In my spare time… I use a spy camera

Model The Minox BL 8x11mm subminiature camera Cost from around £100 Film, in colour or black and white, is around £6 per cassette. Serious enthusiasts can also reload their own cassettes.

I first saw a Minox subminiature camera in a shop window in 1974 and was fatally intrigued by its exquisite engineering, radical design and first class optical reputation.

Designed in the 1930s, the first ones were made of stainless steel and used cine film only 8mm wide in mini cassettes on a curved film path.

Though fitting easily into the palm of your hand, close focussing, multiple shutter speeds, light meter, measuring chain and filters give good-quality negatives every time.

I now have four Minox cameras and they produce surprisingly good results if you take care with composition, light and exposure. I have also bought a raft of accessories, such as tripod, binocular clamps and developing kit, all of which are well made and encourage mildly addictive collecting.

Amidst today’s digital revolution, it is still a pleasure to create pictures with film-based media. While classically used as a spy camera, my duties as an NHS GP have not yet led me into any clandestine activities.

I develop my own negatives, though processing is also commercially available. I am still figuring out how to adapt my 35mm scanner to scan my collection of negs so that I can manipulate them in Photoshop.

Minox cameras can be found on eBay for around £100. Try to buy in mint condition and avoid later electronic versions — little can go wrong with a mechanical camera.

Using the Minox is always a pleasant distraction from the NHS battlefield and induces a reflective calm. If you are attracted by high quality and yesterday’s übertechnology you may well fall for one of these tiny cameras.

Contacts MS Hobbies, Invernesshire: (01479) 821914 or email ms.hobbies@virgin.net

Further information: www.butkus.org/chinon/minox or www.submin.com/general/links/discussion.htm

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