Would Someone Educate me on 110 SLRs?

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by ben_hutcherson, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Maybe(probably) I'm nuts for even wanting to bother with smaller than 35mm cameras, but after buying a high end APS camera I'd also like to give 110 another shot.

    I had one of the Kodak pocket cameras many years ago, but of course that left a lot to be desired. Given the price of the cameras these days, it seems pointless to buy anything short of the best.

    I don't think Nikon or Canon-my first choices-made SLRs, so it looks like I need to go with someone else.

    From my limited research, it seems that Minolta, Pentax, and Olympus are the options. I have the most experience with Pentax in that I have a Pentax 645, but I've always had the utmost respect for Olympus optics.

    So, can someone give me a run-down of what's out there both in terms of camera quality, lens quality, and lens selection? Again, I don't know really where to start, but I'd prefer a camera with as much manual control as possible

  2. SCL


    Don't know anything about them, but you might try Googleing them and see what crops up.
  3. I looked before posting, but didn't find a whole lot.

    With that said, the Pentax Auto 110 looks like it might be the best option and I can get a 3 lens kit for well under $100 on Ebay.

    So, I guess the question would be

    1. Does anyone have any experience with this system

    2. Are there any known issues with them?
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Pentax, Minolta and Rollei made some interesting ones back when I was in camera sales. Plenty out online at JDM's preferred Pizza prices. As to issues, can't recall any in particular, but they didn't particularly interest me compared to other larger formats - and they were New!
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  5. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    The Pentax Auto 110 is a well-made precision camera with good optics and a wide selection of lenses and accessories. However, exposure is programmed with no manual control or exposure lock, and film speed is automatically set at either ISO 80 or 320. The Auto 110 Super had more features, but is much less common and fetches higher prices. As far as new film, you're pretty much limited to Lomography brand.

    I've not used the Minolta 110 SLR and wasn't aware that Olympus ever made a 110 camera. The Minoltas show up in thrift shops pretty often, usually for cheap.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  6. I have some 110 Kodacolor refrigerated since new. Some years ago, I got a Minolta on eBay, but haven't connected it with film yet.

    I also have a roll or two of VP110 to use with it.

    I suspect that labs doing 110 C41 are not so easy to find.

    I have a C41 kit, which might be used with that, and also some 116 Kodacolor, when I get to it.
  7. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    There are also some eBay vendors still selling expired Fujicolor 110. Dwayne's Photo still does 110 processing as well.
  8. That part actually isn't so much of a problem, since I'm pretty sure my local lab can do it. If not, there's always Dwayne's.

    For B&W, my Yankee Clipper tank has a slot. I have a love-hate relationship with that tank-as awful as it is in many ways, it's wonderful when it comes to oddball film sizes.

    I notice that Lomo actually sells an E-6 process film, but it's ASA 200 which means that the Pentax is out for shooting it. I actually rather like 110 slides, although I suspect that getting 2x2 110 mounts would be a matter of finding old stock.

    In any case, thanks for all the replies. I'm going to keep my eyes open for a nice Pentax Auto 110 outfit. The 110 Super seems to bring enough of a price difference with the only meaningful(to me) additional feature being the exposure compensation button.
  9. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Ben, the Pentax is fun to use, with a nice, bright viewfinder and split-image focusing. Given the limitations of the camera and 110 format, they're capable of good results too, probably comparable to some half-frame 35mm cameras.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  10. I think you mean Yankee II.

    My first tank, when I started in 1967, was a Yankee II. (The original Yankee does 116, and not 110.)

    The one I had is long gone, but a few years ago I bought one on eBay, mostly for 110. (In unused condition.)

    In the early 110 days, my grandmother got a 110 camera for Christmas one year, and I tried it out with VP110.
  11. You're right-a Yankee II.

    It was my first tank also, and I've since picked up a second in an odd lot of darkroom stuff I bought. I bought my first from B&H around 2005, but I think they still have them. I know Yankee still makes darkroom products-I looked at their 4x5 tank when I was shopping for one earlier this year, but it does not get the most favorable reviews(I ended up with an SP455, which is the new kid on the block).

