introduction | Zuiho Nice | Steky Made in Tokyo - nickel | Steky Made in Tokyo Japan - nickel | Steky "Japan" | Steky "Made in Japan" | Steky "Made in Occupied Japan" | Steky Gold Deluxe | Steky II "Made in Occupied Japan" | Steky III "Made in Occupied Japan" | Steky III "Japan" | Hanken | Steky IIIA | IIIA motor drive | Steky IIIB | Steky IIIB <EP> | Golden Steky | Golden Ricoh 16 | Ricoh 16 | Ricoh 16 black
The first Steky camera was the Zuiho Nice manufactured by Zuiho Optical in 1946. It is the prototype to the Asahi Musen Company Steky of 1947. The Riken Optical Company took over the production of the Steky camera from Asahi Musen Company in 1950.
Some sources report that the lens mount is the same as standard D mount movie camera lens. The D mount is for 8mm movie cameras, is 5/8 inches (15.875mm) in diameter with a pitch of 1/32nd of an inch (0.03125 inch, 0.79375mm). Although close to the diameter of the Steky mount, 16mm, it is unlikely that an inexpensive Japanese camera would adopt the standard for expensive movie lenses that no one could possibly afford. 8mm movie cameras have the film closer to the lens than 8mm cameras (see Bolsey 8mm and Echo 8) and so an 8mm movie lens is unlikely to focus correctly on the film in a Steky.
The 'Nice' was manufactured by Zuiho Optical in 1946 it is the prototype of the Steky, uses the same cassettes as the Steky. Fitted with an interchangeable 25mm f3.6-11 lens with shutter speeds of B and 1/100. It is possibly the first Japanese camera to use 16mm film; which was not available in Japan at that time.
The Nice has the viewfinder on the same side as the film advance and film counter. The shutter release button is next to the viewfinder and had to be primed by the lever on the left hand side of the camera. The film speed is selected by a dial marked B and 100 on the body of the camera.
A rare camera. One sold at Christie December 1991 for 1600USD.
Steky for 16mm film
Asahi Musen Company manufactured the Steky in 1947.
The Steky I is engraved "STEKY CAMERA FOR 16mm FILM". the original camera is finished in nickel, later ones are a brushed aluminium. The earliest versions are engraved "MADE IN TOKYO", then "MADE IN TOKYO JAPAN". The chrome plated versions is engraved "Steky Camera for 16mm film" and "JAPAN" and later "Made in Occupied Japan" is stamped into the leather on the base of the camera.
The Steky was supplied with an interchangeable three element fixed focus Stekinar Anastigmat f3.5 25mm lens, fully variable stopped down to f11. Shutter speeds for B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100. Both telephoto, with viewfinder correction, and wide angle lens where manufactured.
The 16mm film is for 24 exposures of 10x14mm and loaded into a pair of identical cassettes. The film is wound on the take up spool travelling around a large and a small pulley which results in the take up cartridge having the film slot pointing up and rotated 180 degrees to the feed cassette. A small lever moves the back plate away to make loading the film easier. All Steky's were designed to use double perforated film, but single perforations with the perforations down inside the camera will work equally well. Un-perforated film is a problem. The camera does not use the perforations to advance the film, but it needs them for the film counter and film frame alignment.
The camera is 138g and 158g with film. 66 x 40 x 42 mm (HxWxD). The optical viewfinder is mounted on the top left hand side above the disc that stores a filter or the lens cap. This disc has a slot on the nickel plated cameras and is solid on the chrome plated ones. The other side of the camera has the film winder, counter dial and a lock button
Model II, was made by Riken Optical Company and manufactured in 1950. It differs from Model I only in having the f3.5/25mm lens stop down to f16, rather than f11 and having some minor cosmetic changes. The sliding shutter speed adjustment is more semi-circular than a crescent moon. The leather is stamped "Made in Occupied Japan" on the base and engraved "Model II Use 16mm film" on the side. Same 138g,
This version introduced several accessories including the 40mm (f5.6-f16) STEKY - TELE coated lens focus scale down to 3.5 feet, a 40mm (f3.2-f16) STEKATON TELE focusing from 3 feet and with clip on viewfinder masks, a 17mm wide angle slip on converter with clip on finder, filters (UV, red, green and 80A), lens hoods, cases, pocket tripod and flash gun (and special fitting to fire when the shutter release was moved).
A very capable system and explains why the cameras continued to be used half a century later.
In 1952 a special black version of the Model II was made for the Japanese police. It is marked "Hanken" and has a modified shutter release and enclosed film counter, transport system. A right angle finder was also made for this model. These are now rare and have reached 2700USD at the Christie auction of December 1991.
Some time between 1950 and 1952 the Steky III appeared. It is stamped "Model III Use 16mm film" with earlier serial numbers having "Made in Occupied Japan" stamped in the leather on the base and later serial numbers "JAPAN".
