Minox 35 ML Repair

March 22, 2021  •  1 Comment

Minox 35 ML

I have been using a camera as a hobby and professionally for over 60 years. In all that time I never picked up a Minox 35 series of cameras. In my film days, the majority of my work was medium format, so the bigger camera meant the better the photo. Lately, I have been shooting with film cameras and I purchased this camera "lot", which contained a non-working Minox 35 ML.

The camera had four issues:

  • Light corrosion in the battery compartment.
  • The ISO settings scale for the meter was mostly worn off.
  • Intermittent shutter releases.
  • The focusing ring was loose so infinity focus was no longer set.

A very good friend of mine, Michael Boses, told me he had one of these many years ago and they were wonderfully sharp cameras. That inspired me to see what could be done to bring this little camera back to life. I joined a Facebook user group on the Minox 35 ML and found a link to fix the shutter issues. There was this issue with the focus ring, but no one had any idea how to set the infinity focus. Two of the three focus scale ring had broken slotted screws so I scoured the eBay listing for a trashed MINOX. I did find one for parts, but even non-working Minox cameras are pricey and I over-paid for the camera because upon receiving the camera I discovered the internals were a mess of rust and corrosion. However, the distance scale ring screws were in good shape. Below are my steps to resurrecting this camera.

Corrosion

Removing the little bit of corrosion in the battery compartment was straight forward. I did remove the top of the camera to make sure the corrosion did not migrate into the internals of the camera. Everything was fine and just a bit of scraping the terminal inside was all that was required.

Intermittent Shutter Release Issue:

This turns out to be a very common problem with these little cameras. A Facebook Minox 35 user named Poon Tiffany shared this link from "fsixteenrule" on his Flicker account. Minox 35 GT Shutter Repair Fix | Minox 35 | Flickr The fix took five minutes!

ISO Settings Scale

As you can see from the photos below, the ISO setting scale was in bad shape. I designed a replacement sticker for this and printed it on a vinyl self-adhesive label and waterproofed the inkjet printing. You can purchase them here. Minox 35 ML MB ISO 1600 Scale Replacement Label - Vinyl Waterproof | eBayMinox 35 ML MB ISO 1600 Scale Replacement Label - Vinyl Waterproof | eBay
ISO Scale RepairISO Scale Repair

Calibrating the Infinity Focus:

Since the focusing scale was loose, infinity focus was no longer in the proper position. I scratched my head for a while thinking of how to do this. I will admit this was fun. If this was an SLR, the process would have been straight forward. I could not even add a piece of ground glass to the film plane because this camera has no option for a "B" or "T" exposure. To set the correct infinity focus I did the following:

  1. I removed the focusing scale ring by loosening the three screws around the ring. They were actually, already loose, I just loosened them more.
  2. I designed a scale to fit on the face of the lens so I can rotate the lens every five degrees. Since I did not know how much I would need to rotate the lens I added 36 tick marks, every five degrees. I did have to cut some of the sticker away to clear the focus limiter stop.  Blank Calibration Sticker Tick marks numbered 1 - 36.
  3. I screwed the lens in all the way and then backed it off 15 degrees and marked that as my first exposure.
  4. Next, with the camera mounted on a tripod, I took thirty-six exposures with each exposure, rotating the lens in its helicoid five degrees. Using a permanent marker, I marked a small line on the brass ring.  
  5. I developed the film and looked at each frame till I found the best infinity exposure. Here is where I goofed up. I grabbed a roll of grainy TRI-X and if that wasn't bad enough, I had to mix a new batch of D-76 (which I impatiently did not let it cool down to 68 degrees). The film was very grainy!
  6. It was tough trying to pick out the sharpest infinity setting (see the photos below) but I chose the best image, which was exposure number ten.
  7. I set the lens to tick mark number ten.
  8. Replaced the focusing scale and rotated the LOOSE scale to the infinity stop and tightened the three lock screws.
  9. I have a re-calibrated Watameter Super rangefinder and used it to set my scale distances on the Minox lens. One thing I found out, when the Watameter is inserted into the hot shoe, a switch is activated and the shutter defaults to a predetermined flash shutter speed. It was over exposing the film. I had to remove the Watameter each time I changed locations. The Watameter is a wonderful tool; it will not be sold! The distances read with the rangefinder matched the distances on the lens perfectly! You actually see the distances in the rangefinder viewing. window.
  10. Shot another roll of film to verify focus and it was perfect. I only shot eight exposures on a roll of 36 exposure Ilford FP4. In the dark, I pulled out a length measuring 400mm of film and cut it off from the roll. I marked the roll  that there were 24 exposures left.

Below This really is a sharp little camera! Time to sell it! Maybe...

To infinity and beyond! Perfect! To infinity and beyond! Perfect!
 

My winter bottle tree. My winter bottle tree.
 

The Watameter said the distance to the little "marble" fence was 35 feet. Did a quick conversion to meters and set the camera lens. Perfect focus! The Watameter said the distance to the little "marble" fence was 35 feet. Did a quick conversion to meters and set the camera lens. Perfect focus!
 

The closest the camera will focus is 0.9 meters. I set the Watameter to 36" and determined where to hold the camera for focus on the fence. I did stop down to f8.

The closest the camera will focus is 0.9 meters. I set the Watameter to 36" and determined where to hold the camera for focus on the fence. I did stop down to f8.
 


Comments

MICHAEL W SHOUP(non-registered)
Brilliant!!
You sir, are a camera whisperer, extraordinaire..
And I'm sure, your work and subsequent findings, will prove to be priceless when posted to the aforementioned Minox 35 f/book and user sites..
Bravo Jimmy me boy.. Job well done..
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