Minox 35 ML

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Minox is a German manufacturer of miniature cameras. It had made cameras that use film as small as 8×11 mm per frame (110 film is 13×17 mm/frame while a Micro 4:3 sensor is 13.5×18 mm). The first Minox 8x11mm camera was introduced in 1936 and soon attracted interests from intelligence agencies world-wide. Subsequent models were used well into the cold war era as “spy cameras”. For example, the Soviet spy John Anthony Walker, who stole enough US Navy documents and ciphers to almost tip the balance of world powers, used a Minox C 8×11 camera.

The 35 ML above, which is considered “large” when compared to the 8×11 family, belongs to another famous line of Minox cameras, the Minox 35. These little gems, each measured only about 101x62x35 mm, are the smallest full-frame 35mm cameras in the world, with the Rollei 35 family being a close second or equal. Twenty different models of Minox 35 were made since its introduction in 1974. All of them are scale-focusing models with a 35mm (f2.8 or f4) lens. Exposure control is either programmed, aperture-priority, or both. Models that are almost the same in specifications can usually be distinguished by their slight variations in body designs.

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Perhaps the most distinct characteristic of a Minox 35 is its lens cover, which when flipped up (as shown above) with the lens retracted, makes it a true pocket camera (just consider how large is a typical full-frame DSLR or mirrorless body).

The Minox 35 ML here was originally released in 1985. It has both programmed and aperture-priority exposure controls with an ISO range of 25-1600 in 1/3 EV steps. It has a +2 EV exposure compensation switch on the top of the camera beside the hot-shoe and below the black batter-check button. A similar styled switch is located beside the viewfinder eyepiece which is responsible for turning on the self-timer. Finally, there is also a threaded “hole” on the right of the shutter button for using cable-release. Beside all these, the 35 ML is the first Minox 35 in the line that is powered by a modern PX-28 battery (earlier models use PX-27) and has LED indicators in viewfinder instead of a swing-needle. Two more things also worth mentioning are the winding-lever needs to be cranked two times in order to advance a whole frame and the whole back needs to be removed for changing film (just like the Rollei 35).

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My Minox 35 ML

Many consider the Minox 35 cameras as collectible items and they are not difficult to find in the used market. However, they are prone to electronic failures and a prefectly functional copy which also uses a modern PX-28 battery can be hard to come by. Unfortunately, the copy in this post is not really in working order as its shutter will occasionally fails to open (but still makes a sound and requires you to advance to the next frame). I bought this at a pretty low price mainly to compete my collection of the world’s three smallest 35mm full-frame cameras : the Minox 35 (this ML), the Rollei 35, and the Olympus XA.

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2 Responses to Minox 35 ML

  1. conspicari says:

    Interesting article, I’ve always fancied one these Minox’s. I was given a Riga Minox A many years ago by a great aunt. :>)

  2. Ernest Murphy says:

    Been a Minox 35 fan since 1980 and was a user for many years. It’s tiny, it’s got a flimsy plastic back and unreliable electronics, but the 35-mm (mild wide angle) f2.8 lens is so good that after I got my first one, I let my Leica collect dust. Don Goldberg (www.dagcamera.com) is restoring an ML for me right now. I also own a Minox 35 lens, which Don remounted on a micro four-thirds lens cap, that I use on my digicams.

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