something to think about

December 1923 ad for a Bell and Howell electric 35mm movie camera

Toronto. We are all movie/video/TV fans at heart. But consider this – movies  preceded the minicams of the day (and the smartphones of today). We often think of great movies, but seldom of the equipment used to make them.

While we occasionally think of late Bell and Howell  company post war, the company was the most successful  movie camera maker in the pre Mitchell days of movies (one of our presidents – the late Bill Belier – was once a salesman for B&H).

Movie makers either switched to Bell & Howell’s 35mm standard or used inferior equipment; Bell & Howell led the way to transitioning from wood to metal for their cameras; and Bell & Howell shifted from hand powered cameras to electric to make the cameras steadier, and the frame rate more consistent allowing the cinematographer to concentrate on other issues.

We in the minicam stills era were often blessed by these Bell and Howell movie based innovations.

My thanks to that retired industrial stills and movies expert, my good friend George Dunbar for sourcing this article (and advertisement) and sharing it with us.


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