Minolta SR T 101 - the most successful manual focus Minolta SLR

The SR T 101 was introduced to the market in 1966 and gained a large number of fans over the years. And for good reason, because it had a well rounded set of features, was easy to use, and cost less than other cameras with similar capabilities.

Minolta SRT 101 top view

Perhaps the most important improvement over the previous model - the SR-7 - was the full-aperture TTL CdS light meter with which this camera is equipped. It is of the match-needle type; in the viewfinder, the user brings a pointer with a circle at its end in coincidence with the light meter's needle by rotating the aperture ring on the lens, or the shutter speed dial on the top of the camera. But there is more: Minolta called it Contrast Light Compensation technology (see the small CLC under the Minolta logo), which is a way to accurately measure the light in backlit situations or with contrasty subjects. (This was achieved with two photo sensors in different positions over the prism, as anyone can see who takes off the top cover of the camera.)

Also new is the shiny diaphragm stop-down button under the self-timer lever. I have a problem with this button; it only works after the shutter has been tensioned (and the film advanced). On the first press the aperture blades close down. Press the button again to return the aperture blades to the (normal) open position. I prefer to use the stop-down lever on the lens - if there is any. But, unfortunately, this was only available on the older Minolta lenses.

The above is a close approximation of what you see in the view-finder. (None of my lenses were suitable for taking an actual photograph of the inside of the view-finder, so I simply drew one with a Paint program.) The two 'claws' move along the bottom scale and point to the shutter speed that has been set on the shutter speed dial. The two triangles on the right hand side indicate the limits of light measurement obtainable. The pointer with the circle on its tip moves up-and-down when either the shutter speed dial, the lens' aperture ring, or the film speed (ASA) dial are rotated. The objective is to bring this pointer in alignment with the light meter's needle. Finally, the rectangle between the two triangles is the battery check reference point. When the light meter's switch on the bottom of the camera is set to B.C., the needle should come to rest over this rectangle.

Internally, the coupling of the aperture ring, the shutter speed dial, and the ASA dial to the pointer in the view-finder is via strings. So, if the pointer does not move when you operate any of these controls, it could be because a string is broken, or jumped off the guiding rollers. Another frequently occurring problem with neglected cameras is that dirt gets under the aperture coupling ring and prevents the ring from moving freely.

The SR T 101 was also available in black. Now, you'd think that a cool looking black model would have as high or higher specification as its silver sister. But, look at the one on this picture - it's missing the mirror lock-up button. This is not to say, that all black cameras were made without MLU. In fact, most of them were fitted with it. At any rate, this should be an alert to look carefully and don't assume anything, when you intend to buy a camera over the internet.

Black Minolta SRT 101

The camera on this picture is fitted with a later model lens. Moreover, this is the astonishing f/1.2 58 mm lens, which is renowned for its nice bookey (or bokeh).

Some collectors are able to get excited over tiny details by which some, otherwise identical cameras, differ from each other. Here is one such difference; the minolta logo is painted thicker on some cameras than on others. (The one on the right has the higher serial number.)

See more pictures of the SR T 101 on my other page, where I compare it with its predecessor, the SR-7.

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