Minox Film development:
The daylight devlopment tank: [timeless classic] The daylight development tank is the prefered option for the VEF Minox user. As the tank itself is quite rare you can easily substitute it with an early german Minox tank. A benefit of using a German tank is that they re-designed the tank! Yes, they did. Even though the tank looks identical, the way they designed the circulation pattern is quite different between the Latvian and German tank (see here). In addition the German tank introduced V-shaped grooves in the spiral which should allow the devloper to reach all parts of the film. The early tanks had a flat spiral and thus the developer did not properly reach all of the film. Buying a german tank is cheap. The early tanks still have the 50 exposure core and are an ideal substitute. Of course you can also just buy one of the thousands of modern 36 exposure core tanks. You either are a fan of having 50 exposures (re-loaded casettes) or a fan of 36 exposures. Many people actually prefer 36, as it can take quite a while to shoot 50 exposures. If you just shot 10 pictures on a recent trip for example, developing a 36 exposure film may feel not as bad as developing 10 pictures on a 50 exposure film. The minority like me on the other hand like longer film strips. I rather snap snap snap the film full as I think not every exposure will come out right. So having more pictures to choose from, makes developing and enlarging more worth while.
It is very straight forward to load the film into the tank. First, take it apart like the picture. Then scew the core into the lid (inside out). Turn turn turn until the silver metal spring is near the top of the lid. Now put the minox film canister into the bottom of the lid. Fasten the Minox film to the metal clip of the core. Now but the lid with the core back onto the tank and slowly wind the core down into the tank until you feel resistance (end of film).Now the tank is loaded.The JOBO devlopment tank: [the modern way] The reason for using a Minox sized JOBO reel is quite simple, you usally have a Jobo tank lying around your home anyway. So its straight forward to also use it for Minox. Markus-Michael Dunkmann made (or is still making?) these Jobo Minox reels in Solingen Germany. I bought mine when the 8x11film.com website was still online. I know Markus now supplies other film shops rather than selling himself. I think Fotoimpex in Berlin is one of them. According to Markus you can with skill even load two Minox films (2x 36 exp) on 1 reel but that seems to be for advanced users!
Markus extensively tested developing Minox film with the JOBO tank and here are his recommendations:So when you load he recommends cutting of the end of the film so that it does not get stuck in the spiral whilst loading. pushing the film completely into the spiral is also recommended. Developing is done using the normal 35mm film instructions and using a minimum of 150ml (much more as the 53ml for the Minox tank). Tilting agitation is not sufficient! He rather recommends rotation accompanied by tilting. This is because on the Minox film you have no tollerance between the picture area and the spiral (e.g. the picture and spiral may overlap). Hence proper movement of developer is required to develop all of the picture area. Follow through with Stop bath, fixer and wash+wetting agent as normal.
Markus also tested the Rotation processor and it can be used when the speed is drastically lowered.
Development of old VEF Minox Film today
So far I only came across one source describing VEF Minox film development. In the Miniature camera magazine (Octover 1939) the slow DIN 10/10 VEF Minox film was developed using MCM 100 for seven minutes (MCM 100 is common fine grain devleoper, still available today from www.photoformulary.com). The Type of film is unknown but the authors drew similarities of the VEF film to Agfa's Isopan FF and F.
As VEF Minox film is very very old now in theory no images should have survived. It is particular difficult as Minox film is such a small film and should be completely fogged. However despite all this, examples of successful film develoment can be found on the internet. For minox film Steve Uhrig has shown us what can be possible if you just try (here).
[by Steve Uhrig]
On the internet Emir Shabashvili has become a little bit of an expert on how to develop old film. He tried many film developer and finally settled on Kodak's HC-110. He uses it at strong concentration of " A dilution" or even higher and developes the film in cold temperature 2-12 C for prolonged time.
Emir Shabashvili: I develop the old still film exposed long time ago. I do it almost every week. This is my hobby. How old is the film? The age of the (succesfully developed) rolls ranges from relatively new (say, 20 years) and back up to 70 years. This page briefly summarizes my experience -- i.e. how one can develop film rolls exposed decades ago and stored under unknown conditions in some garage, basement or attic. Of course, since the area is so complex and every roll is so special none of the recommendations below can be considered and used as direct "how-to". Nevertheless, one can
o I started pre-soaking all the rolls from the beginning and it helped to get rid of anti-halation on some of the rolls. I do not pre-soak now and I see no difference. No traces of anti-halation layer on any of the developed rolls. So my recommendation: don't bother with pre-soaking.
