Minolta has not made cassettes for their 16mm cameras for a few years.  The good news is that someone has decided to try to fill the gap.  The bad news is that you could easily run into trouble if you unknowingly purchase these bogus cassettes.  

Cosmetically, these cassettes are a good imitation.  The original Minolta cassettes (that is, the cassettes that were authorized by Minolta , FR and Yashica) were made from injection-molded plastic.  These new imitations are apparently made from hand-pressed epoxy.  If you look close, you'll see small dimples or dumps in the imitation cassettes (air bubbles in the epoxy from not mixing thoroughly) that you won't see in an original.   These were made by hand casting an epoxy-type material into a cheap mold.  For example: take a real cassette body, coat it with a non-stick material,  and press it open-side down into a block of soft clay until it is flush with the top surface of the clay.  Remove it, and pour the epoxy material into the cavity in the clay, slightly overfilling the cavity. When it has set hard, remove it, and you will have a rough copy of the real cassette, including the Minolta name on the bridge.  But the excess material on the flat side will have to be trimmed off with a file to conform to the shape of the film chambers. This excess material is necessary to thicken and strengthen the bridge, because the epoxy material is brittle, and cannot be as thin as the original injection-molded part. This excess material also adds thickness to the part, so that when the caps are put on, it may be too thick to allow the camera cover to close.  It should be possible to make some of them fit, but since they are essentially hand made, who knows? This is a very labor intensive production operation that smells like China or some other third world country.  The proper injection molding operation would involve very expensive tool steel molds and injection molding machines -- not economically feasible for small quantities.

On several cameras designed to use the Minolta cassettes you might have trouble fitting the cassettes in the camera.  The tolerances in many Minolta models is very small and the tolerances of these imitation cassettes is not up to snuff. The ones we have seen are a silly millimeter too tall to fit into some models.  In short, some times they fit and sometimes they don't.  You take your chances by getting these cassettes.

But the problem with these cassettes does not end with getting the cassette to fit.  These cassettes are often filled with film that you may have trouble processing.  Many are filled with "Kodak" (we can't be sure) color negative or B&W negative film.  But the color film will probably be a color movie film that comes with a REMJET backing that can wreak havoc on your processing.  The instruction sheet says that if you have prints that are "overly blue and/or mottled" that "The Anti-halo backing was not fully removed."  But no where is in mentioned that it is movie film or requires special processing.  In fact, it suggests that special processing is not needed, since it is "Kodak, C-41, color print film".  This is a deceptive description of movie film.

With the B&W, it says you get Kodak 400 black and white negative film.  Sound like Tri-X, or TMax?  Well it isn't.  How do you (or your local processor) correctly develop a film when you don't know what it is?  

Then there is the question of perforations.  Some films we have seen are double perforated, some single.  If the film is double perforated and you use a Minolta MGS or QT, you will get an image cuff-off by the sprocket holes.  In short, buyer be ware!

The cassettes and film that we examined were from Olden (in New York) and Al Doyle (in Texas).  If you order cassettes, be aware that they may not fit your camera and you may have trouble in processing.  But be concerned about any outlet selling Minolta cassettes.

How do you know if you have a genuine Minolta cassette?  The originals came in sealed plastic boxes.  They are sealed with thin tape that says MINOLTA. But if the cassette lacks the box, carefully look for dimples or bumps on the cassette top and bottom.  Don't be fooled, even if the name MINOLTA is on the cassette bridge.  The fakes have that too.  And if you are desperate enough to try one of the fakes, make sure you know EXACTLY what kind of film it has.  Don't take "KODAK color print film" as an answer.  Get the exact Kodak number designation as well as the perforation type.  "Single perf Kodak 7245" lets you know that it is a movie film with a REMJET backing.  

COPYRIGHT @ 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Joe McGloin. All Rights Reserved.