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MINOX Frequently Asked Questions Part Two
Updated 19 November 2005

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

Minox system is not just another system. It has a basic theme like a red line linking all the components in Minox system. Minox camera is small. Many photographer likes this compactness aspect, likes its pocketability. IMO, however, 'small' is not the heart of Minox. It is minumism.

* Using the mininum area of film space, and pack maximum amount of details. Thanks to the great  COMPLAN/MINOX lenses.

* Smallest camera with maximum functionality. There is no other camera packing so much function in such a smallest volume

* The Minox daylight development is not just another development tank; it is a development tank with a philosophy: achieve superb development result with the smallest amount of material.

Not all Minox photographers  grab the essence of Minox philosophy. A good example is some photographer only consider Minox camera to be 'Minox',  treat Minox development tank as something can be dispense with they use 35mm tank to develop Minox film, using large amount of developer. It is the same thing as using medium format camera to take 8x11 picture. The essence of Minox is all lost.

Minox enlarger is another Walter Zapp's creation, with incarnation of minumuism philosophy:  sharpest and smallest enlarging lens, smallest condenser to collect maximum amount of illumination. Using 35mm enlarger to enlarge 8x11 film is the equivalent of using a Canon 35mm camera to shoot 8x11 film; or like using big bowl to drink kung fu tea. The essence is lost.

Minimumism is Fundamental in Nature

*  Water seeks its natural level to achieve the smallest  potential energy

*  A perfect sphere encloses the maximum volume with minimum surface area

*  Light travel through medium with the shortest path. Today's society is a society of abundance. Bigger is better, big SUV energy guzzler prowling the HW (then complaint/ protest about high cost of petrol ); always more, more, more.

The world of Minox created by Walter Zapp is a different; it is an incarnation one of the most fundamental law of nature. Maximum in minimum.

(Thanks for above very well stated philosophy from martin tai)


SWEET 16 RULE OF EXPOSURE

Courtesy of Charlie trentleman: The easiest way to do this is add a zero to the asa of the film and use that as the bright sunshine shutter speed. Thus, asa 100 equals 1/1000 sec in bright sunlight. Drop it down a notch for every drop in change of light. (light overcast or if their faces are partially turned away from the sun, open shade, heavy overcast) -- and so on.

Courtesy of Mark Hahn: in full sun, a good estimation of exposure is f16 and 1/ASA for shutter speed, drop two stops for clouds and two/three more for "heavy overcast"/shadows (different tables give slightly different suggestions, but this is what I use with great success).

For a Minox 8x11 the easiest approximation is to shoot with a shutter speed of 1/(10*asa) for sunny conditions and adjust shutter speeds from there for different lighting.

You can get very good at it with just a bit of practise and it is often faster than fiddling/compensating with a manual meter.

I use it exclusively with my IIIs and Techpan film (which has less latitude than most films) and usually get perfect results. The only downside is that my exposures are a little less consistent than those from a C or EC so it takes a little more work in the darkroom.


HOW IS MINOX SUBMINI FOCAL LENGTH DIFFERENT FROM 35MM?

The fixed f3.5 on all Minoxes except the Plastic ones (5.6 I don't know that this is equal to) is actually the same as a f12.5 on the 35 mm format --- I found this out by trial and error -- It would be a useful piece of information to include as many 35mm buffs may try Minox 8 X 11 thinking that the F3.5 is the same as on 35mm--- I did until I found under exposure on my Minox lll, if you know ahead of time that f12.5 is what you are shooting with the Minox it makes a great deal of difference in the quality of the pictures... just wanted to let you know. I know that many people value your advise and this would be useful to many of them .. Thanks to Dick in Whippleville NY for this info.


HOW DO I SAFELY REMOVE THE CHAIN FROM THE CAMERA? IS IT POSSIBLE THAT SOME HAVE REMOVED THE CHAIN AND ATTACHED SOME SORT OF KEY RING TO ATTACH AND REATTACH AS NEEDED?

Reading the manual is the easiest way!

The chain attaches to the camera via a 'bayonet' connector. The bayonet connector is a round bushing with a rectangular bar attached. The end of the camera where the chain connects has a rectangular slot to clear the bar, with a spring loaded cover behind the slot to close off and seal the slot when the chain is not attached.

To remove the chain from the camera, look on the back end of the bayonet connector. You will see a flat piece of metal with a slot machined in it. The slot probably is parallel to the front and back of the camera.

Using the small D shaped ring which attaches the chain to the bayonet connector bushing, press into the slot with the flat edge of the D shaped ring. Push in, hard, and rotate the whole assembly 90 degrees probably counterclockwise. That should line up the rectangular slug with the hole in the side of the camera, and it will pop out.

To reattach, push in and rotate 90 degrees clockwise.

Once you do this, you will see how it all operates and will be able to attach and remove the chain in seconds.

Removing model BL and C cameras from their leather cases works the same way.

The LX and TLX models do not use bayonet connectors. They simply use a threaded 1/4" x 20 standard tripod threaded stud.

Hope this helps.

Regards ... Steve


All is well now. I appreciate the helpful pointers, I'm new to the Minox line so I'm still discovering the subtleties and elegance of it's engineering.

Great!

The bayonet connector for the chain is how many accessories attach. The LX did away with the bayonet connector and went to a female 1/4- 20 threaded port, so you can thread it directly onto a tripod, but then you need a 'cable release adapter' to hold the cable release over the shutter button. Accessories made to attach via the bayonet connector don't fit the threaded port on the LX, so an LX requires new style accessories. But, new style accessories fit both the LX and the bayonet lug cameras, because Minox merely took the original bayonet connector on the accessory, and threaded the ends of it for 1/4-20. So a new style accessory (tripod, copy stand, binoculars adapter, etc.) can thread into the LX or bayonet into the older cameras.

