SR-1


(1959) The SR-2 was a remarkable camera at the time, but it was also financially far beyond the reach of the average shutterbug.  It retailed at $250 in the US which was much more than most photographers wanted to spend .  That's nearly $3,000 in today's dollars -- adjusting for inflation.  Sure, it was worth it, but most people couldn't afford such a luxury, especially because there were plenty of other, high-quality, 35mm SLR cameras available at substantially lower cost.  You could get an Asahi Pentax S SLR for $195 or a German Contaflex I for a mere $150. These facts didn't help sales of the SR-2 -- at a time when rumors circulated that those "cheap Jap lenses" were filled with water -- even though the SR-2 was a far superior product.  So Minolta looked for creative ways to meet the photographic demand that the SR-2 had generated.  

In order to market their new SLR design to a wider audience, Minolta produced the SR-1 in 1959.  It was a less expensive version of the SR-2 -- with fewer features.  To save production costs, Minolta dropped the top speed of the SR-1 to 1/500, which was more than adequate for most photographic situations (the film speeds at the time were much slower than they are today).  In addition, the SR-1 was marketed with a slower, less expensive lens.  Instead of the fast, 55mm f1.8 Auto Rokkor lens sold with the SR-2, Minolta packaged the SR-1 with a new, 55mm f2.0 Auto Rokkor.  That doesn't sound like a big difference, but it retained the semi-auto-diaphragm feature of the SR-2 and saved production cost with a slower f2.0 aperture. Of course, one could purchase the faster f1.8 55mm lens with the camera instead of the f2.0 55mm, if interested.  The SR-1 also retained the other highly desirable feature of the SR-2 -- the instant return mirror.  

With the 55mm lens, the SR-1 sold at a 30% savings relative to the SR-2 -- only $175.  So the consumer could buy the SR-1 at a substantial saving -- and hardly notice a difference in features.  This was still very expensive at the time, but it was a deciding factor in keeping Minolta competitive in a very fluid market.  By 1959, just one year after the introduction of the Minolta SR-2, other well-respected Japanese SLR cameras were making their debut -- the Beseler Topcon ($195), the Canonflex ($295), the Heiland Pentax H-2 ($180), the Miranda C ($280), the Nikon F ($330), and the Petri Penta ($150) -- just to name a few.  Minolta marketed the SR-1 just in the nick of time, and was able to keep its head above the turbulent SLR waters.

The SR-1 lasted from 1959 to 1971, and was one of Minolta's longest-lasting models. But there were actually several changes to the SR-1 between 1959 and 1971, with gradual variations over time. MINMAN has grouped these SR-1 variations into "models" based on the features that we feel are most significant.  Keep in mind that these categories were decided on by MINMAN and are not any official designation by Minolta -- or anyone else.  Other web sites will only list one version of the SR-1, and some will group the various models differently.  Except for the SR-1s, these model numbers are not inscribed on the cameras.

The SR-1 was one of Minolta longest-lasting camera models  -- from 1959 to 1971 -- 12 years!  It was an essential ingredient in making Minolta a world-wide player in the photographic community.  Without the lower-priced SR-1, Minolta would not have been able to reach as many photographers as it did.  The "Minolta" name would have been less well-known, and it's history would have been completely different.  But the SR-1 introduced a sea of photographers to the wonders of SLR photography, and helped change the way that we take pictures today.  The SR-1 was lovingly retired in 1971 with the release of Minolta's new SRT100 -- an amalgamation of the of SR-1 and the SRT101.  So in some ways the SR-1 lived on for many more years.  

For a comparative look at the major features of the various SR-1 models, check out MINMAN's SLR table -- the world's most complete!

