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The Minox EC is a subminiature photo camera
Minox GmbH in Germany in 1981. Although it accepts the same
8 x 11 mm film cartridges as the previous models,
it's design is completely different. With a low-cost body made of
durableplastic, it is often regarded as the poor-man's spy camera.
The Minox EC was succeeded by the Minox EXC
in the mid-1990's.
The image on the right shows a typical Minox EC camera. The most obvious
difference with earlier models is the fact that the enclosure is made of plastic rather than aluminium. Furthermore, the outer shell of the
camera has to be removed completely when exchanging the film cassette.
Another major difference with earlier cameras is the fact that the EC has
a fixed focus lens, that ranges from 1 metre to inifinity.
This makes the camera less suitable for document photography.
The film speed is set with a milled thumb-wheel just in front of the red
Although the camera is generally not regarded as a true spy camera,
bacause of its fixed focus lens, it is in fact small enough to
be hidden in the palm of a hand, making it the ideal companion for
It is much smaller than the Minox C,
the Minox LX
and even the Minox B.
It is about the same size as the earliest
and its successor the Minox A.
Furthermore, the Russian GRU
modified the Minox EC for document photography
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The Minox EC came standard with a black metal chain that allowed the camera
to be attached to the clothing. As it has a fixed-focus lens, there are no
knots on the chain to measure distances.
Also supplied with the camera was a small plastic flash cube adapter.
It could be slotted on to one end of the camera by means of three contacts
and two spring-loaded locks. The images below show the Minox EC with its
flash adapter attached.
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The Minox EC has two compartments that can be opened.
One is the battery compartment at the right. It can be accessed by sliding
back part of the right side. The camera takes a standard PX-27 battery,
just like the other Minox subminiature cameras with built-in electronics.
In order to exchange the film, the outer shell of the body has to be removed
completely. First the camera is pulled out in the normal way. Then, when
pressing the small metal button to the left of the viewfinder, the outer
shell can be pulled off completely, revealing the film compartment.
When inserting a new film, the user has to preset the exposure counter at the
bottom to either 15 or 36 exposures, depending on the type of
When shooting, the counter decreases each time the shutter is released.
It therefore always shows the number of exposures left.
When opening and closing the camera (i.e. preparing it to shoot),
the film will only be advanced to the next position when a picture has
actually been taken (i.e. when the red release-button was pressed).
This was a major advantage over earlier cameras like the
Minox B, in which the film was transported
each time the camera was opened and closed.
In order to use the Minox EC for espionage operations, the
modified its fixed focus lens for a distance of 42 cm, much better for
document photography. Furthermore, they placed the lens under an angle
making it easier to photograph documents, e.g. from behind a desk .
The Soviets supplied cassettes for the camera with very thin
Agfapan 400 film, that allowed the camera to take 110 exposures,
nearly three times the usual 36.
This film was not normally available from the regular photography stores
and was probably made by the Russians.
One example of the use of the Minox EC, is the espionage
case of the Belgian Colonel Gustave (Guy) Binet, in the press often
referred to as The Red Colonel , who worked for NATO and
spied for the
for nearly two years, before he was exposed by American CIA investigators.
After his arrest in 1988, the Belgian
counter-intelligence service SDRA III
found the modified Minox EC in his bedroom at his house in Eigenbrakel
During the search, they also found the
Sony ICF-2001D receiver
that Binet had used for the reception of secret coded messages from Moscow.
Binet was convicted to 20 years of forced labour,
but was released after serving five years.
He disappeared into anonymity and died on 2 July 2000.
His Minox EC camera and the receiver are now part of the internal
collection of the Military Intelligence Service
➤ More about the Sony ICF-2001D receiver
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 03 May 2012. Last changed: Tuesday, 13 June 2017 - 08:01 CET.