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In Defense of Minox 35's

I just don't like these camera due to their cheap plastic looks and their lack of rangefinders, but many people love them and get great results.   I received this notable and well thought out Minox 35 defense from Ernest Murphy:

My only complaint with your excellent opinions: Yes, the Minox 35s are ugly
plastic. (It's amusing how the later models have a tricked-up exterior to
make them look more expensive.) But their great lens, which you grudgingly
acknowledge, makes them one of the greatest tiny 35s ever made.

When I bought my Minox 35GL in about '80, my main camera was a Leica M3
with a Summicron 35. (Wish I still had THAT rig, too). Know what happened?
the Minox got used all the time and the M3 sat in the closet. While we both
know that the Minox lens isn't as good as the Summicron 35, in actual
real-world situations, it usually performed as well. I dearly love that
Minox, and I still use it. 

To me, it is what the original Leica was: a very small and unobtrusive
fixed-lens camera of remarkable optical precision.

The Minox 35 lets me shoot people in ways that I could never get away with
anything larger and more "pro"-looking. Part of the beauty of the
Minox is that same plastic look you don't like: Nobody takes it seriously.
The Minox 35 user is just another idiot tourist with a trashy little camera
taking snaps that probably won't even come out. Nobody ever cares.
I've
been through a number of more modern "point-and-shoot" cameras and haven't
liked any of them, not even the cleverly-designed Olympus Stylus. They're
all built like throw-aways with optics to match.

My personal theory of cameras is that a camera is, first and foremost, a
lens with stuff on it for exposing film.

I know that the point and shoots are designed so any fool can take decent
pictures, but in actual fact, I find the opposite to be true. Most of what
I get out of a point and shoot is junk, pictures ruined by lousy focus,
lousy exposure or both.

The disappearance of the battery for which older Minox 35s were designed
isn't a problem. Most camera stores will sell you, for US $10 or $20, a new
cover Minox provides for the battery opening. It lets you use two widely
available batteries, stacked, instead of the old one that's now extinct in the USA.

The Minox 35's lack of a rangefinder isn't much of a problem, either, most
of the time, because it has a 35mm lens, a mildly wide-angle one with lots
of depth of field. Like most amateurs, I find that for outdoor use, I shoot
mostly ISO 100 films and in low-light situations I use ISO 400 or faster.
Except for shooting subjects closer than 3 to maybe 6 feet, where careful
focus is essential in all cases."

Ernest's point about unobtrusive candids is well taken.   The camouflage theory of photojournalism is  very valid and well used.   And he's right.  I always thought the guys with Minox 35's were just idiot tourists.  

Relax, just kidding.


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Revised: November 25, 2003 Copyright  1998-2002  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.