Minolta SR-T-101

I love finding a good deal on a classic mechanical SLR. Such was the case with this Minolta SR-T 101. Produced from 1966 to 1975, it was among the first SLRs to offer full-aperture through-the-lens light metering, in which the camera compensates for the set aperture as it measures light. We take this for granted today.

The SR-T 101 also offers a cloth focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second, with support for film speeds from 6 to a whopping 6,400 ASA. It also offers mirror lockup, a mechanical self timer, and a depth-of-field preview button. A throwback feature is the cold accessory shoe, which means that hooking up a flash requires a cable.

Minolta SR-T-101

It’s also a throwback that the battery – the infernal banned mercury PX625 – powers only the meter. No battery? No problem – set your own exposure (for example, using the Sunny 16 rule) and just shoot. If you are eager to rely on the meter, however, drop in a zinc-air Wein cell or, as I did, use an alkaline 625 cell. Both have voltages different from the mercury cells, which theoretically can affect accurate exposure. As you’ll see, my photos turned out fine.

The SR-T 101 uses a classic match-needle system for setting exposure. With a battery installed, you turn the camera on using a switch on the bottom. Then you peer through he viewfinder. At right there are two needles, one that shows the light reading and another (the one with the loop end) that shows the current exposure setting. To get proper exposure, you adjust aperture (on the lens barrel) and shutter speed (using a dial on top of the camera) until the two needles line up.

Minolta SR-T-101

I lucked into an early SR-T 101, from 1966 or 1967. This article charts the changes over the SR-T 101’s run, but in short, because my camera has a black film-speed knob on top, and because two top-plate screws on the back of the camera are equidistant from the viewfinder, my SR-T is from the first year or so of production.

By the way, if you like sturdy mechanical SLRs also check out my reviews of the Nikon F2 (here), Pentax Spotmatic SP (here), Pentax Spotmatic F (here), Pentax KM (here), and Pentax K1000 (here). (I’m a bit of a Pentax fan.) Other Minolta SLRs I’ve reviewed include the X-700 (here), the XG 1 (here), the Maxxum 7000 (here) and the Maxxum 9xi (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

My SR-T 101 came with a 50 mm f/1.7 MC Rokkor-PF lens, which is not original to the camera. Early cameras shipped with either 58 mm f/1.4 or 55 mm f/1.7 MC Rokkor-PF lenses. The 50 mm lens on my camera wasn’t made until the mid 1970s.

No matter; the lens did a fine job. This is the barn on my buddy Kurt’s farm. It was built in 1865 north of Plymouth, Indiana, on Michigan Road lands.

The barn on Sycamore Hill

Together, the lens and camera weigh about two pounds. Holding this heavy camera in both hands, I nearly tipped over as I squatted to photograph the recently baled hay.

Sycamore Hill Hay

My mother has had this little black vase for as long as I can remember. It was on her hutch when I visited last, so I arranged it with the bowl of peanut butter cups and shot with available light. The image came back from the processor’s a little too warm, so I cooled it down in Photoshop Elements.

Black vase with peanut butter cups

An obligatory flower shot. I like how this lens and film (Fujicolor 200) rendered purple. I am seldom impressed with the purples I get; often they end up being more blue than in real life.


On a later outing with this Minolta SR-T 101 I shot Ferrania P30 Alpha, a contrasty ISO 80 film. I walked around my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, for these photos.

Grand Trunk

SR-Ts are terrific cameras once you get used to their size and weight. The controls all feel sure and strong, but lack that luxury feel of professional SLRs like Nikon’s F2 or F3. But nothing about this camera says “cheap.”

Twyckenham St. bridge

Why do cities plant trees that block their historic architecture and signage? Argh.

State Theater

You can see more photos from this camera in my Minolta SR-T 101 gallery.

If you like mechanical SLRs, you should experience an SR-T-series camera at some point. The 101 is a great place to start. Send one out for CLA (clean, lube, and adjustment) and it will give you many years, perhaps even decades, of great service. And the Rokkor lenses range from very good to sublime. There are so many ways to win with an SR-T kit.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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14 responses to “Minolta SR-T 101”

  1. Ted Kappes Avatar
    Ted Kappes

    A great classic mechanical slr. Hope the construction work isn’t in you area too long. The bridge people just left here last week.