That tripod is well engineered. I get a kick out of it.

Holler if any more questions, about any aspect of Minox. If I can't help, I will refer you to someone who can.

Regards ... Steve


HOW DO I FIND MY CAMERA'S SERIAL NUMBER?

I have one of those old Minox "spy" cameras. On the back: Minox Wetzlar III ...but I cannot find a serial number ...Where should I look?

Hi,

You have either a Minox model III or model IIIs camera. If one end, the end closest to where you look through the viewfinder, has a tiny conical connection on it, it is the much more common IIIs. The -s suffix means Sync, for flash sync. The earlier models did not have it. The serial number is inside. Here is how to find it:

DO NOT FORCE ANYTHING!

Pull the camera open as if you were going to take a picture. This is very easy to do.

Then turn the camera over. Knobs down.

Near one end on the bottom, you will see a small arc, or curve, impressed into the metal. This is a release area. If you have a chain attached, you will see this release at the chain end of the camera.

Push in on that arc with your fingernail and the camera will pull open even further. You may have to push a bit hard with your fingernail, but the camera should pull open easily. Again, do not force anything.

Inside the camera on the bottom you will see the area where a film cassette drops in. There may even be a film cassette in it.

The serial number is written on the horizontal bridge between where the two halves of the film cassette fit. It will be a number in two groups like 345 678, with a space between. Many of us do not include the space when we list serial numbers.

The numbers are small, and stamped into the metal. If your eyes are as aged as mine, you may need glasses to see the numberclearly. Some late models have a label pasted in a recess instead of having a number stamped into the metal.

Then you push the camera all the way closed. Try to minimize the time the camera is open, and try to avoid dust getting into it. Keep the camera pointed down when it is open, so dust doesn't settle inside

Hope this helps!

Regards ... Steve


THE 'CLIFF NOTES' VERSION OF WALTER ZAPP'S BIOGRAPHY VIDEO 'MINOX IS MY LIFE'. A STORY OF WALTER ZAPP, THE INVENTOR OF MINOX, AND HOW THE PRODUCT AND COMPANY EVOLVED. IN OTHER WORDS, A HISTORY OF MINOX.

(Written by and used with permission of Gerald McMullon, www.submin.com)

Subject: Minox is My Life - a video monologue by Walter Zapp

The CLX Special Edition was released in 1998 to celebrate the 60th year of the Minox Ur, the prototype of the family of Minox 8x11 cameras. To accompany the brass shell chrome plated camera is a video tape of 96 minutes. (Steve's note: this same tape later was included in the Minox Historical Society EC Special Edition Camera Package).

The video tape is available in VHS format in PAL (English and German), NTSC (in English). Copies can be ordered from Minox in Germany. I have no price on this as my English copy was given to me and the German version came with the CLX. Minox GmbH are considering a new release of the video in the latter part of 2002; presumably if they think there is the demand.

Walter Zapp opens his monologue with a quoting "When you look back at the life of a person you get the impression that it was based upon a sensible plan but a plan unknown by that person. When I look back I get the impression that Goeter was right."

The monologue then opens, as it closes with Walter Zapp using the Minox Ur, held very shakily by a man then at least his 92nd year. The Ur is now at Minox headquarters in a showcase with all the Minox models - alles in ordnung - the family is together again.

What Herr Zapp outlines in his monologue has already seen publication in the works of Heckmann(1), Moses(2) and Young(3). What the video gives are the stories retold by Walter Zapp in his own words. From his recount, you can tell the turning points of his life and what he deems important.

In a steady, very clearly spoken voice Walter Zapp recounts his life from the beginning.

Walter Zapp was born in 1905 in Riga, Lativa. When he was four and not yet able to express himself clearly he told his mother that he wanted to work in a factory. He hadn't seen a factory, not even the outside of one. His mother, horrified, tried to explain to him that he should become an engineer. To explain this further she said that he must show others what to do. Walter misunderstood again and he had the image of a supervisor or manager. No he wanted to do something himself.

Another event sticks in his mind. He passed by the school yard at playtime and the noise made a terrible impression upon him and his subsequent school life was terrible. The next turning point is when he went to the photographer, in traditional sailor suit. He was fascinated but left with questions that he did not have answered for more than 10 years.

The first world war taught him real hunger. He was a poor student and was unhappy there. This led to a total nervous breakdown in the summer of 1920, and under doctor's recommendations he quit school. His six weeks of convalescence was a decisive time and he was at last rid of the horrors of school. He studied a book on engineering. Although not a very good book, from it he learnt the first principles of physics, geometry and technical drawing.

He got, from a friend, a broken toy projector, and with this, his first lens, he undertook experiments on his own. From his position and through his lens he became aware of for the first time a factory, Valsts Elektotechniska Fabrika (VEF).

Also at this time he became very friendly with an old Jewish plumber who helped him in his experimentation and gave him his first and only lessons in basic technology - how to solder.

He got an apprenticeship in his uncle's printing business. But his hands where too shaky for work as a lithograph. The family moved to Reval in Estonia (now called Tallinn). He took a job as an engraver, but real engraving took more steadiness of hand. After half a year he found a position with the most famous photographer in Karstrasse in Reval. This was in spite of considering a darkroom as the "dark black hole" and vowing never to become a photographer, and with the gentle persuasion of his father. Here he met his next teachers, the eldest employee Johann Livenstrom and journeyman Woldemar Nieländer who spent much time with him. Nieländer in turn introduced him to Nikolai 'Nixi', Nylander's youngest brother.

