This little camera was released in 1980, and takes 110 film. Despite being small in stature it packs a punch, and offers just about everything a 35mm camera from that era could, but is it too much camera for the small format?
Hi everyone, Azriel Knight here and in this video, I’m talking about my first impressions of the Minolta Zoom 110, Mark II.
I picked up this little wonder last year at one of my favourite thrift shops in town, and the owner actually thought it was broken. He said the shutter wouldn’t fire, but as some of you know, in certain cameras, the shutter locks up when the battery dies. I put a fresh set it and it worked right away. I think I paid $15 bucks for it. I’m pretty sure I had the flash too but I accidentally threw it out.
This is the Mark II, which is a huge departure from the weird, flat design of the original. The first time you pick one up, you’re going to notice it has a bit of heft to it considering its size. It has an optional grip, I prefer mine on, and the controls are intuitive for anyone who’s used an aperture priority camera before.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of 110 film. You should have a look at my detailed review of The Pentax Auto 110 if you get a chance but what drew me to this camera was that even though it has an integrated lens, it has many of the same features as a full 35mm SLR. Aperture and exposure compensation are easily accessible, the viewfinder displays the resulting shutter speed, and the lens has a decent focal range of 25-67mm, which is a 50-135mm equivalent. Plus a few more surprises which I’ll get to.
One of the great things I want to say before I go any further is that unlike APS film which is discontinued, 110 film is alive and well through the company Lomography, which has several colour, and monochrome types. So if this camera interests you, know that you can get it fresh.
The other thing I should mention is that yes, you can develop this film at home, but one of the only solutions, besides a DIY project where you cut a Paterson spool, is The Yankee Clipper II tank, and the reviews are mixed at best. I did my own look at this three years ago and here’s a video on the tank.
Since I made that video, I’ve maybe used the tank once. It’s a hot piece of trash, and never would I use it for anything else.
Lastly, you will need a special holder for your film scanner, unless you’re lazy like me, and you just taped it to your existing 35mm holder.
Okay, by now you know that it’s a bit of a process to get your final image, and you should probably have that front of mind when taking everything else into account here, because this camera is actually really great, and most of the limitations, extend from the aforementioned.
If you own one, or are interested in buying one, I’m going to give you my personal pros and cons, as well as some tips, but first, here are my favourite photos taken with the Minolta 110 Zoom Mark II.
I hope you enjoyed those. I was pleasantly surprised how well the shots turned out, as the film was expired. I could also see that the lens quality was there, despite the negative size. I was really impressed. I was also disappointed that Lomo Tiger CN Film was not available on 35mm as far as I could tell. I liked the way it rendered the colours, and am now tempted to buy some fresh stuff.
The tank proved once again to be a huge pain, and two of my frames ended up damaged. I think it was the spool pushing the film back out while I was agitating, but I can’t be certain.
Okay, lets talk about some pros and cons, first the pros.
Pro #1, is obviously exposure control. That was one of my big gripes with the Pentax Auto 110. I’d much rather have control, than the ability to change lenses. The aperture dial can be adjusted in half stop increments, and the resulting shutter speed will be displayed in the viewfinder, and that’s ….
Pro #2, the viewfinder. An optical viewfinder with a split prism focusing system, and shutter speed display. If the shutter is between two stops, both speeds will light up with a red LED. The shutter itself is step less so I can’t be certain it’s in half stop increments when this happens. Arrows will also show you if you’re over or under exposed. On top of all that, a dipodic adjuster for your vision, and an eyepiece shutter lever to block unwanted light coming in from the back, if needed.
Pro#3 is the lens. Even though it’s integrated, the lens has a good range of 25-67mm, and a maximum aperture of f3.5, that remains consistent throughout the focal range. It also has a macro setting, kind of. A close up filter slides into place from the inside.
Pro#4, A few other great features include a bulb mode, a trigger socket, and a battery check. All of this crammed into a small form factor without feeling overcrowded.
Okay and now the cons.
Con#1. Some might argue that it is too much camera for the format. A lot of work was put into this thing to make it, feature wise, indistinguishable from an SLR. Because of that it may set you up for disappointment when you scan your negatives.
Con#2 is the advance lever is on the bottom and using my left hand took some getting used to. I get why they did it though.
If you’re new to 110 film or a seasoned user, I have some tips when using the Minolta.
Tip#1 is that this camera only has two film speed settings. 100 and 400. There’s this little arm in the back here which will dictate which setting by whether or not it gets pushed back by the film’s indicator tab on the right. It’s really subtle. I’m guessing lomo’s 200 speed films compensate for that.
And Tip#2 is try not to focus on image quality, that is not what this camera is for. It’s an itty bitty beast, but you won’t be making any 16x20 enlargements from these, that’s for sure.
And those are my tips. I really hope if you were on the fence about this camera, that I helped you make a more informed decision. If you already own one, you probably know what a nifty little find it is. This my friends, is my favourite 110 camera so far, definitely runs circles around the Pentax. This year I have committed to only owning one camera per format, so I’ll be getting rid of that Pentax Auto 110 real quick. What is your favourite 110 camera, let me know in the comments.