It was Dr. Reinholt Heidecke of ‘Franke & Heidecke’ himself who took the initiative to develop a subminiature camera for double-perf(orated) 16 mm film in 1959. The 16 mm gauge was well known from motion-picture film. The frame size is 10×14 mm. Monochrome and colour films were available. Dr. Heidecke had been a promotor of small frame sizes for most of his life, leading to the 4×4 cm (1⅝×1⅝ in) Baby-Rolleiflex and the Rolleikin 35 mm film conversion kit for the medium format Rolleiflex and Rolleicord.
It was going to be an automatic camera. In the Rollei tradition it had to be of a high built quality. The result was a high-end, expensive and heavy camera. Most other 16 mm offerings were less expensive. In the early Nineteen Sixties ‘automatic’ meant no more than fully automatic exposure.
Development took quite some years and the camera was re-designed several times. Not only are there three versions of 16 mm film, double-perf(orated), single-perf(orated) and unperforated, but there was no generally accepted cassette for 16 mm film. The Rollei factory first worked on a system with two cassettes similar to the Agfa-Rapid system. The film was pulled from the feeder cassette by a grabber and pushed into a take-up cassette. This idea was dropped soon because it would only work with user processed i.e. monochrome film. Processing laboratories accepted films only in original cassettes.
In 1960 Franke & Heidecke, E. Leitz and Adox joined forces to come to a German standard for 16 mm still film. The new standard was based on an existing cassette used by Goldammer and Wirgin (Exacta) and single-perf ‘Super 16’ film. The frame size could be enlarged to 12×17 mm. The cassette allowed the film to be rewound. It took until 1963 before the German standard DIN 19022 was finalized and by that time Leitz and Adox (film!) had pulled out. Franke & Heidecke not only had to build the cameras but alsp had to supply the cassettes and films.
Full metal body with extendable finder. Dimensions with closed finder: 110 × 45 × 34 mm (4 ⅜ × 1 ¾ × 1 7/16; in).
Extendable finder with white frame lines. The frame lines are corrected for parallax. When focusing the finder lens is slightly swung and the frame lines move. Frame lines for the standard lens and the Mutar tele-converter. For the wide-angle Mutar the whole finder is to be used. Closing the finder will transport the film but only after a shutter release.
Carl Zeiss Tessar 25 mm f/2.8, angle of view 45 °.
Front lens focusing from ∞ to 40 cm (16 in). The distance scale on early cameras is in m only. Later cameras are equipped with a combined m and ft scale.
Apertures from 2.8 - 22.
Automatic exposure: shutter speeds from 1/30 - 1/500 s. Flash: 1/30 s. Manual exposure: The camera is designed for automatic exposure. Manual exposure without flash is possible by using the flash settings, but the shutter speed is limited to 1/30 s. B for time exposures.
Gossen Selenium cell. Film speeds 12 - 24 DIN (ASA 12 - 200). Exposure compensation when using filters from -1 to -3 stops.
Rollei Super 16 single perforated film in a dedicated cassette (‘RADA’). The perforation is necessary for film transport. The frame size extends onto the second perforation area so double perforation leads to a certain loss of image. The exposed film is coiled up in the take-up chamber without a spool. The film is held in the take-up chamber by two springs. Each spring forms a curl with one end fixed and the other end free but pressing against the fixed end. The exposed film is fed into the curls. This system appeared to be vulnerable. Too much friction will cause a film jam. After only one year the springs were improved and after another year the springs received Teflon covers.