Minolta SR-T 101 Review

When you look at its features, it's hard to imagine that the SR-T 101 was introduced as far back as 1964. It had excellent TTL metering, a bright viewfinder, mirror lockup, depth of preview button, and a library of great optics.

The photographer set both the aperture and the shutter speed, with the assistance of the meter, and the exposure was made via the mechanical horizontal traveling focal-plane shutter with speeds from 1 sec. to 1/1000th plus B. There was also a 10-second self timer.

The only real downside for modern use is that the camera was powered by a 1.35-volt 625 mercury battery, which is, of course, no longer available.  I have had success getting the meter to power up using a zinc-air hearing aid 1.4-volt 675 battery. Since the battery is only required for the meter, everything else is fully mechanical, you can still use the camera without juice.

If you've ever wondered about the name, the story is that SR-T stands for Shashinki Refu-Tashima, attributed to Kazuo Tashima for the combined through-the-lens metering innovations developed for the SR-T series (source: Camerapedia.)

The CLC lettering on the front plate stands for "Contrast Light Compensator" metering, which uses 2 CdS cells to read the upper and lower fields in the viewfinder. Pretty darn innovative for its time considering this was a early form of patterned metering.

The SR-T 101 had a lengthy production run of 10 years. There were some minor changes over the years, but in essence the camera remained the same.

If you get your hands on a model today, you'll most likely have to replace the back door seals and the mirror bumper. This can be done at home in about 20 minutes. The meter may or may not be working. Either way, it's a great camera that captures beautiful pictures.


Camera highlights: Very bright viewfinder, great lenses, affordable price (around $25-60 for body alone), mirror lockup, innovative metering (if still working), rugged build, depth of field preview.

Nits include: Used discontinued mercury batteries, and zinc-air seems to be the only current reasonable option.

Things to ask about: The meters in these cameras can fail after 40+ years. So if you find one that's working, and many definitely are, grab it. Also the foam mirror bumper will get sticky or even deteriorate over time, as well as the seals on the back door. This is common among SLRs of this vintage. I usually replace these as a matter of course.

Overall rating: 3.5 click-stops out of 5.

It's definitely a cool camera!



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