Minolta SRT 303

When a Hollywood movie becomes a blockbuster success, one can be dead certain that it will be soon followed by a second (II), third (III), etc. release.   Maybe I sound sarcastic, but it appears to me that the various new versions that came after the immensely popular SR T 101 amounted to nothing else but a clever marketing exercise that aimed to extend, as far as possible, the 101's success - and the revenue derived from it - both in time and space.   (Space being geographical locations and market segments.)   The SR T 100, which appeared in the shops in 1971, was just a dumbed down version of the 101.   It didn't have a self-timer and the shutter speed display in the view-finder was also omitted.   Its top shutter speed was a modest 1/500 sec.   The 202, the Super, and the 505 were essentially the same camera sold in various countries.   The SR T 303, released in 1973, was a genuine improvement, and I'll say more about it below.   But, the b models (100b, 303b, etc.) were again just simplified versions targeted at the budget conscious and less sophisticated customer.

The 303 stands out of the crowd.   The changes Minolta made to the 101 to create the 303 are as follows:

  • The aperture set on the lens is displayed near the top inside the view-finder.   This is achieved optically - no electronics are involved.   Notice the little window on the underside of the protruding front of the prism housing.   Notice also, that it's just above the lens' aperture scale.   Connect the dots and you can see how the system works.
  • The focusing screen has a split-image rangefinder center with a microprism field around it.   (Personally, I prefer the older screen where there was a larger microprism center spot.)
  • Hot-shoe for modern flash units.
  • It is still possible to use a PC cord to connect a flash for X or FP synchronisation.   However, there is now only one socket with a switch. (See picture.)
It is now also possible to make multiple exposures on the same frame, although the implementation is unusual.   There is no dedicated button for this.   The user is instructed to press the film rewind release button on the bottom of the camera before operating the film advance lever.   This will cock the shutter without advancing the film.   I tried it and it works well.   One would think that by releasing the sprocket the film can easily slip and the frames won't overlap properly.   However, the take up spool is tightly locked and it prevents any such slippage even if the film rewind crank is accidentally turned.

The above new features make the 303 the most desirable camera in the SR series.

Further reading:

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