Wish lists for the next generation Minox

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Over the years many people have written to Minox suggesting improvements and alternative models. Minox usually respond politely and point out problems with production costs. It is very unlikely that a new film camera will be made by Minox. Walter Zapp's design for a camera of the 21st Century is not likely to go beyond the drawing and concept stage.

A popular request has been for a additional apertures for the TLX camera so that faster film up to ISO 3200 could be used in normal daylight. A design using f3.5 and stopped down to f5.6,8,11,16, 22 was even submitted.

The absences of filters for the LX/TLX and EC/ECX cameras is bemoaned by many and a number would be happy if Minox made a 'perfect' binocular companion for the Minox cameras. The binocular attachment is one of the most popular accessories and the least used. The continued availability of parts and accessories is more important for most Minox users and owners.

An 8x11 camera with interchangeable lens for telephoto and wide angle in an SLR form. Adding a pair of binoculars to a Minox C is not the same. An ultra small Pentax Auto made in metal using the Minox film would be perfect. Interestingly enough Walter Zapp was asked to design a 16mm Minox. A larger negative (like the Gami, Rollei 16s, Minolta QT and MG-s) allow for greater enlargements. Herr Zapp very carefully calculated why this was not possible. It is also odd that Minolta did not follow Yashica who made 16mm cameras before the 8x11 Atoron. An MG-s and QT using 8x11 would have been of interest. The plastic Acmel MD is close, but not a system camera.

The top of people's wish list is for a wider range of film, easier to obtain and less expensive to process or optimally printed. Results from mini-lab processing print from a masked 6x9mm and are not as good as the negatives have proved to be when printed by a competent amateur, using a Minox enlarger.

In 1974 Gerald McMullon wrote to Minox about the Minox BL and suggested, among other things that a BL without a meter, being 20mm shorter would be both easy to add to the existing C and BL models and a sought after camera. Minox thought a camera without a meter would not sell. Some 20 years later launched a limited run of collectable Minox AX cameras in silver (matt aluminium), black and gold finishes. This is a fully mechanical camera in the LX style but the size of the original Riga and Minox A and constructed from surplus Minox BL parts with LX shell.

In December 1996 Joel Moskowitz wrote about his correspondence with Minox

Dear Minox,

I recently bought a used Minox LX subminiature and I've been really impressed with it. With modern film its basic limitation of negative size is not that important and overall it's been a gas and I've been taking to places where normally I wouldn't want to drag a heavy camera I carry it in my pocket all the time. It's amazing how good a picture the camera can take. A friend in my office saw mine and also bought one (a lll-s)..

However, what is really amazing is that the camera is substantially unchanged since the original design in 1936 and even the current model is almost 17 years old. So I'm volunteering my opinions on what to do for the redesign for the next model. It could be the best point and shoot camera that's more than a point and shoot. Miniature electronics have made all the 35mm point and shoots smaller and more convenient, and if the 8x11 was upgraded it could be the camera that pros carry all the time and amateurs carry because even a tiny 35mm really doesn't fit in a pocket and gets in the way. (I went hiking and I was real pleased that the camera and 4 rolls of film fit in a pocket and weighed nothing.)

Some suggestions in no particular order:

Get back to the size of a lll-S. With modern electronics it should be possible and the EC, while missing the close focus apparatus, proves it's basically possible.

Use a much smaller battery and go to an all electronic design. This includes using a true electronic shutter. Next to where the tripod socket is, add a mount for a cable release. Having the cutest camera and tripod pair in the world is great - if you didn't have to carry around a crushable piece of black plastic adapter that stores nowhere.

In addition to the ND filter add in 3200 to 5500 color correction so that I can shoot color indoors with the current crop of film. I take a lot of pictures by sticking the camera on a glass and firing away. In B+W this is fine, in color it comes out too red. Instead of correcting for the filter by sliding filter glass over the meter, compensate electronically - that should save a few parts.

To get the unit smaller you will have to move the meter. It might even be possible to move it so it rides on top of the shutter leaf - just an idea - I don't know if it would work. Or move it inside the viewfinder mechanism, so it can become more a spot meter than reflective. (Although the exposures have been pretty darn good and I'm impressed!)

Add back all the manual speeds and while you are at it add a self-timer. These days the electronics would be cake. All you have to do is add an "S" spot near the "A" spot on the speed dial and when the shutter is tripped it waits 15 seconds before making the automatic exposure..

Move the 3 LEDs into the viewfinder - a simple LED job these days. You could also add in the actual speed the meter reads. Then the manual speed modes will really mean something and you really have a modern manual / semiauto camera, which would be great. It's not an inexpensive camera, and while it's true I use it on automatic I would love to be able to do more manual photography.

