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MINOX Frequently Asked Questions Part One

Riga

Model II

Model A, III, IIIs

Model B 

Model BL

Model C 

Model LX/TLX

 Model EC - ECX

Which Camera is Right For Me?
This is the most often asked question by persons new to Minox. It depends on your photographic experience, what you want to do with the camera, and your budget. Here are most of the Minox submini models in order of years manufactured per the chart on the left. The practical cameras for the beginner are, generally in this order: C, B, EC, LX, III and IIIs.
The above is a matter of opinion. This is mine. Models Riga, II, III, IIIs, B and BL are mechanical actions. There is nothing wrong with mechanical cameras. They worked for decades and with proper care can continue to work for many more. An advantage of the mechanical cameras is that they do not require batteries, and are the pure original design.

DESCRIPTIONS OF VARIOUS FEATURES:
One factor to consider with all these is that the B and all earlier cameras will advance the film whenever you trombone the

minox diagram

This X-Ray picture is of a Minox Riga

camera, whether or not you have taken the shot. This can get expensive. The BL and all cameras following will not advance film unless you trip the shutter. So you can play with them (and believe me you will) without wasting film.

All metal Minoxes have a fixed F stop, variable focus and variable shutter speed. Exposure is set by adjusting the shutter speed, not an F stop. The closest practical distance for focusing the cameras is 8 inches. Anything beyond 12 feet is considered infinity. For many uses, you can leave the focus set at 12 feet, and not need to adjust it unless you are shooting something closer than that distance.

The viewfinder through which you look is a prism which actually moves when you vary the focus. This is to correct for parallax, and is another marvelous design factor of the metal Minoxes. The shutter speeds vary from 1/1000 max (1/2000 in the LX) down to B and T. B means the shutter stays open as long as you hold the button down. T means you push the button once to open the shutter, and again to close it. Few use these capabilities, but they are there for very long exposure times in low light. Automatic cameras have an 'A' position where the camera reads the light level and picks its shutter speed. All automatic/electronic cameras can be overridden and you can manually select a speed if you wish.

USING A FLASH WITH A MINOX:
All cameras other than the Riga, II and III can accept a flash. The early model flashes use the AG1 'peanut' flashbulb and a #504 fifteen volt battery. AG1 bulbs are out of production but there is a small supply around which will last a good while yet. The #504 batteries are hard to find. I have them, imported fresh frequently. Rare batteries purchased in your local store may well be cheaper, and likely have been on the shelf for a good while and have lost much of their capacity.

Later flashes used flashcubes, Flashcubes also are long out of production but many dealers including me have a good number stashed. Batteries for earlier Minox cube flashes, however, have not been made for a long while and therefore must be considered unavailable. Later FL4 and C4 cube flashes made for the model C use the same SPX27 battery as the camera, and are perfectly usable. Either AG1 bulb flashes or later model cube flashes are perfectly usable for nearly any model which accepts a flash. The IIIs needs a special flash which is relatively scarce. I do have them, so inquire if you need a flash for the IIIs or any other camera.


All flash-capable Minoxes can use the modern 8x11 electronic flash. This originally was designed for the EC, and fits the EC directly. For other cameras, an adapter is available which converts the 8x11 flash to work with any of the other cameras. The 8x11 flash is small, about the size of a pocket pager, and uses an AA cell. It is a good investment if you will be doing any significant amount of flash photography with your Minox.


Mr. Walter Zapp, the inventor of the Minox camera, born in 1905, has died. He was still involved in Minox affairs after more than sixty years! More on Mr. Zapp and the history of Minox cameras can be found HERE



There also is a hot shoe adapter available which lets you use almost any brand flash on the Minox, as long as it has a hot shoe. Most 35mm flashes do.

DETAILS OF THE VARIOUS CAMERAS:
The Riga, II and III are relatively scarce and expensive. I do not recommend them for daily use. These are collector's items. If you want a mechanical Minox to use, consider the IIIs, B and BL.

