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Minox Cameras

Minox Riga | Minox ll | Minox lll - Minox llls | Minox B | Minox C
Minox BL | Minox LX/TLX | Minox AX | Minox EC/ECX | Minox Camera Specifications

 

 

Minox Riga

This is the first Minox subminiture cameras that Walter Zapp kindly blessed us with. After going into business with his friend Richard Jurgens who provided the finances for the venture, he set about making his earlier conceived plan a reality. His dream was to create a camera so small it could be easily concealed in the hand, yet technically advanced enough to produce good quality pictures. The blue prints for the prototype are shown below. They were drawn up in Tallin, Estonia in the year 1935, two years before the first Minox came into production.

The Riga inherited it's name from the city in which it was first produced which was Riga in Latvia. It was made by the Valsts Electro-Tekniska Fabrika at the instruction of its´ founder Walter Zapp.The body was made of hardy stainless steel which is probably the reason that there are still a significant number of these still available in good working condition. Having said that, there were only approximately 20,000 of these little jewels produced and considering they were distributed to all corners of the earth, the number was certainly low enough to call them rare. There are several variations of the Riga, whilst the body and mechanics of the Riga are always the same, there were some that boasted specific engraving or marks. The camera showed below sports the very rare Patent Pending mark. This simply means that it was one of the very first produced, before even the patent had been confirmed!

Other engraving were placed on cameras supplied to the German Army during WW2 which have the Nazi symbol enscribed on the body. When the USSR occupied Latvia during WW2 approximately 5,000 Rigas were produced with the words Made in USSR enscribed on the back. All such specifically engraved cameras are, of course, very rare and hard to come by. If you do stumble upon one the price will inevitably reflect it's rarity. But keep your eyes open at those flea markets and jumble sales and who knows what you might find.....

There were several different kinds of cases made for the Riga. The most common was the zipper type which was produced in black, brown and even blue. The case shown below is the rarer type with has the snap top purse kind of locking mechanism.

The Riga is generally known as a collectors camera rather than a user's. This is due to several factors. Firstly, the age and rarity of the camera make it immediately collectible. Almost anything becomes an antique when over 60 years old... Secondly, the lens is not as sharp as it's next of kin, especially around the edges of the frame. Some people cherish the Riga because of this fact, arguing that the unsharp lens gives the pictures an antique look not found on the later models. Thirdly and possibly the more deciding factor in the question should I use my Riga is simply that spare parts are no longer available. This means that if your Riga does give up the ghost you may be left with a nice mantle piece ornament. Having said that, many people do indeed use their Rigas with wonderful results and after all, that is what Walter Zapp intended for them......!

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Minox II


Picture kindly contributed by Peter Zimmerman.

After the Riga came Minox ll, breaking onto the scene in 1948 after the war was over and after the company had moved to Geissen in West Germany. Despite that, the ll was infact stamped with the Wetzlar mark because that was still the legal address of the company right up until 1961. What made the ll different from the Riga was essentially the new lens; the lens of the Minox ll actually makes contact with the surface of the film. This of course, does present a problem. If the lens actually touches the films surface there will always be a major risk that dust particles and other alien elements will cause scratching and damage to the film.

 

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Minox III - Minox IIIs

 

After the Minox ll came the lll. (sounds logical doesn´t it?) Here the all new complan lens was introduced, a lens that would live on in many of the models produced long after the lll. The complan lens no longer had the disadvantage of actually touching the film and the optics were incredibly sharp.This was arguably the start of the modern Minox.

The llls, shown in the above picture, is identical in every way to the lll except the synchronised flash was introduced with this model. You can see the PC connector on the right side of the camera. The dimensions, however, remained the same. The llls was produced in greater numbers than it's predecessor, so despite it's lack of flash synch. the lll will generally be more desirable as a collectors item and consequently more expensive. Anyone new to Minox photography may well want to choose a llls therefore as it will cost less and be of greater use when photographing indoors. The lll is more generally used by diehard Minoxers who consider the lll to be the only true Minox as it is a direct descendant of the much loved Riga and nothing really changed on it but the lens and the material used to make it!

Below is exceptionally rare Black IIIs. This is one of the rarer black Minox models.

The camera shown below is one of the rarest and most expensive of the Minox subminiature models: it is the prized Gold llls. Despite the prices asked for these they are gold plated, not solid gold!

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Minox B

Following the lll and llls came the Minox B. This camera is loved throughout the Minox world. It was sold in approximately 400,000 examples, showing it's amazing popularity. It is held in as equally high esteem now as it was when it was released in 1958, primarily for it's ability to take outstanding photographs, it's ease of use and it's liberal availability. When we say ease of use we refer of course to the introduction of the light meter. This was the first Minox ever to incorporate a light meter and the general public loved it. Finally you didn´t have to be a photographic wizard to get consistently great shots. Neither did the Minox B require a battery! No, the light meter was composed of a selenium cell that when exposed to light generated it's own little electric surge allowing the light meter to function independantly. If you are a beginner and not willing to make massive investments until you´re absolutely sure that this is your thing then this is probably the camera you will want to choose, especially if you are new to photography as a whole! With shutter speeds ranging from ½ a second through to 1/1000 of asecond and the wonderfully sharp complan lens you have in you hand a precision instrument designed to let you get the best out of your subminiature photography.

