Registered Office :
35A Bedford Place
P 0208246 5506
P 02380 211622
Film and Processing drop-off now in Putney @ digimac
Opening soon: Main shop in North London
Model VEF Minox
Size: 80 x 27 x 16 mm
Weight 130 gram
Film: 8x11mm, 50 exposures
A camera so small it can be hidden in the palm of your hand: not a big deal today, but in 1938, this was a game changer for intelligence services. Not just because of its size, but also a daylight tank for developing film, and an enlarger that could be run on a battery meant the MINOX system became a portable photographic laboratory, for use in the field. Not for nothing did the 3 occupiers of the Riga factory in WW2 continued production. All sides used Riga cameras, even from 1940, the non-combatant US invested in the camera.
Result: one of the few analog cameras used from the 1930's to the 1990's as the spy's best photogaphic partner. Never intended to be used for espionage by the designer, Walter Zapp, the unique size, and film quality of the camera made it is a certainty for usage by the world's intelligence, police and secutity services: the ones we know about are:-
Security Service, Secret Intelligence (GB) Serivce, SD, Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht, (Germany), DGSE, DGSI (Fra), OGPU (USSR), OSS, CIA (USA), Roumanian Army, the STASI (see Museum in East Berlin)
We sell geniune RIGA cameras from £750. All World War II, all serviced. all tested.
Since the late 1990's auction houses have started selling WW2 Minox camera (the first Riga) with unusual markings, and in unusually good condition. The reason for the unusual condition dates to the 1989 discovery of a cache of un-assembled Riga cameras. So far, most have been marked with serial numbers after 1500 (link). and are re-assembled. With the re-found cameras, there is scope for adding interesting markings. Because engravers can use blank camera plates, markings can look realistic. Beware.
The RIGA camera came with a special enlarger. Only 20cm high, the VEF 'large copier' was also designed to be used with an external battery. Given the developing tank was also designed be loaded in daylight, the complete system was designed to be utterly portable.