Good morning, all;
Just this week, I visited the Camera Guy following his time off for The Holidays. He had two cameras still sitting there waiting for me, and I was glad that I had taken a volume of money with me. Yes, it was needed. One of the cameras is an older Minolta SR-3, and it is the subject of this message:
It turns out that this SR-3 is actually the third variant, the SR-3b, with both the large size metal block mount with the two vertical chrome stripes where you could attach the clip-on accessory shutter-coupled light meter, the Minolta SR-Meter with the Selenium Cell, or the later Minolta SR-Meter-2 with the Cd-S cell light sensor, and, it also has the Automatic Lens Diaphragm Stop-down And Re-Open to Full Lens Aperture Immediately After the Completion of the Exposure Mechanism in it. The Auto Stop-Down and Re-Open Feature actually was announced with the presentation of the succeeding model, the Minolta SR-7, but it was first used and "Beta-tested" in the SR-3b. My old MInolta SR-1b that was made at the same time also has this feature.
Work on completing the collectiion of the early Minolta SR Series Cameras continues. There is one more to be found.
There are still some features of the SR Series cameras I still prefer. The lens aperture stop-down lever, on the lens, is still something I like. For me, there is still a certain charm in using these older cameras, and in the way that they work. Having one back from a full CLA, and now feeling like it did 50 years ago is very satisfying. There are still plenty of Minolta AUJTO ROKKOR lenses here, so the full "period" effect is still there, although I can also use most of the "MC" lenses also. There are even several other early lenses such as the Minolta TELE-ROKKOR-TC 1:4 f=135mm Preset Lens that now seems so small, slim, light weight, and slender, with it using 47mm diameter filters instead of the more common 55mm filters of that time period. Even 47mm was unusual, as can be see by the adoption of the 49mm filter size for the later smaller, lighter ROKKOR lenses.
The Minolta Manual Focus cameras are still a source of great pleasure with their use.
In the offerings Minolta gave to us over the years, you can find something that will exactly fit whatever interest you might prefer. If you want a real "Point-and-Shoot" camera that uses regular 35mm film, the Minolta X-700 operated in "P" or "Program" Mode, with the Auto-Winder-G or the MD-1 Motor Drive, and one of the Vivitar or Tamron Auto Focusing lenses on the X-700 will do that exactly.
Want a "bullet-proof" camera? Try the XK or the XD-11. Well, actually, I do not really know that they are truly "bullet-proof." I really do not know of any photographer's life that was saved by a Minolta catching or deflecting a bullet, like the Nikon F which did just that in South Viet Nam, but I do think they are capable of doing that also. That particular Nikon F was on display in a case in the EPOI, Ehrenreich Photo-Optical Industries, home office in San Francisco for many years.
Latte Land, Washington
I've never poked into the early SR cameras as a collector or user - been tempted a few times but don't need another "sickness". I've handled a few and like the feel, but I've limited myself, era-wise, to the SRT-XE-XD time frame. Lately, I've been frustrated by the cost of Minolta lenses. The couple that I'd still like to get are the 50 or 58mm 1.2 and the 85mm 1.7 or 2.0 - me and everybody else, it seems. I don't really have much desire for the true exotics - the Shift-CA or the VFC, say, or the fisheyes - fortunately.
My Rokkor lenses include some that I have had for, literally, decades, including some with the stop-down feature. I always liked the looks and functionality of the push-button style on the longer lenses, like the 135 and the 200mm, but never cared for the ergonomics or appearance of the lever used on the shorter lenses. I could never find it with my finger. The push button on the lens really works nice as the spring on the camera stop-down button (all of 'em, it seems) requires a lot of force, often moving the camera, while the lens mounted button has a nice, light touch for a quick DOF check. I still use the 135mm MC-PF sometimes because the slides have a nice look - very Rokkor, if you know what I mean - but the later 4/4 version is phenomenally sharp, a lens every Minolta-phile should have.
I feel that the technology of the day and Minolta's great designers really came together in the SRT era. Naturally, this was refined and became much more sophisticated further down the road but the longevity of the SRT run points to its classic nature. My original SRT-102, bought new, at spectacular expense for me in the '70s, finally became not worth the cost to repair because it just looked so ratty. I found another cosmetically real nice SRT-102 some time ago and spent about what the original camera cost having it refurbished. While I still use it out of nostalgia once in a while, ironically I use the XE and XD much more often, even though I don't have near the investment into them, emotionally or financially. However, when the archaeologists sift through the ruins of our culture, they'll find the SRT, functioning perfectly, if they could only find a battery for it.
Regarding the 24mm VFC... I've been reading about the differences in the various lenses for the Mamiya RB67. It seems that the K/L lenses have a micro-focusing ring that adjusts a floating element inside the lens. This sounds very like the VFC function. Is there any confirmation of this?
