5 frames with...

5 frames with a Minolta Weathermatic 35 and Portra 400 – By Linda Terstad

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.

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9 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Matt
    March 3, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Great shots, love the first one. I have a weathermatic but sadly it broke on the first roll of film, I was super gutted. Since then Ive seen them popping up all over the place in instagram feeds and reviews, taunting me with the summer of lost photos and the promise of what might have been.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Linda Terstad
      March 4, 2019 at 8:19 am

      Thank you Matt! Oh it’s sad when that happens. (Also fuels the GAS/camera hoarding tendencies for me, thinking I should get the ones I want to try whenever I have a chance, hehe..) Hope some other fun summery camera turns up for you 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Kate Johnson
    March 3, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for the review. Have wondered what camera I might use for snorkeling or a white water rafting trip. This sounds like my best option.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Linda Terstad
      March 4, 2019 at 8:14 am

      Thank you! It’s a fun camera, and good especially if one appreciates a 50mm lens. But Canon made a very good 32mm underwater camera, Prima AS-1 (it also goes by other names as well, WP-1 and still some others I think). That one is smaller, very good lens, exposure and focusing.. will probably be a 5 frames with that one up soon too! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Martin Hugh Henley
    March 4, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Excellent review, Linda, and photos, too! Were these from the 35mm lens? It looks very capable, indeed. It’s funny but last night I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday. I had decided not to take any camera with me as, frankly, most of my cameras are too valuable to risk in an alcohol-fuelled environment. However, your review drew my attention to this type of camera (plastic, water/beer-proof, cheap) as being PERFECT for any situation where you want to grab some photos but don’t necessarily care about others manhandling the camera as well. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Linda Terstad
      March 4, 2019 at 8:04 am

      Thank you Martin! The portrait and the sand/grass picture is the 50mm, no 1 and 4 I am not sure though.. Portraits tend to be a lot better focused with the 50mm lens up close, than “half body portraits” with this camera.. I agree this type of camera has a lot going for them, the downside being the size. But Canon made a small waterproof camera, Prima AS-1/WP-1 (it goes by other names as well I think) that is 32mm, a very good lens for a p&s, flash can be manually set and compared to this minolta is VERY small. A 5 frames with that one will hopefully come up in a little while…

  • Avatar
    Reply
    George Appletree
    March 4, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Warm results. And fine reasoning.
    I was shooting yesterday with the Fuji HD-M that I bought for the price of a pint of beer in an English pub. That brick was preceded by a Nikon 35LAWD, that stopped working one summer day long ago. A fantastic blue plastic thing I missed for a long while. The last can’t really replace the illusion the former brought, but it makes a good job when needed (in the case that day everything works as it should)

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Linda Terstad
      March 4, 2019 at 8:11 am

      Thank you George. I actually own the Fuji HD-M too… even more ambivalent about that one actually, haha. I love how you have some control over expose (as ISO can be changed very easily from frame to frame) and I have some pictures with it I love, but it seems so inconsistent to me in when it will use a very long blurry shutter speed.. you make me curious about trying out the Nikon some time, even though my quota for underwater camera is probably full now hehe.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        George Appletree
        March 4, 2019 at 1:23 pm

        Do it Linda. Pure ergonomics and fantastic autofocus 35 mm lens. Lovely camera. Up to ten meters deep. Really I missed that camera, even I reused the lens after its end and made it work in a Contaflex. Not easy to fing a mint one maybe.

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