As one might expect, the addition of the selenium light meter caused the camera to become sightly longer than it's predecessors but only slightly. The B's dimensions are a tiny 97 x 28 x 16 mm, about the size of a standard disposable lighter. A green and neutral density filter were also a welcome addition to the Minox B.

 

 

Above is the much sought after Black Minox B. The black ones are said to have been made specifically for the investigation, military and espionage branches. They were made in far fewer examples making them very desirable collectors items and probably good investments! It is also easier to see what kind of life a Black B has lived as the paint is quite easily chipped or worn away.

Here is a Minox B in its original travelling case

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Minox C

   

The C was the largest of the Minox subminiature series. (check dimensions and weight on previous page) The C gave us the first Minox with built-in automatic exposure and was aimed essentially at getting the average person on the street to use a Minox camera. All previous models had required manual setting by the operator and therefore demanded that he or she had a basic photographic knowledge. The C did not and was an immediate succes, it was also the undoing of the later produced BL. (see Minox BL for further details) The C also incorporated a Cds light meter that required batteries, unlike the light meters of it's predecessors that worked off selenium cells and this meant that it was far more sensitive and especially superior for indoor work.

The Minox C was produced from 1969 through 1978. It's overall length is 120 mm. What has made this camera so popular with experienced Minoxers and beginners alike is the fact that it can be manually set allowing optimal artistic license, or it can be set on automatic program allowing point and shoot capabilities. When choosing your first Minox this may well be something you would want to consider. Photographs you may well have otherwise missed will be easily shot with a camera set on automatic exposure. It could also allow you to get some great shots while you are essentially learning the basics of manual operation....

As with many of the Minox models the C was also produced in a limited number of black examples. Again the black C is reverred by collectors and therefore inevitably more expensive. On the other hand if you´re a private detective the extra money may be well spent!

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Minox BL

Ask Minoxers which Minox they would most like to own and many will reply the BL. This camera is certainly a flagship for any collection but it is also a fantastic shooter.


The BL is essentially a B but with a few refinements.
1. The selenium cell is replaced by the sensitive Cds meter.
2. The wind on mechanism is modified meaning that you can now open and shut the camera without losing a frame on your film! On the B if you open the camera and don´t take a shot you will still lose a frame.

These are the two most significant differences between the B and the BL. The other difference is that it was only produced for a short period during 1972 and 1973; and more importantly it was only produced in just over 17,000 examples compared to the 400,000 Minox Bs. Why was this you ask? Why was a camera with such obvious advantages so unpopular as to only warrant the production of 17,000? Well, the answer is the Minox C.This camera had already been in production since 1969, some 3 years now. The C had everything the BL had and automatic exposure! Joe public saw no apparent point in buying something that had less technology than was already available and they liked the ease that automatic exposure gave them. The BL was, therefore, doomed from the offset; when Minox finally realised that this horse was not going to run they laid down production. The result? A very sought after camera was created, one to be sought after at a much later date!

Today most people consider the Minox BL to be the perfection of the Minox B. It is still extremely small and compact (only 2mm longer than the B) yet it gives you all those little refinements that the B was missing. Having said that, this camera is rarer than the original Riga and therefore wears a price tag that is generally considered scary. If you happen to stumble upon a black one like the one shown above, take your glasses off whilst looking at it; that way you might miss seeing the price tag!

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Minox LX/TLX

The Minox LX and TLX are the latest generation of Minox 8 x 11 cameras. The are slightly smaller than the C but bigger than the original Minox cameras. The introduction of the 1/2000 shutter speed has been one of the many improvements. I am not going to go into lengthy detail discussing the many differences between the new and old cameras. Instead, you will find below all the specifications for the latest TLX Titanium coated camera. The difference between the LX and TLX is simply the coating. The Titanium is somewhat more scratchproof.

Technical Specifications Minox TLX
· Anodized with titanium-coloured coating
· Subminiature camera for films with 8 x 11 mm neg. size
· Push-pull rapid wind · Lens 1:3,5/15mm, full aperture
· Permanently fitted ultra-violet filter
· Permanently fitted ultra-violet filter as lens window
· Manual focusing from 20 cm (8 in.) to infinity
· Depth of field indication
· Shutter speed: 1/2000s to approx. 15s (electronic control range at A setting) 1/2000s to 1/30 (manual   setting range)
· Light signals: yellow- shake warning (shutter speed longer than 1/30s) red: overexposure warning (use   neutral density filter) greeen: battery check
· Bright-line viewfinder with automatic parallax compensation
· Slide-in neutral density filter (4x)
· Film speed setting: from ISO 12/12 to ISO 400/27
· Frame counter: counts backwards from 36 to 0, short film range from 15 to 0
· Power source: powerpack 8 x 11 (4 batteries 386)
· Tripod socket
· Flash: contact x synchronized
· Aluminium body with Titanal-Eloxat coating
· Size (wxhxd): closed 10,8 x 2,8 x 1,6 cm (4,25 x 1,1 x 0,6 in.)
· Weight incl. battery: 100g (3.53 oz)
· Handmade in Germany

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Minox AX

This rare little camera was the result of a nostalgia trip on the behalf of the factory in 1992. They basically took the Modern LX and shortened it to make it more like the old llls, while maintaining the modern dials and casing. The technicians that designed this camera also decided to do away with electronic parts and thus limited themselves to the absolute essentials, producing a solid mechanism along the lines of the llls.

