I have shot seven rolls of film in the last week or so–usually this happens when I have a lot of new ideas to try. But this time, it’s because I got a few new cameras. They are the last purchases for the VMLP; my collecting efforts are complete! The VMLP is about history and playtime, but I am serious about making images as well, so I bought a tiny walk-around camera. I’m excited, so I’ll introduce them now and write more extensively about them at a later time.
First up is the Minolta ER. You may remember it from the Odds and Ends post. If you do, you will recall the camera had a jammed shutter and locked aperture, so I returned it. Well, during one of my early AM perusals of eBay, another Minolta ER showed up. This is the third one I have seen, and like the others, the seller said it worked. The adage “once burned, twice shy” applies to me and the Minolta ER. I did not want to take another chance, but this is the ONLY SLR Minolta made with non-interchangeable lenses. Its uniqueness makes it a must-have for the VMLP since my goal is to shoot every major Minolta SLR. How could I leave this one out?
Being more wary and a little more savvy (I assume), I wrote to the seller and asked if the camera worked. As expected, he assured me that it did. Since I’ve never used turnip trucks for transportation, I asked how he knew it worked. Unlike most eBay sellers with whom I’ve interacted, he stated that he had tested it and stood by his description. It does work! Two B&W images were in the post about Df96 and Ultrafine 400.
The Minolta ER is supposed to have a photoelectric eye that sets the aperture to match the user’s shutter speed selection. When the sensor is working, a green light appears. The green light appeared, but the shutter speed did not seem to change to match the light—likely, the selenium sensor is spent. However, the lens is clear, and the shutter fires at different speeds.
Recently, I have wanted to shoot more around the city, and in the past would take a couple of cameras and a few lenses. Carrying around a lot of gear gets old fast. Around-the-city images are intended to tell a story about the city, not about the camera, so I asked online about point & shoot cameras. I was hoping for something small with a sharp lens, and it had to be a Minolta. After asking around, I came across a review of the Minolta Freedom Zoom 160 on 35mmc. I like this little camera! It weighs next to nothing, and the AF is fast.
The final camera is a special edition of the Minolta SR-T 201. To be honest, I had decided not to obtain a 201 for the VMLP. For cameras in the XG and SR-T series, I decided there was not enough difference between the models to warrant buying them all. As a result, I opted to buy only those in a series with historical value (e.g., first or last model or one with a significant technical improvement). The SR-T 201 did not match my inclusion criteria–then I spotted a black SR-T 201 with a waffle pattern covering. On seeing it, my first impression was the owner had re-skinned it but then I discovered it was a model sold exclusively by Ritz Camera. The seller was eager to be rid of it, and the price was good, so it made the cut. Those are my new toys and the final entrants in the VMLP! They are at the end of the review queue, but I couldn’t wait to mention them.
A final thought…
Sony has pulled its A-mount systems from its website, and many are lamenting the end of the Minolta era at Sony. As a huge Minolta fan, I see things differently than most do. By moving on from the A-mount, Sony hasn’t done anything Minolta would not have. Progress requires change, and Sony took Minolta’s know-how and technology and moved it forward—just as Minolta did when it created the A-mount, leaving the SR mount behind. Plus, Sony has not come close to abandoning Minolta technology. The LAE-5 adapter gives new life to all A-mount lenses, and there are multiple adapters available that make using SR mount lenses on Sony mirrorless cameras a breeze.
I’m actually gleeful! Sony is putting out exceptional gear and making all Minolta SLR glass from 1958 to 2004 relevant and usable! Nikon is looking for ways to cut costs, and Canon feels it necessary to prove they can do mirrorless as well as Sony has. As I said a while back—Sony, the revenge of Minolta, the re-birth of the cool!
Aha! You’ve gone to the darkside and gotten a compact! 😉
But seriously, those “millennium compacts” as a commenter on the 35mmc post you linked are pretty decent, and also cheap and underrated. That AF that the 160 has is impressive!
I got myself a “millennium compact” again, a Pentax IQZoom 150SL (also known as the Espio 150SL in Europe). Pentax IQZooms are pretty underrated and pretty good for what they are. Mine was made around 2002, same time as your Freedom Zoom, and they both look pretty similar. The 150SL lacks the super-AF that the Minolta has, but you can switch between regular AF, spot AF, and most importantly, infinity/”mountain”. Oh yeah, it also has a Bulb mode, and yeah, I have the remote to work it properly.
I wrote about it here: https://urbanadventureleague.wordpress.com/2021/05/27/a-return-of-sorts-pentax-iq-zoom-150sl-espio-150sl/
But honestly, my favorite compact has to be the Olympus XA2.
Yes, I admit to visiting the darkside. The thought of lugging around gear when, the point was the image made me buy a compact. This little camera is amazing.
I heard the PentaxIQ Zoom series is good and considered buying one. But I’m done buying cameras. I’ll check out your review though—just in case…