The Minox Page

This is my contribution to the world of the Minox camera - often thought of as the original 'Spy Camera'. I've always been fascinated by small things - Schumacher's dictum "Small is Beautiful" has always been one that strikes a chord with me, for as long as I can remember, particularly where delicate instruments are concerned, and cameras in particular. In my early college days, I always wanted a small camera, and whilst I was vaguely aware that things like the Minox existed, the possibility of actually owning one was far out of my reach.

In the end, I built one ! Not nearly so sophisticated as the Minox but it served at the time. I took it with me on my travels around Europe and America and some of the pictures still survive as well as the original negatives. Quite small (25x25x35mm), it wasn't overly complicated by any standards - a single achromatic lens with three f-stops: f/3.5, f/8 and f/16. There was a single speed shutter, around about 1/30 th. sec (when it worked...). For film, I used to cut 120 size roll fim into shorter pieces then slit them lengthwise so that I had about 6 strips of about 10mm width. This gave me about 8 pictures on a strip when all went well. It needed a changing bag to load it too. Sadly nothing of the camera survives after over 30 years though I still have the film slitter.

Some time ago I exhumed the negatives and scanned a few to see what they were like - here are a couple of them, taken on a student excursion through Greece.

(Click on the thumbnails for a larger view)

Transport MeteoraOn the left, our transport - a 1952 Austin 'Devon' A40. Slow, cramped and rather frightening at times with its cable brakes, but it survived the unmade roads perfectly with nothing worse than a minor petrol leak. (I still recall the sight of a Citroen 2CV with collapsed front suspension !) On the right, Meteora, northern Greece. These amazing volcanic rock formations were once the refuge of monks who dwelt in the caves - accessable only by rope hauled baskets !

To see some more of these pictures, have a look at a short Gallery which I've put together.

This is a digression though. Many years ago, I saw in my local camera emporium a second-hand Minox EC for sale. I'd already had acquaintance of Minox through a 35mm ML which had served me beautifully, returning hundreds of faultless pictures, so had few qualms about buying it - it sat on the shelf for quite a while as there seemed to be nobody locally who had any interest. As one rarely sees Minox cameras in this part of the world (North-East England), there were of course no other accessories available, so I have had to improvise.

For development, I had a spare Durst 35mm tank, and this was easily modified to suit by cutting the spindle of the spiral down to suit the 9mm film. A little practice turned out to be needed to insert the film, but as long as the spiral is dry, this is quite easy. The result was quite neat.

That gave me the negatives after a little experiment with developers. To display the pictures, well, that's usually the next problem most people come up against. Here I was fortunate in that I'd been working with 35mm half frame for a long time and had acquired years before, a Minolta mini enlarger as well as various half-frame cameras. Intended originally for 16mm it had proved to work fine with half-frame. It also turned out to work well with Minox format as it only required a new negative carrier to hold the Minox negatives; this I fabricated from brass shim acquired from my local hobby shop. A shorter focal length lens was also needed - I was lucky here when I found an excellent 28mm Schneider Componon which worked perfectly, I had essentially everything needed to produce pictures. The only drawback with this setup is that the condenser system is far from optimum for the negative size giving low illumination and long exposures, but I decided this was something I could live with. With all this, I was in business. It required only a film slitter which came along later on to complete my equipment. Since then I've added a some other accessories to make life easier, such as an EC tripod adapter.

Later I acquired a Minox IIIs, a 'B' and an 'LX', and a 'C' came along a little later still to more or less complete the stable. However the little EC undoubtedly can produce fine pictures when used carefully, and I've taken it everywhere I go. Some time ago, rather sadly, the original camera came to the end of its useful life after ten productive years, when the shutter mechanism failed and repair was uneconomic. Happily replacements were quickly acquired (I'm now on my third unit - the second didn't survive a slide down a steep mountain scree) for I wouldn't want my collection to be without at least one EC !  On other pages are some short galleries of pictures most of which I've taken with my original EC and its successors. Many of the scans have been made direct from original negatives using a Jenoptik JS21 scanner as well as a few from original prints scanned with a Microtek E3 scanner. The JS21 was later supplemented by a Canon FS4000. For a review of this latter scanner and useful related links, have a look here. There is also a useful support group for the scanner. It has a good deal higher specification in many respects than the JS21, notably the increase in resolution to 4000 pixels per inch though it too has been discontinued and is no longer by any means state of the art. Some of the images in my galleries have been produced from this scanner too (I'll leave it to you to work out which ones), although the JS21 is still being used quite often since it's noticeably quicker than the FS4000. (Image files are of course commensurately larger if scanned at 4000 ppi !)

Scanning from sub-miniature negatives in my experience is almost always preferable, and indeed given the considerable involvement in the darkroom required to produce colour prints (as opposed to b/w), for submini work at home, the digital route is really the only viable one unless you have a lot of time and resources to spare. Many people believe colour processing is difficult but this isn't really true - here are some of the solutions that I've evolved, applicable not just to subminiature work.

These Galleries have all been viewed and tested with Netscape, Firefox and Opera (You can even use IE if you must) at screen resolutions of
800 x 600 and 1024 x 768 but 640 x 480 is not recommended - you will have a lot of scrolling and probably won't 'get the full picture'.

All images displayed on these pages are copyright, and whilst I have no objection if you wish to make a copy
of any of them for your personal viewing, any other kind of use requires my explicit permission in writing.

To keep download times short, all images are rather compressed and detail will have been lost.
If you would like to see a higher resolution version of any particular image, just ask me.

Gallery 1 - Andalucia, Spain 

Gallery 2 - The 'Rag Bag' 

Gallery 3 - Newcastle and the North-East 

Gallery 4 - Railways  

Gallery 5 - Durham Cathedral  

Gallery 6 - The Hoppings  

Gallery 7 - Castles in Spain  

I hope you've found these pages interesting. Some of these galleries have been here for quite a long time, but I feel they're worth leaving here on record. I try to update them from time to time although some are still unfinished: I have many more sub-mini pictures to show  -  time permitting. I want to add more galleries in the future and will do so as and whenever possible, so please return as often as you can.  If you'd like to learn more about the intriguing world of Minox Sub-miniature cameras, you could do worse than have a look at the Sub Club pages where you will find lots more information and plenty of links.  Constructive comments or suggestions are always very welcome, so feel free to e-mail me !   Anti-spam: Be sure to correct the punctuation !

If you should discover a link that doesn't work, I'd much appreciate it if you'd let me know.



I will try to add some more external links in due course, but if you'd like to see further subminiature camera work,
the SubMini Web Ring is well worth a look.

Submini Webring

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Last updated May 2006

©  Stuart Hill
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