Here he heard talk of focal distance and realized that this is what his experiments near the VEF factory had been about. He now sort tirelessly to question those things that where important to him. He thought, geometrically, that very small recording formats should be of greater advantage. Additionally the camera would be smaller and most importantly could be carried everywhere. Why this had not already been done he could not understand, He asked Nylander, who avoided answering him, but Livenstrom answered "Zapp is going to invent a camera". This surprised Zapp, he was talking about possibilities, but the idea took hold.

He was leant a book by an Austrian employee entitled "Compendium of Photography", which had an explanation of focal points, close up and calculations.

1924 saw him again with out work and was when he made his first patentable small invention, an improved cutting machine for pictures. But he was a poor negotiator and nothing came out of the foreign interest.

In 1925 his employer used a Leica, so a small format cameras was not so crazy, but it was still a long way off what Zapp was considering.

In 1928 he spend 4 years and 4 unhappy months in a "dark black hole". During the evenings he continued his tinkering and documented itemsthat he invented. On the last day of his job he met Richard Jürgens, a school mate of Nixi Nylander. Jürgens wanted to order a special enlarger from Zapp. On one of his visits to check up upon progress,he brought along a Russian photographer, Volga. To make a joke at Zapp's expense, he asked "He is building you a Rolleiflex?" Jürgens, the amateur took him seriously and asked "Can you do that?" Zapp's immediately response was "No, not that, but if it were something simpler and not just one."

"Okay, you found your factory here, I'm leaving." Jürgens had to go along with him, but as he left he said "We must talk about this".

Zapp was concerned, because he lacked faith in his own ability. It was now or never. Jürgens had no technical knowledge and left it all to Zapp, a trust Zapp felt he did not deserve; he was after all a self taught tinker. Jurgen funded a minimal project. During a walk Jürgen asked what Zapp thought of the small camera format and when would it end. To Jurgen's annoyance Zapp replied "Never". So Zapp was warned off revealing what he had in mind.

In 1934 he told Jürgens a parable. You know that the big ocean liners are all unsinkable but they carry on them life boats just in case. "So?" I have to admit that we are sailing on such a giant and we aresinking. And I too have a small lifeboat just in case. And showed him a small wooden block I had prepared earlier and had held hidden in his hand.. this graphically demonstrated how small a camera could be. Jürgen now understood.

But could something so small really work? With the technology of the time a double cassette seemed the best solution, but without plastic they had to be welded in tin. However, the cost of a picture has to be kept low and so the film would be 50 pictures long. Niki was asked for an option. Niki saw the wooden block and asked for all sorts of wishes. Zapp thought the professional must be right. Later Niki thought Zapp had really gone mad and his wishes were to humour him. They then considered a name. It was very different from anything at the time, so it had to sound as if it was a camera. First it must remind one of photography, like Contax. Next it was miniature, and then Nike came up with 'Minox', miniature and replacing 'a' with 'o'.

On 16th August 1935 Zapp finished his last diagram. Professor Schulz in Vienna calculated the miniature lens for them, but he was in no hurry to complete the task. In 1936 Zapp had all the parts, including the camera lens. Hans Eppner was not equipped to undertake the assembly of the lens, but tried. The lens was not symmetrical and this faulty lens is still in the original Minox. They had neither the time or funds to make a change now. So by late summer Zapp made his first test pictures. The film size was, for good reasons, 6.5x9mm. Firstly when introduced in centimetres it was easy to remember, and secondly was reducing waste. If you took a normal non-perforated 35mm film you get four strips of film without waste and enough space for the border in the new format. He made enlargements up to 13x18cm and put them on display.

Jürgens failed to get support in their homeland and then he remembered an acquaintance, an Englishman (whose name Zapp can not remember). He was the representative of a company he never heard of, VEF in Riga. But it was strictly an electro technical company. This was the first person who understood, was convinced, and contacted his company in Riga. Zapp had to look for this company and then he realised, this was the company he had stood before when he undertook his optical experimentation.

The director, Vitols, doubted the samples and wanted proof, under supervision, to take photographs and process them. When he was shownthe results he stood up and said congratulations. As a state company approval had to be sought higher up. At that time no one knew Latvia, a small country. Recognition came in wartime, "Riga, yes, that iswhere the little Minox comes from". And the hopes of the directorywere realized.

Zapp was given a tour of the factory, his first visit to such a place and he was amazed. With such equipment and in Reval Vitolsinterrupted "you created a miracle". Zapp narrates "He was mistaken." A much greater miracle was that VEF in 18 months created a new product and brought it to market. At this time, everything was made in the factory including the precision lens.

In April 1938 the camera was introduced to the domestic market and then to the international market. An American from a large department store came for the Minox. In principle, they answered yes, but onlyif you can guarantee an order of 100,000 per year. Vitols planned a second factory.

But in 1940 their homeland was turned over to the red empire and Zapp's business was at an end. Communism did not recognize private business. Zapp's contract included the clause that if for any reason VEF could not make payments then the rights returned to Zapp.

At this time the repatriation "Home to the Reich" was organized. Zapp however stated. In 1941, he heard a rumour that a position was reserved for him in Moscow, in other words deportation. The time had come and he calculated that if he travelled in the only direction still open he might survive. He also hoped that the established industry in Germany would be interested in his product. The naïve Zapp seems to have ignored the war and continued with attempts to achieve his goal - production of his Minox. He wrote first to Leitz. Leitz well knew the Minox, and Zapp was invited to the factory. Leitz was interested in the Minox, but until the war was over he wanted Zapp to work on the Leica. A high honour for which Zapp was not prepared for. He felt inadequate to high ranking engineers but he also wanted to do his own thing. Zapp however did get work forJürgens who stayed in Wetzlar, possibly saving his life.

