Rolleiflex MiniDigi AF 5.0 Digital Classic Camera from Minox Review

When I was very young, I remember playing with an old camera that belonged to my mother. I didn’t know it then, but it was an Imperial Reflex 620 Duo lens camera – just like the one purportedly used by Marina to take those famous pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald. That Imperial camera was a very cheap, all-plastic camera that was similar to the professional-quality Rolleiflex cameras. Anyway, my mother’s camera is long since gone, but I remember how much I used to love looking through that top viewfinder at the upside-down world it displayed. When I first saw the Minox digital reproduction of a Rolleiflex 2.8F twin-lens-reflex camera, I got very nostalgic and decided I’d buy the Rolleiflex MiniDigi AF 5.0 reproduction as a nod to my mother and her old camera.

In the Box
• MiniDigi AF 5.0 camera
• Leather strap
• CR2 Lithium battery
• 256MB miniSD card with adapter
• Manual

Technical Specifications (from the box)
• Camera type: 5MP AF digital camera
• Image sensor: 3MP AF module
• Image resolution: 2304X2304 pixels (high resolution/interpolated), 1536X1536 pixels (normal resolution), 768X768 (low resolution)
• Monitor: TFT 1.1” color
• Storage medium: miniSD card (removable)
• Image format: JPEG
• Lens: 4.9mm F2.8
• Depth of field: 10cm to infinity
• Shutter speeds: 1/15 to 1/2500 (electronic control)
• Exposure control: Automatic
• White balance: Automatic
• Power source: CR2 Lithium X 1
• Dimensions: 49 X 73 X 45 m (WxHxD) (1.9 X 2.9 X 1.8 inches)
• Weight (with battery): 100 g (3.5 ounces)

Smaller than a bottle of nail polish

Many photos in this review can be clicked for an enlargement.  Note:  none of the photos taken by the MiniDigi camera have been edited.

Minox makes binoculars, riflescopes, and other hunting optics. They also make a line of digital, miniature reproductions of classic film cameras. When I read the specifications, I knew this would be a small camera. Nevertheless, I was still a little shocked when I opened the box and saw Barbie’s Dream camera. This thing is tiny.  It’s also mostly plastic, though it’s sturdy enough that it passed my attempt at Julie’s patented creak test without a single creak.

Crank handle for "advancing the film"

Back showing working buttons for viewing photos and changing mode settings

Non-working controls

This camera is available in all black or red/black. You’ll notice I got the red one. The red areas have a pebbly texture that’s intended to mimic the leather on the original camera. There are a lot of buttons and controls on this camera, but some of them are non-functional reproductions of the original controls. I was disappointed to see that the level bubble was a fake. You wore the original camera hanging at about waist level and looked through the top viewfinder, and the bubble was necessary to help you get “straight” pictures. This little reproduction is also viewed from the top, and the bubble could be useful.

1.1" TFT color screen "viewfinder"

I am not a camera expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that the original twin lens cameras used the top lens as the viewfinder lens and the bottom lens had the shutter. (In those days, what you saw wasn’t always exactly what you got – at least when taking pictures.) The front of the MiniDigi camera has the twin lenses, but only the bottom one is functional. The top lens isn’t necessary because this camera has a tiny 1.1” square TFT color screen instead of a viewfinder. Just like the original, the TFT “viewfinder” is shielded from ambient light by the pop-up cover and side-shields.

Crank arm in use

The original Rolleiflex used 120 film, and it had a metal arm on the side that you turned to advance the film. To capture the flavor of the original, the MiniDigi requires you to wind the crank handle to unlock the shutter before you can take another picture.

This reproduction camera uses a 3.0MP CMOS sensor instead of 120 film. The 5.0 in the name is misleading; you only get 5.0MP through data interpolation. Something to note here is that 120 film had square negatives, so the MiniDigi produces square pictures. High resolution (5.0MP interpolated) pictures are 2304 x 2304; normal pictures are 1536 x 1536, and low res pictures are 768 x 768.

