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Minox 35 EL
Miniature 35 mm camera

The Minox 35 EL was a miniature 35 mm camera, introduced in 1974 by Minox in Germany. It is known as the smallest 35 mm camera in the world. When closed, it's about the size of a pack of sigarettes and can easily be hidden in a person's pocket. Although it's actually a consumer device, it became popular during the Cold War, as an alternative to the far more expensive sub-miniature cameras like the Minox B. The design was even copied by the Soviet Union (USSR) as the Kiev 35A.
 
The lens of the Minox 35 EL is retractable and can be covered by a flap. When closed the camera measures only 10 x 6 x 3 cm, just marginally larger than a pack of sigarettes. Because of the flat design, it can easily be carried in the pocket of, say, a shirt.

Because of its small size, the excellent lens and the fact that it uses standard 35 mm photo film, the camera is ideally suited for document duplication and discreet photography. It is equipped with a 1:2.8 35 mm lens that has a focus-range from 90 cm to infinity.
  
Minox 35 EL ready for use

It has an electronic light meter which can be read from the view finder. It also has an electro-mechanical shutter that is driven by a small electronic circuit mounted just behind the lens. The electronic shutter is a known cause of 'sudden death' problems with these cameras, but if it works, the results are near to perfect.

The electronics are powered by a small 5.6V battery, such as the Duracell PX-27, seated in a small compartment just above the lens, to the right of the view finder. The compartment can be opened easily by removing the cap with a coin (see the rightmost images below).
 
Minox 35 EL closed Minox 35 EL ready for use Close-up of the lens and the MINOX logo The typical red shutter release button Bottom of the camera with the film sensitivity setting (DIN/ASA) Opening the battery compartment with a coin Removing the battery from its compartment The battery removed from the compartment

 
Interior
From a mechanical point of view, the camera is very simple. It is opened by flipping a small lock at the bottom and sliding the cover away. This reveals the rear of the lens, the space for the film and the pick-up reel.

The image on the right shows the lens, seen from the rear. The pick-up reel is on the right and at the bottom right is the small cog wheel that advances the film. More images below.
  
View at the lens from the inside. At the right is the film transport cogwheel.

 
Copycat
The Minox 35 EL was so popular in the West that the Russians decided to duplicate it completely. The copy was built by Arsenal in Ukraine (former USSR) and was called the Kiev 35A.

The dimensions were identical and every tiny detail was exacly duplicated, including the bright red button, one of the landmarks of the Minox. Accessories of the Minox 35 EL and the Kiev 35A are interchangeable.
  
A Kiev 35A (left) and a Minox 35 EL (right)

 
The camera is opened by unlocking it from the bottom The rear of the camera body removed, revealing the interior. View at the lens from the inside. At the right is the film transport cogwheel. Film cartridge compartment (supply reel) The film pick-up reel A Kiev 35A (left) and a Minox 35 EL (right)

 
Further information

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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Friday, 04 September 2015 - 16:18 CET.
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