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Minox LX
Subminiature espionage camera

The Minox LX is a subminiature photo camera developed my Minox GmbH in Germany during the final stages of the Cold War. It is a fully electronic photo camera with a built-in Silicon Blue Cell (SBC) exposure meter, coupled to an electronic shutter mechanism. Like its predecessor, the Minox C, it is powered by a small PX-27 battery. Without the battery, this camera won't work.
 
Despite the more advanced electronics however, the LX is about 10 mm shorter than the Minox C making it a more suitable for espionage use. With its outer dimensions of 110 x 27 x 15 mm it is still a lot bigger than the earlier cameras like the Minox B and the Riga.

The image on the right shows a typical Minox LX. As usual, the speed dial and the focussing dial are on the top of the body. The exposure counter is visible through a small window close to the focussing dial. A small dial for setting the film speed is available at the bottom.
  
Minox LX camera open

As the camera was produced in the modern 'electronic' era, a number of indicator LEDs are present on the body. A slide switch, next to the speed dial, can be activated to read the current status of the battery and the exposure meter.

Unfortunately, the shutter release button is mounted in a different position than on earlier models, making the Minox LX unsuitable for some existing accessories, such as the Binocular Attachment. Special versions of these accessories are available for the Minox LX. As the LX is a fully electronic camera, the shutter can only be operated when a full PX-27 battery is present.

The Minox LX was produced from 1978 to 1995 and a special version of it, the Minox TLX, was in production from 1996 to 2003, making it the most long-lived Minox subminiature camera. In total, approx. 42000 units were produced, which is a fairly small number compared to the Minox B of which 384,328 units were built.
 
Storage box Minox LX in storage box Minox LX camera closed Minox LX camera open Grey filter in front of the lens Controls Bottom of the Minox LX, showing the film speed dial The speed dial, the status switch and the LEDs
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Storage box
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Minox LX in storage box
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Minox LX camera closed
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Minox LX camera open
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Grey filter in front of the lens
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Controls
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Bottom of the Minox LX, showing the film speed dial
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The speed dial, the status switch and the LEDs

Operation
At the upper side of the camera are two dials. When holding the camera as indicated in the image below, the leftmost dial is used to set the shutter speed, between 1/30 and 1/2000 sec. Setting the dail to A enables automatic exposure by using the built-in light sensor.

The rightmost dial is the distance setting (focussing). The high-quality macro lens allows objects to be focussed as close as 20 cm. Like with the other Minox spy cameras, the viewfinder moves slightly when the speed dial is rotated, in order to compensate for parallax errors. This makes the camera ideally suited for document photography.


To the left of the speed dial is a slide switch that can be moved up and down. When released, it always returns to the centre position. This test-switch is used in combination with the three status LEDs at the left (green, red and yellow). Sliding the test-switch up activates the battery test. When the green LED is lit, the battery is OK.

Sliding the switch down activates the exposure test (exposure set to A). To avoid motion blur caused by slow shutter speeds, the yellow LED will be lit when shutter speeds below 1/30 sec. are to be used. It is advisable to use a tripod under these circumstances. At the same time, the red LED will warn for over-exposure caused by extremely bright ambient light. If the LED is lit, the grey filter should be placed before the lens.
 
Opening the camera
Opening the camera in order to replace the film cartridge is rather easy. First open the camera in the usual manner, as if you want to take pictures. Then turn the camera around so that the underside becomes visible (image #1) and stretch the camera a little bit further. This should reveal a small recessed rig (image #2). Use the nail of your thumb to press down the recessed rig (image #3). This should unlock the camera. Whilst pressing down the rig, slide away the body of the camera to reveal the film cartridge compartment (image #4).

If there is a film present, turn the camera upside down until the film cartridge falls out. Take a new film from its protective container and place it in the camera. Then close the camera. Please note that the first image is lost as it is already exposed. Release the shutter and close/open the camera to advance to the next position. Then release the shutter again. The camera is now ready for use. In the pictures below, the camera is loaded with a 36 exposure colour film.
 
The bottom of the camera in normal position Extending the camera a bit further reveals a recessed gap Use the nail of your thumb to press down the recessed gap Slide away the body of the camera to reveal the film cartridge Take out the film cartridge by holding the camera upside-down Close-up of the film cartridge The film outside the camera, next to an empty film container Placing a new film cartridge in the camera
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The bottom of the camera in normal position
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Extending the camera a bit further reveals a recessed gap
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Use the nail of your thumb to press down the recessed gap
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Slide away the body of the camera to reveal the film cartridge
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Take out the film cartridge by holding the camera upside-down
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Close-up of the film cartridge
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The film outside the camera, next to an empty film container
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Placing a new film cartridge in the camera

Further information

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Crypto Museum. Created: Friday 30 April 2010. Last changed: Tuesday, 13 June 2017 - 08:56 CET.
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