What is the origin of 8x11 format ?

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What is the origin of 8x11 mm format ? From Minox or earlier ?


-- Peter Resnick (pr3873a@frontedge.com), August 12, 1999


According to Minox expert Hubert Heckmann, there was a 8x11mm Daguerreotype camera in the 19 century, made by Carl August von Steinheil of Munich. So 8x11mm format has very long ancestry, older than 35mm format !

8x11mm rollfilm was invented by Walter Zapp.

If we talk about 9.5mm film, then 9.5mm was a movie film format before Minox. Pathe 9.5mm cine camera or projectors are still be auctioned off at ebay.

I am not familiar with 9.5 cine film, so I don't know exactly what the filme format was. My guess is the format could be something like 8x6 mm or 8x5.5mm, with the short side along the length of 9.5 film, like 35mm movie film.

If Walter Zapp wanted to adopt old movie frame, he would most probably use it in his first prototype, which had a format of 6.5 x 9mm.

Walter Zapp enlarged it into 8x11mm in Riga Minox. That is the format used in all Minox 8x11, and always associated with Minox. It is interesting to note, that 6.5 x9mm and 8x11mm has same length to width proportion of 1:1.4.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), August 12, 1999.

Pathe Baby 9.5mm format was launched in 1922, a strip of 35mm movie film was slitted into three strips between the perforations, with the short side of the frame parallel to the length of film, just like other movie films.

There is a center perforation between every two frames.

A Pathe projector also has its two film chambers arranged in up/down fashion, so the frame runs vertically.

Pathe 9.5 format

Major difference between Minox 8x11mm vs Pathe 9.5

From here is is clear, that Minox 8x11mm is complete different from a 9.5 movie format. Minox 8x11mm was a new format from the start:

It is to the credit of Hubert Heckmann, who named his book "Minox Variations in 8x11" and set the record straight.

Minox format is 8x11mm format, not Minox 9.5.

9.5 is Pathe Baby = 6.3 x 8.4 mm

Further, the width of a Minox film strip is not 9.5mm, it is 9.2mm

There is no 9.5mm in Minox at all !

Pathe 9.5mm format looks like a half-frame Minox to me

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), August 12, 1999.

In the early 30s when Walter Zapp was designing his first Minox camera, the hottest camera was Leica miniature camera invented by Oskar Barnack, who doubled the size of Thomas Edison 35mm movie frame to 24x36.

At that time Pathe 9.5 home movie was also popular, because inspite of the small size of the frame, the projected images were crisp and sharp.

This may inspired Walter Zapp to also double the Pathe frame into a Minox frame, borrowing a idea from his countryman Oskra Barnack.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), August 15, 1999.

Minox 9.5mm or Minox 8x11 ?

I have being wondering, how can Minox associated with 9.5mm movie film ? Where this association comes from ?

After some digging, I found a paragraph ins William White's book "Subminiature Photography" "Apparently he had patented other designs for machines. but his driving ambition was the idea for a subminiature camera that could use 9.5 mm film, which was already being tried experimentally in motion picture cameras"

On surface, this looked plausible, as, after all, there are 16mm subminiature cameras based on 16mm movie film, and there is indeed a 9.5mm movie film format.

But upon closer scrutiny, there is serious problem with that statement.

In 1922, Pathe came up with 9.5mm movie film format. But this 9.5mm movie format has center sproket holes ( located right at the middle of film between two adjacent frames).

While Walter Zapp's Minox prototype clearly used unperforated film, as clearly indicated in his patent for mechanism for frame space compensation using sproketless film advance spool. How can a Pathe 9.5mm film with center sprokets be used in sproketless Minox camera ?

Pathe 9.5mm movie camera may inspired Zapp to use unperforated film of similar width, but using those 9.5mm sproketed positive motion picture film in his prototype ? Not possible

One would ask, why Walter Zapp did not use "9.5mm" unperforated film ? I think the answer is simple, unperforated Pathe 9.5mm film was not available. Long before Zapp began his design on Ur-Minox, Pathe was long taken over by Eastman Kodak. Why Kodak wanted to provide unperforated Pathe 9.5mm film ? For whom ? Kodak had not intention of promoting 9.5mm, as it introduced 16mm format in 1923, the same year it took over Pathe. By 1938, when Zapp began design on Ur-Minox, 9.5mm was clearly losing ground, why would Zapp based his design on film format of uncertain future ? It would be better if he started from scratch on his own.

Further, Pathe 9.5mm was from the beginning a positive film. Why would Pathe at that time cut and made available unperforated 9.5mm negative film ? For whom ? Hence from the begining that theory that Walter Zapp chose the format of his film based on available 9.5mm film is groundless. Such film did not exist.

This question about the origin of Minox format must have bugged Hubert Heckmann, who did a much thorough research on this topic.

Heckmann wrote " For his prototype Minox, Walter Zapp cut normal 35mm cinematography film into four strips 8.75 mm wide. Because he wanted to have a wider border, he made his orginal negaties size 6.5 x 9mm, analogous to 6 1/2 by 9cm plate cameras of the day."

Heckmann continued : " With the newer modified production model, Zapp increased the negative size to 8x 11mm, a format that at the time was rare but not totally unknown. A Dauerreotype camera in 8x11 mm had been built by C. A. von Steinheil in the nineteen century" So the origin of 8x11 mm dated back to 19 century, and not from 9.5 mm movie film. Since Heckmann is close to Zapp, his version of the origin of Minox film format is authentic.

Minox camera never used, nor can ever use 9.5mm motion picture film.

Otherwise, 9.5mm film manufacturers would cut rolls of unperforated "9.5mm " film and sell them to Minoxers. Did this ever happened ? Probably not, since the 9.5mm film does not fit Minox cassette.

Any Minox user has access to Pathe 9.5 mm film ? I would appreciate if any one can send me a 10" strip of Pathe 9.5mm, and I shall measure the dimension and try to roll it up and put it into Minox cassette, to see whether Pathe 9.5mm really fit, width wise.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), October 18, 1999.

When the phrase "MINOX 8X11" started ?

In a 1939 advertisement of Riga Minox, it mentioned "Negativformat 8x11 mm"

In 1956 Minox adverstisement, 8x11 was mentioned also in association with negative size " The 8x11 mm size negative "

In N 1991 Minox advertisement for MINOX LX STERLING, "THE ONLY CAMERA MADE OF SOLID 925 SILVER. This could only be a MINOX: pure sterling silver for the most exclusive camera in the world. An extraordinary elegant casket to keep it in and a dedication written by Walter Zapp, the man behind the MINOX 8 x 11. MINOX Nobody needs more camera than this " That was probably the earliest appearance of the phrase "MINOX 8X11".

It is evident, Minox always uses 8x11 mm to characterize its spy camera, and latter even coined the phrase "Minox 8x11".

It is interesting to note, that "MINOX 8X11" appeared in 1991, after the publication of William White "Subminiature Photography" in 1990, in which Minox was associated (imo incorrectly ) with 9.5 mm film format.

In Heckmann's book, there is not a word on "Minox 9.5mm" format.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), October 28, 1999.

I believe Walter Zapp intentionally made the Riga Minox cassette to reject 9.5mm width film by using a film width between 9.2 and 9.3mm IMO, this was a brilliant marketing strategy, it guarantees to keep the market for Minox film proprietary. Even though Baby Pathe film was popular in Euorope, Pathe film would never be able to get into any Minox cassette. If Walter Zapp chosed his film width as 9.6mm, or 9.5mm, then there would be no Minocolor, Minopan, etc. Instead we would all use Pathepan, Pathecolor in our Minox cameras.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), September 28, 2000.

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