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Minox EC/ECX

 

In 1981 Minox decided to take a shot at a different kind of customer, namely the one that didn't want to fork out the necessary bucks to purchase the costly LX. The result was the EC. It was the same length as the Riga (3 cm), a little wider but weighing only 45 grams due to the all new black plastic housing. It was fully automatic and a great deal cheaper than the other models so far available and as a result it was soon selling several times better than the LX. This model has been modified and improved over the years and is today available in the form of the ECX, pictured above.

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Minox Camera Specifications

year model serial lens dimension dimension weight oz shutter battery finish
1938-1943 Riga 1000-  18,000 3 element 3 group 15mm / 3.5 Minostigmat 80 x 27 x 16 mm 3-1/8 x 1-1/8 x 5/8"  130g 4.6 oz 1/1000 - 1/2  B,T none steel
1948-1949 II 20379-  31500 5 element lens with field flatterner Pentar 82 x 28 x 16 mm  3-1/4 x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 70g  2.5 oz 1/1000 - 1/2  B,T none aluminium  chrome  anodized
1950-1969  III/IIIS 31275-  147494 4 element 3 group15mm / f3.5 COMPAN 82 x 28 x 16 mm  3-1/4 x 1-1/8 x 5/8 70g 2.5 oz 1/1000 - 1/2  B,T none aluminium black/chrome anodized
1958-1972  600001-  984328 4 element 3 group 15mm / f3.5 COMPAN 97 x 28 x 16 mm  3-7/8 x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 92g  3.2 oz 1/1000 - 1/2  B,T none aluminium  black/chrome anodized
1969-1978 230101-  2473694 4 element 3 group 15mm / f3.5 COMPAN  15mm / f3.5 MINOX 120 x 28 x 16 mm  4-3/4 x 1-1/8 x 5/8"  102g 3.6 oz 1/1000 - 10s 5.6V PX27 OR four 86 +ADAPTER aluminium  black/chrome anodized
1972-1977 BL  1200001- 1217880 element 3 group 15mm / f3.5 MINOX 100 x 28 x 16 mm 4.000 x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 80g  2.8 oz 1/1000 - 1/2  B PX675 aluminium chrome  anodized
1978-1996 LX  2500001-    4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 108 X 28 x 16 mm  4-1/4 x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 88g 3.1 oz 1/2000- 15s 5.6V PX27 OR four 386 +ADAPTER aluminium  black / chrome anodized
1981-1997  EC 2700001-    4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f5.6 80 x 30 x 18 mm  3-1/8 x 1-3/16 x 3/4" 45g  1.6 oz 1/500 - 8s 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER black macrolon
1995-1996  AX  AX001-  AX500 4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 80 x 28 x 16 mm  3-1/8 x 1-1/8 x 5/8"  71g 2.5 oz 1/1000- 1/2  B  none aluminium chrome anodized
1996-now  TLX  4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 108 x 28 x 16 mm  4-1/4 x 1-1/8 x 5/8 98g 3.1 oz 1/2000- 15 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER aluminium + titanal  eloxat
1994- 1995 AX Gold II I001-  I250 4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 80 x 28 x 16 mm 3-1/8 x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 127g 4.4 oz 1/1000- 1/2  B none brass gold plated
1987- 1988 LX Gold I  001-999 4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 108 x 28 x 16 mm  4-1/4  x 1-1/8 x 5/8"  160g  5.6 oz 1/2000- 15 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER brass gold plated
1990-1991 LX platinium pt0001-  pt1000 4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 108 x 28 x 16 mm 4-1/4  x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 160g  5.6 oz 1/2000- 15 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER brass +  gold plated +  platinium plated
1991-1994 LX sterling  silver 1-100 4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 108 x 28 x 16 mm 4-1/4  x 1-1/8 x 5/8" 175g  6.2 oz 1/2000- 15 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER solid 925 sterling silver
1998-   4 element 3 group MINAR 15mm / f5.6 80 x 30 x 18 mm  3-1/8 x 1-3/16 x 3/4"  45g  160 g  1/500-8s 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER black macrolon
1998- CLX 4 element 3 group MINOX 15mm / f3.5 108 x 28 x 16 mm 4-1/4 x 1-1/8 x 5/8"  1.6 oz 5.6 oz  1/2000- 15 5.6V PX27  OR four 386 +ADAPTER chrome plated brass
1998-  MX  3 element 2 group lens 15mm / f4.8 80 x 36 x 23 mm  3-1/8 x 1-3/8  x 3/4"     1/100 none

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