    For all its clumsiness and the weird rotating agitation, I love that the reel is virtually infinitely adjustable. I filed a notch in one of mine for 2x3 sheets, and I'd put another in for 127 if I had the occasion to do it. With that said, though, if I were going to do much I'd rather just watch Ebay for a Hewes or Nikor reel in whatever oddball size I needed.

    The Yankee will do 116 also, won't it? I seem to recall that mine have a notch past 120/220.
  12. I recall reading Pentax reviews and a buddy's family had a 110 kit. He complains about it spoiling an exotic vacation by not boldly going on strike due to empty battery; i.e. apparently you can still crank your film through the camera, it just lacks the power to expose it on it's way.
    While the Pentax offers interchangeable lenses and Minolta just a fixed zoom, the Pentax has a programmed shutter with 4 straight blades. Means bokeh should look odd. and the aperture is not positioned at an optimal place.
    General thought: Don't shoot smaller than 35mm, it tends to cost extra. 110 has only 24 exposures but you pay for processing a roll. Maybe you'll get regular priced prints at least. - Minox were more expensive and kind of out of my reach.
    If you want compact: get a Minox 35 or a nice older folder. Even half frame cameras might be more rewarding, since they should come with their own functional film pressure plates instead of what Kodak were trying to get away with.
  13. Rick Drawbridge did a nice presentation on the first, less conventional, Minolta 110 zoom here in the classic cameras forum - Small Minolta, Big Post.. Minolta also did a Mark II which looks like an SLR and offered more controls, including apertures and exposure compensation.

  14. I don't know about Olympus 110 SLR but Pentax made the entire system with interchangeable lenses. Minolta made 2 models but they both have non-interchangeable zoom lens. They are cool but I didn't want to get them as quality of the images are poor due to the small film.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  15. As intriguing as the Auto 110 is, I started looking into half frame also.

    The Olympus Pen FT looks like a good option, although the cost of entry is a lot higher than a 110 SLR. The advantage, of course, is that film is readily available and I have the infrastructure in place both to handle it myself(in B&W) and outsource it.

    So, I'm going to be keeping my eyes open for a good Pen FT outfit.
  16. Don't buy a 110 camera (to use) if you can't develop the film yourself.

    Well, if Dwayne's does it, I suppose that is fine, but that will add to the cost of already expensive film.

    But to me, the developing of unusual sizes is part of the fun of using them.

    Instead of half frame, you could fine a Mercury II, which is about 2/3 frame.
    (Close to square, but not quite.)
    The Mercury II also has an interesting rotary focal plane shutter.
  17. Ben, why not just mask half the frame on one of the many 35mm cameras I know you already own?

    Yes, I'm being facetious, but actually wanting to degrade the already marginal performance of 35mm film!?

    It's not like you'll save money on film, since the camera cost will most likely more than offset that.

    I remember there used to be a guy on Pnet who insisted on shooting a Minox. His eye for a picture was very good, but he shot static and carefully composed scenes that just didn't warrant the use of sub-miniature film. As a consequence, the image quality was noticeably reduced, even at the 700 pixel wide former limit here. A total shame. I'd love to see what he could have done if he'd thrown that 16mm toy away and used a decent camera.

    I don't see the merit in making life difficult for the sake of it. Especially if the quality of your pictures suffers as a consequence.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
  18. I was amazed to discover that Lomography and a few others still sell 110 film.

    Even in its heyday, however, the results were pretty much small print only. I tried some Kodachrome once and the image quality was suck-city.

    The Pentax 110 SLR was awfully cute, though:)
    2mnycars likes this.
  19. Should not want to go for anything smaller than 35mm. I think today it makes more sense to use large format than ever. Because if you need to shoot fast, in the dark, being compact etc.. all the stuff that a 35mm has advantage can be done much better with digital. So I think large format makes a lot of sense today. I would suggest that you go larger format instead.
  20. My personal experience (sample=2) is that you'd be pretty lucky to find a Mercury that still works.
    Moreover, only look at the post-war Mercury 2, if you go down that road anyhow, since the earlier versions took a proprietary film and regular 35mm cassettes won't work (link).

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