Ah the Minox 35EL..
I am conflicted over this camera. I’m generally tolerant of camera ergonomics, but the Minox tends to be a bit of a pig.
It is awkward to load: the release for the back is stiff, you have to wedge the film leader under a strip of metal on the take-up spool. The single sprocket transport is prone to ripping film. The wind-on lever is stiff. Early copies suffered from light-leaks through the glass reinforced plastic. There are no focusing aids. The batteries are not made any more. The battery compartment is awkward to access. The rewind crank is badly angled and may score the plastic top-plate if you are not very careful in rewinding. The EL model has no backlighting button, so you need to adjust exposure via the meter settings, which will only take films up to ISO800.
Then there are the mechanical faults they can develop. My own copy will only cock the shutter if I wind on while the lens is deployed – winding on with the camera closed gets you a blank frame.
- You get to be very careful in loading, checking that the rewind knob is revolving on each thumb-shredding wind-on.
- You don’t keep film in it too long and keep it hidden away in a pocket to keep it away from light.
- You wind carefully and put up with the stiff wind-on.
- You get used to guessing distance and remembering to set the focus on the lens.
- You stack Silver Oxide Batteries to try to approximate the depth and voltage of the original, or you fit an S27PX silver oxide battery, which is the wrong voltage (6v) but which seems to give correct exposures (suggesting that the camera has a bridge circuit).
Ok so it does have the plaudit of being the smallest full-frame 35mm camera ever, but something like the Olympus XA actually manages to pack in much improved usability while having a pleasant wind-on and being, in pretty much every way, just as pocketable.
The credit side for this camera is quite short: the Color-Minotar 1: 2,8 f=35mm lens (good lord they don’t even spell Colour right!)
This credit may be a single item, but it is overwhelming. That a lens so small and simple should be so good beggars belief.
All. Is. Forgiven.
You can find my other articles on 35mmc here