Point & Shoot

Leica Minilux Death by E02 / 5 Frames with a Beautiful Brick – By Bill Thoo

December 14, 2019

I have owned a Leica Minilux for more than 20 years. The truth, though, is that I am not a compact camera kind of guy. The Minilux was the antithesis of my then shooting philosophy. It is a fixed lens, fixed focal length, metal skinned, compact camera, and I loved my interchangeable lens, almost always plastic cameras. Back then I mostly shot with a Minolta SLR and the kit standard zoom it came with. I sometimes even changed up to the kit telezoom with all its glorious chromatic aberrations that was so satisfying to look through, and so disappointing to get back from the minilabs. It is probably why I shot one roll through the Minilux on a 10 week road trip and about eighty rolls through the Minolta. That one roll through the Minilux though was amazing. I still remember how shocked I was by how sharp those images were. And then the Minilux went into the cupboard, well looked after as neglected cameras often are.

My film revival came about 18 months ago. The Minilux was not forgotten in this, but once again I neglected it. I checked the battery, shot the shutter, then put it back in the cupboard. In this case it wasn’t simply a prejudice against compact cameras. A little thing called the Internet seemed to have been invented between when I purchased my Minilux and when I took it out of the cupboard with a purpose earlier this year. And said Internet has a tendency to scare folks with information. In this case much has been written about my little red dot camera and the E02 error of doom. It seems that simply using the little bugger brings it closer to death because of an inevitable wear and tear on a lens flex-cable, and when that cable breaks it bricks up the camera with a notorious “E02 error” message. If I ever shot this camera again I must be careful with this camera, very careful.

By early 2019 I had been shooting film for more than a year, and had taken at least two whole overseas trips with nothing but film. I was feeling confident. If not now, when would I shoot the Minilux? In March I ran a roll of Tmax 400 through the camera and the camera was superb. The f/2.4 maximum aperture was put to the test and the images that came back were well exposed and sharp as get out. The problems of an inconvenient flash mode (always on as a default with a clunky flash off button pressing routine), and a ridiculously small viewfinder were rediscovered, but accepted. I even deliberately used the zone focus and manual aperture settings. I captured one of my favourite urban blue hour photos on this roll. Maybe I could be a compact camera shooter after all. Just stay alive little guy, stay alive.

In the mean time I had taken a courageous step and submitted an article to 35mmc that I was thrilled to have had published. Chasing the dragon I started looking for something else to write on. Not finding much about the Minilux on 35mmc I sensed an opportunity. I loaded the Minilux with Acros in early October with view to a “5 Frames With” piece. I shot half a roll in a meeting in a city, and mucking about with an attempted macro (that is not worth trying, by the way). Today I had planned to finish the roll. My first shot was on a train platform. My brother in law looked admiringly at the Minilux and I proudly stated that this was a 21 year old film camera still going strong. Flash off, set aperture to f2.4 and gently push on the exposure button. Fizz. What the…? E02, E02, E02… Batteries out, batteries in. E02… The camera was still able to rewind the roll. But the shutter would not open and the E02 error repeated.

The first half of the roll photographed normally. I developed the Acros in Ilfosol 3, and scanned it on the Epson V600. Contrast was tweaked in lightroom.

Replacement lens flex cables are available for purchase on the ‘Bay, but it is very difficult to find any information on do it yourself repairs. There are no instructional videos. There is a Korean language step-by-step guide, but the instructions seem about as clear as in an Ikea flat pack. Doing it myself with two left feet for hands and no soldering skills is a pipedream. I am not sure that I will find a repairer in Sydney or that I will want to pay for it. Bellamy Hunt writes about converting the lens to an M-mount, but I am not sure that I want to rip the lens from its body either. For now it is decorating our display table as an ornament. It certainly is a gorgeous beautiful shiny red dot brick.

Instagram:
www.instagram.com/billthoo

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51 Comments

  • Reply
    Raymond Yee
    December 14, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Hi Bill, just a quick note to say that you can get a M mount lens housing for the lens if you’re unable to have it repaired. I’ve not had first hand experience of this but it seems fairly straightforward. You just need to unscrew the front and rear lens elements from the minilux and attach them to the mount.

    https://www.mgrproduction.net/single-post/2016/1/4/Conversion-adapter-for-Leica-Minilux-to-Leica-M-mount

    It not cheap but I reckon its the way to go. Repairing the Minilux is potentially a short term fix as, unless there’s a guaranteed better cable, it’s likely to fail again. Shame, I know as the Minilux is a great package as a compact camera. If I ever gat another one I would do as some have done and store it with the lens extended all the time. This would involve turning the camera on and whipping out the battery wit it extended. A bit of a faff but that’s the only way to ensure the cable doesn’t fray.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 11:28 am

      Thank you! That lens conversion certainly is not cheap, but an unused lens is also a waste. Something to definitely think about.

