Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

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Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by mediaed » Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:47 am

Great to hear from you Richard.

According to the records and the serial number chart I have published on this webpage, ( top tab "serial numbers" on the main page -
# 26 is a Standard from 1923. As explained in the charts, GC's and Standards-based on serial numbers-were considered the same cameras by Mitchell. But, Government Cameras or GC's were not prevelant until the 1930's when the military required high speed research cameras and contracted with Mitchell which gave new life to the company then owned by William Fox of Fox pictures. Those contracts resulted in essentually freezing specs for the standard/GC product line development to minor changes for the next 40+ years. The product line essentially became military and research cameras from that point on and the more silent NC's were the new default "hollywood" motion picture camera. has access to those handwritten records which we believe were shipping notes. For #26, the writing is garbled but our best bet it was purchased by Terrell Mackey who was associated with the Laskey studios.

As part of our efforts to preserve and celebrate the legacy of Mitchell and these iconic cameras, please visit our camera registration page and participate in our drive to document the survivors still in the world. The goal is to provide further information to current owners and be the definitive reference for these cameras. Currently we are working with ASC and museums around the world to add to the listings.

Thanks for joining. Feel free to contact me.

Ed Johnson, director.

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by Richard700 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:23 pm

I realize that this is an old thread, but I just found it -

There was a handwritten list that I saw back in the early 1990's that listed all the Mitchell cameras by serial numbers, and the names of who bought them. I foolishly did not ask to make a copy of it.

I own a couple of Mitchell GC's and a S35R (maybe the last one made - it has no serial number on the tag!)
My older GC is #26 (which was listed as made in 1921) - I could not make out the handwriting of the purchaser's name. One of the ones just before it was sold to Pickford Studios.
I also one a Mitchell VistaVision head (for their "elephant ears" camera) - Serial#002

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by mediaed » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:27 pm

Mark is on the money but I can add some more information. This is a 400' sound blimp for a Mitchell 16Pro camera. The cameras were introduced in 1947. Probably the blimp would have been very shortly thereafter if not part of the initial packages. These cameras were phased out by the early 70's in favor of a more modern design loosely based on Arriflex cameras that were starting to take over the professional market.
There was another version of the blimp later (probably mid-50's) that allowed for use of the 1200' magazines which understandably was quite bulbous. This one pictured has the rare square filter holder which is a definate plus. Because these cameras used double perf 16 film with dual registration pins and could film up to 120fps, they were mostly research cameras. The blimps were not as numerous as they were only required for productions doing sound work.
If you want to see how this works with a 16Pro camera, click.on the "member's articles" tab on the front page and select the first article which has my stop motion videos of the major Blimped cameras is the 1950's to 1960's' My 16Pro with blimp is the 5th video.
The camera is #333 from 1961 the blimp is #134 from the mid 1950's so whatever your serial number is, that will give you some idea of approximate age.

Feel free to contact if you have any more questions. ED.

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by marop » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:14 pm


This is a “Blimp” for a 16mm Mitchel movie camera. In case you don’t know what a blimp is, it’s a sound reducing camera housing for use during sound recording so the sound of the camera running is not recorded. I’m not aware of any particular models of these and there probably was only one, with maybe some changes over the years. This is likely from the 60’s-70’s, but I am not sure when they started making them nor when they stopped.

I hope this helps,


Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by Guest » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:30 am

Does anyone know what year and model?

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by AMAZINGKIMI » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:43 pm

Hi ED,
They have a very unique Vistavison mount,
I need to focus to be able to use their custom, I intend to change them without loss of mount, used in the Leica M240,is all ok.

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by mediaed » Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:24 pm

Great to see these lenses have survived! Could you show the mount these use with the measurement? Must be somewhat unique size to accommodate the format which I'm sure most of us have never seen. Thanks. ED.

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by AMAZINGKIMI » Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:22 am

..this is probably a lot more information than asked for, but just in case I have included quite a bit for those that may appreciate it.

