The book (left) claims "Small Minox - Big Pictures".
The main advantage of the Minoxes is the small size. When returning
home from a camera show they are easily concealed (avoiding the
usual trouble with your POOSSLQ (translators note: don't try to learn
German by matching this part to the German version. POOSSLQ is the
straight opposite of a (queer) "eingetragenen Lebenspartner")).
Starting in Riga (shortly before it became "kinda German" for a short time),
Walter Zapp came up with the basic Minox (rare, expensive, close to the
"made in 'normal' Germany" "Minox A" shown left). Later the "B" followed
including a coupled selenium light meter (formerly offerd seperately, both
close to the tan pouch). As time marched on a CDS-meter and auto-exposure
were added (resulting in the longest Minox, the "C", shown in the center -
at this size we cannot tell apart the versions with a tiny light bulb (pulled
open) and the red LED version (closed with mounted accessory shoe).
Somehow somebody saw the need for a smaller Minox BL (coupled CDS
meter/no auto exposure, in the box), and finally the evolution led to the
LX (right, closed, auto and manual). Later perversion led to other versions
(cheapish plastic (MX?), Gold plated, Sterling Silver, Titanium, ... to name
a few attempts to milk the collectors). Sorry, all my Minoxes are just plain
"chrome" (not black anodized etc.) but remember, I aint no Minox-collector.
As usual the Japanses copied and studied the concept of 8x11mm cameras:
And as usual they came up with interesting improvements. The Yashica
Atoron could be stopped down and as accessory you could get an
enlarging lens with M39 standard thread (including own condenser
lens(es) and film tray) to be mounted to any normal enlarger. Later
"MegaHouse Sharan" came up with a pleasant (somehow familiar)
design. (The Minox BL (front) just shown again for size comparison.)
Big engine = big torque but small engine = lots of sh#t.
The same applies to negative size. The Voigtländer Bessas ("Bessa I" in
the back row, front left "Rangefinder Bessa" and front right "Bessa II")
have other trouble than small negative size
Assuming Fuji Velvia resolves 160 LP/mm, a 6x9cm "sensor" will give
roundabout 138 Megapixel - at least in theory - in real life the pic
will "only" measure 56x87mm and I still could not produce evidence
that the lens will resolve 160 right to the corners. The "experts" can
talk/praise Helomar, Vaskar, Heliar, Skopar and Apo-Lanthar (not to
mention "Color") for hours - and at the end they claim any one will be
good enough for a guy like me and I should go ahead and buy one.
A comparison of the results with prints from 4,5x6cm negs taken with
my Rolleiflex 6008 will come some day, at least I wont have to worry
about film grain.
Big mouth (like a barndoor),Voigtländer's Vitessa:
With closed barndoors an early "Pocketcamera". This Vitessa, sports an
uncoupled selenium meter and the much famed Ultron 2,0/50. Together
with the coupled rangefinder it still is an attractive camera (if you are one
of those old ... still using film (35mm in this case) and able to work with
a camera without motor, auto exposure, auto focus and all that).
Minox refined the big-door concept (a few years later) leading to the Minox 35 EL.
Small, light weight, good lens, usually defective shutter (electronics). Balda
followed (sold the camera via Voigtländer - nowadays Balda is selling plastic
covers for cell phones) and even Contax with the titaninium sputtered "T":
The Minox 35 EL was followed by the "GL" and a "PL"ethora of other models.
Nowadays it is hard to find a working "EL" most were exchanged by Minox's
service (dead shutter beyond repair). That way I got my "GT-E" (yes, it too
failed - most embarrassingly at Cornwall's camera auction at Cologne) and
a friend got his "ML" (yes, it needed service after failing at a family vacation)
after other friends turned in their defective camera to Minox and turned down
the service's "generous" offer to get a newer Minox 35 at a special price.
Voigtländer's Vito C(S) and Contax T came along with a nice compact dedicated
flash unit (Minox offered a range of flashes fitting the standard hot shoe).
The Contax T even had a built in rangefinder.
The big ugly old monster, the Contasaurus Rex Zeiss Ikonia,
his friends still lovingly call him "Contarex":
Constructed and manufactured painstakingly avoiding any easy solution
(the tiny wheel on the polarizer (to the right (left is a close up lens) is
just one example. When looking up "typically German overengineered"
in the Merriam Webster, you'll find a picture of this camera!).
This commanded a premium price and led to only a small number of
cameras produced and (mainly) sold (to doctors). Some of the lenses
in the system were carried over to Rollei QBM mount and some even
further to the Yashica/Contax mount (when the RTS was introduced).
Talk about lenses and money: when the camera was new, none of the
docs wanted the "cheapish" Tessar 2,8/50 - so nowadays some people
will tell you the lens is "rare" and must cost more than the Planar 2,0/50 ...
Another member of German camera nobility: The royal Robot Royal:
Definitely Heavy Metal. A square format (24x24mm) just like or beloved Rollei
cameras ... just smaller and with a spring loaded drive to shoot around four
frames per second (without batteries!).
"Some folks are offering mediocre M42-mount lenses with the slogan "With
adapter for Canon EOS digital !!!". These too are not quite mediocre:
Tokina 2/135 (left mounted to the Ifbaflex) and Weltblick 1,8/135 (Icarex):
I plan on selling them at top prices, so just for the inner circle:
These lenses are not mediocre.