      • Reply
        Jem
        December 16, 2019 at 2:17 am

        Contact @ppp_repairs to see how much it would cost to fix?

        • Reply
          Bill Thoo
          December 16, 2019 at 3:18 am

          Thank you Jem.

        • Reply
          SUSSAN HEMMATI FARAHANI
          March 20, 2020 at 9:32 pm

          Is that an email address? Doesn’t seem to be working

          • Jorge O.
            April 22, 2020 at 9:35 pm

            thats his user name for Instagram

    • Reply
      Nate
      December 15, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      I first went for the MGR re-housing kit. Upon receiving it, the build quality was piss-poor. There was oil on the aperture blades. Thde aperture blades themselves were mis-aligned and would not close evenly. The housing was loose and wobbly. I contacted MGR and they would not offer a replacement or a return so I had to open a case in Paypal. Paypal forced the return thankfully. The address they then gave for returns was undeliverable. Package ended up lost in limbo but I eventually got my refund. The person I was in touch with the whole time was an asshole about the entire thing.

      I then opted to send it to Bellamy and have it re-housed by Miyazaki at MS-Optics and the process was smooth as could be. After shipping and the conversion fee, I spent about $650 total for it and now enjoy using it on my Leica kits. It’s a bit of an odd user experience the way it was housed but produces great images.

      Overall, based on my experiences, avoid MGR like the plague.

      • Reply
        Bill Thoo
        December 15, 2019 at 8:42 pm

        Thank you for the user review Nate. Was the Miyazaki conversion more expensive than the MGR? The MGR costs about A$600 for the DIY kit.

        • Reply
          Nate
          December 16, 2019 at 4:08 pm

          The Myazaki conversion was about $650 USD after all was said and done with shipping. Bellamy responds pretty fast when inquiring so shooting him an e-mail may be worth it.

  • Reply
    James
    December 14, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Sorry for the loss! It’s a sad situation and a pity that Leica used such poor parts in this camera series. Here in Europe I know of one repair specialist in Portugal who offers the repair for E02 for about 120€. If my camera dies this way, I would instantly ship it to him, as the lens is a true gem and I have some of my best analog work done with it.
    Great pictures on your last roll!

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 11:30 am

      You are very fortunate, and at a reasonable price, too.

    • Reply
      Edward Bouldin
      February 1, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Where can I find some of your work?

    • Reply
      Clifford Graham
      April 4, 2020 at 4:19 am

      what is his information ?

  • Reply
    Terry B
    December 14, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Bill, from your pics shown here the lens is a stunning performer. Given the value of these cameras, getting it repaired by a competent repairer would be well justified, IMO, and should give it a new lease of life. I see, though, you appear to be not that enthusiastic about such mini pocket cameras, perhaps because of the fixed lens and focal length, and this may be informing your opinion about getting it repaired. I appreciate that this could necessitate your looking abroad for a repairer, but you’re not dealing with an A$25 camera.
    Well, that’s my tuppence worth. On a different note, I am surprised that the fault has manifested itself so many years after you last used it. One may have imagined that the flaw in the cable arises from its being flexed in use, but in your case, this can’t be the reason. So, perhaps could it be that the plastic coating material it is made from that simply deteriorates with age? Now, this brings me full circle. If the replacement cables are newly manufactured, and if this is the only issue with this model, the new cable will give it many years of extended life. This should be of interest to intending buyers, especially where you can demonstrate it has been repaired by a recognised professional repairer.
    Whether you still feel it is worth it, though, have a read here: https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/once-e02-minilux-is-repaired-is-it-good-to-go.305127/
    There is also a small repairer in Portugal, Pedro Delores, about whom good things have been said: contact [email protected]

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you, Terry. A repairer in Portugal was also recommended. It’s likely the same one. I would definitely consider repairing it if there were a local repaired.

