DO SPIES STILL USE MINOX?


Do spies still use Minox? Did they ever? I know that the 8 x 11mm Minox film camera was beloved of Hollywood … the hero (in the greatest possible danger) photographs the secret documents by the light of a desk lamp and then enlarges them to flawless, super sharp and legible 8 x 10″ prints. Congratulations, Mr Bond!

While this intro is firmly tongue in cheek – I’ve owned a Minox C for over 30 years – the comany’s web site is even more so. At Photokina 2008,  the company released a digital version of the traditional Minox, called the DSC.

The DSC is, basically, a variant of the technology Minox has been using in its jewel-like, but impractical, miniature replicas of Leica,  Contax, Hasselblad and Rolleiflex cameras.  It uses a 3.6MP chip – Minox claim 5MP interpolated) in a minute package that is truly carry anywhere, although its add-on flash is almost as large as the camera. A Minox trait since the early days.

In addition to the DSC, Minox also list a couple of APS film cameras and two models of the traditional Minox 8 x 11mm push-pull cameras. Along with some fascinating gadgets such as sunglasses that let you see what is going on behind.

All quite straightforward, so far, but purchasers of the DSC are invited to become an Agent on http://www.licence-to-shot.com, by filling out an Agent ID card.  Has anyone told the British police about this   … it would really feed their paranoia?

Agents are located by clicking on a tab on a map. To be honest there aren’t all that many. Some have galleries of their work on the site and as you would expect the quality is variable. Soome god, some woeful. But there is an energy and spontaneity lacking in most photographs taken with digital p&s cameras these days(which I put down to lack of an optical viewfinder)

Cost is 249 Euros (about $A400) including 19% VAT. About $A325, plus postage, as I guess VAT is not applicable to overseas buyers. Expensive in these days of $88 Nikon Coolpix from Harvey Norman, but not so bad alongside say, a Lubitel 166 from lomography.com at about $A422. The Minox is better made; shoots 640 x 480 video;  costs nothing to run and is truly pocketable.

And it has the cachet, real or imagined, as the camera spies use.

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