The greatest camera I've ever...put in my pocket!

Last year I had the privilege of shooting one of the smallest 35mm point-and-shoot film cameras ever made. It is also one of my favorite lenses I've ever pointed at something to allow light onto film, burning an image indelibly into the fine chemicals. The camera is way out of my league but a local shop in Hanoi had one and the price was right. I traded half my camera collection in to be able to afford it. The camera is the Minolta TC-1. The body is sleek, well designed, ergonomically pleasant while barely fitting in my hand. I would shoot 4 rolls of film through it before getting the dreaded "all icons" showing in the LCD - an indication that according to the user manual means that it needs to be taken to a professional.

To give you an idea of how amazing this camera is just from an engineering standpoint, check out this advertisement photo from

I can't read Kanji, but I can guess from the high-quality airbrushed technical illustration that it says something to the extent of "We did, we created the most amazing camera ever to fit in your pocket. You're welcome. Cheers, Minolta!". Ok, that's what I think it should say. You can see from the advertisement that no space is wasted, that everything has been economized to be small and condensed within the camera's tiny frame. They want us to know that the TC-1 has it all though, it's full featured.

While I've shared with you before about my love for pocketable film camera technology, how much I love the Rollei35 in , this camera is a bit different. It offers fully automated features...almost because the aperture must always be set to one of 4 settings but shutter speed is automated and iso is based on the film DX coding or set to 100iso for non-coded film. What I love is at any time, we can quickly change the aperture to either increase depth of field for a landscape or decrease it so we can isolate our subject and get some nice bokeh. Below are two examples, one at f3.5 and one at f16.

Kodak Gold 200, f3.5
Vibe 400, f16

The camera can be set to manually adjust the exposure compensation, iso, flash for fill, night shots, etc. The autofocus can also be switched to manual focus and the viewfinder even has an analog distance meter that moves indicating the distance in both auto and manual focus modes. The LCD display on top informs of which modes are set and adjustments. There is a dial that is locked until a small button on top is pushed to release it so that it never gets tampered with by accident. I was fortunate to receive a refund on the camera and will buy a new one directly from the shop upon my return to Hanoi. If you're looking for what may be the best pocket camera ever made and like a wide-angle 28mm lens with some subtle vignetting, don't hesitate to pick one up. Just be sure it has a warranty as the camera is full of electronics and parts that require expensive/impossible repairs. It is tough, but there's a small cable ribbon that breaks and can be hard to repair even by skilled technicians (expect a long wait and expensive repair bill).

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions about the Minolta TC-1 or film photography in general, let me know. I'm a professional amateur! Happy shooting. To see more photography, please follow me at Feel free to send me a dm so I can follow you back and see your amazing work too!


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