Classic Scale Focus Cameras:

Minox 35 GL

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The Minox 35 GL is the smallest production 35mm camera ever made. I bought this at a camera fair because it seemed in nice condition and the vendor insisted that all it needed was a battery. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

I put in some batteries (2x DL 1/3N) and at first it didn't work, but after exercising the shutter and aperture a few times, the camera came back to life. But then died again. Apparently oxidation on the shutter contacts is a common problem with Minoxes. Sometimes they come back to life, other times they need a CLA. In my case, I returned it to the seller (Wendell Kemp of Wisconsin; one of the nicest dealers I've ever met at an antique fair).

The Minox 35 is a very nice everyday portable camera. The only caveat is that it's scale focusing only, you have to guesstimate the distance. In reality, that isn't so difficult.

Minoxes are one of those cameras that have cult followings (like the Olympus OM; Olympus XA; Leica M; Nikon F). Why? The Tessar-type Minotar lens is very sharp. The AE auto-exposure is very convenient. The camera is tiny, smaller than most APS and disposables. And finally, the shutter is practically silent. It's even quieter than the legendary Leica M shutter. All you hear is the tiniest of "chicccks" sounds when you release the shutter. Most people will totally ignore it.

If you're into miniature and "spy" cameras, also check my pages on the Olympus XA, Petri Color 35, Rollei 35, and Minolta 16P.



Interesting quirks

This is one tiny camera. Compare the Minox with the medium format film back for my Mamiya RB67 below. (The Mamiya back is the one on the left).

Here's another comparison, with the Minox 35GL and the Olympus XA, another compact camera with a cult following:

After playing with the Minox for a while, along with the XA, I have to say that I prefer the Olympus. It has rangefinder focusing and although it's slightly larger, with the flash attached it's actually smaller than the Minox. Then again, I never could get the Minox to work, maybe things would have been different if I had.

Luis Miguel Castañeda Navas wrote to me with the following comments:

Having tried extensively the Olympus XA and owning a Minox GT-S, I prefer, by far, the Minox.


- it's smaller and lighter (not much really, but if it's a must, every little difference counts).
- supports up to 3200 ASA
- the viewfinder allows you to check up if it's focused and see the DOF marks (need a bit of training, but it's not too complex).
- sharp even at 2.8, excellent tone separation (and comparable with the summicron 35 I own in f stops over 5.6)
- the lens cover acts like a sunshade or fortune tripod
- very sensitive shutter button, much more than any other i ve tried.
- 2x exposure control (very useful)

It has some drawbacks like a not too strong finish, that ugly plastic look, the need for 4 SR44 batteries, the unknown shutter speed down to 1/30... but it's a real ever-ready camera who delivers first-class results.

> And finally, the shutter is practically silent. It's even quieter
> than the legendary Leica M shutter.

The M shutter (I own one M6) sounds like a gunshot compared to the minox shutter (or XA).

BTW I'm not saying that the XA isn't as good as the minox, the XA it is ihmo a great camera, exceptionally well designed, beautiful, compact, very sharp and reliable. I'm only saying that you should give an opportunity to another minox again. - Luis Miguel Castañeda Navas

If there's one major complaint about the GL, it's that the camera only supports a maximum film ASA speed of 800. This rules out most of the neat ISO 1600 films that are now out there. Phooey! The more recent Minoxes support faster film speeds.

The Minox used the older 5.6V PX27 mercury battery. You can replace this with 4 x 1.5V LR44 silver batteries or 2 x 3V DL1/3N Lithium batteries. I haven't tested to see if you need exposure compensation for the voltage difference.


Jack Long writes with some information about installing batteries:

Regarding the Minox GL, I wanted to mention something that I discovered recently. It may be related to the problem you experienced.

The battery compartment of the Minox is metal, unlike the Yashica G series and many others that are non-conductive plastic. If you install a pair of CR1/3 batteries in the Minox, the positive end of the batteries (which is also their outer shell) will short to the wall of the compartment. Wiggling the batteries or cap may temporarily relieve the situation, but without an insulator, the camera cannot be used this way. I discovered this during the
course of troubleshooting the problem. At one point, the batteries were hot when I removed them from the camera. that made it evident that the problem was not a bad connection, but rather a short.

The problem can be resolved by simply wrapping a pair of CR1/3s in cellophane tape. Alternately, a sleeve of 3/8" flexible tubing can be cut to length and pressed into the chamber. I elected to do the latter, which now provides a permanent solution allowing installation of (4) SR44s as well.


Technical Details

Camera Name
35 GL
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Scale focusing

Viewfinder magnification 0.5x


35mm, f/2.8, Minox Color-Minotar (4 element Tessar type)Minimum focusing distance = 1 meters (~3 feet)

Right focusing (infinity on right side)


Minotar leaf shutter 30 secs - 1/500

X-flash sync at all speeds

Metering System

CdS cell mounted above lens on lensmount
Fully automatic program exposure.

Needle in viewfinder gives current shutter speed
EV ? - ?(at ISO 100)


f/2.8 ~ f/16 manual
Diamond shaped aperture (2 blades)


External hot-shoe only

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

ASA 25 to 800

Battery type

1 x 5.6v PX27 mercury-silver
4 x 1.5v SR44/LR44 silver alkaline
2 x 3v DL 1/3 N lithium

Dimensions and weight
101 W x 61 H x 32 D mm (folded)
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About Minox

Blah blah blah. Minox was bought out by Leica in blah blah blah


On the Net


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