Minox 35 PL


Minox 35PLThe Minox 35 camera series is rightfully carved in collective photographic imagery as a synonym for compact and efficient systems which can provide important results despite the reduced size; in fact, the various models that have taken place in the course of production have always had two important common characteristics that have remained constant over time: pocket size and optical quality.

It is beyond any doubt a masterpiece of miniaturization  thanks to the weight and dimensions that make it even smaller than some 110 and 16mm cameras and: height, for example, is slightly higher than that of a 135 film canister and the weight is reduced to a few hundred grams.
The first model was launched in 1974 after the presentation of the final prototype took place a year earlier, and the production lasted until the beginning of 2000 articulated in 21 versions; among these, we can recognize three main families, which then evolved into below-versions:

• 35 EL, from 1974 to 1998
• 35 PL, from 1982 to 1987
• 35 ML, from 1985 to 1992

Regardless of the differences (sometimes minimum) between the various models, the points remain the extreme compactness of a camera that had roughly the same size as the small Rollei 35 but relying on mid weight Makrolon body (very lightweight polycarbonate), as well as the accuracy of the metering system and the quality of the lens (the Minotar) based on the crisp outline four lenses Tessar. 


Minox 35 PLThe camera is totally automatic in its operation although usercan count on some manual adjustments and is protected from accidental front closure that is reminiscent of the old bellows cameras: while opening the front door, retractable lens extends into position and activates the internal circuits that regulate the exposure. The camera begins to show signs of life when acting on the film advance lever, short wheelbase type that requires two strokes to advance frame correctly and cock the shutter; Once the lever is activated, the red LED placed on the top cover lights if it detects low light that might lead to blur the image. The second Green LED serves to confirm the charge status of the battery and is operated by a small button on the top of the camera.

Top cover of the Minox 35PL
Top cover of the Minox 35PL

The bottom of the camera
The bottom of the camera

Loading the film is intuitive and foolproof and is made after you unlock the back using the lever on the back itself; the particular system of interlocking slide back to the camera body can do without seals (a bit like the Rollei 35): a problem less to evaluate when looking for a used!

The back removed
The back removed

After you load the film and reassembled back then adjust film sensitivity by turning the adjustment wheel on the bottom and you can then advance the film until the first pose; the frame counter is incremental type with auto-reset at back opening. The white numbered disk makes it perfectly readable despite its small size.

The shutter button, green in this model (Minox are divided into different families depending on the colour of the button) is similar to the electromagnetic one installed on Olympus XA and it is extremely sensitive once the shutter is cocked: care should be taken in that is not at all difficult to activate it and lose inadvertitely good shooting. Once the Minox 35PL is ready all that remains to do is to focus using the focusing ring concentric to the lens: the focus by zone estimation and thus requires a little practice before being fully masters, but the depth of field of 35 mm supplied helps to limit the risks of off-focus. In the focusing ring there is a green dot indicating an average  hyperfocal distance with which it is reasonably sure to focus on the subject in the shots in the middle distance (2-10 m).

The 35PL with the dedicated flash
The 35PL with the dedicated flash

Image composition is done through the galilean viewfinder, presenting the bounding frame area and the parallax error indicator at close range, which is limited due to the positioning of the optical viewfinder right above (as in TLRs); the Minox 35 PL can also be used on a tripod thanks to standard  thread and the remote shutter socket that is placed immediately to the right of the shutter release, although little visible.

The camera is also equipped with a self-timer, which is operated by moving a sliding button on the rear of the body near the viewfinder. Another similar button is placed on the upper case and allows an intentional exposure adjustments, representing one of only two possible manual interventions on the operation of camera. The second is the manual aperture adjustment for exposure with flash, and is carried out by turning a ring on the lens. The dedicated flash allows additional automatic exposure control although it can be operated manually and is also interesting for the shape of the bottom that fits perfectly with the camera profile. The Minox 35 PL can still use any flash thanks to the presence of standard hot shoe and synchro flash speed is 1/90 sec.

While using it, the Minox 35 PL behaves very well in all photographic situations requiring readiness (once made a habit to focusing on distance estimate) thanks to the automatic program that ranges from 1/500 coupled to f/16 up to 1/4 (or 1/15 with low sensitivity film) at f/2.8, especially on maintaining enough shutter speed to freeze motion. The Tessar scheme is very precise and engraved will not be sparing of satisfaction especially in black and white; the extremely compact size and light weight are a plus in many everyday situations.

Camera ready with the housing closed decomposable
Camera ready with the housing closed decomposable

Painful notes are relative to the impossibility of manual intervention (except the few options given above), the shutter button not protected from accidental activation and sometimes, delicate electronics which can lead to sudden death. It remains an extremely viable camera, always ready to use when carried, maybe loaded with a traditional type BW film.

2 test minimal


Model: Automatic Compact

Size: 24 x 36 on 135 film.

Lens: Color-35/2.8 Minotar, minimum focus distance 0.9 m

Apertures: from f/2.8 to f/16

Shutter: central type, speed from 15 sec to 1/500 sec

Exposure modes: Auto, flash openings control

Viewfinder: Galileian with frame and parallax indicators

Meter: Silicon cell metering, ISO 25-400

Self timer: Yes

Flash: flash shoe.

Dimensions: length 100 mm; height 61 mm; 31 mm depth.

Battery: PX27 5.6 V

Weight: 190 gr.


Absence of seals.
Efficient program mode.
Optical quality.

No manual controls.
Limited sensitivity of films.


Minox 35 ‘s are available in any of the usual channels but, with a great variability of price and a certain risk that of running into some electronic fragility so many years after the production of these cameras. While looking for it you need to understand that it is a cult and it is therefore not difficult to face exaggerated quotes: searching with acumen, especially in the German market in which there are plenty, you will be able to tick the right price (under 70 EUR).

Leave a Reply