Subminiature espionage camera
The Tochka 58-M (Точка 58-М) was a fully mechanical
built in 1958 by the special workshop of the
Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod (KMZ),
the Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk.
The name Точка (Tochka) means POINT. 58 refers
to the year of development.
The camera was clearly modelled after the Latvian
Minox subminiature cameras
and was intended for espionage.
It was used by the KGB
and others, and is also known as the Necktie Camera .
Two different versions of the camera exist: the initial version,
the Tochka-58/S-252 type A,
that has no viewfinder, and a later version with viewfinder,
known as the Tochka-58M/S-252 type B.
At least three different versions of the latter are known.
Both models accept
standard Minox film cartridges
with an 8 x 11 mm frame.
The image on the right shows both the 58
and the 58M models,
together with a Minox III
(also known as Minox-A) of the same era.
The Tochka cameras have approximately the same size as the Minox
on which the design was based.
Like the Krasnogorsk F-21 camera (Ayaks)
and the famous Photo Sniper,
the Tochka 58-M was very
popular with the KGB
and other East-European security and intelligence
agencies during the Cold War.
As the camera measures only 83 x 28 x 20 mm, roughly the same size as a
Minox A, it was the ideal device
to be fitted inside virtually any kind of concealment,
such as a briefcase.
Unlike the Minox camera, which has its lens at the front (in-line
with the film) the lens of the Tochka is at the side of the body,
requiring an internal 45° mirror to project the image onto the film.
Although this may seem unlogical, it makes the camera more suitable
for certain types of concealment. Another difference with the Minox
camera, is the way the film is transported. In the Minox, the movement
of opening and closing the camera is used to transport the film, whereas
the Tochka features a spring-loaded mechanism that must be wound-up prior to
The camera could be fitted to an aluminium frame with elastic straps,
that allowed the camera to be worn on the chest, hidden under the operator's
clothing. The camera could be hidden behind a specially prepared necktie,
with the lens masked-off by a modified tie-pin. For this reason
the camera is also known as the KGB Necktie Camera. A good example of
a complete setup, with some very good photographs,
can be found in Keith Melton's excellent book Ultimate Spy .
A remote control unit, similar to the one used
with the F-21 camera,
allowed the appropriate shutter speed to be selected
and pictures to be taken right from the operator's trousers pocket.
When shooting pictures, the operation of the camera is virtually silent.
The image below shows a typical Tochka-58 camera with the lens
on the left half of the top surface.
The lens has a threaded ring,
allowing it to be disguised as a tie-pin. There is no viewfinder.
The dial at the front is for setting the shutter speed
to 1/10, 1/50, 1/150 and 1/400.
The rigged button
at the right is for winding-up the clockwork motor.
When fully wound, it can be used for a full film.
The shutter release button
is at the rear. It is released by
pushing it sideways
with a finger. The release button is not visible in the
picture on the right.
According to some reports, the film frame size of the Tochka-58
is the same as for the Minox, but it uses a different type of
cassette . The model shown here however, fully accepts
the standard Minox cassettes,
just like the later Tochka-58M/S-252
type B camera (see below).
This version of the Tochka-58 was less suitable for taking
inconspicious photographs, as it doesn't have a viewfinder.
It was clearly meant for concealed use, e.g. for shooting photographs
from behind a modified tie. For this reason the lens was at the top
of the camera, rather than at the front like on the Minox.
The camera would be carried vertically, in-line with the tie.
The frame counter
at the back shows how many shots are taken.
It can be reset by rotating the wheel.
A mounting screw
at the back can be used to affix the camera to the
The camera has two narrow rigs at the edges, allowing to slide it
into some kind of frame.
Normally there are two spring-loaded clips at the sides of the camera,
used for locking it into place, but they are
removed from the camera
shown here. This was probably done to make it fit inside an alternative
concealment. The camera can be opened by
pushing the chain ring inwards.
This gives access to the
film compartment that accepts a
20 exposure film cartridge.
The image below shows the later Tochka-58M. Unlike the earlier
58 model, it is more suitable for inconspicious photography as it does
have a viewfinder, in the form of a tiny hole at the back.
The lens of the viewfinder is located just
above the main lens.
The dial at the front
allows the shutter speed to be set to
1/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and 1/500.
The release button
is at the rear (not visible in the image on the right).
Unlike the earlier Tochka-58 it has a threaded ring that allows a remote release cable to be attached.
The camera is less suitable for use inside a concealment.
It does't have a mounting screw at the back that was used to affix
it to the operator's clothing. Furthermore it lacks the rigs at the sides,
making it impossible to slot the camera into a mounting frame,
like the 58.
The rigged button at the right is for
winding-up the clockwork motor.
At the back, an engraved arrow shows in which direction the knob should
be turned. When fully wound, it can be used for an entire film (20 exposures).
The small hole at the right half (above) is the
The camera can be opened by
pushing the chain mount inwards.
This releases a small lid at the rear that
gives access to the
Like its predecessor, the Tochka-58,
the camera accepts a standard Minox
20 exposure film cartridge.
It was usually used with AgfaPan100 film .
The lens has a fixed aperture and a fixed focus. A later version of the
Tochka-58M was equipped with a distance dial that could be set to
0.35, 0.50, 1 metre and infinity.
The cameras were initially used with the plastic Minox film cartridges
that contained AgfaPan100 black-and-white film, which was 135 micron
thick. Alternatively, the cartridges were loaded with standard Soviet A-2
35 mm film that had a thickness of 150 micron and a sensitivity of 200 ASA (ISO). A special film slicer was available, to cut a standard 35 mm film
into 9.5 mm wide strips.
Instead of the plastic Minox cartridges, the USSR produced compatible ones,
made from a special alloy. It could hold 36 exposures (frames) of a standard
A-2 film . The introduction of Maylar as base for the film,
even allowed 72 exposures on a single film.
Special technical skills where required for loading the cartridges
The image on the right shows a developed set of Minox colour negatives
that are being inspected with a Minox Loupe.
As the Tochka-58 cameras were manufactured by the Special Workshop at
the KMZ factory,
they were intended for secret operations by the
and other secret services.
As a result, the information that is publicly
available about this camera is rather limited and often incomplete.
Although most websites talk about two different models:
the 58 and the 58M (type a and type b),
there were at least three different versions of the later 58M model:
One with an exposure counter, one without an exposure counter
and one with an adjustable focus lens (also without counter).
The image on the right shows four different Tochka-58 cameras in the
collection of Detlev Vreisleben in Germany . The leftmost one is
the earlier 58 model. The rightmost three cameras are the different versions
of the 58M model described above. Click for a better view.
Apart from the obvious differences described above, there were some other
(minor) changes in manufacturing over time. The rigs on the wind-up knob,
for example, have changed between models and some mounting holes were
moved to a different position.
Furthermore, the film transport mechanism was improved over time, as the
earlier versions sometimes caused the film to be damaged.
Of the 58M models, only the version with the adjustable focus seems to
have a threaded ring around the lens, intended for use with the modified
Except for the serial number, the camera is usually unmarked.
There is no reference to the manufacturer or the name of the
camera. For this reason, the name Точка is often incorrectly
written when transcribed into Latin characters. The following names
have been spotted:
- Toychka 58-m
- Totchka S-252
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