The ugliest Minox I’ve ever seen …

Minox A IIIs

… belongs to me. At the same time, it is probably the most well-known Minox A IIIs in the world. My post on the forums of photrio.com and blende-und-zeit-forum.de about this camera has been viewed almost 4000 times so far.

First impressions

When this Minox was offered for sale, I couldn’t resist. It’s so run down that it’s almost beautiful again:

It was built in 1954, so it is a type A IIIs. Damage caused by impacts, heavy abrasion everywhere and even pitting in the housing:

 

Lens and viewfinder

After carefully pulling it apart – very stiffly – the first surprise: the lens and viewfinder are flawless, like new:

View through the illuminated frame viewfinder with automatic parallax compensation:

Mechanical problems

Second surprise: the shutter works, even if the times were randomly wrong.

Before the camera was ready for use two problems had to be solved:
1. Extreme friction when cocking the shutter
2. Incorrect and irregular shutter speeds.
How did I fix it? The aim was to open or dismantle the camera as little as possible so as not to damage the shutter blades and avoid loosing the adjustment of the lens.

Friction

First of all, pulling the camera apart and pushing it together had to be made easier. However, you can only access the sliding surfaces in question if you dismantle the housing, i.e. dismantle the bottom shell, front side and operating side. However, because of the problems described above, this was out of the question.

Instead, I carefully applied lighter fuel to the horizontal gaps where the housing parts slide together. I had to be careful not to let too much of it get into the camera at once and possibly leave marks on the lenses. This required some overhead work to keep the liquid flowing away from the lens. Ultimately I was able to loosen the sticky lubricant film and partially remove it with a very fine interdental brush. The rest could be pushed off the sliding surfaces by pulling the camera apart and pushing it together several times in such a way that the friction was significantly reduced. After that, the operation was smooth enough to work with the camera. This compromise made it possible to avoid completely dismantling of the camera.

Shutter speeds

With regard to the shutter speeds, it was suspected that the pivot points in the escapement were difficult to turn due to resinification. The escapement on the Minox is easily accessible via the upper end cap, which is only attached with two screws (in the middle the flash contact):

A look inside shows that the mechanics are in very good condition. You can see how dust-tight the housing has protected the interior for 70 years. At the top edge of the case you can see exactly how far the dirt has made it. The aluminum profile of the cover plate acts as a labyrinth seal – without any rubber:

By patiently applying small amount lighter fuel to the bearings and gears, alternating with shooting at the slow shutter speeds, the movement became smooth again. Since then, times have been running plausibly and consistently again. This video shows the escapement triggering an exposure time of 1/2 s:

Speed dial

The last thing I noticed was that the connection between the adjustment knob and the time disc had come loose.
This could be fixed with a little courage and superglue between the time disc and the setting button:

The leather case

It took me a while to find a leather case that matches its style:

First photographs

Then the first film, a Kodak Ektar 100, had been exposed and I think the results are impressive.
Distance setting infinite:

Distance setting 0.2 m:

During the winter I exposed a roll of film and I am more than happy with the results:

Kitzbühel, Austria, 2024, Minox A IIIs, Kodak Ektar 100

It’s incredible how good photos this camera still delivers after 70 years. It is now my favorite for taking photos because this camera makes me smile

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