Julian Tanase Photography

My Minox journey continues…

The film, the Minox, the place

The film, the Minox, the place

Since I have been bitten by the Minox bug in the early 90s, I always carry one such camera with me. There were holidays and travels when the only camera was this or that Minox, usually a IIIs model. I do have one or two 35mm cameras in my bag, OM2n or Nikon FM3A or I don’t know, my Kodak Retina 1a or a Leica IIIf (rarely though, this one). I am always drawn to the little Minox because of the challenges it presents, even after so many years of using this subminiature film format. It is always provoking me, much more so than with the regular 35mm film I use. But this permanent challenge is what I like with Minox, among other things.

Film wise, I cut it myself from (usually) bulk 35mm, or if a particular film is not to be found in such rolls, I cut from 35mm film cassettes; it’s the same process, but dearer in terms of costs. More so nowadays, when film costs rose up to a steep level, as far as I am concerned.

I have a habit of not using anything under 100 during the winter times. I know, the snow many times requires a slow film, but slow film requires large apertures most of the times. So, no slow film. OK, I have a 25ASA or slower in my bag at all times, such as a Rollei (ATP1.1 or 25) or Ilford Pan F50, just to be on the safe side. Plus, if shooting faster than 100 ASA film, I am covered by the ND filter on many Minox cameras, and I also carry some such filters on my other 35mm cameras. From this point of view, exposure is protected against some hard sun or shiny scenes. The films are always fresh cut, as I do this prior to travel.

Anyways, travelling during the winter or late autumn requires (as far as I am concerned) good 100 and 400 ASA, and I stock my bag with APX 100 and 400, or Tmax 100 and Tri-X 400, perhaps Rollei’s 80s or Fomapan 100. More than probable I keep a combination of these, to be honest.

Choosing the suitable Minox camera for the travel is something I am not usually concerned with. However, there are three rules which need to be considered and observed, at least in my case:

Rule #1 – Always (!) have at least one mechanical Minox and an electronic one: reason for me is that I have found myself in situations when setting the IIIs or the B was simply too time consuming. And in these cases, when automatic shots are required, Minox LX (for example) or a C does the trick. Also, having a mechanical camera help you in case the electronic one fails for some reason. Make sure you change batteries regularly and use quality brand and fresh; always carry a spare/some spares.

Rule # 2 – places where I go and intend to visit, and also the season. If at seaside resort and (obviously) summer, I take a few extra rolls of 12-25 and 50 ASA. A couple of 400 Tri-X or HP5 are going with me, for that odd night walk along the sandy shores. If mountains are where I’m going, some 50 and 100 ASA film, and of course some 400, just to be on the safe side of things. In both cases, a roll of Kodak Gold 200 would not go amiss.

Rule # 3 – temperatures. Sizzling hot or ice cold environment are extreme situations, agreed, but there are nasty build ups of temps anywhere in-between. It doesn’t matter the sun is blasting at say 25*C outside, and the vehicle has been on conditioned air for the last couple of hours. If you have kept your films in a box with some cold packets in, once you’ll get these in the sun outside, guess what? Exactly, water will happen on the film, it’ll sweat. Put that sweaty film in your camera and in a couple of days you’ll have a nasty twofold surprise.

What is then to do? Just keep you films in a small styrofoam box, under your seat. No ice packs inside, just the films. Take out what you need, close the box, leave it in the vehicle, and the vehicle in the shade. If staying more than a day in a sunny place, and no shade, take the film with you in the room, but do not put them in the fridge. Just put them in the way of the air conditioning flow. That’ll keep them cool. And leave them in their boxes.

The aforementioned, together with some commons sense, will keep you happy-snappy with your Minox cameras. Of course, this will work with basically any other camera, be that 35 or larger formats. Many of the above are just caveats which I came to learn during my travels and such, sometimes at cost.

And be of good cheer and remember that if today is raining, tomorrow has a chance of sun and even cloudy, the silver lining etc etc. If in doubt, go back to basics, smartest move there is.

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