The 8x11mm and Minox 35mm cameras had a keen user base what used to be called 'personalities' as photographers rather than celebrities. Here we see both sides of the coin. Appearances by the camera in films and TV since 1946 (OSS) are too numerous to mention. I will mention the more obscure.
Why use a film camera when 99.9% of photographers use Digital?
Why use not just a film camera, but also a camera that takes fiddly film, that hardly anyone can process, of such a size that scanning is troublesome and whose results that can be beaten by a decent smartphone?
The answers are: size and wow-factor.. It is hard to find a camera with a similar cachet that is affordable. Sure you can buy and enjoy using a Leica, but from there it is a slippery slope. One lens leads to another, one expensive accessory leads to another, and like an addict, your collection expands to fill the Leica's available,
Whereas one is limited by using a Minox: there is only one fixed lens. No 'mountain complan', no wide angle or extreme telephotos. There is simply less to use. Your minimum kit could be a minox III, exposure meter, filters, and a flash kit. Price less than £300. There is simply not much to collect. The word's dearest Minoxes are the Solid Silver (£3k) and the Gold-plated Minox A and B's with meters (£2.3k). £10k will buy the best of the Minox crop.
To encourage more Minox users, I can produce more cassettes. Our program of refurbishing enlargers and making longer-lasting cassettes will encourage a wider acceptance amongst photographers. Minox processing and film was always 50% more than conventional 35mm processing, we try to close the gap with refilling film cassettes and offering new choices of emulsion.
Wish us luck. We have made large investments in new scanners (Hasselblad/Minolta/Nikon), customised scan holders from Hasselblad, software (Silverfast), Enlargers, film cutting machines, and now cassettes and refurbishing Minox enlargers. Modern technology is literally revolutionising the enlargers.
Minox sold over 900,000 cameras. They last a very long times. I owe to the pioneers, VEF and Walter Zapp to see if i can make a go of this project.
The time it takes ro process and cut tilm takes longer. This is because scanning cannot be automated.
Journalists, ex-military, engineers, artists,
.mechanics, children and grandchildren of original owners. Also, ,middle-aged photographers who buy the camera now because the camera was simply too expensive to buy in the 1970's/80's/90's.
Typically a family member inherits a camera. There is a decision tree:
After a small internet search, the user discovers that films and processing is too expensive, so they sell off the cameras, but will get the negatives scanned.
They get hooked, and take on the challenge. Given that they have inherited a very expensive outfit (in real terms, a Minox in 1962 cost £1K) the beneficiary will try and find out how to use the camera.
The user deliberately wants to use a MINOX to gain an economic, artistic of professional advantage. Photographically, a MINOX camera produces large prints with a look and feel unlike any other.
They love the size.
Bilko, Sergeant, a.k.a Phil Silvers. His camera is in the Minox Collection.
Columbo: the camera (EC) was a regular prop. in the series. Also for CIA.
Edinburgh, Duke of. Famous owner of a Minox B. Used from 1960's late 1990's.
In the early 1990s' the USSR, and the Russian state used repackaged Minox cassettes with twin spools and yellow-colured film over 1.25m long for spy photography. I have some of these cassettes, and there is a very unusual second spool in the feed chamber. Marked 400 ASA Agfapan, the film has very unsual colour and thin-ness.
The classic 1970's police series,'The Sweeney' made an episode that featured a Minox B to obtain blackmail photographs.
Delivery of camera parts from Washington to London by the Soviet Mission
Venona decrypts mentioning MINOX. Venona was the cracking of the USSR's one-time-pads, fatally, compromised when the Soviets cipher clerks started re-using pads. The CIA also provided instructions on how to use the camera and copy stand with an evaluation report.
From The Sweeney to Columbo, from The Saint to Gambit, to New Scotland Yard, to Mission: Impossible, the MINOX has popped up whenever a spy camera is needed in the script.. I would say product placement, but the camera is so small that I doubt whether many people even saw it, let alone known what it was.