    1. Jim Avatar

      A post is upcoming about the sewer project with photos of the destruction!

  2. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    Yes I love street destruction lol !! I was going to say the camera takes great pics, but it drives me crazy when someone says that to me, it’s like saying that hammer sure builds a great house argh !!!!

    But a cool camera though !!

    1. Jim Avatar

      What? You mean hammers don’t do the work by themselves?

      1. Bernie Kasper Avatar

        You wouldn’t believe some of the comments I have heard lol !!

  3. Mike Avatar

    That’s a really nice slide show that shows off the nice qualities the camera is capable of capturing. Its worthwhile to put some effort into the way in which photos are displayed on line.

    If you’re making pictures with all those slr cameras, you’ve got a lot more stamina than I.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Flickr made the slideshow effortless, of course. Props to Ted Kappes, who commented above and shares photos he takes with his vintage cameras at beacon225.blogspot.com, for giving me the idea for using those slideshows by example on his blog.

      I haven’t shot with a few of the SLRs I own — one’s a broken Minolta X-700 (and my second X-700), another is a second Pentax K1000, and the third is a modern Nikon N65, all given to me. I am curious about the N65 with its auto-everything. I’m unlikely to shoot the other two.

  4. Richard Avatar

    Love my Minolta SRT 100 and Learning from Your Blog

    Yes, I own 3 Minolta SLRs. One write-up is at http://whatisafilmcamera.com/minolta-srt-100-review/ for my Minolta SRT 100. Even today, if I needed just one camera, my Minolta would do just fine. My photos aren’t as nice as yours, I just shot a busy Chicago street in my neighborhood on a rainy afternoon. It’s gritty, it’s Chicago.

    Thanks for your Flickr tip for your website. You link to Flickr so everyone can see your photos. Perhaps I’ll try that.

    At Flickr I’ve started embedding links to my website so people can read about my cameras and that technique is working. People are finding me on Flickr and finding their way to my website. But I suspect me telling you how to generate website traffic is like the student telling the teacher.

    I am enjoying your blog. Everyone does there camera blog a bit differently. Hopefully all of us can keep film cameras alive and well until this younger generation starts carrying an old film camera in their bag along with their digital. Shooting with film and digital at the same time makes you think differently about your photos.

    Best Wishes.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I have two X-700s and this SR-T 101 — I think I like the SR-T a little better.

      I used to link from my Flickr photos back to my blog, and it does drive some traffic. But it can be weeks between photo upload on Flickr and a blog post appearing, and I forgot to go back and update Flickr so often that I finally just threw in the towel!

      You’re very right that switching back & forth between analog and digital does open new channels in the brain about how to take good pictures.

  5. Mike Gillard Avatar

    I like the SRT101 because it has both aperture and shutter prioritydepending on whether you move your thumb on the shutter wheel or your finger on the lens aperture adjust

  6. Lyn Whiston Avatar
    Lyn Whiston

    I bought my SRT-101 in Tokyo on a business trip in 1972. Also bought the 35mm f/1.8 and the 100mm f/2.5 lenses, a great combination. I still have all of these, altho my preferred body is an XE [aka XE-7].

    At a photo course one time, the 101 gave me over-exposed photos. We finally realized that the ring that follows the aperture tab on the lens had gunked up and wasn’t tracking the lens tab properly. That was an easy fix once the problem source was identified.

    I enjoyed the 250mm f5.6 mirror lens for some time. Finally sold it to someone in Japan for twice what I had paid for it at the sadly missed 47th St Photo.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I sort of miss my SR-T 101. It was a fine camera. I had a lot of bad luck with Minolta MF bodies; my SR-T 101 was the only reliable one. So I sold all of my Minolta MF gear and moved on.

  7. […] the way, if you enjoy Minolta SLRs, also check out my reviews of the SR-T 101 (here), SR-T 202 (here), XG 1 (here), Maxxum 7000 (here), and Maxxum 9xi (here). Or check out all of my […]

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