Minolta SRT200

Balanced Rock, Balanced Camera
Balanced Rock, Balanced Camera, by Bryan Davidson

I bought my Minolta SRT200 at a camera show in Tucson where I was floored by the reasonable prices and the chance to try out all kinds of fun toys.  There were a few grumpy old men who gave me ‘tude just for existing, but the knowledgeable and friendly people and the huge variety of working antique cameras at market price made up for that.  It was funny for me to see the bucket of old Kodak Brownie cameras going for $5 or less.  At antique stores and even thrift stores, Brownies can be found with pricetags of $50 and up.  I found an SRT200 with a 55mm f/1.4 lens and I had to have it.  It was so heavy and metally and the meter worked.

As it turns out, maybe I didn’t get the incredible historic find that I thought I got at the time, but that hardly diminishes the fun I’ve had with my SRT200.  This is what RokkorFiles.com had to say about the SRT200:

The major specifications of the budget SR-T body were now as follows:

  • Single lens reflex camera with through-the-lens CLC (Contrast Light Compensator) meter coupled to shutter and film speed.
  • Meter sensitivity EV 3 to EV 17 at ASA 100.
  • Film speeds supported ASA 6-6400
  • Fully mechanical cloth focal plane shutter with speeds from 1-1/1000 sec plus B
  • Shutter speeds 1-1/60 sec with electronic flash
  • Oversized quick return mirror for no image cut-off even with supertelephoto lenses
  • Exposure control needle visible in viewfinder
  • Flash synchronisation (X and FP)
  • Automatic reset film counter
  • Accessory shoe
As with the original SR-T 100, the later budget model does not have a lot to recommend it when other more fully featured models are now available for similar prices. At the time, however, it remained an attractive option for someone seeking a fully mechanical body with a limited budget.
Oh well, I’ve bought all of my old cameras with the intention of using them, so I’m not all that bothered by the fact that there is a better option out there.  The SRT200 was manufactured sometime between 1975 and 1977.  For reference, 1977 is the year that the original Star Wars was released.  That’s right, I knew that without looking it up.

Garden Gate
Garden Gate, by Bryan Davidson

The appeal of this camera for me is the extremely mechanical feel.  Every detail about the camera makes it feel like a finely tuned machine from the days of old:

  • Very heavy
  • Dirty (but very large) viewfinder
  • Analog needle to show exposure
  • Winding sound when changing the shutter speed dial
  • Deafening mirror-slap
  • Manual focus
  • Manual aperture ring
Kent Station
Kent Station, by Bryan Davidson

Due to the control layout, the camera operates similarly to shutter-priority, if it had automated exposure modes.  The shutter speed dial is on top, and the aperture ring is around the lens.  There are two needles visible on the right side of the viewfinder.  One is pointy, and it represents the exposure reading.  The other needle has a circle on the end of it and changing the aperture and shutter speed moves the circle.  When the circle is on top of the pointy needle, the exposures match.  A good explanation of this method along with some general comparisons between film SLR’s and DSLR’s is given here.  Maybe it’s blasphemy, but the shape and control layout of my A200 is more comfortable and more accessible than the control layout of the SRT200.  However, the simplicity of the SRT200 along with the gigantic, bright viewfinder and the mechanical feel add up to a wonderful experience.

Prickly Pear Lemonade
Prickly Pear Lemonade, by Bryan Davidson

The included 55mm f/1.4 lens was icing on the cake.  It’s not in the best condition, but the images it creates are gorgeous.  The focusing ring sticks and just feels a bit icky compared to some of my other Minolta manual focus lenses.  It’s tough to complain about the results, though.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley, by Bryan Davidson

For anyone looking for the MMM (metal, mechanical, manual) film experience, you can’t go wrong with any of the Minolta SRT cameras.  The manual focus Minolta lens lineup is fantastic and the used prices are nice and low.  Digital cameras are great and they have truly created some amazing opportunities for today’s photographers, but it’s nice every once in a while to experience what it feels like to be the one responsible for how your pictures turn out.  Try as I might, I can’t find “scene modes” or “art filters” anywhere on the SRT200.  That’s exactly why I like it.

 

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12 thoughts on “Minolta SRT200

        1. The easiest digital cameras to adapt lenses for are the Sony NEX and m4/3 because they have very short registration distance. Amazon has a good selection of adapters, or B&H or Adorama.

  1. Old Rokkor lenses work very well on NEX (and I would assume m4/3). I like the Kipon adapters on eBay, they tend to be a bit more expensive than the really cheap ones ($70 or so), but are of very high quality and always focus accurately at infinity (I have 3, Nikon, Minolta MD and Leica R).

    As for the SRT 200, that was my first real camera back in 1981 (bought it new with an MD Rokkor 45/2). While 1981 was the last production year for SRT’s and they did away with the excellent CLC meter sometime around 1977, mine was obvioiusly new-old-stock as it has the older (and better) CLC meter. I learned everything I know with that camera, and while I later went to an X-570 and zoom lenses, my pictures were much better with the SRT and primes.

    Recently I went back to using film and prime lenses and currently use two systems, Minolta and Leica R. I have some decent prime lenses for each (more wides on the Minolta and portrait/telephoto on the Leica), and of course chose an SRT 200 for my Minolta body. Recalibrated to modern batteries, the SRT 200 is every bit as nice as I remember, and while I could have had an SRT 202, a better camera in every way for only a few dollars more, I chose the 200 for sentimental reasons.

    Yes, its just as good as I remember.

  2. Wow! now I have to clean up my old SRT 200 and go find some film! This was my first camera back in….1980ish. I had to laugh when I picked it up today – that sucker must weight 2 pounds! I am such a wimp in 2013…i just bought the Canon SL1 and I LOVE it! So light and compact. But I am feeling nostalgic today about old B&W photos I used to take and my first camera. Thanks for the post!

  3. Awesome! This is the 3rd time I’ve visited this blog of yours and now that i notice we have the same WordPress theme (Ryu). What’s more, my camera is also a Minolta SRT 200 and the two lenses to work with it are Rokkor 50mm f1.7 and Rokkor 28mm f3.5. What I love about it is its MMM as you just said. In fact I have another SRL camera (Olympus OM2000) but hardly use it because of its less mechanical feel.

    My SRT 200 is great, even when the light meter and exposure meter no long worked years ago. The trouble is that it would be challenging for me to take photos with film ASA I am not familiar with such as 400. I guess the ASA 200 is okay now to me.

    Btw, anyone here knows where to find the lense Rokkor 200mm f2.8 MD tele. I read the description on Rokkorfiles and have been in love with it.

    1. That was 5 years ago, so I forget what film I used. I had a local place in Tucson, AZ develop and scan the film for me. I live in Seattle now, so I have no idea if they are still in business. Recently, I’ve used https://thedarkroom.com/ for developing and scanning. Pretty good results.

  4. I just bought this camera at a recent auction, it’s in great condition! I’m having a hard time finding the film for it though. What places online did you shop from, if any? I’m really excited and eager to start using it!

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