      • Reply
        SUSSAN HEMMATI FARAHANI
        March 20, 2020 at 9:38 pm

        The repairman in Portugal, is Pedro Dolores, I sent two MINILUX to him, and although I did as I was instructed by him, noting cameras not working and used, Portugal customs kept the cameras with no reason, contacted Pedro, and they just sent the cameras back to US with no explanation whatsoever. I contacted Pedro many many times, he never replied. Not a good way to go IMO.

        • Reply
          Timo
          March 25, 2020 at 8:57 pm

          I sent my Minilux with E02 to Pedro Dolores in Portugal back in November 2019 – According to DHL tracking, the shipment arrived at the address he provided before. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard a word – no replies to my frequent emails.

          • Bill Thoo
            March 26, 2020 at 3:50 am

            I hope you have your issues resolved Timo and Sussan. I wish I had advice, but unfortunately I don’t. I did find a local (Sydney, NSW0 repairer, but have not decided to go ahead with it.

  • Reply
    Ashley Carr
    December 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

    If you don’t mind sending the camera to London then Pierro Pozella of PPP Repairs is the man to fix your Minilux. He takes on stuff others say no to. He’s doing a roaring trade in ‘unfixable’ Contax repairs.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Thank you, Ashley. I would definitely repair it if there were a local repairer.

  • Reply
    Simon Hsieh
    December 14, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    There is a repairman here in Taipei to replace them for roughly US$60 bucks, and I had two Minilux Soft cable repaired by them. Pretty good actually, but the down side is that The waiting time is roughly 6 months.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you for the tip. Know of anyone in Australia???

    • Reply
      Jorge O.
      April 22, 2020 at 9:39 pm

      could you share his contact info? thanks

    • Reply
      Po Suen
      May 3, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Simon,
      I’m in Hong Kong with a Leica CM with an E01 error. Could you share the Taipei repairman’s contact information? Dearly miss shooting with my CM…

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    December 14, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Bill, I hope you can find a solution to fix this camera. It’s a nice looker and the pictures you’ve shown here are really good.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you Jeremy. That means a lot, coming from you.

  • Reply
    Bernhard Runde
    December 14, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    nice pictures. you shouldn’t take it apart or try DIY repair unless you know what you doing. there are post (in German) suggesting a repair with leica customer service for about / less then 200€. Okay, this post all some year old however – I would give it a shot. let me know if you want me to support. since I live in Germany it might be a bit easier for me asking or ringing up the lads from leica…

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 7:47 pm

      Thank you Bernhard. I have had quite a few tips for affordable repairers and I am grateful to you and everyone. I will certainly think about it.

  • Reply
    Garth
    December 14, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Bill,

    Sorry to read about the E02 failure on your Minilux. I have a Minilux Zoom that suffered the same fate.
    I just found two places that do repairs on both cameras. You can contact them by email for shipping info, etc. The cost was about 165 Euros with return shipping. I live in the US. Apparently both ship worldwide.

    From what I understand their work is good. You can Google them to get more info.

    JP Camera. [email protected]
    Foto Technical’s. [email protected]

    Good luck. They are too nice a camera to become a brick! Nice photos by the way.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 7:50 pm

      Thank you Garth. That’s very helpful, particularly given you are in a similar geographical situation. If nothing else this is developing into a good recommend repairers list.

  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    December 14, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Nice pics. Love seeing photos from around the world. The more I see, the more we desperately need to cooperate to keep this world alive. More in common than decides us.
    Oddball suggestions: get the part and seek out a shop that repairs high end audio equipment. Similar bits.
    Dan

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 10:37 pm

      Now that’s n interesting thought. I wonder if anyone else has had experience with the route of repair?

  • Reply
    Federico
    December 14, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    There’s a guy in Portugal that repaired my GR1 and he’s known to be able to repair EO2 Miniluxes, you can contact him at [email protected] (his name is Pedro)

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 14, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      Portugal is getting lots of love for Minilux repairs! Thank you again.

  • Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    December 15, 2019 at 12:44 am

    Bill, great photographs! But that is really bogus that your Minilux developed the infamous flex cable failure. If you have a M-mount camera, I suggest you go ahead and have the fellow in Japan convert the lens to M mount. Sure, it will be expensive, but then you can enjoy it again rather than have it collect dust in a closet. Good luck whatever you do, Ciao from Mississippi

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 15, 2019 at 1:26 am

      Thank you! I’m totally divided as to what to do. It would be easier to decide if there local options.

