I came to own a Minolta SR-T 101 because it was attached to a Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 lens that I purchased on eBay in November 2017. I wanted the lens to use for portraits with my Sony mirrorless camera and really had no interest in the old film camera at all, although the all-black body of the SR-T 101 did look good on the shelf next to my Yashica-Mat TLR camera. Unfortunately, the aperture blades on the lens were slow when it arrived, and soon became completely stuck wide open. I watched a YouTube video on how to disassemble the lens and clean the aperture blades, but was never willing to buy the special tool needed to open up the lens. I did use the lens a few times, shooting wide open, but for the most part the old Minolta was a shelf ornament.
Fast forward three years and I decided that the SR-T was too good of a camera in too good of condition for its age to let sit on the shelf, so I sent it off to Garry’s Camera Repair for a CLA and ordered a spanner tool to repair the lens. The camera arrived back looking great; my tool was lost by the USPS so the lens repair was still on hold, but I decided to load up a roll of Delta 400 anyway and start shooting with the wide open lens.
Supposedly the SR-T’s light meter does not work properly with modern batteries, but Garry’s standard service includes recalibration of the meter. I checked the first few exposures against the light meter app on my phone, and the camera seemed to match up consistently. After the first few frames I quit thinking about it and just trusted the camera.
The spanner tool arrived a few days later and my attempt to repair the lens was mostly successful (long story here). At least the aperture was working again-it was easy enough to hold a finger on the aperture ring when taking the shot.
We made a family trip over to Santa Fe for a couple of days for Spring Break, and I carried the SR-T with me as we wandered around town. I also explored the hallways of the La Fonda and found lots of photogenic spaces in the hotel. This was my first real experience shooting with a fully manual SLR, and I absolutely loved using it. I used a filter on almost every photo, mostly yellow but also red and green, and relied completely on the camera’s meter for every exposure. The 58mm focal length is very useable with the 35mm film, whereas it seemed to be quite limiting when paired with the APS-C digital camera.
I developed the film the day after we got back home in CineStill Df96 monobath. So far it is the only black and white developer that I’ve tried, and so far I don’t see any reason to try anything else. Negatives were scanned with my digital camera and converted using Negative Lab Pro.
My first experience with the SR-T 101 has only strengthened my love of film photography. I do regret having waited so long to have this camera refurbished. I have two more rolls of Ilford film waiting to run through this camera. And another Minolta SLR on it way to Garry’s...