To finish the story...
Last summer at a garage sale I picked up the exact same model camera for $5 working fine.
Gave to my teenager so it was technically 'his' camera.
So I went back to his room and got his permission...
I switched the cameras, handed it to my mom and said. "Here you go, good as new"
If your mother doesn't need a zoom, the definitive choice cannot be anything different than a Yashica T3 , for the following obvious reasons:
- Reasonably weatherproof (protection class JIS 4);
- Carl Zeiss lens with T* treatment, Tessar scheme, 35/2.8 (not the old same 3.5), a Sirius Glass should I say if we except some vignetting.
- 16 autofocus points, not the ordinary 4 or 5, with autofocus confirmation and autofocus lock.
- Minimum focusing distance: 0.5 metres.
- Shutter goes from 1/630 to 1 second.
- Lightmeter goes from EV 3 to EV 17, silicon blue cell.
- The auto-Flash incorporated can also be forced on (fill-light coupled with autofocus) or off (no auto-crap). And its GN in metres is around 8.4 (range: 3 metres with ISO 100).
I've sold pictures taken with this camera. Like the Olympus XA or the Minox, it was meant to provide the quality you expect from an SLR.
Practical aspects for a middle-aged or more-than-middle-aged person:
- Film autoloading;
- Practical lens "shutter" which covers the lens and can be instantly moved aside, this unlocks the camera;
- Two viewfinders, one vertical, very small but very nice for self-timer shots over a table for instance, and for "candids".
- Very small, very light (275 grams).
- DX film code (64 - 1600 ISO).
This would be the perfect single-focal-length compact if it only had some exposure compensation for backlit situations.
When I bought this camera, the competition had an enormous number of similar offers, but they normally lacked the optical quality, or the wheatherproof building, or the 16-point autofocus.
I'm in love with this camera, and I'm partial to it, because it deserves it.
Cameras like the Canon Canonet or your Minolta are very good but probably a camera like the T3 is better for your mother, without giving up on image quality.
PS You probably can find one for less than $20.