The IIIs is the smallest mechanical Minox. It has no means to measure light levels, so you need to guesstimate light levels and the proper shutter speed to use. Many people have learned to do this. You also can use a Minox or other small separate light meter. The IIIs is still an older camera, most need the careful attention of Don Goldberg, and are fairly pricey considering. For the smallest Minox, this is a good choice.

The model after the IIIs was the B. The mechanics basically are the same between the two, however the B has a light meter added onto one end. This light meter is coupled mechanically to the shutter speed dial. You take a light meter reading which locks the reading in, then turn the shutter speed dial until an indicator geared to this knob points to the light meter needle reading. This helps a lot in setting the proper shutter speed, *however*, most of the photocells used in the B have lost a lot of their output in all these years. I have found that 1/3 to 1/2 of the model B light
meters read low. It is possible to develop an offset correction factor to compensate for this. B light meters also were not very sensitive, and the B largely is considered an outdoor camera only. The model B was the most popular model, produced in large quantities. Therefore they are readily available for rather low prices. Most Minoxes you see offered for sale will be model Bs.

An improvement on the B was the model BL. The BL is very similar to the B mechanically with one important difference: The BL will not advance film until/unless you snap the shutter. This means you can practice with it, check framing shots, show it off, and not waste a frame of film every time you open the camera.

The BL replaced the photocell in the B with another type. B photocells generate their own electricity. BL photocells change their resistance as light levels vary. A small hearing aid sized battery is needed to provide the power through the photocell. This makes the BL light meter much more sensitive, and all I have tried have been accurate so apparently this type of cell does not age as does the B. Operation of the camera and light meter is the same as the B.

Many consider the BL to be the best pocket camera. It has an accurate light meter usable indoors or outdoors, a rugged mechanical design, and still is fairly small. The downside, however, is that the BL was produced only on a limited scale, so they are relatively scarce and expensive. There is nothing wrong with getting one as a user if you can afford it.

Following the BL was the model C. The Model C was the first electronic Minox. Electronic means a photocell and electronic circuit reads the light level and automatically sets the shutter speed. The shutter also is electrically operated rather than mechanically as in all earlier Minoxes. Many prefer this, and believe electronics are more accurate, repeatable and reliable than mechanics.

The Model C uses the standard PX27 battery (readily available from me; see info on batteries elsewhere on this page). It also is the longest of all the submini Minoxes. It is still pocket sized though.

The C was a common model. Many fine examples are available for reasonable prices. It is an accurate, easy to use camera. The automatic shutter seems to read your mind and give perfect exposures even when you'd swear it couldn't because of complicated lighting or whatever. You can override the automatic shutter if you care to for whatever reason, up to 1/1000 second. Or you can leave it in automatic as most do.

I highly recommend the Minox C as a starter camera. It is accurate, easy to use, inexpensive, and reliable.

The next step up from the model C is the Model LX. This is a more recent electronic camera, and is the current design. The main differences between it and the other models is a faster shutter (up to 1/2000 where 1/1000 is the fastest speed for any of the other metal Minoxes). This will let you catch faster action and use faster film outdoors where it would be overexposed in any other camera. The LX is smaller than the C, larger than the B or BL, and a joy to see or use. It is fairly expensive relatively speaking because it is a new camera. If your budget can afford it, go to the LX. You can't buy a better camera and likely would not need anything more for a long time.

The LX currently is sold under several different variations. The CLX is a commemorative camera and was designed to be a collector's item. Not a user. Avoid it unless you like to collect expensive Minoxes. The TLX is sold currently, and is the identical LX mechanics but with a very durable and attractive matte gray titanium finish. The looks are pleasing, but underneath it is an LX. This is a practical user camera if you insist on buying new.
Other specs and capabilities are the same as for the LX.

There are some other model Minoxes not mentioned here. For the most part, they are not for beginners.

MODEL EC AND ECX
Then you have the plastic Minoxes, the model EC and the currently offered ECX. These are the smallest Minoxes, about the size of a Bic cigarette lighter. They are electronic, all automatic, and have no user settings. They are point and shoot cameras.

