This week we take a close look at the miniature Minolta 110 Zoom SLR MKII; a real ‘SLR’ type camera with auto exposure, an excellent fixed parfocal zoom lens, aperture priority mode, exposure compensation and a lot of other features normally found on SLR’s of the day.
The great thing about this camera is; you can use it today; fresh 110 film is still available; the bad thing about this camera is; it uses 110 film. For serious picture taking, I’d stick with a 135 format (35mm) film camera at the least, and save this 110 toy for goofing off. It’s not that the camera is bad, it’s just the film.
The only decent film offering for 110 right now that mimics the old Kodacolor and Gold stuff we all used and loved back in the 70s and 80s is called ‘Lomography Tiger’ and is available here B&H, Amazon, eBay. Unfortunately, it has tiny holes in the backing paper, and will leave orange spots all over your pictures unless you tape over the back cover window as I did for the shots below; additionally, quality control seems poor; one batch has good color and contrast, the next is borderline awful. Oh well, it’s still fun to run a ‘cartridge’ through these old cameras now and then. You can still get fresh B&W, reversed rolled ‘red scale,’ regular color print, and even E-6 slide film; go here for samples.
With the introduction out of the way, let’s check out the Minolta 110 Zoom SLR MK II specs.
Name; Minolta 110 Zoom SLR MK II.
Manufactured by; Minolta Camera Co, Osaka, Japan.
Date of manufacture; ca1979.
Price; magazine article from 1981 states the list price as $342; so probably $299 street price at large dealers. Adjusted for inflation, today’s street price would be around $900. Current eBay prices for a decent working copy range anywhere from $30 to over $100 depending on condition and if it comes with the original box etc.
Build material; appears to be plastic and metal with a quality fit and finish.
Box contents; camera, instruction manual in multiple languages, neck strap and maybe the sport grip.
Weight; camera only, 17.0oz (484g).
Dimensions; 4.5″ (115mm) wide, 3.0″ (77mm) tall, and 4.0″ (102mm) deep.
Focal length; 25-67mm. Similar to 50-135mm in 135 format.
ISO; set by the film cartridge; ASA 100-400.
Focusing distance; 3.6′ (1.1m) to infinity; and 7.7″-35″ (196-890mm) using the macro mode. Maximum reproduction ratio is 0.19x. Focusing is done manually.
Viewfinder; eye level fixed pentaprism type, showing 85% of film frame area. Magnification of 0.68x at 25mm, and 1.74x at 67mm. Split image focusing spot centered in matte field. Shutter speeds show up on left side of viewfinder in one stop increments from 1/60s.
Approximate resolution; good film will make very sharp 4×6″ prints. See sample images farther down the page.
Lens; all glass parfocal Rokkor 25-67mm macro F/3.5; multi-coated 12 elements in 10 groups. Filter size is 40.5mm. Macro mode uses swing-in close-up element.
Shutter and speed; metal blade vertical traverse type, stepless electronically controlled speeds, 1/1000 to 1/4s plus mechanical ‘X’ (1/125s) and bulb settings; electromagnetic release.
Aperture; six straight blades from F/3.5, F/4, F/5.6, F/8, F/11 and F/16, with full and half stop clicks.
Features; TTL through the lens convenience, so focusing, filters and composition that you see in the viewfinder is what you get in the final picture. Bulb mode for long exposures, eyepiece adjustments, self timer, exposure compensation, and macro mode.
Film; all ‘110’ cartridges, use backing paper to show you the shot number. Negative size is 13x17mm, or about 1/4 the size of 135 format film.
Flash; none, but has hotshoe, and might have come with a kit that included the Minolta Auto 118X flash unit.
Accessories for this model; there may have been a kit with flash, carrying case etc. I also see some filters for B&W, and 9 snap-in eyepiece correctors from -4 to+3. The ‘sport grip’ is listed as an accessory in the owner’s manual.
Crippling features and omissions; must have batteries for shutter to operate.
Good features; everything you get with an standard 35mm SLR except shutter speed priority.
Product shots with descriptions. Click pictures for larger versions.
A classic ‘SLR’ camera in design, but in miniature. The ‘Minolta 110 Zoom SLR’ badge on the front uses the new style font, some of the early models used the old style.
The two dials on top control almost all of the camera functions. The left dial is for setting the aperture, it clicks on half and full stops. The ring around the aperture dial is for setting the exposure compensation, just pull up the ring, set and release. The hotshoe in the middle is good for syncing flashes at 1/125s; the Minolta Auto 118X works perfectly with this camera.
