Produced from 1995 to 2006 with the aesthetics of a small brick, the looming risk of E02 malfunction, a peephole viewfinder, and the ability to make fantastic images.
I had a bad attitude about the Minilux from the start. Not sure what about it turned me off but it did. It is German designed but Japanese manufactured, not an issue for me. Maybe the idea of a Leica point and shoot is what was bugging me. Something did not seem right. This is not the kind of camera that I wanted to play with for this project. Mostly, I think I just don't like the looks. I find it lacking style. Would it help if I had a black one? Maybe. They were available in black but mine is yuck, "Titan". Picking it up, it is equally uninspiring in the hand. It is just there. No place to grip, no curves, no joy.
There are reports of an error, cause unknown, called E02, that permanently transforms your Minilux back into the brick it was designed as. I have not had this problem. (Probably will now if I have angered the Leica gods) Not sure how big of an issue this really is, there seem to be significantly more people still shooting them, than reporting the problem. There is even a Leica Minilux Club full of some nice shots.
I held my nose and decided to give the Minilux a try. I loaded a roll of film, pointed it at the lake and tried to fire off a test shot. No shutter action, just an unsettling gear noise. It was unclear what was going on. Pushing the shutter resulted in the same sound each time. I could not tell if it was a shutter fail or the auto focus seeking for a shot. It did not sound good, not like any film camera I had ever used before. Eventually, I noticed that the frame count was at 17 and it hit me that the noise was the power winder. User error! But I did get seventeen nice shots of the flag pole I picked as a test subject.
Using the Minilux after I figured out the mystery noise, was less eventful. One thing that bugged me was the viewfinder seems very small. It feels like looking the wrong way through binoculars. Rest of the roll, no drama and no E02. After the last shot, ready or not, the power rewind kicks in and it is not quiet. Not the camera to use in a church or a library.
Using the Leica Minilux did not make me a believer. But, I do like it more now than I did. What changed my opinion was not the style, or the usage but the quality of the images. They look great. Auto focus is better than my old eyes normally mange and images are nice and crisp. (Even the 17 of the flag pole) The Minilux will not become my top pick, but I won't judge you if it is yours.
Lens: Fixed Leica Summarit 40mm f2.4
Film: KodaColor 200