Gotta love thrift stores. I found myself early for an event last Friday, so I took the opportunity to drop by one of the thrift stores in Cubao X. After looking through crates of vinyl, stacks of books and piles of cheap cameras I chanced upon something hanging off a nail, something I’d been wanting for quite a while.
Needless to say, I snatched it up, paying P350 or just under 8 dollars.
Here’s a photo:
I identified it as a Minox A IIIs via the presence of a flash synch PC connector on one end. This particular unit was built between 1954 and 1962, as indicated by the built-in red and green filters. Later A IIIs models would instead have the green and neutral density filters that would find their way onto the Minox B.
This tiny camera uses equally tiny film, referred to as 8×11. Impossible to find here in Manila but still being produced by Minox. Unlike Polaroid, Minox has recognized that their brand identity is so closely associated with 8×11 film and the cameras that use it that they’ve committed to keep on producing sub-mini film. One of these days when I have the cash to spare, I’ll order a few rolls off Ebay or some other online seller.
After WWII, Minox set up headquarters in Wetzlar, West Germany, the birthplace of that other great German camera brand Leica. At one point in history, 1996 to be exact, Leica bought the Minox company, which was then bought back by management in 2001. It remains an independent company to date.
Some cool things about the Minox in general and the A IIIs in particular. First, the Minox is a true spy camera, due to its small size and short minimum focusing distance. Wikipedia even says that: “There is at least one document in the public record of 25 Minox cameras purchased by the Office of Strategic Services in 1942.” The A IIIs was even used by fictional spy James Bond in the movie On His Majesty’s Secret Service, the one starring George Lazenby.
Another cool thing is the metal chain attached to the Minox. Look closely and you’ll see fixed metal rings spaced out along the chain. These indicate distance from focal plane to subject, making it terribly easy to measure and set your focus.
Whether I’ll actually shoot with this or not is simply a matter of economic viability. I’ll first have to purchase film for it, then find out if someone in Manila can develop it. Sending film off to a lab abroad will likely be too pricey for an experiment. If the stars do align and I find someone who can develop and print these, and perhaps someone who can cut 35mm film to size and respool, I’ll be very very happy. Meanwhile, I will enjoy just looking at this on my shelf.