Minolta commitment to 16mm photography market started at the beginning of the 50s when the company acquired the small manufacturer Konan which for some years produced an ultra-compact 16 mm camera named Mica Automat. Following the acquisition, the camera continued to be produced in the first instance by keeping the original logo to then be marketed as Minolta product.
Following up to this project, Minolta engineers took the cue to begin development of a new line of 16mm cameras debuting with the 16 Automat, which was simply the old Konan model enriched with some marginal improvements; this was followed by the first Minolta 16: the shapes were then more rounded, guides for the insertion of filters in front of the lens were introduced and also were offered seven different body colors.
In 1960 appeared the 16 II model, known as the most complete and most successful of the range, in which were set lens and shutter improvements; the camera was sold in a complete set including BW and color film, negative mask insert for enlarger, leather case with filters and a reel attachment for the development of the film. The camera was a great success and was the first to impose Minolta as a global brand in terms of selling.
The Minolta 16 II is equipped with the new lens Rokkor 22 / 2.8 and a guillotine shutter with 1/30 sec to 1/500 sec speeds plus bulb; it was entirely built of metal except for the film chamber and was distributed in six different colors, though the most common and almost exclusively present in Europe is a silver-gray. This model was followed by others, which were gradually introduced with features such as automatic exposure or simplified lenses, but no further camera had the same success of the 16 II.
HOW IT WORKS
The shape is reminiscent of the classic spy-cameras in vogue in the 60s and 70s, that of a small rectangular metal piece that can easily be mistaken for a lighter.
To load the shutter is necessary to “open” the camera by sliding the upper shell; this frees the shutter release button, located on the top, and the lens, which is positioned behind the shutter to the guillotine. A blue dot on the surface indicates that the shutter is cocked and the camera is ready to shoot, but after shooting the surface is free. This special construction implies it is not possible to make double exposures with this camera; to re-arm the shutter and move to the next step, you must close and reopen the camera: on the bottom there is a climbing frame counter indicating how many frames can still be impressed on the film.
The camera operation is completely manual and there is no light meter; you will, therefore, use an external one or apply the sunny 16 rule: times and aperture can be adjusted by means of two wheels placed on the right side of the camera being present align the red dot on the knurl with the values engraved on the camera body. Shutter speed varies between 1/30 sec and 1/500 sec, plus the bulb while apertures range from f / 2,8 to f / 16, with a one stop increment. Film is put in proprietary cartridges, designed to be reloaded with 16mm film; in origin, those were sold with Minolta brand, with Tri-X film for BW and probably Kodacolor 100 for color film; the cartridge contains enough film to impress 20 frames sized 10×14 mm.
To insert film cartridge in camera it is necessary to separate the shell from the rest of the body; this is done by separating the two parts as in the moment when the shutter is charged, and to the block, push the small button that is located on the bottom of the shell: in this way the latter can continue its run and separate from the rest of the body.
In the lower part of the body will be visible the metal slide that guides the opening and closing of the shell (and which, in the underlying part, is connected to the reset sliding mechanism of the guillotine shutter) and wheel frame counter that, with new film inside, is placed on E and then start the timer counting back from the number 20.
Opening the door, you can proceed to place the cartridge inside the compartment: the operation is very simple, as there is only one correct manner, a concept that will be then taken up by Kodak at the time of the launch of 126 and 110 Instamatic Pocket Instamatic.
The cartridge, as mentioned, can be refilled more times, very simple operation and rapid since, moreover, the film is not equipped with any protective backing paper but is simply rolled up and inserted in the accommodation and fixed with a bit of tape on the reel drag positioned within the second tank of the cartridge. On this site there is a tutorial for the reloading of the 110 film cartridge, which also includes the operations required for refilling the Minolta 16 one. Once positioned the cartridge, close the door of the compartment and you can proceed to reassemble the camera.
A final note about the use relates to the ability to use additional filters or lenses that must be positioned in front of the lens; the body of the camera is, in fact, shaped to allow easy inclusion of these additional pressure filters (see photo at left). Some of these were directly supplied with your camera, while others could be purchased separately. One in particular, part of the bundle, and it is worth mentioning a correction lens that allows you to have a perfect focus to infinity at all apertures, solving a problem that affects all cameras of this size, which results in blurry images indefinitely if taken in large opening.
Model: Ultra-compact Camera (spy camera).
Image Format: 10 x 14 mm on 16mm film.
Lens: Minolta Rokkor 22 f / 2,8 four lenses
Apertures: f / f 2.8 / 16
Shutter: guillotine, Minolta, Rates from 1/30 to 1/500; pose B.
Exposure modes: manual and B.
Viewfinder: Galilean with additional focus lens.
Multiple exposures : no.
Flash: sync socket on the camera body.
Dimensions (closed): Length 80 mm; height 23 mm; depth 40 mm.
Weight: 146 gr.
There is a large amount of accesories available for the Minolta 16 II mainly due to the peculiarities of the film format; major options that are worth mentioning are:
– Coloured filters for optical add-shooting
– Flash bracket and additional grip
– Dedicated enlarger
– 16mm spiral and tank for film processing
– Dia-dedicated projector
Easy to use
Sinchro flash at all shutter speeds
Robust construction in metal
Ease of repair.
Cartridge to be refilled manually;
Lack of sharpness at f / 2,8.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICES
On the used market you will find all models of Minolta 16, especially those partially automated or simplified as the MG, P, EE; the 16 II model is quite common in Northern Europe and Germany but is also found in Italy with prices ranging between 30 and 100 Euros, depending on the condition and accessories included. Even on online auction sites it is quite common. The model 16 II is always to preferable given its total mechanical nature, the quality of the lens and set of shutter speed available.
If you want to venture a mean value “right” for this camera, I would say 60-65 euro with dedicated bag and infinity corrected lens (usually is inserted into the housing.)