I stumbled upon it in a local camera shop, lying among the used gear, so small and beautiful. I just can not resist the brushed aluminium flair, even if I had no hope to actually use the camera at the time. The tiny Minox B was born in cold war era, and is often associated with the spies, however, it was actually designed by Walter Zapp for ordinary people, to be their true and faithful companion.
The legend is that he just took a piece of wood and carved the body of a camera he thought will be small enough to carry everywhere, and then designed the actual thing with body just as small. As a result, it fits easily within the lighter pocket of your favourite jeans! However, it also has an extremely sharp lens, light meter built in, wide range of shutter speeds, focus from 20cm, built in ND and green filters, and a parallax corrected viewfinder. All since 1958!
The 35 mm film would, of course, not fit such a thing, so it shoots minuscule 9x11mm frames on a spagetti-like film loaded into cassette with size of your fingernail. Hard to find nowadays, so that’s why I thought it will actually be a nice piece of decor, rather than a user camera. I were wrong! After some tinkering with the DIY film slitter, and first experiments loading the film into a cassette, I started to love the camera and the results it produces. Of course, the frame size is limiting in terms of film choice ( you really don’t want any grain here!), and hassle involved in slitting and reloading, but it is also liberating because you get 104 frames out a 36 frame roll plus some leftover film! This makes shooting Minox a cheap affair, actually!
For film, I settled on ADOX HR50 film with matched developer, which gives me ISO 25-100 depending on how I develop it, and could not be happier. This choice is driven by the fact that 35mm is most economically sliced in 9.2 + 16 mm strips, which fit Minox and 110 cameras respectively, and my Pentax 110 needs at least ISO 80 to live 🙂 This rules out ISO 25 films which might give you even better results with Minox, but makes things more economical and manageable as I can simultaneously develop films from both cameras using the same times. Also, the film has quite hard emulsion which is important as scratches can really be an issue with such small frames. Below are five frames selected from about 200 shot couple of weeks ago during my most recent vacations at box speed (ISO 50). Developed in HR dev for 13 minutes with 2 min interval agitation to tame the summer harsh light contrast, and scanned with Sony A7 and a slide-duplicator adapter.
Find more content I have written for 35mmc here