Universal Minute 16

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The Minute 16 is a sub-miniature camera for 16mm perforated film in reloadable cartridges. It was introduced 1949 by the Universal Camera Corp. of New York, NY, USA, a company perhaps best known for the Univex cameras of the 1930s. The introduction of the Minute 16 did not prevent the Corporation from going bankrupt 1952.

The tiny chromed metal camera looks like a cine camera with the traditional foldable frame finder at the top. It has a meniscus lens set deep in an aluminum lens barrel with a small aperture selector lever marked f6.3 - 11 - 16 next to it. Some versions (perhaps later versions?) also include a marking for f/8 between the f/6.3 and f/11 markings. The lever on the right-hand side winds the camera and sets the shutter, and the shutter release push button is situated just above it. The camera features a shutter lock-out that prevents accidental double exposures, especially important on such a small camera that is meant to be carried in a pocket. A manually-reset frame counter is just below the winding lever. A 1/50 sec. single-speed semi-cylinder guillotine shutter is located behind the lens.

A remarkable feature is the tripod socket at the camera base, which doubles as a flash synch contact; a rare feature also found on the 35mm SLR Contax S introduced the same year as the Minute-16. For the especially interested collector the camera must be in its original box and with its huge flashlight in the style of a professional strobe with side bracket. The simple, but quite solidly made camera, is very common on its own.


  • Type: sub-miniature viewfinder camera
  • Manufacturer: Universal Camera Corp. of New York, NY.
  • Year of launch: 1949
  • Film/frame-size: 16mm film cassette/10×14mm
  • Shutter: Guillotine shutter with speed 1/50 sec.
  • Lens: meniscus lens
  • Aperture: f/6.3, f/11 and f/16 (some versions also include f/8)
  • Viewfinder: two-piece foldable sports finder
  • Film advance: lever
  • Flashlight