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introduction | Bolsey 8 Finetta (Made in Germany) | Bolsey 8 | Bolsey 8 Lady (sold in UK) | Bolsey Uniset | Bolsey CIN S 8  

The only commercially manufactured camera designed to be both a still and motion camera using subminiature film is the Bolsey 8 designed by Jacques Bogopolsky who had designed Bolex movie cameras and the Bolex Reflex which later became the Alpa Reflex. He emigrated from Switzerland to the USA in 1939, changed his name to Boolsky, and then Bolsey, and established the Bolsey Camera Corporation, New York, U.S.A.

In 1955 he produced a movie camera in Germany, named Bolsey 8 Finetta. The Bolsey 8 was introduced in 1956 and launched as the "world's smallest movie camera". In addition there is a Bolsey 8 Lady for the English market. These machines are rare, especially the movie cameras produced in Germany.

At 82x65x34mm (3 3/16 x 2 5/8 x 1 3/8 inches) and it weighting 400 grams (14 oz) it is smaller than many 16mm and 110 cameras.

The silver metal housing contains a special cartridge for 7.5 metres (25 feet) long 8mm film produced by Gevaert in Belgium. The clockwork motor could record about 2 minutes before the film had to be changed.

The camera is fitted with a Bolsey Elgeet Navitar f/1,8 10mm lens as standard. Click stops set the aperture to f1.8, 2.8, 4, 5.6 , 8, 11, 16 and 22 which at less than 0.2mm in diameter is a pinhole and virtually useless. The f1.8 setting is actually smaller than the full exit pupil diameter of the lens. It is a myth that stopping a lens down with a diaphragm increases the depth of field. This is only partially true as most non-symmetric lenses have a fall-off point where the opening becomes too small and optical effects take over which ruin both resolution and the contrast to a point where the photography is useless. Walter Zapp knew this full well and that is why the Minox has one stop at the maximum aperture f3.5 and no diaphragm giving the greatest resolution and best depth of field for the film. The dispersion effects become so bad at f8 and below for 16mm and smaller film that any camera with them is virtually by definition poorly configured. The Bolsey 8 is a sample of one of the worse cases which has a f1.9 lens that stops to f22. This f32 is actually a drill hole in an aluminium wheel is too small to act as a true aperture for 8mm film. The result is totally useless.

The instruction book states that the shutter is calculated on the exposure scale on the film cassette at 1/50 s and the motion picture speed was fixed at 16 frames per second. The shutter dial is marked for 1.50, 1/100, 1/200, 1/300, and 1/600s. The instructions state that the shutter speeds can be set higher than 1/50 for both motion and still picture-taking. This does not seem to be the case in practice.

The lens focuses from 1ft to infinity with markings of 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12 ft and the idiot indicators of PORTR as 3ft, GROUP at 6ft and LANDSCP INF. The shutter release is below the lens and is a dial to select M for movies, L for Lock and S for single frame.

The camera was never popular with the public but a number where purchased by federal government agencies. Neither stills or movie are more than average quality.

A simpler model was introduced in 1961, the Bolsey Uniset. It has one shutter speed of 1/50s, 16 fps. The Uniset is rarer than the Bolsey 8.

In 1963 the Bolsey CIN S 8 was introduced. This included a selenium meter and a Schneider Kreuznach Xenar f2.8, 10mm lens in a focusing mount. It is larger than the original model but even lighter due to an increase in the amount of plastic parts.


Go to the 16mm Collection index Last updated 2nd September 2005