Zapp moved on. First to Zeiss-IKON and meet the father of the Contax, who was interested, but remote. He was willing to agree to an option contract, but not until the war was over. As Zapp didn't respond, he said "What do you think? That we can not develop a miniature camera without you". Zapp answered "Yes Herr Doctor, that is what I believe" and Zapp continues "and I still believe today."

German invaded and VEF became war booty and Zapp had no choice but to go back to there. There he learnt of the fate of the only Jewish colleague in the factory, who disappeared; this was normal. Although Zapp seems to feel that this is important enough to raise in his monologue, he adds nothing more to the fact.

The Russians returned and Zapp was offered a position with AEG in Berlin to work on the electron microscope.

In 1943 the institute was bombed and they were moved to the country. They joined up with Zeiss-Ikon and Zapp took lodgings with the homeof an employee who was in a concentration camp and whose wife was Jewish. Zapp was asked if he had a problem with that. He replied "No of course not". Fortunately, the man was released after one year. So this too has stuck in Zapp's mind, but he lets the facts pass without further comment.

The sounds of the front arrived here too and they moved west towards Helmbrecht, in Balvia. Here they met the Americans. The first order,under penalty of death was that all photographic equipment was to be turned in. Too risky to hide, but too precious to hand in he did neither and went to the authorities to plead his case to keep the Ur,a Riga and the wooden block. The officer in charge was, as Zappnoted, Jewish. Zapp handed over the cameras and explained what they meant to him. The reply from the office was surprising. The officerasked what he would take for the cameras. By law they whereconfiscated. He was then taken under escort to the headquarters inBayreuth. It was a possibility but he had to hand over the cameras.Then several weeks later a high ranking office came to his house withthe cameras and asked what he would take for the cameras. He saidpolitely that he couldn't sell them. The office said okay, asked fora drink of water and left and that is how Zapp got to know the Americans.

In the early post war days everything was in ruins. Zapp was inHelmbrecht and Jürgens in Wetzlar. But Jürgens had got in contact with the American authorities who wanted to concentrate the German optical industry around Wetzlar. With American help in obtaining equipment the found a small room in the Wetzlar Bahnhofstrasse and so Minox GmbH Wetzlar was founded.

The Riga could not be produced. It was designed for production in their homeland where labour costs were cheap. Here things were different and it could not compete. The camera had to be redesigned and Zapp wanted to include new ideas. They gave themselves a year. Former colleagues from VEF were recruited. Jürgens now had to find apartner for production. Here Zapp said they made a seriousmiscalculation. The industry was in ruins and Jürgens turned to an investment agent. He had a rich capitalist with lots of money.

An appointment was arranged in Heuchelheim, near Glesson and they met Herr Rinn (Rinn und Cloos). Here they were asked about capital turnover and at what profit level; things they never had concerned themselves with at VEF. Capital was available and they took advantage of this, to their later misfortunate. Their contribution was capitalized, their abilities where given a value, and the other side offered cash. They were 50:50. The other side well knew that this was not enough. After the war there were no suppliers and for different reasons to those at VEF they had to manufacture everything in house, including the smallest screws. This required more investments and their share became a quarter, then an eight and then less and less. But to get production going they continued and even Zapp's control over production was removed from him. After the move to Heuchelheimin 1948 production began and the cameras reached the market.

1950, Walter Zapp leaves the company following irreconcilable differences with his then partners. Zapp needed to control development and production to create the extensions to his vision.The 'suits' had other ideas and did not even include him in decisions and appointments. Although these details have been published by Heckmann, it is only from Zapp's personal history that you can see how badly this affected him. He had no choice but to leave.

Four decades later another circle would close and Walter Zapp received the recognition he deserved. During that time his miniature camera became a unique hit around the globe, a status symbol and to the unhappiness of its inventory the tool of choice for the underworld and espionage.

It was 1988, Zapp had no contact with Minox and was working on small photo formats hoping to come up with a whole new concept. All his oldpartners had died, and his wife was ill. He thought it was all over. Then, out of the blue, he got an answer - Minox is bankrupt. Thegrandsons of Herr Rinn were out of office. A new start was possible,but to re-start a bankrupt company is crazy and on the other hand itis crazy to buy such a run down company. Then he got a call from the Minox Company, the bankruptcy liquidator. He came to Zapp in Switzerland and by 1st September 1989 a limited agreement was drawn up. But nothing happened until the end of 1995 and a new interested party turned up - Leica. Minox Wetzlar could again become a reality.

So after 46 years Minox GmbH retained Walter Zapp as a development engineer. "Should I succeed, in what I have set out to do, then it will be the miniature camera of the 21st Century. Even if I should not live to see it. If it succeeds then that is enough. "

Postscript. After finishing my notes from Walter Zapp's own words I read in detail the history as reported by Heckmann, Moses and Young.But why did he and the VEF technicians change to the 8x11 format? That and other questions remain unanswered.

The 92 year old (as of May 2002) Zapp's account is a well rehearsed story and the four accounts do differ in minor details. Moses for example adds that during his interviews with the US intelligence he insisted that the cameras were not solely his property, citing the legal agreement with Jurgens and through these the connection to VEF/AEG and VEF-AG in Switzerland. A tactic? No I don't think so; it was the truth. Why had Zapp not mentioned this in his monologue? Selbverständlich, it was the right thing to do.

Which of the four accounts is the more accurate? That, I shall leave you to decide.

(Excellent work Gerald. Thank you for allowing me to share this. I encourage all to visit Gerald's comprehensive website www.submin.com ).


TESTING AN EC -- HOW TO TELL IF ONE YOU HAVE EXHIBITS A COMMON FAILURE IN THIS MODEL

I picked up an EC at a show a few months back. I finally put a battery into it about a month ago.