The EC and ECX are low cost little brothers to the classic metal Minox. I lump them both together for the most part. Advantages are: inexpensive, small, rugged, very simple to use, capable of superb pictures. Disadvantages are: No adjustments the user can override, a lens one stop slower than any other Minox, meaning you need twice as much light, maximum shutter speed of 1/500, meaning you may overexpose pictures taken outside with
fast film. Accessories for all other Minoxes do not fit the EC. Closest distance they can focus is 3 feet where other Minoxes can focus down to 8 inches. The EC/ECX have fixed focus lenses and an electronic-only shutter.

The EC/ECX are fine little cameras to carry with you always. They are so small as to nearly disappear in your pocket along with your keys and change. The minimal metal content means they do not trip airport metal detectors, making them attractive to travelers. They are cheap, so if you lose one you aren't out a week's pay.

Both flashbulb and electronic flashes are available for the EC.

There is not much difference between the EC and ECX. The ECX has an additional feature of a small light letting you know if film is loaded in the camera. This could be nice if you do not use your camera all that often.

I personally have had severe reliability problems with the ECX and prefer to stay away from them.

Don't discount them, but do not consider them the classic 'spy' Minox known for more than 50 years. Many Minoxers own both.

The above is my opinion. I have tried to be factual and objective. My personal choice of carry cameras are the LX and EC. My situation and requirements likely are very different than yours.

After reading all this, still feel free to call me or mail me if you still have any questions or would like to discuss which camera would be best for you. I would be glad to work with you.

Whatever camera you have, if it is a Minox and you are happy with it, that is all that matters.

HOW TO SELL YOUR MINOX:
I get many calls and emails every week from persons wanting to sell their Minox cameras.

First off, if the camera belonged to someone in your family, do you really want to sell it? If you need the money, fine. If not, please consider keeping it. You never know how you might feel in the future. There is a possibility you or your offspring might some day attach some sentimental value to the possession of an ancestor.

Updated:
That said, I am interested in buying rare model Minox submini cameras and accessories in excellent condition. Unless the camera is new in the box, meaning NEVER removed or handled, I am not currently buying model B, model C or IIIs models. Primarily I am interested in Riga, II, A, BL and LX cameras, especially if black or gold.
I'm also looking for black or gold light meters. I'll consider entire collections but due to the very large numbers of common grade Minoxes available, and my high standards, I'm only considering purchase of rare cameras as mentioned previously. I am interested in new (post- LX) binoculars adapters and copy stands but not pre-LX ones. I don't have room for enlargers or slide projectors in my little shop so I need to pass on them. If you wish to sell items I cannot use as mentioned above, try any of the other honest Minox dealers who may have different standards.
Worst case, try ebay, but only as a last resort.

I will check your camera thoroughly, report to you its condition, your options in selling it, and possibly make an offer. If you accept my offer, payment goes out immediately. If not, the camera goes back to you at my expense.

You will find my offers to be very generous and frequently as much or more than you would realize selling it on your own. I have purchased perhaps two hundred cameras this way, and it's very unusual for a seller to refuse my offer and ask for their camera to be returned.

Here is my office address:
SWS Security
1300 Boyd Road
Street, MD 21154-1826
USA


And my telephone number is 410-879-4035 during normal business hours in Maryland. My email address is [email protected] and is available by the link at the bottom of this page. Check my numerous references on these pages if you have any concern about sending your camera to me. Or ask on any of the Minox forums or email lists. Virtually every regular knows me.

If you send your camera, please be *certain* to include the following:

>Your name, address and telephone number

>Your email address (most of my communication is via email)

>A simple inventory of items you are sending, so I don't get your items mixed up with anyone else's. At any given time there may be a dozen Minoxes on my desk.




For those of you who might like to see what I look like, here is a link to a picture of my lovely wife Karensa and me: Steve and Karensa

For a one stop single largest resource of Minox historical and practical information on the Internet and 
probably in the world, visit this excellent site created by Minox guru Gerald McMullon:

http://www.submin.com

This site has, in one location, information on essentially every camera, accessory and item
Minox has
produced in their very troubled history.
Here you will find copies of instruction manuals, practical tips, serial number lists and much
much more.
Bookmark the above site and you won't need anywhere else for info on Minox, although if you have 
questions, I'm only an email away.

 

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