"www.straylight.com" is one clue (just look at the big uncoated lenses!)
and I fear distorion is only second to my trusted Carl Zeiss F-Distagon.
Just two short ones from Japan (length does matter more than you may hope):
Left the very short 250mm long (focal length) RF-Rokkor 5,6/250 (I took the
shade that came with it off, so you can see more) and
right my shortest lens (speaking of focal lenght) the 4/7,5mm fishey lens.
"Hey Jan, aren't you the big photo-expert?"
"Well, a humble student."
"And a total Rollei-expert too?"
"Just a beginner."
"And you know ALL the third party accessories in the world ???"
"Just what do you wanna know!?!"
"Hmmm, take a look, this was located in all the Rollei-stuff ... what is it?" :
" ??? - (what the %#*§!) - " (THAT is supposed to be connected to Rollei
in some way?)
Small hint (what was next to it):
hmh, in case you'd wanna take you favorite Sixtomat to the beach maybe ...
you would use it to tighten the screws on the underwater housing (with
the precision of a Swiss watchmaker).
Next hint: the bare metal part to the right somehow reminds me of the
The pillbox will hold the Rolleifex's galvanometer while the camera is
hidden in the Rolleimarin (the Rolleimarin was made for a snug fit before
the built in meter was introduced, so you have to take it off before putting
the Rolleiflex into the Rolleimarin and cover the focus knob with the small
This pic - um eh, shows I got a Rolleimarin too - and it shows how the
HUGYmeter is mounted to it.
Guesstimating the right exposure was hard work for many years,
Gossen helped with "a few" light meters:
Left the tiny Sixtino matching our grey Baby Rolleiflex,
the Polysix with three metering angles,
the wellknown classic Lunasix 3 (with appropriate pouches)
in grey with spot attachment and plain in late black.
Lunasix F (flash metering included),
Profisix (will do flash metering too - if you buy the ProfiFlash attachment ;-) ,
Lunalite (with silicon blue cell too but covered accessory socket),
Sixtron 2 (early flash meter with hard to get battery),
Lunasix 3 (beautiful scale and dials) and
Polysix (10°, 20° and 30° metering!).
Left the wellknown classy Lunasix 3 (shown here the late black
version, usually they were grey like) the Sixticolor (right) - a
Selenium-cell powered color finder. An essential toy if you have
the set of six CC-filters to your Rolleiflex.
Sekonic supplied another fine piece of gadgetry, accompanied by a
dozen of "handy" inserts for "direct readout" and different thingies
for incident and reflective light metering. Minolta's Autometer (here
the spot accessory is mounted) followed a different concept - that
Unfortunately the incident light cones are loose parts in both cases
and when changing from incident to reflected light metering (and
vice versa) with the Minolta Autometer you have to turn a switch on
its back with a coin (and voilá your one-handed-operation-concept
goes straight down the drain). Stop giggling, wait for my comments
on the US-made Weston Master!
Some day somebody must have asked Mr. Weston to shoot himself
in the foot candles (and later the Anglo-Japanese to refine it):
The Weston Master II above is the only (halfways) working "Master" I
found so far. I acquired it in the first place after I was told my Sixtomat
digital in acrylic housing (pic below) would neither match my
ties nor my Rolleidoscop camera.
The lo(o)se(able) Invercone, scales and dials got refined over the years.
The sieve on the back will reveal the device's non linearity when
switching between measuring ranges (if the meter works at all).
The Sixtomat digital is reliable and uses a commonly available AA-battery:
(Usually the meter has a black housing.)
and Gossen easily added flashmetering to it:
(the flashmeter version was marktetd as Walimex and Multiblitz as well)
This is what flashmetering looked like in the olden days, again Gossen could
help, others too:
The Gossen Sixtron 2 (right) still has a classic needle and scale display
(all the time metering incident light, the white cone is just for an extended
metering range), the Shepherd (left, was available with other names
too) is the next generation with LED readout. The Lunasix F (center)
will meter flash and ambient light, reflected and incident (nothing left
to be desired - maybe except spot- and/or color temperature metering).
Exposure metering is important, but what about framing?
Voigtländer invented the rather special "KONTUR"-finder (and somehow some
Japanese company named Binoca produced something quite like it):
I wasn't able to find much about BINOCA CO. in the internet (and my books)
except that they made a binocular-camera - and this nice metal version of the
Voigtländer finder. The Vogtländer Kontur Sucher was available for 6x6, 6x9
and "24x36 35mm", but as much as I found out, the 35mm version is for a
focal length of 50mm and a 24x36mm frame on 35mm film. The principle of
the KONTUR finder is simple yet refined: while framing you keep both eyes open,
one directed directly at the subject and the other eye looking into (rather than
"through"!) the KONTUR finder. The finder-eye will see the brightline only and
your brain will merge both images, "projecting" the brightline right into the scene
you are about to capture. Maybe I'll add some more pics later ...
Here for a change a nice Contax's little helper. A turning wheel with
several diopter-lenses to enable photo dealer to find the right one for
I think it is amazing to have such a thing in the production line at all
(like Leica did many years ago), but Contax even did it with style:
The value for the lens is not only shown on the dial but even in the lens's
Yashica did it before ...:
In the olden days when Yashica kloned Rolleis (and made fitting BI filters),
they already knew the trick.