<snip>

I then pointed the camera into a dark closet and still no warning. The battery-test, if I am using it correctly, is unresponsive.  I believe I have dead batteries after just one roll (or maybe even less)! Has anyone had a similar experience? Could I have exhausted the batteries by playing with it before the film went in?

Hi John,

Your EC most likely is broken and needs repair.

When you close the camera, a brass leaf switch opens up and kills power to the camera. That leaf is a high failure item in the EC, leaving the camera on all the time even when it is closed. That will kill a battery overnight.

The MPL battery packs last about 1/3 the time of the proper SPX27 battery available from several sources, including me.

You can check this to see if your camera has failed in this way.

Put a known good battery in it, to where you see the red LED when you push the switch over to battery test. You have to start with a knowngood battery. If the battery shows good on the battery test, placethe switch back to the normal position.

Then, point the camera into a dark area, like under your desk (what  do) and look through the viewfinder. You should see the red LED illuminated to tell you the low light level will result in a slow shutter speed. This is what is supposed to happen. If you don't see the red LED, drop the film speed thumbwheel down to the lowest ASA number.

THEN, while you are looking through the viewfinder and seeing the red LED, slowly close the camera. The LED should extinguish before you have closed the camera 1/8 inch (a few millimeters). If you still see it, the switch is defective and needs to be repaired. Take the battery out so you don't kill it.

A camera failing in this mode never will turn off, and will eat a battery in one day. Physical shock can cause the problem. I have beenshipped working ECs by honest sellers and they were defective in this manner when I received them. They failed in shipment.

Many on this list have repaired the cameras on their own. I send mine to Don Goldberg aka DAG www.dagcamera.com and let him do it better than I could. I do precision custom gunsmithing and Harley Davidson wrenching so I am not scared of either precision mechanics or hogmotors, but I would never dream of going inside a Minox. While it may be possible to do it on your own. DAG has ways of doing the repair which probably are superior. Some may argue with me. In fact, lots of people argue with me, especially lawyers in court. They're the most fun!

It's an easy and cheap fix, and most likely your problem.

You didn't wear out the battery (if the battery was good to start) by playing with it. A proper SPX27 battery will last me 2 years in an EC in regular use.

The camera draws no more battery power whether there is film loaded or not. It's not a bad idea to practice some with the camera before you do load film.

Follow other's advice to repair it yourself, or send it to DAG. I do not trust superglue and do not believe it to be a long term repair. DAG has a repair he developed involving heating rivets and melts them into the plastic to secure the brass leaf on the switch where it has broken off the little plastic posts. I do not know the exact details. I do know superglue/cyanoacrylate will not give a reliable repair and in my opinion is a waste of time.

Regards ... Steve


FILM EDGE CODES

Many cameras have film edge codes; even some 110 models (Minolta 110 Zoom SLR) and a few 35mm.

Here are the 8x11 film edge codes that I know of:

Minox III-s (no edge code)

Minox B  (no edge code)

Atoron (no edge code)

Atoron Electro (left side, bottom) wedge

Acmel MD (left side, center) triangle

Minox C (right side, bottom) semicircle

Minox BL (right side, top) semicircle

Minox LX/TLX (right side, middle) semicircle

Minox EC/ECX (top edge, right side) semicircle

(Steve's note: I do not know who to credit for this info. I picked it up off Martin's list and did not record the author. Whoever wrote it, please let me know so I can give proper attribution!)


PROPER CLEANING OF COATED OPTICS (MOST MINOX PRODUCTS)

The following was shared by Dr. Gordon Mitchell, an optical engineer in the Seattle area.

... Steve

Cleaning lenses that are mounted always are a problem. I can remember being very careful with a microscope lens... using reagent grade solvents, lint proof cloths and no pressure.  The solvent wicked around inside and created a fog on the side of the lens that I couldn't reach. What a disaster!

Cleaning coated lenses is the same as uncoated lenses unless the coating is soluble in a cleaning solvent. This is not a problem for visible wavelength lenses.

If lenses are disassembled the best way to clean them is to use a lint free cloth like

 http://www.edmundoptics.com/IOD/DisplayProduct.cfm?productid=1507

(Wow, there has to be a way to get this stuff cheaper) moistened with pure acetone or isopropanol. Drag the cloth across the lens holding it by the edges and and applying very little pressure. This will dissolve new fingerprints, etc. The solvent will evaporate uniformly leaving no garbage. Most lens tissue sold in photo shops is an adequate substitute for industrial-quality lint free wipes.

Old fingerprints likely will etch the coating of the lens making it impossible to remove them. Scratches and flaking also permanently mess up the coating.  Getting lenses recoated is not practical.

For mounted lenses the most important tool is compressed filtered (or from a spray can) air designed for blowing stuff off. Get it from your local office supply or photo store:

This is a better way for getting dust and dirt out than the normal (moist breath and T-shirt) wipe.  Depending on the method of mounting it may be possible to make a lint free wipe that can repeat the tissue drag trick above. In this case you want to be sure to limit the amount of solvent so that it doesn't get wicked in behind the lens by capillary action. The corner of the lens tissue in a bit of acetone dragged over the surface will do. Be careful to not use acetone around plastic lenses, however; it will destroy the surface of many plastics.

Using reagent grade chemicals is important because it leaves less residue. If you buy Isopropanol in the drug store it has water and who knows what in it.  The only consideration there is it will not harm people if used on the skin. There are lots of things that are OK on the skin which don't work on lenses. Go for a chemical supply place that will sell a small quantity to you. Note the warnings regarding flammability, breathability and skin contact for the solvent of your choice.