The Model IIIA was introduced in 1954 and for the first time offered a standard PC type synch connection. The camera is stamped "Model IIIA Use 16mm film" on the side. The leather is not stamped.
The Steky IIIB was launched in 1955. Noted by the longer shutter release lever, the cold shoe on the side in place of the disc to hold the filter or lens cap and the shutter speed selection is an inverted crescent moon above the the Steky logo with the numbers below that. The markings are 1/100, 1/50, 1/25 and B.
Below the cold shoe is stamped "Model IIIB Use 16mm film". The camera is still 136g with out film.
There are also <EP> versions, stamped under the cold shoe, for Exchange Post (US Armed Forces shop).
Steky IIIA motor drive (prototype)
A Model IIIA fitted with a spring wound motor drive.
In a change of design Steky introduced the Golden Steky in 1957. Within one year they changed the name to Golden Ricoh 16. The vertical camera style was abandoned and the camera resembles a miniature standard 35mm camera of the period. Slightly larger and heavier than the original Steky at 176g 75 x 43 x 28 mm (45mm with lens) (w x h x d) it included a number of new features.
Real gold plating is used, its electroplated body is covered with black leather and all exposed metal has a brushed finish. Even the standard fixed focus f3.5 25mm lens is gold plated. Aperture of f3.5 to f16 and shutter speeds of B, 1/50 to 1/200 s with focus fixed at 12 feet. The film advance is by flicking a large lever. The view finder has a white line frame.
Gold plated 40mm telephoto lenses with f4.5 and f5.6 where sold as well as a gold plated tripod and at least a gold plated yellow filter. The telephoto lens focus from 1m (3.5 feet) to infinity.
The shutter release is threaded for a cable release and it has a standard flash socket.
The camera uses a pair of metal cassettes clipped together with a metal bridge. The cassettes are larger than the original Steky cassettes and incompatible with them and for this reason are usually called the Ricoh cassette. Access to the film chamber was by a release button and the back and base can then be removed.
The camera was supplied with an ever ready case, secured to the camera by a 1/4" thumb screw. Next to the tripod socket is a rectangular frame to attach a wrist strap.
Golden Ricoh 16
Within one year of the launch of the Golden Steky they changed the name to Golden Ricoh 16. The screw to the every ready case now has a tripod socket so the camera does not have to be removed from the case in order to fix to a tripod.
At the beginning of the 1960s the Ricoh 16 was sold; a chrome version of the Golden Ricoh 16. The lens is interchangeable with earlier models. Fitted with a variable focus f2.8 25mm lens, focusing down to 3 feet the lens is physically larger than that of the earlier model with the lens more recessed. Shutter speeds of B 1/50 to 1/200 s and aperture f3.8 to f16.
There is also a rare all black version.
Lenses - Stekaton
Standard fix focus Lens
Lens opening -- Distance in feet
40mm (f5.6-f16) STEKY - TELE coated lens focus scale down to 3.5 feet, with clip on lens cap
40mm (f3.2-f16) STEKATON TELE focusing down to 3 feet
40mm (f3.2-f16) STEKATON TELE No. 1201 focusing down to 3 feet in black and chrome and screw in lens cap
STEKATON wide angle converter with slip on extra viewfinder.
The leather cases for the telephoto lenses have slot to slip a strap through so can be fixed to the strap of the camera.
A personal note by Al Doyle, January 2005
"Of the cameras on your list I've always wondered if the loading process kept the Steky from being more popular than it is. A wonderful camera, fine optics, and far more versatile than it is given credit for.
I had to walk ten miles round trip on a sunny Saturday afternoon down to 151 W. 28th Street to buy mine from Wilmot Sales, because I couldn't afford the $21.95 plus the ten cents carfare (1953). When the man behind the counter told me there would be sales tax, I was so crestfallen he sold it to me with case and yellow filter without the tax. I cherished the camera more than you can imagine. The Model III was the first of the Stekys to have f/16, which I thought at the time made it a super lens. (I rarely used anything smaller than f/8.)
It was another two weeks, and another long walk before I had saved up two dollars for two rolls of Ansco color. It would have cost more with processing, but I had an Ansco color processing kit I'd bought from Willoughby's. And I produced rolls and rolls of color slides.
One of the things I discovered about the Steky was that you didn't have to make the exposures on the indicated stop, with the normal frame spacing. If you count the clicks carefully, you can make seamless panoramas. So I'd stand in an intersection when the traffic stopped for a light, and photograph all four corners. Not a particularly smart thing to do considering NYC traffic. But then I was a kid. I still have the camera, brassed like hell on one corner, covering fraying. But the shutter still works. And every now and then I'll take it out and do a panorama on the beach.!"
Repairing a Steky camera http://www.subclub.org/creative/fixsteky.htm
Last updated 7th June 2005