From Academic Kids

The Minox, the archetypal sub-miniature camera, was invented by the engineer Walter Zapp of Riga, Latvia, in 1936. Production in Riga at VEF ran from 1937/1938 until 1944. After WWII, production was re-started in Germany from 1948.

Although primarily marketed as a luxury item, the Minox was also used as an espionage camera. Its close-focusing lens and small size made it perfect for covert uses such as surveillance or document copying. The Minox was used by both Axis and Allied intelligence agents during World War II. Later versions were used well into the 1980s. The Soviet spy John A. Walker Jr., whose actions against the US Navy cryptography programs represent some of the most compromising intelligence actions against the United States during the Cold War era, used a Minox C to photograph documents and ciphers. The espionage use of the Minox has been memorialized by Hollywood movies, and some Minox marketing efforts played up the "spy camera" story in an effort to boost sales.

The Minox cameras use 8x11mm film in a small cartridge containing a strip of film 9.2mm wide, one-quarter the size of 35mm, capable of holding up to 50 frames

Minox subminiature "spy" camera
Minox subminiature "spy" camera

Minox 8x11 camera models

  • Riga (attempts to call this model I failed)
  • A (Europe there was no distinction made between the three A models)
  • II
  • III
  • IIIs
  • B - ultralight aluminium shell, produced from 1958 to 1972
  • C - introduced in 1969, electronic, used by spy John A. Walker, Jr.
  • BL - 1972 with Cds meter
  • LX - electronic
  • EC
  • ECX, replacing EC
  • TLX, titanium titanal eloxat coated
  • CLX, chrome plated

and special editions

  • LX Sterling - 925 sterling silver hallmarked
  • LX Selection - gold with black dials
  • LX Gold II - anniversary edition, all gold, with Walter Zapp's signature
  • CLX - with Walter Zapp's signature
  • LX 2000 - brass black anodized with gold trim
  • Aviator - black anodized with luminous dials, logo and script limited edition of 300
  • EC - with Minox Histortical Society logo limited edition of 100
  • EC - 1st German Minox club in blue with club logo limited edition of 111.

The earlier mechanical cameras are collector's items. Newer electronic versions, such as the Minox TLX, remain in production yet today, essentially unchanged in general features since the 1970s.

Other products

Minox has also made a very compact plastic bodied 35 mm camera series,

  • Minox EL, 1974
  • MINOX GL, 1979/81
  • MINOX GT 1981/91
  • MINOX GT-Golf 1984
  • MINOX GT-E 1988/1993
  • MINOX GSE 1991/1994
  • MINOX PL 1982/83
  • MINOX ML 1985/1995
  • MINOX AL 1987/88
  • MINOX AF 1988/90
  • MINOX MB 1986/99
  • MINOX MB Touring 1900
  • MINOX Goldknopf 1991/93
  • MINOX MDC 1992/95
  • MINOX MDC Collection 1993/1994
  • MINOX GT-X 1998/1999
  • MINOX GT-E(II) 1998/2001
  • MINOX GT-S 1998/2004

Also sold were 110 film cameras and Minox binoculars. Recently, Minox introduced a line of compact binoculars and a range of digital cameras and Classic cameras Minox Leica IIIf, Minox Leica M3, Minox Leica 1F, Minox Hasselblad SWC, Minox Contax I.

Sharan Megahouse of Japan extened the Minox range with 8x11 miniatures of the Rolleiflex TLR 2.8, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus Pen and Robot I.


After a management buyout in August 2001 and a reduction of Leica-held shares down to 49%, and finally completed in 2004, Minox is no longer a division of the Leica company.

Internal Links

Books on Minox

  • Hubert E. Heckmann: MINOX Variations IN 8X11, Wittig Books, ISBN 3-88984-153-8
  • Morris Moses & John Wade: Spycamera THE MINOX Story, 2nd edition ISBN 1-874707-28-6
  • Gunther Kadlubek, Classic Camera Collection Verlag Rudole Hillebrand

External links



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