CAMERA SPECIFICATIONS
Camera SR-1 SR-1 SR-1 SR-1 SR-1 SR-1 SR-1s
Model a b c d e V s
Years made 1959-1960 1960-1961 1961-1962 1962-1963 1963-1965 1965-1967 1967-1971
Type Mechanical 35mm SLR Mechanical 35mm SLR Mechanical 35mm SLR Mechanical 35mm SLR Mechanical 35mm SLR Mechanical 35mm SLR Mechanical 35mm SLR
Shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter Fully mechanical, horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter
Metering None None None Clip-on Clip-on Clip-on Clip-on
Meter sensitivity -- -- -- Depends on clip-on meter Depends on clip-on meter Depends on clip-on meter Depends on clip-on meter
Exposure modes Manual Manual Manual Manual
Metered manual with clip-on meter
Manual
Metered manual with clip-on meter
Manual
Metered manual with clip-on meter
Manual
Metered manual with clip-on meter
Automatic exposure
adjustment
-- -- -- -- -- -- --
Viewfinder Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism
Focusing screen Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center Fresnel-field screen with a micro-prism center
Lens mount Minolta SLR bayonet
Semi-automatic diaphragm
Minolta SLR bayonet
Semi-automatic diaphragm
Minolta SLR bayonet
Automatic diaphragm
Minolta SLR bayonet
Automatic diaphragm
Minolta SLR bayonet
Automatic diaphragm
Minolta SLR bayonet
Automatic diaphragm
Minolta SLR bayonet
Automatic diaphragm
Lenses Optimum: early Auto Rokkor
Usable: later Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Optimum: early Auto Rokkor
Usable: later Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Optimum: later Auto Rokkor
Usable: early Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Optimum: later Auto Rokkor
Usable: early Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Optimum: later Auto Rokkor
Usable: early Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Optimum: later Auto Rokkor
Usable: early Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Optimum: later Auto Rokkor
Usable: early Auto Rokkor, Rokkor, MC Rokkor, MC Rokkor-X, MC Celtic, MD Rokkor, MD Celtic, MD Minolta
Mirror Instant return mirror Instant return mirror Instant return mirror Instant return mirror Instant return, over-sized mirror Instant return, over-sized mirror Instant return, over-sized mirror
Film speeds -- -- -- Depends on meter Depends on meter Depends on meter Depends on meter
Shutter speeds Mechanical: 1 - 500; B
Manual: 1 - 500; B
Mechanical: 1 - 500; B
Manual: 1 - 500; B
Mechanical: 1 - 500; B
Manual: 1 - 500; B
Mechanical: 1 - 500; B
Manual: 1 - 500; B
Mechanical: 1 - 500; B
Manual: 1 - 500; B
Mechanical: 1 - 500; B
Manual: 1 - 500; B
Mechanical: 1 - 1,000; B
Manual: 1 - 1,000; B
Flash synch X: B; 1 - 1/45
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
X: B; 1 - 1/45
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
X: B; 1 - 1/45
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
X: B; 1 - 1/45
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
X: B; 1 - 1/45
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
X: B; 1 - 1/60
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
X: B; 1 - 1/60
FP: B; 1 - 1/15
M: B; 1 - 1/15
MF: B; 1 - 1/15
Flash connection Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Clip-on, cold shoe
X and FP PC contacts
Film counter Automatically resetting type counting upward Automatically resetting type counting upward Automatically resetting type counting upward Automatically resetting type counting upward Automatically resetting type counting upward Automatically resetting type counting upward Automatically resetting type counting upward
Battery -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Stop-down
DOF button
No No No No No No No
Film Back Non-interchangeable Non-interchangeable Non-interchangeable Non-interchangeable Non-interchangeable Non-interchangeable Non-interchangeable
Multiple exposures No No No No No No No
Film advance Lever type Lever type Lever type Lever type Lever type Lever type Lever type
Self-timer Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds Mechanical, over-rideable, non-cancellable, adjustable from 4 to 10 seconds
Film reminder No No No No No No No
Other Cable release connection, tripod socket Cable release connection, tripod socket Cable release connection, tripod socket Cable release connection, tripod socket Cable release connection, tripod socket Cable release connection, tripod socket Cable release connection, tripod socket
Body size 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches 2 x 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Body weight One pound two ounces One pound two ounces One pound two ounces One pound two ounces One pound two ounces One pound two ounces One pound two ounces

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