Minox 35 GT (1981-1991)
Minox 35 GT
The Minox 35 GT is the lost plastic soul of my vintage cameras. I got it as a heirloom from a very good friend of mine who recently died, so there is a sentimental bond that binds me to this little machine. And the memory of my father who had one of those cameras as well and often carried it - like it was meant to, according to old reviews - in his shirt pocket. Being able to do so is due to the two outstanding features of the Minox: It is small - at its heyday it was the word's smallest 35mm camera - and it is light. So light in fact that a lot of people did not take it serious. I still remember when my father was taking pictures Minox i took mine with a Rollei 35 that felt very, very heavy in comparison. No surprise, really, because the Minox is almost entirely made of Macrolon, which was quite a hype at a time when plastic cameras were not as common as today.
If the body material of the Minox is questionable, its lens is not: The Minotar lens - designed and manufactured by Minox, is a Tessar type four elements lens that is as sharp and contrasty as the best examples of this optical design.
When i pick up the 35 GT nowadays, the feeling of innovation i had some decades ago is gone, of course, but i always think that i am shooting with a modern camera when i look through the viewfinder of this 35 year old vintage machine. Okay, if it really was a present day point and shoot, it would have some kind of autofocus and not the scale focusing of the Minox which is okay for me because the 2.8/35mm Color-Minotar with its short focal length is rather forgiving. What bothers me more is the fact that there is no way manual exposure: you choose an aperture and the camera tells you via a needle in the right part of the viewfinder which corresponding shutter time it has chosen. A little switch on top of the camera makes the Minox double the exposure time - a handy feature when you are shooting against the light -, but otherwise you are at the mercy of the camera's automatic exposure.
Given the latitude of modern negative films, that is not a big setback. The pictures i took with the Minox 35 were all very well exposed and a pleasure to look at provided i had estimated the subject distance properly.
All in all shooting with the 35GT was quite okay taking into consideration that you hold a piece of plastic in your hands. The handling though was quite fiddly because of the tiny plastic rings around the Minotar lens with which you adjust focus and aperture. As there are no click stops to the aperture dial it is very easy to misadjust it accidentally. Of course the automatic will compensate for that glitch, but it is not a really satisfying handling experience.
That said i think i will keep on taking pictures with the 35 GT - mostly out of the same reasons my father liked the little plastic wonder: It is so small and light i can take it with without really thinking about burdening me with one of my Retinas, Leicas or Rolleis. Right now i keep it in a special compartment in my sling back where it waits for the odd moment when the opportunity for a special picture jumps at me unexpectedly. In such cases it gives me a good feeling to have a camera with me that is capable of producing high quality analog pictures and i do not have to reach for the last photographic straw of pulling out my smartphone - and what else do you need?