Many, many years ago I owned a little camera called a Minox ML. At some point it developed some kind of defect. I went to a shop in London to buy a replacement, new, rather than secondhand, to take on a trip to Venezuela. The shop manager persuaded me instead to buy a new-fangled camera called a Ricoh GR, which had just come on the market. I did so, and that Ricoh - the first camera I ever bought new - pretty much introduced me to high quality photography. I must still have had some regard for the Minox though, because at some I did get it fixed. But then it sort of got forgotten. In fact when I tried to find it a few months ago, with no luck, I assumed I must have discarded it or given it away at some point. Until two weeks ago when I found it quietly nestled up in a corner of a cupboard.
Of course the 6V battery was dead, and the battery type is very hard to find. I managed to cobble together a battery using 4 1.5V cells, which seems to work fine. I’ve also now found a couple of PX28 batteries, from the wonderful Foto Moderna in Siena, one of the last real camera shops I know of anywhere in the world.
And the camera works fine. I loaded it up with a test roll of Kodak BW400CN, and soon got into the swing of things. It’s interesting comparing it with the Olympus XA I acquired a few months ago. Both have very good f/2.8 35mm lenses, both have built-in exposure meters, but the XA has a rangefinder while the Minox just has distance scale focussing. Actually, I don’t find that the XA’s rangefinder is that much use, and the Minox’s focus ring is much more practical than the XA’s lever. Same goes for the aperture ring versus the XA’s slider. As for image quality, well I’d need to use the same film in both, but my feeling is they are either pretty much equal, or the Minox is a little sharper. Either way it’s a bit late for a side-by-side test! But I find the Minox more fun. It really is unbelievably compact, and robust … and, hey, “full frame”!
Here’s a couple of shots. You’d never get the dynamic range in the second one on any digital camera I own.
Fooling around with old cameras isn’t going to make my photography any better, but, well, it’s a lot cheaper than fooling around with new cameras!