The Croma Color 16 and Mykro Fine Color 16 are subminiature cameras made by an unidentified Japanese company.
The two cameras have an almost identical body, made of bakelite. Their look and feel was inspired by the Pixie by Whittaker. The viewfinder is enclosed in a bright top cover, patterned after that of Hit-type cameras, extending to the right as seen by the photographer. The advance knob is at the left end of the top plate. The rear half of the body is removable for film loading, and is locked by a sliding latch on both sides. There is an oval casing at the front of the body, containing the everset shutter and used as a barrel for the fixed-focus lens. The release lever is on the right side of that casing. The aperture is set by a lever on the side of the lens, certainly by way of Waterhouse stops.
Mykro Fine Color 16
The Mykro Fine Color 16 takes specific film cassettes, said to contain 16mm film. The back has no red window, and has a spring to maintain the cassette in a proper position. To control the film advance, numbers from 1 to 14 are engraved in red on the advance knob. The user has to turn the knob until the correct number faces an index on the camera body. This is entirely controlled by hand, and there is no auto-stop mechanism.
The Mykro Fine Color 16 has been observed in black only. It is identified by the name MYKRO FINE Color 16 engraved on the top cover, above the viewfinder. Another nameplate is visible on one side of the lens, reading MYKRO–FINE "COLOR" f6.3 MYKRO LENS. Three aperture settings are available: BRIGHT, DULL and COLOR. The ever-ready case is brown and has the name MYKRO–FINE Color 16 embossed at the front.
The camera was distributed by an unspecified US company. The specific film cassettes sold for the camera were to be processed by Mykro-Fine Lab., Box 75, Kensington, Brooklyn 18, N.Y., as appears on the original box, and on a sticker on the cassette itself. The name "Mykro-Fine" also appears on a different Hit-type camera, whose shutter plate sports the mention "E.J. Southern, Distrs. 175 5th Av. N.Y." This might be the distributor of the Mykro Fine Color 16 as well.
Croma Color 16
The Croma Color 16 takes paper-backed rollfilm. The exposure format is reported as 12×14mm. Various sources seem to imply that the film stock is 16mm wide — it would differ from the 17.5mm film used on Hit-type cameras. Reversal colour film was available for the camera, perhaps indicating that the distributor used strips of cine film spooled with paper backing. Compared with the Mykro Fine, the Croma has a round window in the middle of the back, and spool holders added inside. The film advance is different, and does not have the set of numbers. The lens only has two aperture settings: f/8 and f/11. On some examples, the release lever is slightly different, with a round tip.
The Croma Color 16 is known in black, brown, red and green colour. Two-tone cameras are reported in red and green, perhaps because they have mismatched front and rear body parts. The name CROMA color 16 is engraved above the viewfinder. The word JAPAN is moulded in relief at the bottom of the back. The brown ever-ready case is embossed CROMA color 16 at the front.
The camera was certainly distributed by the company Croma Inc., whose name appears on the Cromascope projector (see below).
The Cromascope is a combined projector and slide viewer, made of bakelite, sold specifically for the camera. It can contain a roll of processed film, which is advanced or rewound by two knobs. It has an eyepiece on the rear and a piece of frost glass at the front, for use as a viewer in natural light. It also contains a light bulb, a condenser and a lens for use as a projector. The bulb is powered by two batteries and switched by a sliding button. There are two plug holes on the rear, perhaps for an AC adaptor.
The name CROMASCOPE VIEWER–PROJECTOR appears on both sides of the device. The brand CROMA is repeated above the front window, and there is a nameplate under the lens, reading CROMA INC. COLUMBUS, OHIO U.S.A.
The camera and projector were sometimes sold as a set, contained in a presentation case whose lid can be used as a projection screen. It also includes an ever-ready case for the camera, six rolls of colour film and batteries for the projector.
- McKeown, p.706. One such cassette is pictured in this page at Submin.com.
- Pictures in this page at Submin.com.
- Example pictured in McKeown, p.706.
- Pritchard, p.92.
- Pritchard, p.92, says that the camera takes "16mm movie film", and the camera is classified among 16mm cameras in this page at Submin.com.
- Pictures in this page at Submin.com show the two cameras side by side.
- Examples of each are pictured in this page at Submin.com. The same list of colours is given in McKeown, p.230.
- Report in Pritchard, p.92: "usually red or green or a combination of these two colours", and past auction by Christies for a lot of two Croma Color 16 cameras "in black, red and green".
- McKeown, p.230, and pictures in this page at Submin.com.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). Pp.230 and 706.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. Pp.71 and 92.