Overview

Wow, just what I needed, another SLR! This one the classic Minolta SRT 101, the K1000 of the Minolta cameras. Of course the K1000 has a hot shoe, which wasn't added on the SRT line till the 101b, or till it became the 201. On the other hand, the 101 has full mirror lockup AND an aperture preview button. Wow. To sum: a solid classic all-mechanical design plus a fantastic 1.7 Rokkor lens in Minolta's own MC bayonet mount.

I avoided getting one for the longest time, I already have enough different SLR mounts that only sort of play nice with each other. But the price was nice, and my buddy Bill, who got one of his famous 'I can't believe you only paid...' deals when he picked up an XD11 at a thrift store for $10, raved about the lens quality. Turns out there's quite a cult of Minolta -- rightly so -- and I've heard the longtime later Minolta users say wistfully there's nothing like the SRT 101 when you just want to go for it.

To backtrack a bit, the SR came first, a kind of lower budget 1-1/500 SLR that lasted a few rounds (SR-1, 2, 3) and kind of morphed into the SRT series. The SRT series went through changes as well, from the 100 to 101, 101b, and then the 200 series which were very similar but added a hotshoe and other features. A great matrix of the series is here. After that was the X series but that's another page.

Rokkor lenses are fairly legendary, I know I've enjoyed using the ones on my Minolta rangefinders. The X on Rokkor-X simply indicates that it was sold outside of Japan (Xport?) but the lenses are otherwise identical to those just called Rokkor. Early lenses were coded with letters that indicated the number of groups and elements (a la Nikon). It's interesting to see the changes in lens housing design over the years. Here's a trip backwards in time from the lightweight black plastic of the 45mm to the black metal PG 1.4 back to the the early scalloped edge design of the PF 1.7:

Rokkors compared

CLC stands for Contrast Light Compensation, it's Minolta's dual photocell metering system that is designed to compensate better in high contrast lighting situations. I haven't been able to put this to a quantifiable test but I'll take their word for it.

All in all, the SRT 101 is a well-balanced, well-made, fairly full-featured mechanical SLR. Something about the fit & finish and the smoothness of the shutter and winder action just makes this SLR a pleasure to use. I can see why they continue to be popular after all this time!

Repairs

This neglected beauty required more than my usual light surface cleaning, I had to take some rubbing compound (Circle 7) to the metal to get the greenishs spots off, but now it looks great. Light seals are already a mix of felt and foam, and are intact so I'll leave them alone for now. There was one thing that needed attending to, however -- the viewfinder window had been pushed in so that it was askew. Didn't affect viewing but I was concerned about it allowing dust inside the prism, so I removed the top of the camera and carefully glued the glass back into its frame. The viewfinder is actually a coated cemented doublet, I was surprised to see.

Tips & Tricks

The button to release the lens it the funny little knurled button on the upper right of the lens; it pushes down to release. Mirror lockup is the odd-looking circle on the left of the lens. That little feature is one of the reasons this camera is popular in astrophotography. The aperture preview button on the lower left stops down the blades on the first push, and releases them on the second.

There is actually a 'meter on' switch on the bottom of the camera, which also has a Battery Check setting. If the battery is good the needle goes to the little squared area in the viewfinder below the centerline (similar to Konica Autoreflex).

Lastly, and I don't know if this is just my sample or if it's typical, is that the wind lever seems to reset the shutter in two almost distinct stages, first the mirror return mechanism and then the shutter itself. Meaning that if you throw the lever quickly but don't get to the end of the stroke it will still return, with the mirror back in place but the shutter uncocked and locked. You can finish the stroke with a short one to reset the shutter. If it seems locked up this may be the reason.


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