The one that’s not really your type but still you got chemistry – that sort of sums up my feelings for the Minolta Weathermatic 35DL. On paper, most things are wrong for me with this bright bulky 80s thing. I like small cameras. Preferably black, and with some control. Preferably aperture and iso settings, but at the very least flash on or off. The Minolta Weathermatic doesn’t even have that.
But I wanted an underwater camera and it was the one I found on the Swedish ebay equivalent – plus, something about the dual focal length intrigued me. The Olympus XA (yes, small black and pretty enough) was my first go-to 35mm camera, but sometimes I longed for a longer focal length. The Weathermatic can switch between 35 and 50mm, something I’ve now learnt was something of a trend in the late 80s (there’s now also a Canon Top Twin laying around at home waiting to be tested..)
Putting in the first roll I didn’t know what to expect. It feels somewhat weird using an autofocus with no “half press step”, like I am not convinced the camera actually does any focusing (sometimes it turns out it doesn’t really). In bad light or when too close to a subject the flash goes off, but compared to other compacts I’ve used the flash is very soft and pretty, and works well for portraits. The first roll I shot in it was Portra 400, and when later using Ilford XP2 Super I realised the camera sometimes overexposes a little – but Portra 400 looks lovely and very warm when overexposed. (The Ilford XP2 Super roll looked horrible though).
All in all, there’s still ambivalence. I like the flash but wish I could turn it off when I wanted to. I think the focal lengths are perfect, but focus often isn’t. It’s big and ugly, but floats in water, and though it’s far from a stealth camera, it’s not too noisy either.