Looking for an old-school waterproof camera with a unique look? The Minolta Weathermatic 35 DL could be perfect for you. It has its kinks, but if you can look past them you'll find a fun, easy to use camera that is perfect for any outdoor activity.
My history with the Minolta Weathermatic 35 DL spans many years. My parents first purchased it in Hawaii in the early 90s on a family vacation. Being born in ’91, I do not remember this. But I do remember growing up with this camera. We used it as an all purpose camera for any occasion, and it always served us well. I can remember being about ten years old and wanting to see what was inside the camera. So I opened it up, exposing most of its current roll to the light. Soon, with the dawn of the digital age, this camera was forgotten and lost in a closet full of many other unused things…
That is until I, as a fairly new Lomographer, wanted to take pictures with any analogue camera I could get my hands on. After straightening out a few memories and making a few phone calls, I had the Weathermatic in my hands. And how excited I was! The first place I took it was the Illinois River (which, so you don’t get confused, is not in Illinois, but Oregon. Don’t ask me why.).
Before we go any further, here’s some info about the Weathermatic:
Released by Minolta in 1987, it is a dual lens compact 35mm camera with a watertight body that allows it to go up to 5m below the surface of the water. The camera switches between its two lens (1:3,5/35mm, 1:5,6/50mm) with the push of a button and the viewfinder adjusts its magnification accordingly. It is auto-focusing, auto-exposing, and auto-advancing. It takes either one 6V battery or four AAA batteries.
Now where was I…
On the first of two trips to the river after reacquiring my Weathermatic, it functioned perfectly. Me and my girlfriend (strangelilgirl) spent a day of lazily floating on the water, happily snapping analogue photos.
We had no problems with the camera, and no complaints. We used Fuji Sensia 400 which, while getting slightly overexposed above water, looked great underwater.(The only problem we had with this roll was that it got stuck in the developer at our local lab. Luckily, it made it out with minimal damage, and even caused one picture to turn out very unique. I’ll show it below.
For the second trip, we decided to use Fuji Sensia 200, hoping it would provide a compromise between getting overexposed above water and underexposed below. Which is exactly what it did!
Now, comes the sad part. During the process of shooting the second roll, the latch for the back of the camera slammed against a rock when I was getting out of the water with it. This allowed water to get inside the body, which has resulted in the camera not functioning anymore. I’ve completely dried it out, cleaned the interior, and purchased a new battery for it, but it has still failed to work. SO TAKE THIS AS A WARNING ANY FUTURE OR CURRENT OWNERS! BE CAREFUL! Even a small amount of water inside the camera can ruin it. Some precautions to take would be to never open it while its still wet and clean the O-rings after every use.
When deciding if the Weathermatic is right for you, there is one thing to keep in mind: that its almost fully automatic. The only decisions you have to make are what film to use and which lens you set it on. Other than that, you just point and shoot. This is perfect for some people, and terribly frustrating for others. So if you are someone who wants to have control over every aspect of your camera, this probably isn’t the one for you.
Finally, I apologize for there not being very many photos. This is partly due to my Weathermatic’s unfortunate demise, and also to the fact that both the rolls that were shot in it were shared with my girlfriend. If you wanted to see some more photos you could check out my girlfriend’s albums: