Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cameras to avoid - Number 2, Minox 35 GT

Minox 35 GT - Photograph by Tim Irving
Minox 35 GT, Tri-X - Tim Irving
I was looking through some old prints recently taken in 1982, with a Minox 35 GT camera. It's a camera I remember vividly but with mixed feelings. The camera was tiny, very expensive, yet made of plastic, which in the eighties was a contradiction, but Minox were known for precision sub miniature spy cameras, and the  company was (maybe it still is), a subsidiary of Leica, so the camera had an excellent pedigree.

My first experiences of the Minox 35 is one of joy. The photos from that camera have a certain look that is unique, the best of which are truly beautiful to my eyes. The Minox was my camera of choice and constant companion for around six months. Then one day, walking past a camera shop, my head was turned by a Nikon S3. I handed over the Minox plus a wedge of cash and started a new affair.

Move forward twenty years to 2002 and I start hankering after another Minox. By 2002 the prices of film cameras have fallen and I can pick up a mint condition, 35 GT for around 15% of what I originally paid. I looked around for a few days then bought a lightly used beauty. It seemed to be working OK, but as a precaution I bought a very expensive battery before putting a film in it.

The first roll of film I developed was blank. A quick examination and I discovered that when I fired the shutter it made the sound of firing, but didn't actually open. A check with other Minox users confirmed that the electro-magnetic shutter was prone to blanking. One user carried out a survey of Minox users and discovered that 50% had a shutter fault.

It's a shame that a camera with a fine lens and innovative design should end up in the back of a draw, but I'm afraid that's the natual home for this camera. I'm grateful that I experienced it and have the photos that it created.


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