Get rid of the film counter dial and replace it with an LCD readout. This way it can reset when the camera is opened. It also gets rid of a few parts.

Add a way to add a small telephoto lens attachment. Maybe someplace for an accessory lens to hang on to the body. It would be cool if a 90 or 100 mm equivalent lens could be built as a sliding dioptre, or something like the filters . A really tricky problem but worth solving. I don't know much about optics, but if you can connect the current camera to any pair of binoculars and be sharp a few lenses shouldn't be a problem. Ideally a 90mm, 135mm and maybe a 35mm equivalent would be cool. An accessory zoom would be nice too. If you go with discrete sizes then all you really need to do in the viewfinder is add a few brightline indicators or shift around the current frame line. Or have the attachment put some correction in front of the viewfinder too. Of course this makes metering harder but there probably is a really cool solution to be found.

Update the EC with an aluminium body. Update the high end with a choice of aluminium or stainless steel bodies.

With professional work increasingly done in medium format and large format more popular than ever, 35mm is increasingly just another format rather than a standard.

Another issue: Film is expensive. Between several people in my office and some friends I met on a trip, I could have easily sold a half dozen LX's or EC's except for the fact that the film costs considerably more than 35mm. While I understand the volume is a lot lower than 35mm, a lower price would go a long way to selling more cameras. I think what I am getting at is that the special editions of the cameras, the gold and silver models, suggest that Minox really only considers the cameras as a rich man's toy and cute collectable. Not as a potentially serious camera for people like me. For a short term, this can be well and good but a collectible that exists only as a collectible cannot survive forever. You need a few models that are really designed for everyday people like myself to take pictures.

Note: I don't have any illusions about these suggestions. I am sure you guys have thought of most of these ideas at one time or another but I'm actually a designer in real life but I like the camera so much that I couldn't resist redesigning it my head and then of course I had to tell someone - ergo the letter. I wish Minox continued success over the next several generations, it's too good a camera to be allowed to ever fall by the wayside.

Yours Truly,


Note: since I wrote this last year I bought a C and a 3S. I use the C for b+W the LX for color and the 3s is just cute. I also have a Minox enlarger and do my own B+W. ?I was much happy to see the Minox presence at VISCOMM and it was great that you were near the front and had some great pictures on display. Keep up the good work!!!!

I believe that the only way for the company to sell more cameras is start getting realistic pricing of both cameras and film (200 entry level, 600 top of line film under 20 dollars a roll developed.

Joel Moskowitz

Reg Natarajan December 1996: It may sound elitist, but I don't think I'd like Minox as much if everyone had one. Like Leica itself, I think there's a market for a high-priced, fairly exclusive make of camera which prides itself on high quality and a rich history. Many high-priced brand names have tried to go "mass market" (remember the Maserati Biturbo?) and all they've succeeded in doing is diluting their once-proud names. The mass-market wants Toyotas and Chevrolets (and Minoltas and Canons) and they've never heard of companies like Aston Martin (or Minox and Leica) -- let's leave Minox, Leica, Contax and the like for those of us who love them.

Editor: that was before people realised that Minox launched the CD series.

Martin Tai December 1996 remarked that some digital pencams have pocket clips, like a pen to clip to a jacket pocket without a case. It would be nice if Minox also made a pocket clip; with the Minox logo for the A, B. C, BL, LX and EC cameras.

Gerald McMullon, correspondence with Minox customer Service 29th December 2000

In October and November 2000 I purchased several new cameras and accessories. The TLX was dead on arrival, the Leica IIIf gave poor results, the copy stand came in a plain brown cubic box and the binocular attachment had no small black clamp. So several questions where asked (none answered) and the following points raised:-

Slow turn around from Minox Labs

As it takes more than 5 weeks to get a film back from the Minox Laboratories in Germany and costs 45GBP (over 140Dm) or 6 times that of processing 6x9 inches double prints from a 35mm film can I have an extension to the warranty on my new Minox cameras? I have 14 Minox cameras to test and that will take at least 70 weeks for the film to be processed and cost about 9800Dm!

I do not ask the Processing Lab this, I think this is serious enough that Minox should but doesn't resolve my problem in trying to test out the wonderful cameras in too tight a time scale.

I will use one film with two or three cameras, but I loose a lot of frames and a fault in one camera could damage the results of the previous camera tested.

Minox Manuals - a suggestion

Many excellent A, B and C models are missing the original instruction manual. Even LXs are not always sold with manual. A manual on it's own sells for 20USD as a photocopy and 50USD for a fair original.

I do not think the production of these old manuals would be difficult to arrange, particularly if Minox still has the original art work and layout. This could be produced in India or China where costs are low, but equipment is often German (as I know from friends who have a print factory in Pune and are trained in Germany).

