The Minox A/IIIs camera is used by George Lazenby in the movie James Bond – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). While destroying Blofeld’s lair atop Piz Gloria, he takes pictures of the locations of the girls that are sent out by Blofeld as biological warfare agents.
About Minox A
The Latvian engineer Walter Zapp wanted to create a portable camera that would fit easily into the palm of the hand and yet take high quality, spontaneous pictures. The Minox subminiature camera, in its various models, was for years the world’s most widely used spy camera. The ultralight aluminum shell Minox A/IIIs was produced from 1951 untill 1969. Because of its small size (82 x 28 x 16 mm!), it was easy to conceal and operate in one hand. It could take excellent photographs of documents at close range and was a natural for clandestine photography. The “s” means that the camera has a connector for a Flash module. The older A III models don’t have this connector.
“It was part of the standard equipment for secret agents and spies. Countless novels and movies (Canaris, James Bond) elevated the spy camera to unexpected fame. Any story set in the Cold War years was unthinkable without it. (..) Minox camera represents one of the most important milestones in the history of photography.” (Albus, Kras, Woodham, 2000, p76)
Walter Zapp, inventor of the Minox 8×11 camera, was born in 1905 in Riga, Latvia. He designed and made it in 1937 in Riga by Valsts Electro Techniska Fabrika. “It uses a Minostigmat f/3.5, 15mm lens and has a guillotine type shutter speeded from 1/2 second to 1/1000 sec. Photographs measuring 8x11mm were made on 9.5mm cine film supplied in special cassettes. The body of the camera was made of stainless steel. Several Latvian examples appeared for sale on the collector market during the 1980s when prices began an inexorable climb toward the £1,000 mark” (Minox Camera – History, 2009). ” While other cameras have been made about the size of a Minox, none have matched its durability, features, or flexibility. The same camera that is about the size of a lighter can take a picture of an enemy base from the top of a ridge, then snap a covert photo of a diplomat in that facility at close range, and then take photos of the documents in that diplomat’s file drawer later that evening. All of this vital information is then contained in a cylinder about a half an inch in diameter and about as high. Not only that, but the ability to put 50 pictures on a single roll pretty much leaves all the other competition in the dust” (Minox Inventor Walter Zapp Dies, 2003).
Over time, many technical improvements were introduced. But the shape, unusually long with rounded edges, so instrumental in establishing the camera as a design classic, would remain largely unchanged for decades.” (Albus, Kras, Woodham, 2000, p76)