If lenses are messed up they can be cleaned better if disassembled, particularly if junk is on the inside of an assembled lens. When taking them apart you will need specialized tools like:

http://www.jensentools.com/product/group.asp?parent_id=4935

be sure to keep track of lens orientation. Normally lenses have different curvature on each surface. Lenses that are assembled from several individual lens elements may have the elements cemented together. If it is necessary to reassemble these you will need some sort of cement. In the old days natural stuff like collodion were used. Now lenses are assembled with easier-to-use adhesives like:

 http://www.edmundoptics.com/IOD/DisplayProduct.cfm?productid=1597

The spacing of elements in compound lenses is always critical. Before removing removing rings or spacers be sure to measure axial position.


HOW TO STORE YOUR MINOX, AND WHY DO THEY NEED CLAs?

I've sat back and watched all of the discussion and theories about this issue...now I will finally put in my two cents (for what that'sworth). When the mechanical Minox cameras are closed the shuttersprings are under no tension. In fact they are slightly compressed pushing the blades to their "cocked" position. The slow speed escapement spring is also at its most "relaxed" position in the "cocked" mode (that's the buzz you hear when you cock the camera, its the sound of the escapement UNwinding its tension).  Technically, it is more or less fully unwound only when the shutter speed dial is set to 1/2 sec, T or B.  So, if the theory is that springs will get a "set to them" (which I am not going to debate here) the very best way to store the camera is CLOSED with the shutter speed set to 1/2, T or B which leaves the escapement as relaxed as it can be and the shutter springs under no tension.  The only springs under tension in this mode are those which would be used to drive the slow speed escapement and you can't have those relaxed unless the slow speed escapement is tensioned, so those will have to be stored "stressed".

These are the FACTS.

As for electronic models, the same applies to the shutter springs...closed they are in slight compression. The mechanism in these also has springs which release the pins for the shutter blades. Those will be tensioned in this position, but again, you have no choice here so I suggest you live with it and don't obsess too much about them.

As for the debate about why some cameras need CLA and some don't, here's my take.  Most of it is probably due to two factors, the conditions under which the camera is stored and the lubricants used when the camera was made.  I find some cameras have a lot of gummed up lube inside which has migrated to the mechanism and caused it to by gummed up. This might be due to the lube being subjected to high temps which evaporated it from where it was placed and allow it to condense on other parts inside the camera. I know this sounds BOGUS, but I have seen enough of the insides of these little guys to know that there is not much else to explain how the gunk gets EVERYWHERE in them.  It is primarily contamination of the shutter blades which I feel causes the most failures.  When the blades get gummed up it can cause them to stick together both during firing and cocking, if they stick during cocking they can wrinkle and get bent up...then they are pretty much toast. Some cameras were made more or less "dry" and therefore there was less lube to migrate. It's my theory, again, for what it is worth...


The above contributed by Marty Doctor (one of my Minox gurus -- www.minoxdoc.com )


HOW TO STORE BATTERIES?

Steve, sorry to butt in on your private message but I thought cool temperatures killed batteries quickly or have people been giving me bad advice?

We are a manufacturer of critical military and law enforcement electronic systems where lives ride on their performance. We consume several thousand batteries a year for that end of the business, and I also sell typically one thousand SPX27 batts a year for Minox purposes, most to dealers.

We have done test after test after test, and the government has done test after test.

The common primary (nonrechargeable) batteries we see will last longer refrigerated. Note FROZEN is not good. Ice crystals will rupture things inside a cell/battery just as with food.

It is best to refrigerate Minox batteries. We buy all our batteries frequently to keep fresh stock for both the military and my personal Minox business, but for my own cameras I deliberately use old stock I don't care to sell, and 5 year old SPX27s last essentially as long as new ones from the factory.

The little 386 button cells may be a different story. They are made to low specs to meet price sensitive markets for toys and consumer equipment. I do not have a huge database of test results on them, but they probably are no different than other batteries. The 386's are the little ones Minox sells with the plastic adapter tubes. I do not care for them and they do not last nearly as long as the proper SPX27. Their main advantage is ready availability all over the world, where the SPX27 is a fairly exotic battery and not easy to find.

Some may claim refrigeration doesn't help. Well, it certainly doesn't hurt, and is free, and our fairly extensive experience dictates keeping them cool keeps them fresh longer. Remember, batteries operate via a chemical reaction. Cooling slows many chemical reactions.

Regards .... Steve


MORE ON BATTERY STORAGE:

On 4 Oct 2002 at 19:19, Godfrey DiGiorgi wrote:
What kills batteries in the refrigerator is humidity and corrosion. I keep them in a tightly sealed plastic bag, with all the air squeezed out of it, and with a packet of Silica Gel in it.

Good point for discussion Godfrey.
Actually, Godfrey, you do NOT want to use dessicant. New batteries come sealed airtight, so leave them that way.

In fact, my volume in SPX27 batteries just got high enough to where I was able to negotiate with the manufacturer to get packing to my spec. Instead of a bubble pack on a card (expensive, bulky, unnecessary because I am not a retail dealer and do not need to display the things on a shelf) I now get them in tiny plastic bags, sealed individually in strips. No printing, no expensive cardboard. A lot easier to count and pack 100 batteries for a dealer order. That is cheaper and more convenient than bubble packs, and definitely meeting the requirement for keeping a stable humidity environment. And I can drop my price a dollar.

There are published specs for preferred humidity for every battery, typically 65% to 68% but varies. You do want to keep the things from getting damp, and for this you would seal it. But you do NOT want to pull moisture out of the internal chemistry. You want to maintain it to whatever the manufacturer sealed the cell and packaged it as, presuming you don't have a humidor and instrumentation to store precisely at mfr's spec.

