was no better way to find out than to shoot a roll of it, develop the results, and check the film rebate markings. It seemed a perfect creative diversion to couple with errands on a pleasant October afternoon.

My chosen vessel for this bit of photographic sleuthing was an elegantly designed and well loved folding compact camera of German origin.  I had been waiting for a suitable chance to test out this camera, and this seemed ideal. I threaded the mystery film into the take up spool, and needed to only take up the slack and advance the film to the first frame to get this show on the road. However, no amount of winding or other manipulation would make the take up spool spin on the German mini. My little project suddenly needed an alternative device upon which to expose frames. Sure I could go with any number of other tried and tested members of the collection, but the thought of shooting this guess-focused camera had me looking forward to a new shooting experience that I was now deprived of.  With my time limited, I recalled the Konica C35EF, which I brought up from the basement, loaded up with the film, and set out to shoot.

The late 70's/early 80's look of the Konica C35 EF (known as the "Pikkari" in Japan) looks right at home in an office setting of the same era.  All we need to complete the picture is a dot matrix printer!


The Zenith of Quirk - The Comet Camera

Beginning in the late 1940's, Bencini of Milan Italy produced a number of uniquely designed 127 cameras under the "Comet" name, culminating with the very distinctive vertically situated Comet III of 1953 that remains today as a highly distinctive and desirable camera among collectors, fetching prices of over $100 on the collector market.

This review is however not of the Bencini Comet.  I may be a quirky guy with a camera but I am also a frugal guy with a family, so my likelihood of picking up a Bencini Comet are pretty slim.

However, I was fortunate enough to pick up a very distinctive 127 camera from the same era, also vertically oriented, and also bearing the Comet name, but made half a world away in the United States by Zenith Camera Corporation.

While a significant amount of American 127 cameras sold in the post war era tend to be of a nearly identical design consisting of using the "half-frame" 127 format and a fixed focus lens, the design of the Zenith Comet is completely distinct from these cameras, and features:
  • Near full frame 127 images ranging between 55 and 60mm long.
  • An adjustable aperture.
  • Instantaneous and time exposure settings.
  • A curved film plane.
  • Adjustable focus from 4 feet to infinity.
  • A uniquely inset viewfinder.