Low resolution setting

Normal resolution

High resolution (interpolated)

I tried taking pictures indoors and outdoors with this camera, and I was disappointed in both. I took pictures indoors using both normal lighting and the studio lights I use for taking pictures for my reviews. I took pictures outdoors on a bright, sunny, cloudless day at about 4:00 pm.  None of these pictures have been edited, and none of them seem to be in focus.  The camera takes a long time to focus and capture the shot, and it’s hard to hold the camera still.  Even the photos that seem to be focused are fuzzy.

Low res, Normal lighting

Normal res, normal lighting

High res, normal lighting

Low res, studio lighting

Normal res, studio lighting

Highres, studio lighting

The camera didn’t fare any better indoors.  Even with studio lighting, the pictures are dark and grainy.

The MiniDigi camera has a playback mode so you can view your pictures.  In addition to changing the resolution, you can also set the frequency setting to 50 or 60Hz for shooting under fluorescent lighting.  There is no output from the camera, so you must remove the miniSD card from the camera to get pictures into your computer.  The miniSD card comes with an adapter to convert the miniSD to a full-sized SD card.

If you are looking for a daily use camera, I don’t recommend the Rolleiflex MiniDigi AF 5.0 camera.  You can find cameras to take standard-size photos at much higher resolution and clarity for half the price of this novelty camera.  If you are a photographer who collects cameras, this might be an acceptable substitute for the very expensive original Rolleiflex.  I’m glad I have this as a memento of my mother, but I’ll never use this as a camera.  I should have saved the $270 and looked for an actual Imperial Reflex on eBay.

 

 

Product Information

Price:$267
Manufacturer:Minox
Retailer:Amazon
Pros:
  • Collectible reproduction of a very expensive classic film camera
  • Digital camera takes photos in the traditional square 120 film format
Cons:
  • Very expensive
  • Pictures are grainy and fuzzy
  • Camera is tiny
  • Focusing and capturing the picture is slow and it is hard to hold the camera still to get a good focus
Posted in: Camera Gear, Reviews

6 comments… add one

  • Julie March 18, 2011, 11:24 am

    It’s so cute. Bummer though that the pictures it takes aren’t better. I remember a similar experience finding 2 old cameras from my parents. One was a Brownie camera of my Mom’s and the other was actually from my Dad’s parents. It was some type of box camera. I don’t think it had 2 lenses, but I remember opening it and playing with it a lot. Never took pictures with it though and soooo wish I still had both.

    1
  • BJN March 18, 2011, 1:27 pm

    $270? That’s a lot of money for a miniature “tribute” camera with less performance than a cheap camera phone.

    My first camera was a Yashicamat TLR. There’s one right now on eBay for $250.00. It may not take digital pictures, but it’s a lot more interesting than a plastic toy.

    2
  • Janet Cloninger March 18, 2011, 1:40 pm

    Julie, I really wish I had my mother’s camera, too. Funny how the things that have no value when you’re young mean so much later.

    3
  • Blaise Fallon March 18, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Perhaps the camera was confused on the indoor shots by the massive amount of White background. I checked some of the shots I did with the same camera and found indoor (low light) shots remarkably well exposed. When we see consistent (across the entire shot) poor focus, we usually attribute it to camera shake.

    4
  • Janet Cloninger March 18, 2011, 2:02 pm

    @Blaise Fallon I mentioned it was hard to hold it still while it focused. It’s also hard to press the shutter button without moving the camera while it’s sitting on a flat surface because of the placement of that button.

    5
  • rezashiravi April 28, 2013, 7:02 am

    Hi. Im iranian
    it camera very nice and I remember old and good cameras rollei.
    where is made? & how much is it? can I buy by amazon site?
    can you send me a catalog on my email?
    thanks for every thing

    6

Leave a Comment