The cells are supposed to be sealed, but they're not perfect. Consumer batteries are crimp seals, not glass to metal hermetic seals like in medical and military cells. A difference in humidity between the inside and the outside of the cell ultimately will result in moisture migrating out of the cell, which is one of the things which kills them. Best to maintain humidity as stable as possible on both sides (inside and outside).

Remember when we were kids, and we'd drill a hole in the top of an old #6 dry cell and squirt some water in it then seal with candle wax to wake the cell up for a little while longer? One of those #6 cells was 2 weeks' allowance back then.

Steve


MY MINOX HAS CORROSION IN THE BATTERY COMPARTMENT. WHAT CAN I DO?

(From a discussion with Gerald McMullon, www.submin.com, on criteria for evaluating cameras one may be considering for purchase.)

My experience on electronic Minox cameras with corrosion has been universally poor.

The camera may still work, as you mentioned. But on the C especially, and LX to an extent, the flexible electronics board is immediately inside the camera next to the battery compartment. Should the battery contacts be corroded, almost certainly the corrosion will have migrated into the electronics board, which will ruin it. Spares are not available and if the flexible printed circuit board is damaged from corrosion, the camera is unrepairable and ultimately will fail if it works at all.

I have been through this probably fifteen times with DAG over the years.

The meter on the BL is delicate, sealed and in tight quarters. A BL with a badly corroded battery compartment probably is not worth fixing.

The bad thing is, some will clean the corrosion off the battery contacts with an ink eraser, Dremel tool or some other cleaner or abrasive and you can hardly tell there was corrosion. If you look closely, you can tell because the plating on the battery contacts has been eaten away.

But cleaning contacts does not clean the insidious corrosion inside the camera, where it continues to eat away at the thin copper traces on the flexible printed circuit board as well as attacking precision mechanics.

So, any camera of any model showing any signs of corrosion I reject automatically.

I believe it is dangerous to suggest a camera still may be OK even if it shows some signs of corrosion. Whatever leaks from mercury batteries is very vicious stuff. I am glad they have disappeared. The silver batteries do not leak.

Also, are the frame outlines in the viewfinder bright and clear and unbroken? The frame outline is a separate part from the viewfinder, and would need replacing if the frame outlines are not crisp and unbroken.

Any dents in the body may make the camera difficult to open.

Sellers not familiar with how to open the camera (to look for the serial number, for example) can ruin them. I got a Riga in once which had been pried open with a screwdriver and was completely ruined. I almost cried.

So if you ask for the serial number, you'd better tell the owner of the Minox how to open it to look! It is not self explanatory or instinctive (note: info on opening the camera is elsewhere on this webpage).

Very good work listing the info on your website. Will be valuable to many.

Regards ... Steve


HOW TO CLEAN THE INSIDES OF YOUR MINOX

This tech tip follows a thread on Martin's list about scratches on negatives and several suggestions to blow the dust out of the camera: A minor point --

As several have mentioned, you want to use *canned* air, not your breath!

Your breath is humid, with droplets of moisture. Not good.

Dry canned air is available inexpensively from many sources. A can will last a long time. I'm a heavy user, and a large can lasts me a year. I'm very liberal with the stuff, and use it on more than just cameras.

And, regardless of what some may claim, you can use canned air purchased anywhere in the world. Just because the Minox was made in Germany, you don't have to buy that expensive imported German air in those little cans!

Steve


HOW TO LOAD FILM AND SET THE EXPOSURE COUNTER ON YOUR MINOX

What is the proper setting for loading Minox film cassettes into the camera?

I realize this sounds dumb.  I understand that, as the takeup spool turns and loads film, the takeup side diameter "gets larger," so you need to make allowances to obtain proportional spacing between each frame.

It makes sense that, with less than 50 exposures, you might get some sloppy spacing but note that, with 36-exposure films, the instructions say to start at the mark between 0 and 36 which means that at the end you will be at about No. "10" on the film counter.... This is counter-intuitive to me, especially when, with 15 exposure loads you are supposed to start between the 15 and 20 mark  (meaning you'd be reading about "40" at the end of the roll) and with a 30-exposure roll you set the counter a@ No. 28--- That would put you more or less at  "58" when you finish the cassette.

If I'm mis-reading the instructions packed with the film (and in some IBs I have) I'd sure like to know. And I'd also like to know why this works backwards. I'd reckon that as the take-up spool got fatter it would pull MORE film thru-- Is there a gear train in the advance system that measures film length or what? Could I not simply use the No "0" when I started a 36-exposure roll????

What camera are you using? and are you loading factory loaded film from 36 or 15 exposure rolls?

For cameras from the C and BL onwards (C, BL, LX, TLX, EC, ECX), the frame counters are count-down type. For the 36 shot loads, start at the mark between 0 and 36, load and advance twice, shoot until 0, then advance twice and unload. For 15 shot loads, start at the mark at frame 17, load and advance twice, shoot until 0, advance twice and unload. Simple. ;-)

Cameras up to the B had count-up frame counters with 50 exposure capability. If you use 36 exposure loads, set the frame counter to the mark two frames before 0 and load. Once loaded, advance two frames and you're ready to go. Expose up to frame 36, then advancetwice to unload. The transport mechanism has the appropriate snail cam to keep the frame spacing correct. If you use 15 exposure loads, the spool size is different... 15 exposure loads were introduced after the C and BL were on the market and were designed to be used with the count-down frame counters. Here, for the older count-up cameras, set the load point at 19, load and advance twice. Expose until frame 36, advance twice and unload.

That's really all there is to it, until you look at Minocolor PRO which is available in a 30 exposure load ... sigh. Then you have to make some adjustments for count-down cameras.

