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I'm the proud owner of a vintage Minolta 16-II, Now what?

John Schroeder , May 24, 2008; 11:27 p.m.

I don't know why I did it but I placed a $20.00 bid on a Minolta 16-II sub camera on flea-bay. I guess I thought it was cute. I never expected to win the auction. I remember thinking "I'd pay $20.00 for that". I assumed I would be outbid. Now I have a camera coming in the mail I don't have a clue how to operate. Do any of you experts have a few clues for me on the proper care and feeding of this camera? I did manage to fine a source for new film and cartridges through subclub.com but no instructions or guides.


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Matthew Currie , May 25, 2008; 12:26 a.m.

Rob Holz , May 25, 2008; 12:28 a.m.

There were times that I'd put bids in for items on the bay where I never imagined winning with such a bid, but sometimes when the stars line up just right, strange things happen. Such was the case when I went after an M42 teleconverter a few years back. For about 4 lenses in a row, I got poached at the last second, and then I won the one after for one cent, and it was new. I've also been fortunate enough to win a new reflective umbrella for 25 cents under similar circumstances.

Warren Colligan , May 25, 2008; 12:48 a.m.


Here are my thoughts:

Like you, I have a Minolta 16-2; and a regular 16; a 16Ps; and a QT. Also like you, I've never exposed a shot with a Minolta 16, because the film wasn't available until Goat Hill started bringing in the old style Kiev cassettes. I've got an order into Goat Hill Photography for 3 rolls of Minolta film right now. In any event, I can tell you that these cameras work similar to a lot of Minox cameras, in that they use depth of field for focusing just like the earliest Kodak roll film cameras did. You need to get a depth of field chart for your Minolta 16-2 and you can get one by going back on subclub.org. Here's the way to get a depth of field chart:

1. Go back to Subclub.org 2. Go on their Camera Shop. 3. Go to the Camera Counter. 4. Go to The List. 5. Go to 16mm. 6. Go to Minolta. 7. On the Minolta page go to the 16-2 location and it provides you with an explanation on how to use the camera and a link to the depth of field chart.

Depth of field is used for focusing on all but the last model of the Minolta 16 cameras, but you will still need to determine the aperture and shutter speed and this is a completely manual camera. I've concluded there are a few ways to do this. First, you could use a more modern camera with a built in exposure meter and transfer the settings to the Minolta. Second, you could use a hand held exposure meter, I've got an old Vivitar that works great and is pretty small. Third, you could use the old Sunny 16 rule. Fourth, you could copy the exposure table from an old Minolta 16-2 camera manual like the one found on Mike Butkis's site (I may have spelled his name wrong) and then laminate it, and put it in your wallet like a credit card, that's what I'm planning to do when my film arrives. These cameras take a bit of thought to make them work properly, and I'm kind of glad that I had a Minox before I got my first Minolta. I hope this helps. Warren Colligan

Mark Hahn , May 25, 2008; 01:10 a.m.

I too have one. Nice camera, good lens but somewhat limited. Did you get the closeup filters? That's the part that I find kind of fiddly. Find the DOF table for the camera. From memory (I could be a little wrong), the camera is focused at about 8' with no filter, but you get lots of DOF for any smaller aperture. Nice range of aperture and shutter speed for such a small cheap camera.

I took mine to Disneyland a few months ago (unlike most people, Disneyland is *not* a major photo outing for me, so the 16-II was all I needed and I loved the small size... though if I did it again I'd have taken a Minox).

Bluemoon photo in Portland is supposed to do good work with film if you plan on sending it out, otherwise, easy to get plastic tanks that have reels that adjust to 16mm/110.

Have fun!

John Schroeder , May 25, 2008; 02:11 a.m.

Thanks Matthew. Now I have a manual.

Kevin Lui , May 25, 2008; 04:56 a.m.

I sometime forget what I am bidding, and the feeling is strange that when I receive the un-paid payment list. As the result, a number of filters, books, pens are moved to my house unexpectedly.

Jon Loomis , May 25, 2008; 03:15 p.m.

I love my Minolta 16-II! I've been using it for about 4 months now and after acquiring cartridges I can just load the film myself. It can take 16mm motion picture film, so I bought a 50' roll of Kodak Double-X (250iso) and reload a batch of cartridges every now and then. If you're not into the diy stuff, I think any film lab that can process 110 will take 16mm so long as you tell them the image size will be a little different.

It's a very very basic camera and small enough as a modern digital point and shoot, so you can take it anywhere. Mark I believe you're right about the fixed focus distance--somewhere between 6 - 9'. And with such a short lens the DOF is pretty forgiving.

I think it's best to start off with a medium to fast speed film with a wide exposure latitude and go sunny f16 without a meter. After a few rolls you can eyeball most situations and get a decent exposure.

Hope you can get your hands on some film and start shooting, it's a total blast.

- Jon

Ralf J. , May 26, 2008; 04:03 a.m.

You can slit down film from 120 roll film, use 46mm reminder to re-roll onto 127 film and the remainder for Minolta cartridges. Here are two results I shot a couple of years ago:

Met Life Clock Tower


Ilford Delta 100

Wooden Vase Art at MSP

wooden vase at MSP500

Ilford Delta 100

John Schroeder , May 26, 2008; 11:03 a.m.

I ordered two cassettes pre-loaded with Ilford Delta 400 from Goat Hill Photography yesterday. I can process the film at home. I have all the chemistry and a daylight tank which I can adapt to 16mm. If the camera functions properly I might cut down some of my Efke 100 and give it a try.

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