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Loading The Minolta SRT Cameras With 35mm Film

Jan 16, 2008
Loading your SRT camera with a fresh roll of 35mm film is a simple matter. If you're new to the camera, however, you should take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the process in detail.

Get in the habit of never opening the camera back unless you are absolutely sure there is no loaded film inside. If you open the back while film is outside of the metal cassette, the film will be ruined. To check, flip up the crank handle on the rewind knob. Carefully turn the crank in a clockwise direction. If the handle spins freely, there is no film loaded in the camera, or the film has been safely rewound inside it's protective cartridge.

If the handle won't turn, there is loaded film in the camera. You will need to rewind the film so you can safely open the back. Turn the camera upside down and press down on the clutch button. You'll find the clutch located inside a small triangular shaped recess in the bottom. Press it down until it clicks and remains depressed. Return the camera to the upright position, then crank the film clockwise until the handle spins freely.

Now you can open the back. Grasp the rewind knob and pull upward in a slow, steady motion. As you pull the knob upward, you will hear a metallic click and the back will spring open. Swing the back fully open. If there is an exposed cassette in the camera, pull up on the same rewind knob and lift the cassette out.

Take a fresh roll and pull the leader out from the cassette about five inches. Place the cassette into the left side of the camera with the plastic nipple facing down. Lift up on the rewind knob to allow the cassette to fit into place, then press down on the knob to secure the film cassette.

Now take the film leader and drag it across the film platen so it fits over the dual sprockets. Insert the narrow part of the leader into the slots on the take up spool.

Once the leader is snagged onto the spool, crank the wind lever one time, watching to see that the sprocket holes engage the sprockets properly. If everything looks OK, close the back, pressing on the left edge until you hear it click into place.

Now wind the shutter lever two more times. To advance the film, you will have to press the shutter release each time the lever reaches the end of it's movement. At this point, glance at the film counter. It should be pointing at 1. Don't be greedy. If you try to stretch your film by not advancing the film advance the full two frames, you'll probably find the first image is fogged. So make sure to wind the full two frames.

Although the SRT has a robust film transport, if you don't engage the film onto the take up spool properly, it is possible for the film to slip free. If this happens, the film will not advance. In essence, you will wind up taking all your exposures on one single frame.

Minolta obviously realized this could be a problem, as they included a "Safe Load" indicator on later models of the SRT series. Don't be concerned if you own one of the majority of the SRTs that do not have this feature. It is easy to check if the film is loaded properly.

Use the same rewind trick described to check for loaded film. After you have closed the back and cranked the wind lever twice, flip up the film crank and carefully try to wind the film counter clockwise. (Do not press the clutch button) If you can move the crank more than half a turn, the film has probably slipped free. Wind it backwards a few more turns, open the back and reload the film properly.

If the film appears to be loaded OK, glance at the rewind knob when you advance the film. If film is moving through the camera, every time you advance the shutter, the rewind knob will turn counter clockwise.

After you have taken all the pictures on the roll, you must rewind it back into the cassette before opening the back and removing the cassette. If you've been paying attention, you already know how to do this. Depress the clutch button, then carefully rewind the film using the rewind knob. You will feel the film when it tugs free from the take up spool. Spin the knob a few more times until it spins freely. Now you can open the camera and removed the film for processing.
About the Author
Visit Tom Bonner's Minolta SRT site for more information on the SRT model SLRs. For additional photography tips and ideas, try the Alphatracks weblog where you will find digital camera and general photography articles. Tom Bonner provides photography and web design services to clients throughout North Carolina. You can learn more about Tom at Adventuresindesign.com.
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