Wide angle lens is something very common on cheap point and shoot 35mm film camera back then. That’s because short focal length combined with small aperture can create enough depth of field for images to be in focus from around 1 meter to infinity. Because of that, camera manufacturer can create camera that is capable to deliver good image (i.e. in focus images) with only fixed focus camera, no need for AF, which will decrease the cost of the manufacturing process. Some people think that the lack of ability to choose the focus, whether using AF or zone focus, means that the camera is no good for serious shooters. But I find that the shortage can make me more relieved, because I don’t have to worry about miss focused image, and stuff. With fixed focus camera I know my standing distance to make a good sharp image, and when something that is out of the range of the DOF, I know that it will be out of focus.
And That’s the case with this camera, Minolta AF101R. The camera that is so simple and fun to use. The lens is 28mm, with fixed f/5.6 aperture, and fixed 1/125 shutter speed. The AF on the name indicates that the camera is an AF camera. But as far as I’m using it, I’ve never heard any sound indicating an AF is working. And with 28mm f/5.6 lens, what is the need for AF anyway. some website says that it’ll focus from 1,2 meter to infinity, and that’s just fine for me, whether for street or indoor shooting.
This camera has a flash with a button below the flash to control the flash. leave it as it is for auto flash mode. If you want to turn off the flash, you have to push it towards the lens, And if you want to force the flash to turn on in well-lit condition (e.g for fill flash), you have to pull the button to the edge of the camera. It’s not the most convenience way to use the flash, especially if you shoot with one hand and want no flash every time. But, with 1/125 Shutter speed and f/5.6 aperture, i’m sure you’ll want the flash to turn on, unless you’ll get an underexposed image, especially in low light situation. And the flash is also great. I don’t know how it works, but the images that I have with flash is well exposed, and the light from the flash is not too harsh. Oh btw, the ‘R’ on the name of the camera (Minolta AF101R) means that it has a red eye reduction feature.
If you are a street shooter, 28mm is a good focal length for you, and this camera have it. But the shutter speed and aperture on this camera is so limited. If you did not afraid to take a picture in crowd with flash, than this camera can be a cheap alternative for you in every lighting condition. But if you love to shoot discreetly, than this camera is not for you, unless you only use it outside on bright daylight.
What else? This camera using a DX code on your film canister to read the ASA of your film, and there’s no manual control to set the ASA. So, if you want to push/pull your film, you have to hack the DX code on your film canister. I do this a lot as I mostly use film that rolled from bulk. Oh yeah, this camera is using 2 AAA Battery. That means it is a traveller’s camera, as you can still easily find AAA battery anywhere you go.
Some says that this camera is poor man’s Klasse-W. Well I say besides its similar focal length with Klasse-W, the Image from this camera can match any high end 28mm compact camera! And I really love 28mm point of view from this camera (and any 28mm lenses) because it delivers some kind of surreal imagery. A view that is different with what our eyes looking. the wideness and the stretch. It makes me surprise every time I see images from 28mm lenses, especially the one from film camera.