Ever since the release of their first commercially available 35mm film rangefinder camera, Leica has been highly regarded within the photographic community. Leica's Mini Zoom is a compact point-and-shoot style camera that uses a traditional 35mm film cartridge. While the majority of Leica's products are available at premium prices, the Leica Mini Zoom can be had, both in new and used condition, at a significantly lower cost.
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Dimensions and Weight
As the camera's name implies, the Leica Mini Zoom is designed to be ultra-compact and thus pocketable. The overall length of the camera is measured at 118mm, or 4.65 inches. Height of the camera is 65mm, or 2.65 inches. The width of the camera is 38.5mm, or 1.52 inches. Without batteries the camera's weight is 160 grams, or less than half a pound. An optional data back, which imprints the time and date onto the film, adds 15 grams to the camera's weight and 2.5mm to its width.
Lens and Focusing
The Mini Zoom is the second automatic camera to sport a lens crafted from Leica glass (the first was the Leica Mini, which the Mini Zoom is modelled after). Its Vario Elmar lens has a focal range of 35mm to 70mm. Effective aperture (size of lens opening) ranges from f/4.0 to f/7.6, allowing for sharp, properly exposed results in well-lit conditions. The lens produces sharp focus from 65cm, or roughly 2 feet, to infinity. Proper focus is achieved by depressing the shutter button halfway, pausing to compose the shot and then fully depressing the button.
A small, centre-weighted integral meter allows for accurate exposures. In this context, the term "center-weighted" refers to which parts of the frame (viewfinder) light is measured from. Based on the meter's reading, an appropriate shutter speed--between 1/5th of a second and 1/250th of a second--is automatically selected. If the meter detects that there is not sufficient light for proper exposure with the available shutter speeds, automatic flash activation occurs. This is useful in indoor or other lowlight photography. For more control over the exposure, the user can select "B" for bulb mode. This allows the shutter to remain open for at least five full seconds. A 3-volt lithium battery (CR 123 A) is required for operation of the meter, shutter and flash.
Film with an ISO rating of 50 to 1600 can be used. If the film is DX-coded, the camera automatically recognises the film's speed and adjusts light metering and shutter function accordingly. A small self-timer button on the top of the camera's body allows for a 10-second countdown before shutter release. This option is useful for instances when the photographer wishes to include himself in a group shot. When the camera is turned to the "OFF" setting, lens automatically transports back into the body. If the camera is not used for more than five seconds, it powers off to conserve battery life.
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