If you load a Minox B or III with a 15 shot load starting at the 0 load point, you will waste about 3 frames due to the spacing being way off. Load 15 shot rolls into count-up cameras at frame 19, shoot from 21 to 36, unload at 38. That's the right way to do it.

(Kudos and thanks to Godfrey DiGiorgi for the above superb info)


MINOXING AND SCANNING
(Steve's note: this info may become dated. It originally was contributed in December 2002.)

You can scan Minox negatives to very good digital image files with any good 35mm film scanner capable of high resolution results (2500 pixels per inch or higher). I recommend using a dedicated film scanner rather than a flatbed scanner with a transparency adapter ... they are designed to focus and provide the sharpest images, which is critical with such small negatives. Some flatbed scanners can do a decent job with film but not as good as a dedicated film scanner.

I have been using a Minolta Scan Dual II (it was still available but is  discontinued, about $250 at B&H Photo in New York; the replacement Scan Dual III model is about $300). It's capable of 2820 ppi and is high quality in its output. Cheaper than that I'd not bother with ... they are generally junky units that will not stand up to the use that  scanning several hundred frames implies or have inadequate resolution.

I have also used an Epson Perfection 2450 Photo flatbed scanner (about $380) which has a built in transparency adapter for up to 4x5"  transparencies. It's rated at 2400ppi and can scan Minox film to remarkably good quality results but isn't as good as the Minolta above for this purpose, it's better with larger format film.

Here's a web page which shows some results scanning the same negative with both the Minolta and Epson scanners:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SeePhoto/files/Godfrey/scaneg/minox-scans.htm

Scanning is a slow process which takes some time to learn and time todo. Any scanner you buy is going to require some adaptation and experimentation to achieve good results. With the Minolta unit, I lay the film into the 35mm negative carrier so that it is in the center of the film gate and then use the scanning software I use (VueScan from <http://www.hamrick.com>) to set the focus point to be within the film's confines properly. The Epson is a fixed focus unit: I just lay  the film into the scanning area using the 4x5 film holder as a guide to line it up. I set the scan area, adjust the exposure, etc with  VueScan's tools and then clean up the image after the scan with  Photoshop. Do look into Wayne Fulton's excellent website for more  information on scanning,

http://www.scantips.com/.

(Full credit to Godfrey DiGiorgi, the web's expert on scanning Minox negs!)


HOW DO I PROPERLY SET MY MINOX MODEL B/BL FOR THE SPEED FILM I WILL USE?

I suspect that the shutter speed dial has been moved at some time while the minox has been fully open (film insertion/extraction) which has led to the exposure meter losing its correct syncro with the shutter. What do I do?

The synchronization is a dynamic thing. It can change with every roll of film. You need to sync the film speed to the meter and shutter speed.

The shutter speed knob and the dial below the meter are mechanically geared together. When you turn the shutter speed knob, the dial below the meter turns.

The way you do this is with the camera closed, turn the shutter speed dial until the bottom of the meter pointer dial points to your film speed -- ASA 25, 50, 100 etc.

Then, open the camera as if you are going to insert film. This decouples the gearing between the shutter speed knob and the meter dial. You will see little gears in there.

Set the shutter speed dial to 1/100. Then close the camera. That sets the meter and shutter and everything for the speed film you are using.

If you already have film in the camera, set the shutter speed dial to 1/100. Wherever the bottom of the meter dial points is the speed of the film the camera thinks it has in it. It's a bit weird, but makes sense once you start doing it.

Holler if any more questions.

Regards ... Steve


A COMPLIMENT ABOUT LARRY FELDMAN'S SUBMINI-L LIST.

This list is a paradise compared to some of the others. There are a few off-topic posts, but almost all of them are of interest in some way to a submini photographer.

And there are lots of posts which recognize and, if I may use the trite and over-used phrase, celebrate the diversity of experiences available to a submini enthusiast -- all the way from bubble-gum cameras (so wonderfully celebrated on Marcy Merrill's Junkstore Cameras page) to home-brew submini flashes scavenged from one-time-- use cameras (as on Marcus Brooks' pages) to the depths of the surveillance industry (as on Steve U's pages) to the heights of an extrodinary and accomplished artist's expression (on Don Krehbeil's pages) to a treasure-trove of years of hard-won practical experience by a master of the medium (on Godfrey's pages) to a remarkable photographer's life-long infatuation with mastering difficult cameras and films (as on Mark Hahn's pages) to some remarkable dedication to exprimentation and contribution to progress (as on Don Stowe's pages, James Jones', Tim the Edsel man's pages, etc.) and some masterfully innovative perspectives (as on Charlie T's pages and in his wonderful volume of posts over the years) and to a plethora of extrordinary submini achievements (I'm thinking of the Japanese Minox Club, Martin Tai's oddball discussion list, Pete Zimmerman's articles on the Minox USA's site, Gerald's incredible submin.com..).

Edward Zimmerman and his transcontinental perspective, a hard man to fool and not an easy man to impress. Larry, back there, watching, sort of a submini Wilson on the Tim the Tool Man show. Larry Hester and Gary Sehne and OldMotors down there in Alabama pushing, pushing the envelope, quietly and with true, productive, generous focus. Not to mention the work, passion, love, and dedication that it took for Joe to create the Sub Club. Yikes. This crazed, crazy, eclectic, inclusive, sense- of-humor-intact submini world is one whacking great big granddaddy amazing resource!

As he-who-must-not-be-named said more than once, submini lives.

David Foy
Frugal Photographer
http://www.frugalphotographer.com

Go to http://groups.yahoo.com and search for Minox to find other sub-mini Egroups

 

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