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The Minifex was a German subminiature camera made in the 1930s by Fotofex, a company founded by Fritz Kaftanski. In July of 1934 Kaftanski founded the Minifex GmbH and transferred at least one patent right from Fotofex to Minifex. Maybe the extra company was founded for both, political and economical reasons. Kaftanski was an entrepreneur by heart and knew the economical advantages of what he did, but may have been under pressure to act so because of political reasons: 1934 the Nazis were in power, forcing Kaftanski to find ways to let his enterprises survive the anti-Jewish Nazi legislation. For his Sida cameras he did the same and founded a company with that name in Sept. 1934..
The Minifex camera had a very small body, with knob advance and rigid optical finder. It took 36 13x18mm pictures on special 16mm film (Mimosa film) with back paper. Strangely, the leaf shutter had a regular size, thus it was larger than the body. The film advance was supported by red window. The highlight of the Minifex's history is a 1933 model with Astro Berlin lens Tachon 25/0.95. This was the fastest camera lens, and the Mini-Fex was the smallest still camera for rollfilm, and of course both together a sensational product.
Known lens/shutter combinations (no helical focusing unless noted):
- Ludwig Anastigmat Victar 25/4.5 & Vario T-B-25-50-100 dial-set, fixfocus
- Ludwig Anastigmat Victar 25/4.5 & T-B-25-50-100 rim-set, decorative shutter plate marked GW and Minifex, fixfocus, shutter maybe a Pronto because the speeds are reversed compared to a Vario
- Ludwig Vidar 25/3.5 & Vario T-B-25-50-100 dial-set
- Ludwig Anastigmat Victar 25/3.5 & Vario T-B-25-50-100 dial-set
- Ludwig Anastigmat Victar 25/3.5 & Vario T-B-25-50-100 rim-set
- Ludwig Anastigmat Victar 25/3.5 & Compur 300
- Meyer Trioplan 25/3.5 & Pronto T-B-25-50-100 dial-set
- Meyer Trioplan 25/3.5 & Compur 300
- Meyer Trioplan 25/3.5 & Compur 300, no red window but an advance indicator on the top, revolving one turn per frame, seen in Classic Camera issue #1
- Steinheil Cassar 25/3.5 & Pronto T-B-25-50-100 dial-set
- Steinheil Cassar 25/3.5 & Compur 300
- Astro Berlin Astan 25/3.5 & Compur 300
- Astro Berlin Astrar 25/2.7 (Compur 300?)
- Astro Berlin Pan-Tachar 25/2 & Compur 300
- Astro Berlin Pan-Tachar 25/1.8 & Compur 300
- Astro Berlin Pan-Tachar 25/1.8 & Compur 300, helical focusing, sliding cover for the red window, plus support for an external finder or rangefinder
- Astro Berlin Tachon 25/0.95, Compur-Rapid 500, seen for sale at a reputable dealer
- Astro Berlin Tachon 52/0.95 (52mm, not 25mm), Compur, tripod collar, Fokuskop external focusing device (one illustration in an ad at kaftanski.free.fr)
So there were two Tachon versions, a regular one with a 25mm lens (produced), and a special one with a 52mm tele lens and focusing device (at least advertised).
The following names were given in an ad reproduced here:
- Volks-Minifex with the Victar lens
- Standard-Minifex with the Astan lens
- Super-Lichtstarke Minifex with the Pan-Tachar lens
- The Minifex at submin.com
- The Minifex at ukcameras.com
- The Minifex at corsopolaris
- Some info about the Minifex at subclub.org
- A Minifex at the George Eastman House
- Auctions by Auction Team Köln:
- Minifex, Minifex MG and Volks Minifex at http://kaftanski.free.fr
- A post at S. Halgand's forum about the Minifex
- The Kaftanski Minifex patents on www.collection-appareils.fr by Sylvain Halgand