· Film Loading
o We need a few pieces of the film for the development tests and this time is the best opportunity to cut it from the roll before loading
o Task number one is to get the film properly loaded in the spiral inside the developing tank. Be persistent. Take your time. And always load the film in the complete darkness.
· Development test
o I recommend HC-110 at the concentrations higher then usual at very low temperature (2-12 C). Start from "A" dilution and I often use higher concentrated dilutions). HC-110 is very good, low fog developer and the contrast can be regulated by dilution (the more concentrated the developer, the more contrast you are going to get
o Now, set your timer to 6 or 7 minutes and in a full room light start developing small pieces of film with different times. Now I usually do this by lowering a stripe of film into the developer with one minute intervals while finally it is fully submerged in the developer. Now wash it and fix.
o Analyzing the results. We supposed to have a stripe of film with pieces of different density, from almost transparent to very dark: Each of these represents development time: the darker the piece, the longer the time. Judging by the density, we have to pick the right time. There is a delicate balance between developing the film to a desired density and keeping the fog under control. The general recommendation is to pick not the darkest point but somewhat lower density.
o Example: As one can see there is no difference in density between 6 and 7 min and the difference between 4 and 5 min is much less compared to 2 and 3 minutes. Here is the graph of average densities/development times (I took 7 min as 100%)
The development time has to be somewhere around 4 min, where the curve's saturation starts. Pick longer time and fog will eat the image; shorter time and image will be too weak. I chose 4min 15sec and developed the roll in 10% HC-110 at 44F/6C.
o Now it is time for the actual development. It is done the same way as a regular fresh film development. The difference is in time/temperature/concentration as discussed above. Don't forget to agitate; I tend to do very active agitation to boost the contrast.
o As you will use cold temperature, the fixing time will increase up to 15 minutes in Kodak hardening fixer
· Final Wash
o fill the tank with water, invert it 5 times, drain. Then repeat few times (usually 3 times), increeasing the number of inversions 10-20-30. Fill the tank with PhotoFlo solution, let the film sit there for one minute, quickly drain and hang the film to dry.
The VEF Minox is too heavy
for the german
Minox tripod! as it can not be fixed in position!
no problem for german Minox cameras as their plastic body and
alminium shell makes them super lightweight. For the VEF Minox, you
need a proper mini-tripod.
The early adapter: [Elegant alternative] I adore the 3rd Type VEF Minox tripod adapter (rotating ball adapter) It is just gorgeous looking. A style icon in its own right. However, when it comes to shooting pictures, all VEF tripod adapters are inadequate. When you use a VEF tripod head, the cable release bends the little arm prior to releasing the shutter button. Thus when the button responds, the build-up pressure of the bend arm is released, sending tiny vibrations through the camera, giving you shaky images. Walter Zapp and his team knew this, and the first thing they did when they re-started production in Germany was to give the adapter a design makeover. The solved the design flaw by simply introducing a counter pressure point. This simple adjustment removed the pressure build-up and thus eliminated shaky images. So, if you want to use a tripod head, buy an early german adapter without camera lock. These are rare in their own right, as Minox quickly introduced the camera locking mechanism to the adapter. Despite being rare these early german minox adapters whithout locking meachanism are still cheap (ca. 50USD).
ORAny normal adapter: [simplest solution] I admit that the first german adapter may be a good alternative (considering its low price) but it is equally difficult to obtain. So if you dont mind the optics, use any normal Minox adapter, remove the locking mechanism and add extra leather padding in the bottom to align the shutter button to the cable release. Simple & perfect.
The converted adapter:[sturdy
alternative] So, one sunday evening I rumaged through my spare
minox parts and I found a copy stand adapter. Probably the most unused
item these days, especially if the legs have gone missing. So I thought
this actually is a very stable tripod adapter. I actually prefer the
closed design! I never warmed up to the foldable design and for that
reason always used the binocular adapter for my Minox B. So the copy
stand adapter looks ideal for me to be used as sturdy tripod adapter.
So, I quickly diassembled it. To make it VEF-friendly you need to modify it. The german Minox is slighly
different having the shutter button at a slightly higher position. So I
added extra leather padding to align my Riga shutter button perfectly
to the cable release. In doing so the window of the adapter becomes slightly misaligned
to the lens window. I fixed that by enlarging the window. Aluminium is
very soft so be careful not to remove too much. The last step is to add
a cover plate using the original three screws. That should not only
hide the screws but also any inperfection of the the new lens window.