Meet the Minox Riga, the first true, subminature spy camera that saw actual use for espionage throughout the WWII and the cold war.
Invented in 1936 by Walter Zapp, it was the first to use itty bitty 8x11mm film (a little smaller than your pinky’s fingernail), making it tiny enough to hide in the palm of your hand, but powerful enough to take high resolution photographs of your enemy’s top secret documents.
The Riga was a true marvel of design & miniaturization in it’s day, a time when even 35mm, then a newer format, was widely considered “super compact” in comparison to the 6×9 & 120mm type cameras people were more accustomed to. Holding it up to a normal sized camera then would be like comparing an iPod Shuffle to a vinyl record today. And boy is it a dream to hold. Small, heavy, and perfectly smooth. Later versions, made of aluminum instead of the original brushed steel, even included a built in light meter. Bond-worthy for sure.
Operating the camera
To make this thing go, simply pop in a film canister, pull the camera open to arm the shutter, and click. Advancing to the next photo is as easy as collapsing the camera, then reopening it in a shotgun-like fashion, making a strangely satisfying sound as the gears spin and click into place.
Fun fact: most of the early space suits were manufactured by ILC Dover, also known as Playtex, the same company that made women’s undergarments. More wall-worthy goodies from the San Diego Air & Space Museum on Flickr. How well can you head-bang in space?
Had a chance to explore in and around Death Valley last week with my new favorite lens, Canon’s 24mm F1.4. Stumbled upon a few ghost towns, countless abandoned mines, including one that a migrant had used as a shelter, and even Charlie Manson’s old getaway truck, still preserved in the one of the driest climates on earth. What’s nice about this particular 24mm prime is how it’s fast as it is wide, which makes it great for shallow depth of field in landscape photos, and a perfect tool for capturing shots indoors, in tight places.
Apple was up to some cool stuff in the 80s. We’ve seen evidence of it before with Apple’s 1986 clothing line and with this Apple gift catalog from 1983. The logo made it on a range of products including race cars, kites and carpets.
Came across a huge collection of camera and lens manuals from the Soviet Union, all of them have that DDR/Cold War feel and look. Being born in communist Poland i’ve been shown a lot of this kind of design thru my whole life, I find a strange attraction to it.