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Konica Big Mini SR BM-100

A few months ago I picked up a Konica Big Mini SR BM-100 on the local Freecycle Network. It was a well-loved shooter, rather than a mint cabinet poser, bearing the scars and wear of international travel. The old lady who passed it onto me said she purchased it in Singapore in 1995.

The Big Mini SR BM-100 looks like shit in the daylight of 2013. Squarish. Clunky looking. Retro-burlesque, a boy in a girl’s fashion shoot. But a diamond on a riverbed or a piece of dirty gold look ordinary, too.

It wasn’t until I threw a roll of Ilford Pan F 50 in a non-DX coded cannister (the Big Mini defaulted back to ASA25) and visited the Central Business District that I realised my luck. The photographs were simply amazing. You can imagine pointing your ten-year-old old basset hound at a greyhound track and watching him break all the records. Or like watching your 55 kilogram girlfriend clean up a brawl in a biker bar.

That’s a special kind of being floored that film camera lovers drool over… the BM-100 is a cheap point-and-shoot film camera with good glass that goes for around $10 on Ebay. From a short list of Big Mini models I ran across on RangeFinder Forum, the BM-100 is the slowest glass of the series. So I wouldn’t mind checking out the faster models if any pop out of the clouds into my sunny hands.

  • Big Mini JR BM-20 [34mm F3.5]
  • Big Mini SR BM-100 [34mm F4.3]
  • Big Mini BM-201 [35mm F3.5]
  • Big Mini HG BM-300(301/302) [35mm F3.5]
  • Big Mini BM-301 [35mm F3.5]
  • Big Mini F [35mm F2.8]

In my initial research, following that first roll through the Big Mini, I also found a great article on the higher end Big Mini F (35mm with faster F2.8 glass) written by Bellamy Hunt on Japan Camera Hunter. That’s high praise from an authority on point-and-shoot royalty, right there.

The only original concern I had after the first roll was that the film advance was tardy and over-lapped frames. By the third roll the BM-100 was operating to perfection; smooth and sharp. I’ve never had such an easy time shooting in crowds and the vast majority of photographs I made at Salamanca Market that day were keepers.

Seriously, the BM-100 that I have may just be the slowest glass of the group but it’s still a great little camera. Bellamy Hunt says the Big Mini is loud, but the whirring after each shot isn’t like an obnoxious SLR so I wouldn’t sweat it. The other bonus of any point-and-shoot is it doesn’t look professional so people expect you to point it in their direction. Dare I say, people seemed to like it. Not one market stall owner came rushing at me with that crazy war face yelling “No pictures! No pictures!”

I like to keep the BM-100 in a pocket as a second camera when I’m out among people. It’s just another option. And if it breaks I’m up for $10 plus shipping to get a new one. Oh, if you happen to have a Big Mini in the back of your cupboard and don’t want it then I promise to love it for the rest of its life. Kick it over to me.

The only Big Mini manual I could come across was for the BM-201 and it appears to pretty much cover the BM-100 so I’m not entirely sure the differences weren’t cosmetic and faster glass. So, if you happen to see a Big Mini, pass over the few bucks and you won’t be disappointed.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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