Seiki 16 pistol camera

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The Seiki 16 pistol camera is a Japanese subminiature taking 10×14mm pictures on 16mm film, shaped as a pistol and made by Seiki Kōgaku in the late 1940s or early 1950s.


The camera is shaped as a pistol, but is less realistic than the Doryu 2-16 or Gemmy. There is a folding frame finder at the top, which is perhaps removable.[1] There is a fake lens at the position of the pistol's nozzle, and the actual 25mm f/3.5 lens is situated in a recession situated below.[2] It has a fixed focus, and the aperture is adjustable from 3.5 to 11 by a control placed at an unknown position.[3]

The camera takes 16mm film in Mamiya 16 cassettes. There is a wheel on the left side, driven by the user's thumb, certainly used to advance the film, and a small window on the same side for an exposure counter. The shutter is certainly tripped by the trigger located in front of the handgrip. Another button is visible under the trigger, perhaps used to open and lock the camera for film loading. The speeds are selected by a small index on the rear, below the advance wheel, with 100, 50, 25, B positions.

The name Seiki 16 and the company name SEIKI KOGAKU CO. are inscribed on the right side. Another illegible inscription appears on the left, under the exposure counter window.


The camera was certainly a derivative of the Seiki 16 subminiature made by the same company. It is only known by a single example pictured in Sugiyama, and it certainly remained at prototype level.

The Seiki was surely one of the first pistol-shaped cameras made in Japan, together with the Gemmy by Okada. Research on such cameras started in the late 1940s, certainly instigated by the police forces.[4] The intended use was to catch photographic evidence of criminal behaviour in the act. Other famous examples are the Doryu 2-16, which was sold to the general public in limited quantities, and the Mamiya Pistol, which was officially adopted by the Japanese police in 1954.


  1. Sugiyama, item 5132, provides two pictures of the camera, supposedly showing the same example. The viewfinder is deployed on the left picture but seems altogether absent on the right one, perhaps because it was removed.
  2. 25mm f/3.5: Sugiyama, item 5132.
  3. Aperture from 3.5 to 11: Sugiyama, item 5132.
  4. An article in Shashin Kōgyō March 1955 states that the Doryu company started to develop pistol-shaped cameras in 1949, with official support of the concerned authorities (see Doryu 1 and Doryu 2-16).


  • Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Item 5132.

The Seiki 16 pistol camera is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.


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