Minox 35 EL Film Recomendation

Discussion in 'Minox' started by jimnorwood, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. Hi
    I've just bought a Minox 35 EL for my daughter for a trip to Asia and Australia. Changed the battery and loaded with ISO 200 film. Took the camera out today so she could get used to it. It was a fairly sunny autumn day and the light meter almost always indicated an over exposure. She was forced to shoot with F16 all the time. Now I presume that her holiday will be even sunnier and she wants to take lots of shots in the sun. As she can't manually set the shutter speed I guess the only thing she can do to shoot at different F stops in sunny conditions is a lower ISO film such as 100 ? Correct ?
  2. Your camera my be defective. The EL was the very first 35mm Minox, now approaching its 45th birthday. The CdS metering "eye" common in cameras of that era tended to wear out after 20-30 years, also the electronics in this model are primitive and can go bad.

    If you have another camera, check that your Minox matches the exposure reading when the other camera is set to to the same ISO speed and aperture. If the Minox is way off, it needs repair. If not, your Minox is probably OK but you are coming up against its limitations in high noon blistering sun. The shutter only goes to 1/500th second, which can be too slow (overexposure) even with 200 film and f/16. But color negative film has a lot of leeway for exposure errors, so if she can't find 100 speed film using the 200 might still be OK. She can tell the lab the pics are overexposed and they can try to compensate when they print the pics.

    You might try a test roll before she leaves for the trip: fire off a roll in bright noon sun, get it processed, and see how well the pics come out. If OK, she should do fine with it on her trip. If not, perhaps look into a neutral density (ND) filter that will cut the light thru the lens by half or more: this would put the bright sunlight more in range of what the Minox shutter can cope with. Honestly, for such a "once in a lifetime" trip I would not rely exclusively on ANY vintage electronic pocket film camera for all my pics: the risk of failure is too great. Chances are she'll be more successful with her phone or a small digital camera, while the pocket film camera can be used for alternative shots of just a subgroup of scenes she thinks would really benefit from "the film look".

    Film is lovely but tricky stuff with much less flexibility then digital: using film exclusively for a vacation or art project kind of requires knowing when/how to set the exposures yourself to override the automatic camera meter, and having a wide range of available settings. When the Minox EL was introduced, it was competing against the prestige compact Rollei 35 camera. Both were often used with then-popular Kodachrome slide film, with a speed of ISO 64 or negative film in the range of ISO 125 (which the Minox can handle well in very bright light).
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    jimnorwood likes this.
  3. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Also, what battery are you using? The 35 EL was designed for a 5.6v PX27 mercury battery, though the alkaline equivalent is 6v. The higher voltage would actually cause underexposure, so if you're using a fresh 6v battery, and the camera still reads overexposure, then that would indicate that the meter is off. You could try adjusting the film speed setting on the camera to compensate.
  4. Forget what I said about looking into a neutral density filter. This would have been an easy fix for any other camera, but I just checked for you and the custom-size filters for the Minox EL are vanishingly rare today. Also, they prevent the camera from closing.

    m42dave made a good catch re the battery: these old cameras can be very sensitive to correct power, which new alkaline battery updates rarely provide. If adjusting the film speed doesn't help, and a test roll still comes out poorly, consider another film camera with standard filter size (so she can obtain an ND filter easily) and perhaps a more standard battery chamber that can accept modern alkaline cells (or traditional PX625 size Wein cell replacements).
  5. For a potentially 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip, I personally would not take any of my belovéd film cameras as my only shooter, especially those over 25 years old. If ease of use is desired, consider a automatic digital point-and-shoot. For that matter, lots of people traveling far from home use their phone cameras or even iPads.
    a few years ago, most travelers at Yellowstone were using phones​
  6. Thanks so much for the advice. My daughter is taking a digital camera and a phone with her on the trip (which teenager is ever without a phone !).
    However her and her sister are into film photography and wanted a small camera to take a few shots with. That gave me an excuse to look into
    what might be available. The Minox was 20 Euro locally and I replaced the battery with a Golden Power PX27 6V battery.


    I'll check the readings against my nikon FE.
  7. Remember the "Sunny 16" rule. With 200 film, the shutter speed should be 1/200th (or 1/250th) at f16 on a full sun day. Don't even need a meter for that. It it is different, there is something wrong with the camera.
  8. The Minox 35's aren't famous for exposure accuracy with fast films (even 200 is pushing it), perhaps due to the way the shutter mechanically achieves its faster speeds (an issue it shares with many other similar cameras). The wide angle CdS meter eye on the lens is easily overwhelmed by the sky: it helps if you turn the camera upside down so the door shields the lens as a makeshift shade. This should improve meter accuracy and reduce flare (a big problem for the Color-Minotar lens if the sun is in the frame). It was also routine for photographers to set a slower film speed than the actual film on their Minox (i.e. st the EL to 100 instead of 200). A couple of test rolls should shake things out and give some ideas how to optimize your particular camera.
  9. As an 8x11 Minox enthusiast, I bought several different 35 mm Minox cameras. From my experience, they are not reliable enough to be one’s only camera. As for digital cameras and phones, the greatest drawback is there is only a digital file, no picture. Batteries and SD cards seem to fail at the wrong time. However, for foreign travel, a digital camera eliminates a lot of airport security hassle.
    For domestic travel I use a completely manual camera, some over 80 yrs old and extremes reliable. And of course a little Minox is always in my pocket.
  10. Exactly what I do. Works well.
  11. We have a glut of new Minox EL hood and filter sets for sale for £10.MSHOBBIES. CO. UK

    note that later filter models for the gt ml seried will not fit the el:


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