The Camera Without Qualities, a Review

Minox 35 ML

Minox 35 ML

It is the smallest 35 mm film camera. It doesn’t excite you. It likes to disappear.
Literally and metaphorically. The former was the reason that I found it again a few days ago after a year-long absence. It has been in my jacket pocket since then whenever I left the house, a new PX-28 battery and a roll of Tri-X pushed to 1000 in it.
The latter, this metaphoric disappearing act, it does even better than the Nikon F6. There are only two things to remember to set on the camera, and I mostly do that in advance of taking a series of photographs:

  • The aperture, and it has Program auto exposure as well, if you want to avoid setting that, which I don’t.
  • Guesstimate (no rangefinder!) the distance to the subject and set it!
  • Frame your shot (the viewfinder is good, but not great) and “Click!”. A very soft click, think half the sound of the softest Leica shutter noise you’ve heard. There is only a diaphragm shutter to make any noise. Another Leica reference is the double stroke film transport lever, last seen in early M3s. These are not by chance, Minox belongs to Leica.
    The haptics couldn’t be farther from an M3. Light-weight but sturdy, black plastic body with a speckled surface and a quirky drop-down front door. Opening it, you expect a mini bellows to be deployed, but the Color-Minotar f/2.8 35 mm lens is extended without one.

    Here's what you'll see in the viewfinder

    Here's what you'll see in the viewfinder

    Albalda frame lines, LED indicating whether it’s set to Program mode, whether shutter speeds will be below 1/30, or within the hand-holdable range and finally overexposure warning. There, nothing to worry about.
    My first impression of this camera is like that of a small clerk working away studiously that doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. We’ll see what photos he’ll produce, update coming.

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