My copy has the sport grip attached; see the very first shot above for a better view; I think it came with the camera but I’m not sure; it does make the camera easier to hold.
The right side dial contains the cable release threaded shutter button in the middle, and a couple of basic settings around the perimeter. The ‘L’ is for lock, so you don’t accidentally take a picture or drain the battery from pushing down the button in your pocket or purse. ‘A’ is for auto, use this setting for just about all conditions. ‘X’ is for when you attach a flash; it locks the shutter speed at 1/125s, and ‘B’ is for bulb mode, when you want to keep the shutter open for long periods. The small lever switch on top is for ‘BC’ battery check and lights up a red LED just to the left of the switch in the picture; and ‘ST’ is for setting the 10 second self timer; which activates the same ‘BC’ red LED but now used for the self timer, which flashes during count-down.
Underneath you’ll find the A76 coin cell battery compartment, the off-center tripod socket, and the reversed single stroke winding lever with a 20° stand-off.
On the back of the camera is the viewfinder with diopter adjustment; -1.1 to +0.8 correction. The little lever on the left is for blocking out the viewfinder so stray light coming in from the back won’t affect the exposure reading on the camera. The long window in the middle is for seeing the film, backing paper and shot number; tape over when using Lomo Tiger 200 film. The vertical sliding lever on the right is for opening the back cover, and the winding lever is at the bottom.
Notice in this picture you can see the viewfinder has been blocked by pushing the switch to the down position. The flat black disc has a white dot to let you know it’s been engaged. Incidentally, when you press the shutter button to take a picture, this disk momentarily closes for the duration of the exposure; a nice touch for night shooting as it keeps stray light from entering the camera through the viewfinder.
Inside the camera I see a black curtain that blocks the mirror and back of the lens, however, everything else is standard 110. There is no ‘pressure plate’ other than the four springs on the film door that hold the cartridge firmly against the film gate.
Here’s a good look at the Minolta Zoom lens; It zooms internally, and doesn’t extend like most zoom lenses do today. Additionally, it’s also parfocal, meaning you can zoom in to focus on your subject, then zoom out and take your shot; the focus stays put no matter what length you have it set at.
When the macro switch has been engaged is shows an orange mark on top of the lens, here it’s set up for the maximum reproduction ratio of 0.19X. The most magnification comes at the short end, or 25mm.
The Olympus IS-30 DLX zoom is a fairly small 35mm camera, and doesn’t look all that much bigger when compared to the Minolta 110 Zoom MKII. I’ll take the one on the left for my vacation snaps.
110 film consists of a box, sealed wrapper, and the cartridge. 110 film has backing paper and uses arrows to point you to the first shot while winding.
The 110 cartridge is actually larger than a roll of 35mm film. With 35mm film, you had to thread the film leader on to a take up spool, not so with 110 film, you just plopped it in and closed the door.
Here are a few snaps for you to check out. All are 1600 pixels wide, which is pushing the limits of these little negatives and so-so film. Lomography Tiger 200. Click image for a larger version. Scanned on a Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED.
Under the mesquite tree, about F/8.
Close focus in macro mode at 25mm; I think it was at F/3.5.
Telephoto shot at 67mm. I see very little pincushion distortion along the roof top.
At 25mm there is moderate barrel distortion.
Close up of Lantana in macro mode, 67mm; I think at F/3.5. Spherical aberration is causing the softness here.
Red, pink, green, and cloudy weather.
Crooked wall and pool, built by a drunk construction crew; 25mm, F/8.
The Little Minolta 110 Zoom SLR MKII works very well, and it much more capable than the current batch of film that’s available; which is the biggest drawback for any 110 camera. I enjoy goofing around and snapping a bunch of random shots once in a while, but I wouldn’t use these 110 cameras for capturing important memories; the negative size is only a quarter of the area as 135 format film, so 4×6″ prints are as big as you’ll want to go where they’ll still look sharp.
The Minolta 110 Zoom is pretty small, and has an excellent lens, but it’s no pocket camera. The typical flat 110 models are more handy and pocketable. However, there are quite a few 35mm type cameras that will do a much better job than any 110, with a wide range of excellent film available, and are much less expensive, like this canon zoom model here.
Well, the tiny Minolta 110 Zoom SLR MKII would get two thumbs up if it were the 1980s; but it’s not, and this camera is much better than the current choice of films, so we’ll just keep it around for show and tell, and maybe run a cartridge through it every few years just for kicks.
That’s it for this review, please help out Photojottings by buying your goodies using my links, thanks!
Lomography film types for 110 cameras.