2003: back to film
I spent several years shooting mostly digital and finally realized that I've actually missed my beloved Zenit
SLR. It was beginning of 2003 when I decided to try the film again. At the time we have been in the USA for several month and the budget was really tight. So I made my choice of (1) the cheapest and (2) reliable mechanical SLR system with good optics. Minolta was close enough to Zenit (much better though) and durt cheap. I picked Minolta SRT MCII on Ebay. It cost me virtually nothing. They are not just cheap but also extremely good. The lenses are also very good, most of them, even the oldies.
You can find a good description of old Minolta cameras on "Rokkor Files" site:
Minolta SRT Super
I started with Minolta SRT MCII, but the cameras were so cheap and so good...I am not a camera collector, but I have now:
Minolta SRT MCII
Minolta SRT 200
I also have fixed focals in 28mm-200mm range (28,35,45,50,55,58,135,200mm) and 35-50mm zoom. All lenses are Minolta's Rokkors (there are many third party lenses for manual Minolta, but Rokkors are better in most cases).
Not all the cameras were working when I bought them. In case of problem which I could not fix myself I send them for the repair and CLA to Garry Airapetov. His service was always been prompt, inexpensive and the quality is very good. He is offering low flat rate and 90 days warranty, here is his site:
I mostly use X570 with motor winder installed. XE-7 has quiet shutter, I often use it for street photography. Older full-manual SRT series Minoltas are perfect for my experiments with homebread soft lenses (see the next box named "Experimental Ground"). They are also proven to be perfect backup cameras.
I also made some soft lenses for 35mm myself, you can check this article:
Russian photographers call them "monocle" since lense has the only element.
I like soft effect, though shooting monocle is not easy compared to regular corrected sharp glass. Adjusting focus and aperture can be tricky and it is suffering from purple fringing,strong enough to ruin you color pictures (BW with some filters is ok).
For the monocle you need simple SLR with bright viewfinder, and old manual minoltas are perfect match. On the photo you can see my last creation -- bellows-based monocle "Big Bertha". See some example shots below and in my article above. If you interested, here is some photos of famous Russian artist (and monocle handyman) Georgy Kolosov:
Georgy Kolosov, "Religious procession on the river Velykaya",1993-1999
Haulover Beach, Miami, Florida. Minolta X500 with 130mm monocle lens.
Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida. Minolta X500 with 130mm monocle lens.
Miami-Dade Government Center Building and Public Library. Minolta XE-7, Minolta Rokkor 28mm F2.8, red filter.
Downtown Miami, Minolta XE-7, Rokkor 135mm F2.8 lens