Back in 2012 I was hitting my local Goodwill like I was wont to do, looking for deals you used to be able to find back then, and in the display case was a new camera that I hadn’t seen yet, and evidently it had been there for a few weeks because it was already marked down too…maybe I hadn’t been in in a while. I was familiar with my mom’s Minolta so it thrilled me that I had finally found a camera that was her brand and I might be able to use her lenses! The best part was the price, I think tax included I spent less than $7.50 for this all-mechanical marvel. It came with a little case, a Quantaray zoom lens, a flash, the camera body, and a 50mm f/2 Minolta MD lens. When in the checkout line the music playing over the store speakers was some awful song by Nickelback and the stupid cunt in front of me was singing along which completely soured the whole experience. But that’s the story of how I acquired this particular camera, as much as I can remember considering it was a decade ago. This Minolta was my constant companion through my Intro to Photography class by virtue of being the only camera that had completely accurate shutter speeds, though after that I pretty much went to my Pentax Spotmatic and never looked back.
It and a lot of other cameras I never used much ended up being stored in a box in my mom’s garage, she made me put them out there because she wanted more storage space for her own stuff; I suppose I was a bit upset at the time but figured those boxes were going to be things I’d never end up using, and I was almost right. I’d brought those boxes down to sell at the local used camera store, and then one day I had a massive brain fart and forgot to bring my camera with me, something I almost never do, but thankfully they were willing to let me grab a camera for a few days just to have on hand…I’d feel naked without one! Not that I actually ended up needing it but it did give me the opportunity to use the old girl one last time before passing it on.
In fact I shot two partial rolls of film through this camera, partial because I got frustrated with it not being the Nikon F2 and eventually rewound the film and loaded it into one of my F2s. It’s not the Minolta’s fault, I mean what camera comes close to the Nikon F2? The SRT’s shutter advance has a quite longer throw and the lens focuses the other direction, those were my biggest gripes, but they’re the only bad things I have to say about the camera. And even if I was about to let it go, the camera was there for me when I needed it, and I’m in the point experience-wise where I can pick up just about any manual camera with a roll of ASA400 film and just shoot it without ever having to worry about not having batteries, getting proper exposure, etc, even if the ergonomics aren’t quite familiar to me anymore.
I don’t know the state of thrift stores these days and don’t know if the deals still exist that did 10 years back, but for a time Minolta cameras were the bargain if you could find one, nearly always cheaper than other brands, and with no real sense behind it besides not being as well known. An all-manual (battery only for light meter) camera like this is exactly the kind that is recommended to photography students across the country (the world?) and it’s telling that even though it’s 50 years old it just works, and probably will long after all the fancy battery-dependent electronic cameras have bit the dust. I can’t turn my nose up at this camera; it’s just that in the end I knew it needed to belong to someone else.