F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

May 2010. Stephanie died peacefully on 19th April after a short stay in hospital. She had been suffering from acute cervical cancer. Fred will continue to run the business to the best of his ability. The web site is slowly getting under control again as he tries to take over some of Stephanie's responsibilities, and learns some of the mysteries of Dreamweaver.

Pieces An on-line look at cameras etc. by Stephanie Marriott


Riga Minox

Minox A

Minox B

Minox C

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July 1999

Introduction. The Minox went into production in 1938, after many years of pre-production development work. Walter Zapp, the designer, wanted to develop a serious camera capable of high-quality work, which was as small as possible. He accidentally designed the ideal spy camera, but there is great deal more to the Minox than James Bond antics, real or fictional.

After 1945, Zapp moved to West Germany, and set up in Wetzlar (also the home of Leitz at the time), founding Minox GmbH in 1946. Later Minox expanded into premises near Giessen.

The Minox is an international camera; Zapp was born in Britain, had German nationality and lived in various European countries including Latvia, where the first Minox cameras were made, and Switzerland. Post-war Minox cameras were made in Germany.

The Minox can be used to take pictures surruptitiously, although as many people do not recognise it as a camera, surprisingly little subterfuge is required. Fred has taken one picture simply by standing in front of the subject and taking a snapshot. The subject had no idea he had been "snapped" until later.

It has famously been used to take pictures in the British House of Commons, and is responsible for the only picture of Winston Churchill in the House. It was also used to produce a picture of the execution of James Morelli in 1949. And it really has been used by spies.

I am not detailing every Minox camera here, only what I see as the major cameras i.e. the first models, and the two biggest selling models.

All of the Minox subminiature cameras have the same push-pull wind-on, and they all have similar styling, with rounded corners, controls on one large face on top of the camera, while the lens and viewfinder are in the smaller faces.

Riga Minox. The Riga Minox, named after the place where it was made, was the first of the commercially available Minox cameras. By 1939, over 17,000 had been sold. The camera was first advertised on the UK in September 1939, when it cost over £18. In the US, it was advertised at $79.

It is made from stainless steel, and has a simple three-element uncoated f/3.5 15 mm. Minostigmat lens. It has an optical viewfinder, one built-in filter, and a shutter speeded from one-half to 1/1000 second.

It is said that this is the only subminiature Minox camera for which there are no spare parts available.

Minox A/Minox II. The first Minox II appeared in about 1948. Although it looks similar to the Riga, in fact the camera has undergone a complete redesign. The body is made from aluminium, while the Pentar lens is a five-element design which rests on the film (causing some problems with scratching and trapped dirt). The viewfinder and shutter are completely redesigned, and two built-in filters (usually orange and green, but some early cameras have yellow and green) are included.

Minox A/Minox III. This camera is similar to the Minox A/Minox II, but has a four-element Complan f/3.5 15 mm. lens. It replaced the Minox A/Minox II in about 1951.

Minox A/Minox IIIs. Minox cameras after 1954 have flash synchronisation. The designation "A" did not actually come about until the introduction of the Minox B, in 1958. Later models have a neutral density filter and a green filter, instead of the earlier green and orange combination. The filter is automatically retracted after exposure, as part of the wind-on process. Production ceased in 1969. Picture

Minox B. This is one of the most common of all Minox cameras. It was introduced in 1958, and not discontinued until about 1971. The B differs from the A in having a built-in coupled selenium meter, designed by Gossen. Incredibly, the meter required an increase in the length of the camera of only five-eighths of an inch (15 mm.), and an increase in weight of less than one ounce (c 25 g.). The feature which retracts the filter automatically is not found on this camera.

Minox C. This is another very common Minox camera. Over 160,000 were sold between 1969, when it was introduced, and 1976, when production ceased. The C has fully automatic metering.

It also corrects a major annoyance with the earlier Minox cameras. The push-pull film wind-on was connected to the shutter to prevent double exposures, but until the arrival of the Minox C, the film was always advanced when the camera was closed. For anyone who, like me, gets out the camera and then, for varous reasons, changes her mind, this means there a lot of blank frames on the film. The Minox C corrects this problem, and only advances the film if a picture has been taken. It also has a different frame counter, which indicates the number of unexposed pictures, rather than the number of pictures which have been taken (which was the case on the Minox A and B).

The Complan lens is replaced by a Minox lens, although some early cameras have Complan on the camera.

This camera requires a PX-27 battery (or equivalent).

Note: I like to give price information in both sterling and American dollars. However, this information is not always available to me, in which case I use whichever I can get. I do not convert from one currency to the other; market conditions vary and camera prices were often very different in the U.S.A. and Britain, so conversion would not give an accurate picture.

Other Minox Information

Minox LX picture

Minox tripod picture

Minox negative viewer picture

Minox slide viewer/cutter picture

Minox flash (takes flashcubes) picture

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