Composition and subject matter take on a different meaning when using a subminiature camera. The small negative size creates certain challenges for the photographer and these directly affect the way you take pictures.

The smaller the negative size, the less able you are to crop the image in the darkroom. This demands that your composition be much tighter than you may be used to. With a standard 35mm negative, for example, you can easily crop out distracting elements on the negative without worrying too much about deterioration of the final image. Even the half-frame format is large enough to allow some minimal cropping. But with a 10x14mm or Minox (8x11mm) negative, even a slight crop can have significant impacts on the image overall, since the remaining portion of the image must be enlarged even more.

This is, of course, dependent on the type of film and development that was used. A fine-grain film with a high-acutance developer will allow for more cropping, no matter what format is used. A high-speed film, no matter what developer is used, will tolerate little or no cropping.

Cropping also depends on the final enlargement size, as you might suspect. If all you want is a 3x5 inch print, you can get away with much more cropping than if you plan on making a 16x20.

Subminiature photography is more demanding than any other format. How you use other cameras will be of little assistance in developing a style for using a submini. Other cameras, even if complicated to use, are forgiving in ways that the smaller formats are not. When using your submini, no matter what format size, do as much cropping "in the camera" as opposed to "in the enlarger". Cut out as much extraneous material from the composition as possible. Move as close as you can or have the subject move closer to the camera. If you have the option of changing focal lengths, crop the image by "zooming" in. Fortunately, the submini is perfect for this type of assignment. They are so small that you can move in closer, unobtrusively, than with any other format. If you try to stick a 35mm telephoto in someone's face they are bound to respond negatively. But you can get just as close with a submini with little or no response at all. Oftentimes, even if you tell the person you are taking their picture, they won't believe you. With a spy finder, disguise or fast action, the picture can usually be taken completely surreptitiously at very close range.

The submini format also affects the subject matter. Some subjects, such as documents, are perfect to work with. Others, such as portraits, can produce excellent results with a little planning and thought. But there are some subjects, such as landscapes, that require special attention. Since landscapes are best when they show a lot of detail and enlarged into big prints, they are a challenge with the submini formats.

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