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Rollei 16,0515 Photo F.W. Stutterheim
Photograph of Ferdi‘s black Rollei 16 S camera.
Photo ©2022  F.W. Stutterheim


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 and in the Rollei tradition it 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 cartridge for 16 mm film. The Rollei factory first worked on a system with two cartridges similar to the Agfa-Rapid system. The film was pulled from the feeder cartridge by a grabber and pushed into a take-up cartridge. This idea was dropped soon because it would only work with user processed i.e. monochrome film. Processing laboratories accepted films only in original cartridges.

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 cartridge used by Goldammer and Wirgin (Exacta) and single-perf ‘Super 16’ film. The frame size could be enlarged to 12×17 mm. The cartridge 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 cartridges and films.

Rollei 16


Full metal body with extendable finder. Dimensions with closed finder: 110 × 45 × 34 mm (4 ⅜ × 1 ¾ × 1 7/16; in).

Rollei 16, 0514a Photo F.W. Stutterheim
Photograph of the finder of Ferdi‘s black Rollei 16 S camera. When the finder is closed, the mask is neatly folded. Note the hinge.
Photo © 2022 F.W. Stutterheim.


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).


Apertures from 2.8 - 22.


Automatic exposure with shutter speeds from 1/30 - 1/500 s. Manual settings: only B and 1/30 s for flash.

Light-meter, exposure

Gossen Selenium cell. Automatic exposure only. Manual exposure: only B or flash. Film speeds 12 - 24 DIN (ASA 12 - 200).

Rollei 16, 0532 Photo F.W. Stutterheim
Photograph of the film gate of Ferdi‘s Rollei 16 S camera. At right the film take-up chamber with the two Teflon covered curled springs. The fixed ends of the springs can be seen just to the right of the curl. The film is fed under the two chrome buttons at left. The perforation falls over the long slot that hides the grabber for transporting the film.
Photo © 2022 F.W. Stutterheim.


Rollei Super 16 single perforated film in a dedicated cartridge (‘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.

Rollei 16,0514 Photo F.W. Stutterheim
Photograph of the back part of Ferdi‘s Rollei 16 S camera. The button for opening the camera back is hidden inside the finder.
Photo © 2022 F.W. Stutterheim.

Rollei 16 S

The camera is similar to the Rollei 16. Differences are the ‘S’ added to the camera name and the button for opening the camera back is hidden inside the finder.