After my grandfather passed away a couple of years ago, I inherited a whole range of cameras – about 10 or so in total. These cameras were a complete range, including small pocket cameras from the 1920s, large plate cameras, SLRs, and a small point and shoot camera. The small point and shoot camera is a Minox 35EL. The only problem was, it was missing the battery compartment, so wasn’t usable. Luckily for me, just the other day my father found it in a small box he had! After giving it a quick check, I put a roll of film in it, took some shots in the garden of my cats, and then took it to London for a couple of days.
About the Camera
I really don’t know very much about this camera, but having run a roll of film through it there are a few of things I can say about it. It is an aperture priority 35mm compact camera. It has a light sensor on the front, which it uses to measure the light and then set the shutter speed, which you see looking through the viewfinder. The marked speeds are 1/30, 1/125, and 1/500. I assume it goes slower than 1/30, and no faster than 1/500, but I can’t be sure. The aperture is a smooth ring on the tiny 35mm f/2.8 lens that pops out when the front door is let down. It goes from f/2.8 through to f/16. It is manual focus, but only by estimate as there is no rangefinder, and it is not an SLR. Caution needs to be exercised when shooting at f/2.8 as if shooting close it can be easy to miss focus! I have had a decent amount of estimating distances like this with the Lomo LC-A+ which has a similar focusing method, which made it a little easier. I found the best way to focus was to zone focus by setting a smaller aperture and using the hyperfocal measurements on the lens. Interestingly, the camera has a double stroke wind on wheel. I have only come across double stroke in the Leica M3 (although I am sure there are plenty of other cameras that have the same system).
To test the camera, I put in a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus, rated at ISO 400. For the most part I shot at small apertures to make focusing easier, but did try to shoot some of the photos at f/2.8 to see how the bokeh was, and how sharp the images came out. In retrospect, it may have better to shoot a lower ISO film, like Neopan 100 Acros for example, to test the sharpness as there’s a fair amount of grain in Ilford HP5 Plus.
Having used the camera, I don’t really think it’s a simple point and shoot because I found that knowledge of how the camera meters helped me to pick the right aperture to make sure the shutter wouldn’t be too fast or too slow without having to raise the camera to my eye to check. Nevertheless, it is an easy to camera to use. You can just adjust the aperture if the needle is too far one way or the other.
I felt the photos came out rather well. The exposures seem mostly fine, and the shutter speeds that the camera was giving matched roughly what I would have estimated for the conditions. See what you think, and let me know if you like the photos in the comments below!