And I made it, the last post of the Minolta month. Thank goodness and this was the camera I was trying to source and use during this month, without spending any money. I managed to sell a camera and buy this with the proceeds, so a swap of sorts. It arrived right at the very end of March. The 3D printed cassette also arrived just in time. Everything aligned and the clocks went forward giving me just enough time after work to grab a few test shots.
I really wanted this camera as I read that it didn’t need sprockets on the 16mm film to work. That was important as I wanted to use the cut off piece of 120 films when I resized it to 127.
Anyway, look at this tiny little camera…
…how cute is that?
Mine does look a little rough and when it first arrived the shutter didn’t open due to lack of use. But with a few actuations, it roared back to life with no messing around on my part. It first came out in 1960 and is a pretty simple machine, well back in the day it was. Now there are some issues if you want to actually use it. The main issue being film, getting it can be expensive, then you have to load it into the cartridge if you have one. My cameras didn’t come with one so I bought a 3D printed one from Analogue Wonderland.
I found loading the cartridge fairly easy. I practised with an old cut off I had until I could do it blindfolded.
The manual has a great explanation of how to reload a cassette, you can find that here. I did find it best to tape the loading side down before trying to thread the receiving spool back into its slot. The loading top has a tendency to pop off. Once the film is in the loading side, completed in a dark bag, the receiving part can be done in the light.
Once sorted, I loaded mine with a cut-off piece I had stored in a black film canister ages ago. I had hoped to reload a 110 cassette at some point, but the lack of sprockets on the cut off was an issue. With this camera, you tape the film to the receiving spool so no sprockets are needed. The only issue I had now was…I hadn’t written down what film it was, oops. Plus I didn’t know if I had fogged it at any point, oops. And the daylight was fading, oops. The end of March was here, no time to spare, oh no. So I set the camera at the smallest aperture, f3.5 and ran to my garden. All I needed was to check it all worked, even a fogged image would do. With that aperture and the fixed 1/100th speed, I should be ok if the film was 100 or 400asa. Then I could develop the film with a stand process using Rodinal and take a chance. I wasn’t expecting much. I had previously found a Paterson Universal 3 Tank and spool in a charity shop and that could be adjusted to accept 110 films.
And by Jove, if there weren’t some images on the negs and not too much fogging, given the size of the strip. Now just to let them dry ready for scanning.
I haven’t scanned something this small before and really didn’t know where to start. I didn’t think my CanoScan could do it as I didn’t have a negative holder. So I asked my friend Mike Eckman and he suggested his glass method. Basically sandwiching the negs between two pieces of glass to scan. It worked a treat. It lifts the negs off the scanning plate enough to keep them focused.
I had to select the neg areas manually and then I set the resolution higher than I normally would as they were very small.
But here are my rushed test shots around my garden with an unknown film.
The minimal focal distance is over a metre so some are out of focus, but other than that, I am quite pleased. For such a terrible test and such small negs, the results are OK. I really just wanted to see if it was possible and it is. The next time I cut a film to 127 I will be more careful with the cut-off part and load it into this. Before I was just throwing it away. So I feel like I am getting a free film. I did notice a hair on many of the photos. I have shopped it out on some of them, but before using the camera again I will give it a thorough clean inside. I might have even caught something in the 3D cassette so I will clean that too. At this size, it could even be an eyelash.
Oh and Minolta 16s cassettes usually hold enough film for 20 photos, 120 film is longer. So you could split the cut-off bit into two parts and get more free shots, but I didn’t for this test. In the end, the film jammed in the receiving spool. At that point, I stopped and developed the film. It might be a pain and even I am not that tight with film…yet.
In the end, I liked this camera and experience, even though I don’t usually like small negs. I will use this camera again for sure, FREE FILM!!.
But, I don’t think I will do something like this for a while, sticking to a camera make. I would rather stick to a film brand.