  • Reply
    Matt Williams
    December 15, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Bill,

    Getting the lens converted to M mount isn’t a bad idea, though it will be expensive.

    People have mentioned Pedro in Portugal – not sure his prices these days.

    There is someone in the Ukraine that does them as well. They have 100% feedback on eBay and some forum searches confirm that he is legit. Here’s a link to his service ($140 USD including round-trip shipping). Not a bad price at all to fix a camera like that. This is the option I’d do.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Leica-Minilux-E02-E01-Zoom-E51-Leica-CM-error-service-camera-repair-fix/303385781371?hash=item46a333a47b:g:3FQAAOSwhxNbhjvC

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 15, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you Matt. Japan Camera Hunter mentions a Japanese lens maker as well, and there is a link in the previous comments to a DIY lens converter. It makes sense to not waste the amazing glass, but I haven’t yet decided what to do.

  • Reply
    Greg Hagan
    December 15, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I think I am going to have to bookmark this page. I have inherited a mint condition Minilux Zoom set from my Dad that has never been used apart from to put a battery in to check that it works and seals okay. Just waiting for the weather to improve before I give it an outing. Its a lovely camera (if you can get used to the poor viewfinder) but I just know that E02 message is bound to happen. Would be great if their was a repairer in the UK!

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 15, 2019 at 8:40 pm

      The advice I saw that made most sense, but never really thought to do (maybe I should have) was to never let the lens retract to close to avoid stressing the cable. You do that by removing the battery instead of shutting down the camera. I does mean the lens remains unprotected too. (There is a suggestion to that also in the previous comments here.) I guess I never thought the EO2 error would happen to this camera with so little use…

  • Reply
    Zac Lukins
    December 16, 2019 at 2:50 am

    I’ve had a great experience with Sydney Camera Repairs in Ashfield, run by a guy who used to be a technician for Olympus. I think the price of the repair was around $170, worth a try if you’re willing to cough that up.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 16, 2019 at 3:18 am

      Thank you Zac. Grateful for that local option.

  • Reply
    Ben Sandler
    December 22, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I had the E02 fixed a year or two ago by a guy in Porto, Portugal. I sent the camera over from Israel, and it all went just as planned and the camera works as new. Try Pedro at:
    JP Camera

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 22, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      Thank you Ben. Pedro has received a lot of love here. I have found a local repairer and am just deciding whether to go ahead with the repair.

  • Reply
    Charlie
    January 6, 2020 at 3:22 am

    Did you ever reach out to Pedro ([email protected])? I also heard great things about Pedro and sent my camera to him in Portugal. He mentioned to me two months ago that he has had a personal matter has up and is working 50%. I hope he’s doing okay. But I haven’t heard back from him in two months, and I sent him the camera 5 months ago.

    I hope he’s doing better but I’m sitting in a lot of ambiguity. I’m just trying to find the whereabouts of my camera…

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      January 6, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      Hi There, oh dear! No I did not try to contact Pedro in Portugal, though he had by far the most recommendations. I have contacted a Sydney camera repairer but have yet to decide when to have the Minilux looked at. Good luck with your camera. All the best. Bill

  • Reply
    vintageandphoto
    January 9, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Hello, author.
    Just send the camera to us, and we`ll fix it 🙂
    It`s our store from Ukraine that was mentioned above by one of the commentators, and we resurrected dozens of Miniluxes with E02, Miniluxes Zoom with E51, Leica CMs and other point and shoots like Contax, Yashica, Ricoh etc.
    You may find our listing on ebay using “Leica Minilux E02” phrase

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      January 9, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Thank you so much for the tip. I am sure this will help many owners.

  • Reply
    Jorge O.
    April 22, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Pedro Dolores from Portugal must be a good technician, i found him on Ebay and sent my camera just to get stuck on customs for around 6 months until they shipped it back. he even told me that he doesn’t recommend shipping a camera to him from outside the EU.

    any advice?

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      April 23, 2020 at 3:19 am

      I have no better advice Jorge than asking around the local repair shops where ever you are.

    • Reply
      Ty
      May 25, 2020 at 6:41 pm

      Jorge did you go with something else? I am also looking around for a Leica minilux repair in the UK. Everything quoted so far is pretty exorbitant.

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