Subminiature Photography

The Cameras

Minox cameras (at least the ones you've mostly seen in the movies) use film 9.5mm wide in a cartridge. The frame size is 8mm x 11mm. Although typically referred to as "spy" cameras, as best we can tell, that isn't what Walter Zapp had in mind…He was just trying to make a camera that would fit in a vest pocket or purse and would allow people to take pictures anywhere.

The original Minox was conceived in Estonia and manufactured in Latvia before WWII. After the war the company was moved to Germany. The cameras have a well-deserved reputation for reliability. The Minox C I used to take the black and white photographs below was made in 1970-71.

Minox cameras are not the only ones being used. If you classify amy film format smaller than the conventional 35mm (24mm x 36 mm -- or "double frame") as subminiature, there are many to choose from, including APS. If you'd like to learn more about subminiature photography, visit The Sub Club…An outstanding site! If your appetite is whetted, you can find out what Minox equipment is being auctioned on eBay.

The cameras I shoot with are:

  • Minox EC. My first subminiature camera - simplified operation with fixed focus and a f/5.6 15mm lens.
  • Minox C. My second Minox. The C features automatic or manual exposure control, and an f/3.5 15mm lens that can focus to 8 inches.
  • Minox ECX. The improved EX, with a better lens (through improved coatings).
  • Minox BL. A contemporary of the C, BLs were produced in far fewer numbers. It is a manual exposure camera, but has a built-in CDS meter.

Film, Scanning, etc.

Minox film is not easy to find, although a few of the larger cameras stores do carry limited quantities. The easiest source it Minox Processing Laboratories (or MPL), through their web site. They also sell Minox cameras and a variety of other Minox products and items of interest to Minox fans.

Probably the best all-around film is Minocolor Pro 100, which is Fuji Reala. The results are outstanding. For black and white photography you can use Minopan 100, which is Agfa ISO 100 film. There are other color negative, color transparency, and black and white films.

As of this update, all of the subminiature photographs are scans from photographic prints. Most of these are from MPL, but a few are scans of black and white prints I made myself. I'm about to try scanning the negatives directly with an adapter I've constructed for my HP S20 PhotoSmart scanner.

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