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VEF Minox camera


In 1937, the State Electrotechnical Plant (VEF) launched production of the first miniature camera in the world, VEF Minox. It was invented by Valters Caps from Riga.


The main parameters of the camera:

(VEF) Minox (1936 – 1943 – 1969)
  • Dimensions of the camera: 1.7x2.7x8.0 cm
  • Weight: 125 g
  • Luminous capacity: 1:3.5
  • Shooting distance: from 20 cm to infinity
  • Ability to shoot from the distance of 20 cm without any special additional lenses
  • Switch: ½ to 1/1000 seconds
  • Built-in yellow filter
  • 90 per cent of shots without readjusting precision

VEF Minox was a completely new kind of camera. Due to its simplicity and easy use, it facilitated amateur photography and also opened the doors to new opportunities. This miniature camera allows achieving a precise and well-contrasted picture from the distance of 20 cm without any additional auxiliaries. This feature of the camera made it particularly attractive for agents of secret services who praised it for the possibility of shooting documents quickly, without any technical problems and of first-class quality. However, Minox cameras were mainly purchased by common and peaceable people.

Creation and production of Minox was an event of great significance in Latvia, but it was also a revolution in the global photoindustry. Along with preparations for launching production, VEF applied for a patent on the construction design of Minox indicating Valters Caps as the author. 

The new camera met the highest demands for comfortable use. First, it was so small that it could be always easily carried around by the owner. Its use was so well-rounded that required no technical knowledge. These qualities were even reflected in the appearance of VEF Minox.

In the autumn of 1945, soon after the end of World War II, Minox GmbHb company was founded in Vetzlar (Germany). The company is still operating and developing successfully, thus keeping the invention of Valters Caps live in various types of Minox cameras and emphasising the greatness of this invention. Despite technological changes that have taken place since that time, Minox cameras retain the technical and stylistic design of the first VEF Minox produced over 50 years ago. The latter has become of great interest among collectors nowadays.

Literature:

  • Korsaks P. The Idea of VEF Minox Still Alive. – Sakaru pasaule (World of Communications), 1998. No.2, p.92 – in Latvian.
  • Upenieks N. Some Details on Minox Camera. - Tehnikas apskats (Technical Review), 1988, No.111, pp.7-9. – in Latvian.

Materials of the Museum of VEF (Riga, Ropazu iela 1):

  • Gortinskis I. The Smallest Precision Camera in the World – VEF Minox. – Atpūta (Recreation), 1938. – in Latvian.
  • Hendre E. Fifty years of the sub-miniature “Minox” . - History of Photography, Vol.13, No.1, January-March 1989.
  • Kokarevicha D. How the VEF Minox Camera Was Created. – Kurjers (Courier) No.5, April5, 1990, p.3. – in Latvian.