Spy 16 and Beauty 16

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The Spy 16 (スパイ16) and Beauty 16 (ビューティ16) are Japanese subminiature cameras made by Taiyōdō in the late 1940s and early 1950s.


The camera takes twenty 10×14mm exposures on 16mm film.[1] The design is similar to the 35mm viewfinder cameras of the time, albeit much smaller. The main body is similar to that of the Meteor, Vestkam or Beauty 14 subminiature taking 17.5mm film made by Taiyōdō at the same period. The back is hinged to the left, as seen by the photographer. The film is probably loaded in some sort of cassette, but the exact system used is unknown.

The tubular viewfinder protrudes at the middle of the top plate. The film advance knob is at the left end. It automatically stops at each exposure,[2] and is certainly unlocked by the small button visible on the viewfinder's right. There is a frame counter at the right end, which is certainly manually reset by turning the small knob visible in the middle.

The shutter unit, similar to that of the Beauty 14, gives B, 25, 50, 100 speeds selected by turning the rim. It is cocked by a lever on the left and tripped by another lever on the right (as seen by the photographer). The Talent f/3.5 lens has a fixed focus and aperture.

Variations and commercial life

The camera was announced as the Spy or Spy 16 in Japanese magazines dated 1949.[3] The December 1949 issue of Photo Art quotes the price as "less than ¥2,500". It shows a picture of the camera, with the name Spy engraved under the viewfinder window and a back latch consisting of a sliding button.[4] The lens is engraved Talent 1:3.5 F=20mm (but the article mentions a 25/3.5 lens). The shutter speeds are engraved in the order B, 25, 50, 100. The shutter plate is black, with a five-pointed star at the top, metal stripes on each side and the company name T.K.K at the bottom (presumably for Taiyōdō Kōki). No actual example of the Spy 16 has yet been observed.

The camera was renamed Beauty 16 at some time. It seems that this name does not appear in the Japanese magazines of the time,[5] and the new version was perhaps made for export only, in very limited quantities. The only surviving example observed so far is pictured in this page at Submin.com. It is identified by the name Beauty 16 engraved under the viewfinder window. Compared with the Spy 16, there is a newer back latch consisting of a sliding bar, the lens engraving is C.Talent 1:3.5 F=25mm (certainly indicated a coated lens), the shutter speeds seem to be engraved in the order 25, 50, 100, B, and the shutter plate is silver with a circular black line.


  1. Column in Photo Art December 1949, p.35.
  2. Column in Photo Art December 1949, p.35.
  3. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.353.
  4. Column in Photo Art December 1949, p.35.
  5. The Beauty 16 is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.


  • Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Item 560.
  • Photo Art December 1949. "Ōru kokusan kamera" (オール国産カメラ, All of Japanese cameras). Pp.34–41.

These cameras are not listed in Sugiyama.


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