Last Updated on 11/17/2023 by Hillary Grigonis
The end of a four-year development process for a new premium 35mm film camera is in sight—MiNT’s LiDAR-based film camera could arrive as early as next year. In an update, MiNT founder Gary Ho said the company’s previously teased new 35mm camera will likely arrive next year. The camera’s design has now been finalized, Ho said, and the company is working on the first pre-production units of the MiNT 35, which has yet to receive an official name.
MiNT has piqued photographers’ interest with the upcoming 35mm camera for two reasons. The first is that, while MiNT is known for its instant film cameras, the company hasn’t previously worked with the 35mm format before. And when it comes to 35mm cameras, most of the options available are used, cheap plastic setups, or a $6K Leica. The second reason is that the camera will use a LiDAR-based autofocus system. That means MiNT is putting an autofocus system too new for mirrorless cameras inside a film camera. LiDAR bounces light off objects in order to set the autofocus distance, the same technology that brought faster low-light autofocus to the iPhone 12 Pro. That means modern autofocus performance inside of a film camera.
The Mint35 Project has been ongoing for four years now, but the company has now finalized the design. In the update, Ho said that the company is next working on ten pre-production units. The company anticipates the camera will go on sale sometime next year if everything goes as planned.
With the announcement comes the first glimpses at the upcoming camera’s body — and it’s a beautiful first glimpse. The images show a silver body with a black wrap, a very classic look that’s well suited for a film camera.
The design also takes some inspiration from the Rollei 35 S, a 35mm compact film camera produced by the German company from 1974 through 1980. The Rollei 35 S was popular for its compact size. Based on the images MiNT shared, the new 35mm appears to have a very similar size. The Rollei 35 S was actually one of the cameras the company first considered remaking before deciding to focus on the Polaroid SX-70 and instant film.
Another thing to get excited about is all the holes in the body—because those are made for dials as well as the other essentials. The Rollei 35S had dials at the front rather than at the top, and the housing for the MiNT35 Project appears to have similar openings. That doesn’t leave any sort of room for a grip, though, but hopefully, the small size makes up for it.
The latest update also includes an estimated price for the final model, between $650 and $800. Some may balk at that, mixed with the recurring costs of shooting film, but that cost will put the new 35mm in line with MiNT’s offerings like the SLR670-S and the InstantKon RF70, which use instant film and are much larger.
New 35mm cameras are rare, and most of the ones on the market are plasticky models that lack high-end lenses and versatile controls, and many have just fixed focus. If the MiNT35 delivers a high-end body, modern autofocus performance, and the versatility of manual controls, then MiNT will have something truly unique. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to find out. MiNT says it expects the camera to be available early next year if everything goes as planned.
All photos courtesy of MiNT Camera and used with permission.