Besides earning money for Minox to develop new cameras this could make many owners of older Minox cameras very happy to buy such a perfect manual.

There may be Minox users who don't want 90 variations of cameras, but may like some manual regardless.

There are also manuals for all the accessories, particularly the rarer items such as the Enlarger.

Electronic PDF format files could be sold from the Minox 'Shopping pages' at 5USD (whatever) each and printed on demand version ordered. A full production run wouldn't be necessary, but would be nice if economic. A collectors edition could be bound in a leather cover (simple thread to hold the manuals in place) with original and new Minox logos.

Unlike merchandising which some fans do not like, this would be a massive service to Minox fans world wide.

Would it be worth While for Minox to sell new manuals of old models?

This was then taken up by the SUBMINI-L@LISTSERV.AOL.COM subscribers and a letter sent to Minox.

This lead in turn to a separate group being set up to discuss making manuals, brochures and other printed material from the long history of Minox available. The "Minox Manual Project" debated the issue and they did get a response from Minox (reported 9th January 2001 and to the Submini-L on 14th January)

"We did receive a response from Thorsten Kortemeier, and while permission was not specifically granted, it was not specifically denied, either. The question was actually not directly addressed by him; instead, he detailed how Minox, GmbH was already producing the manuals as PDFs, hoped to begin producing more by mid-February, and ended by thanking us for our interest and encouraging us to write if we had any more good ideas. It was a very friendly and courteous response.

Because we do not specifically have his permission, we are not going to continue with the goal of reproducing the PDF owner's manuals. Our off list group is currently considering whether or not we would want to undertake a different, but similar type of project, and what it might be."

Following on from this the group founded the Minox Historical Society.

Gerald McMullon, correspondence with Minox customer Service 19th March 2002, reply 28th March 2002

to Minox GmbH:

I have seen the new release of in the Minox Classic Collection of the Contax I. I found this amusing after only days before having listened to the video tape of Walter Zapp and his meeting at Zeiss-IKON after leaving Riga.

The Classic Collection is a disappointment to many owners and potential owners as many believe that a little more engineering would improve the range of use of the camera. Hit cameras, that look like little 35mm cameras included a range of apertures and more than one shutter speed. Hit cameras and the type are smaller than the Minox Classics and where made 40 years ago. A slower speed would enable slow films to be used in normal day light as would an aperture to f2.8. My 5 year old daughter uses the Leica IIIf for herself.

from Minox (Frank Hausmann, Customer Service):

We made the Classic Camera Collection to reach new customers for our 8x11 format, especially younger people who have a certain lifestyle. Our idea was to promote the 8x11 film in a stronger way to assure the supply and keep the processing laboratories working in the future.

to Minox GmbH:

In the many special release Minox cameras there does not appear to have been some for the wonderful EC. Some promotional cameras with Audi, BMW and Ferrari colours have been shown and some yellow, red and white EC cameras have been shown on Ebay auctions. These are not Minox factory productions, although the auction does not disclose this fact. I have seen that the Minox Historical Society is to obtain 100 samples with the Society's logo.

However, and this is the point I would like to make, factory produced white, yellow and red Minox EC cameras would fetch a high premium. The first two white EC cameras on Ebay auction both fetched over US$450 and the Ferrari painted yellow ones typically get over US$250. The Red Ferrari ones reached over $400. Unfortunately I do not have information as to whether or not it is cost effective to make built or partly built EC into white and other colours and to what extend of interest their really is. These Ebay samples are 80EUR second hand cameras, stripped and painted; professionally, perhaps, but not by Minox.

Minox (Frank Hausmann, Customer Service) to Gerald:

The technical ideas you mentioned and the suggestion of the coloured cameras- which are brought to us by other fans of our cameras already- are realisable, but we would reach a retail price level of a Leica M6 - about 3000 Euro.

to Minox GmbH:

There is a very strong interest in the white AL and other than black EC cameras. Do you know if Minox made the white 35AL in white plastic? Mine is painted white, as it is black under the white 'paint', although the box gives the serial number and is ticked white. Was the EC made in other colours than black; beyond the show case samples reported by Morris Moses?

from Minox (Frank Hausmann, Customer Service):

The white AL always has a black body which was painted and not dyed in the whole mass. We have never made other colours on the EC than black.

2004 update: It is not only normal daylight in European winters that causes the Minox Classic Leica IIIf serious problems. Bright spring sunshine will over expose ISO 100 film.

In 2003, timed to arrive before Christmas, Minox supplied the Special Edition EC to Minox Club members - an EC in Riga blue and at a reasonable price.

Last Updated on 6th June 2004