Boy, this is going back a long ways. I used to have an RB when I took pictures for a living - weddings, portraits, catalogs, etc.
Try carrying one of those things around for a whole wedding, along with a big Metz flash with a battery pack about the size of the one in my Subaru...
I didn't have a KL lens with the micro function - didn't need it - but this is what I understand of its function vis a vis the Minolta VFC:
The floating element in the standard Minolta 24mm lens moves in a seperate helical from the focusing helical that moves the rest of the lens elements - the floating element changes position independently to maintain rectilinearity throughout the lens' focusing range. That's what makes the standard 24mm so cool - it maintains sharpness, without len distortion (like a fisheye) and without focus falloff at the edge of the image (like lesser wide angles). The VFC lens allows you to control the movement of the floating element, if you want to, to increase the lens' ability to bring elements of the picture that aren't in the rectilinear plane into focus - or out of focus - it makes the focal plane convex or concave.
The Mamiya KL lenses with the micro-focus ring allow you to make the correction that the standard Minolta 24mm floating element does mechanically, only using a manual adjustment. It seems like it would also let you do what offsetting the focus on the VFC does - make the rectilinear plane curved - I ASSUME. (I don't know to what extent you can offset the floating element in the Mamiya lens). I always understood that the Mamiya lens' micro adjustment was to correct lens distortion to a rectilinear plane. It wasn't touted as a lens that does what the VFC does - i.e. give you artistic control over the focal plane - but it seems like it should.
I would like to make an announcement:
I have completed gathering all samples of the entire Minolta SR Series of SLR Cameras. This does not mean just the obvious model designations; the SR-2, SR-1, SR-3, and the SR-7. I mean all of the models, as listed, and the variations in those models, such as the SR2, SR-2a, SR-1, SR-1a, SR-1b, SR-1v, SR-1S, SR-3, SR-3a, SR-3b, SR-7, SR-7a, SR-7b, and the SR-7v and SR-7v(a).
The next SLR camera that followed introduced the SR-T Series with the SR-T 101. The SR-1S was made also during the time period with the SR-T 101 to use up the remaining parts stock for the SR-1v and the SR-7v models. I have always felt that the original SR-T 102 with the MLU was the most capable model in the SR-T Series.
This project has taken several more years than I had originally thought, along with getting a few samples that just were not worth taking in for the CLA they normally get upon arrival. In fact, in buying things from that well known great auction site on the Internet, I have found it not so great. It was finally the last camera that came today, the Minolta SR-7a, that really did match the description found in the listing, including the definition of what a "used" camera is supposed to be like, along with that phrase: ". . . but fully functional." The SR-7 that came two days ago (to replace another non-satisfactory sample) looks very nice, but the Light Meter High-Low range does not change when you push the button, the battery compartment needs to be cleaned, and the shutter works only on B, 125, 250, 500, and 1000 settings. On all other speeds the second curtain immediately follows the first curtain across the film plane blocking any light from getting to the film. Clearly this one does not meet that "but fully functional" part. It is scheduled for a CLA, so that deficiency should be corrected at that time. In the past I have spoken of getting 10% to 20% of the purchases over that auction site that could be used with just a CLA. About 60% need some repair to become "fully functional" again, and the remaining 20% could not meet my requirements for justifying the repair, and are now relegated to being possible parts sources in the future. In some ways, it was an expensive effort to gather a parts stock
So, in spite of some disappointments along the way, and it taking much longer than anticipated, it has been accomplished. It has also been fun learning the history of these cameras and their development. Some of the things that were done along the way were actually a correction of an engineering oversight, or a complete misjudgement of the users of the camera. It really has been fun learning all of the history of this interesting series of cameras. I grew photographically along with the development and offering for sale of those cameras in that time period, and learning about their history and their personalities has made it a more enjoyable effort.
Thank you, guys;
Latte Land, Washington
Congratulations Ralph, It has taken me the greater part of 45 years to assemble my collection and I do not spend any time looking for variations. Keep on shooting with them and taking great pictures on film.
I'm interested in your three different SR-3 versions. I'm aware of only two versions:
SR-3 first generation
semi auto diaphragm (re-opens after operating film advance lever)
split image ("range finder") focussing glass
lens: 55/1.8 1st generation (long travel aperture lever, unevenly spaced F stops, f/22, half stops, LV numbers)
SR-3 second generation
fully auto diaphragm (re-opens instantly after exposure)
microprism focussing glass
lens: 58/1.4 1st generation (short travel aperture lever, evenly spaced F stops, f/16, LV numbers)
And the Rokkor-TC 135mm F4 has rather a 46mm filter than a 47mm.