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Using a Rollei 16 for photography

The Rollei 16 camera is a well built beautiful camera, so owners may be keen to use it for photography. It is not at all easy. There are some issues with the camera itself, obtaining and processing of film and the necessary cartridges. It can be done but there is more to it than just buying ready to load film and bringing it in at a local shop for processing. There is a lot of DIY to be done.

I have not done any photography with the Rollei 16 myself. My camera looks beautiful but is not in fully working condition. The finder opens fine and the shutter is working The film speed dial and filter setting button cannot be moved. They should be blocked only with an open finder and un-blocked with the finder closed. I have not been able the check the light-meter and the green light indicating sufficient light. I purchased the camera mainly to take some pictures of it and I have not decided on having it serviced.

The camera

The Rollei 16 camera is designed as a fully automatic camera meaning automatic exposure. There is no option of manual exposure except for the flash setting with a shutter speed of 1/30 s and any aperture. The automatic exposure is controlled by a Selenium light-meter that may be unreliable after 50 years.

The film

The film is standard 16 mm gauge. Film for 16 mm still photography is long gone, you will be limited to 16 mm motion picture film. Most film of that gauge is double perforated, but the Rollei 16 is made for single perforated film. Double perf film can be used but the larger image extends into the second line of perforations. I understand that Eastman Double X 7222 is a good choice of film. It is sold as 16 mm × 30.5 m (100 ft). The user has to cut to a piece of about 50 cm to take 18 exposures. D96 is the preferred developer.

The cartridge

The Rollei 16 uses the same cartridge as the Goldammer Goldeck 16 and Wirgin 16 (Edixa 16) cameras. They can only be found on the ‘used’ market and are very scarce and thus expensive when found. The positive side is that they are relatively easy to load with film. The cartridge itself is not necessary to take pictures. The camera works with film without a cartridge and the film will be properly transported but loading and unloading film has to be done in the dark.