Camera Reports; I have not worked in the industry so my information my be lacking, but this is what I have learned: A camera report is for an individual camera for each day it was used on a production. Basically it documents the production info, scene numbers filmed, amount of footage exposed, and other information (see photo). These records were kept by the studio for various amounts of time. Most have since been dumped, some are in a few film related libraries. They are the single best piece of evidence that one can have to show the history of a camera. In the case of the camera report in the photo, it is for the movie "Among the Dead", which was the working title for Vertigo, 1958, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

This particular camera report documents the information for MVV-7, how they typically referred to the Mitchell VistaVision camera, which is an abbreviation of the type of camera and serial number. The beauty of this particular report is it shows Hitchcock as the director (as opposed to a second unit director). For those that don't know what I am referring to; a "First Unit" is the crew that films scenes involving principal actors. A "Second Unit", which usually has it's own director, is for all other scenes. For instance, a first unit would film a close up of an actor skiing, where you actually see their face. A second unit would film a wide shot of a double skiing down a hill, where you can't see details of the face. Generally speaking in the past (before Panavision took over supplying the cameras for most studios) the first unit would use the same camera through-out the production. For a collector it is generally more desirable to obtain the camera that filmed the actors & primary director, if one has a choice that is. But again, it is fairly unique to identify specific productions, at least with proof.

A very special bonus came with this particular camera report, I believe it is called the "script notes" . I have only seen this with this particular production. This is very fortunate as it documents the specific scene the camera filmed! Otherwise you just don't know what the camera did, specifically, which makes this a real plus. The script notes are matched by the date and actually was paper clipped or stapled to the camera report. What I did not realize at first is that the notes document ALL scenes filmed that day by ALL cameras. I eventually realized that you can match it up by Scene number/Slate number, referred to differently in each document. In the camera report they call it a Scene number and in the script notes it is referred to as the Slates number.

In this case, camera MVV-7 filmed scene 138X. In the script notes you can see that in scene 138X they used a 35mm lens, it was an exterior shot at Lincoln Park Art Gallery. It further shows that it was a low shot where "Scottie" (Jimmy Stewart) enters the scene from camera Left and walks into the gallery. You can match this up to the movie and know exactly which camera filmed it! This particular camera was one of several location cameras used in San Francisco, Big Basin and San Juan Batista. It was used with the direction Hitchcock himself as well as the second unit director.

I maintain a list of all cameras I run across through the various records searches and photograph searches I do. This is the information I have, on occasion, shared with a couple museums and several collectors. There is no single source for all this info and the library or institution that holds the information may not know specially what they have. As example, the Museum of Moving Image in New York, has a Mitchell VistaVision. If I recall correctly it is MVV-4. I was able to tell them it was used by Cecil B. Demille on location in Egypt filming The Ten Commandments. It was one of four location cameras used on location.

So if you have a Mitchell VistaVision I may have some info on it. I also have some info for some BNCs as well as Technicolor and Technirama. Yes it is spotty but one never knows unless one checks. I have been lucky with Paramount records. I checked by found nothing on BNCR 198 (posting above). That is a great camera and to have all those lenses with it!

I have met a lot of great and interesting people in this hobby, a security guard, a Director of Photography, a person in the special effects industry that worked on the Star Wars (1977), as well as one of the biggest collectors in the field, Martin Hill.

So if anyone finds photos with camera numbers in them, Post Them! Please! Although I may already have it, but I still do find new ones. If you have any questions or want some research guidance, ask me!

FullSizeRender 50.jpg

Thank you Mark,
this is my happiest thing today,
I found a big secret, my collection of MVV-7 is actually used by Hitchcock director,
and I would like to know more information about them,
thank you very much .
My Email:

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by marop » Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:16 am

So is Ed "Mediaed" still on the board? I just PM him about his BNCR104. My question is, is he certain this is a Mitchell Conversion, rather than one of the cameras they made as a BNCR? I know they made just over 130 cameras as reflexed and that they converted some of their BNCs to reflex. I'm not certain how to tell the difference. I also know other companies converted BNCs to reflex. Anyone have any info on conversions? I know that there are Pelicle conversions (a silvered piece of glass that reflexes some of the light to the viewfinder) which causes a slight loss of light. There is also the spinning mirror and I believe another type?

I actually am asking this about Ed's camera as I ran across a photo of BNC 104 and wanted to share the info, if it really is his camera...although I don't have the photo! But I do have some info about the photo, and with some work he may figure it out!

It's always fun to find a match to a camera & collector.


Re: Technicolor Tripod

by mediaed » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:54 am

Looked up tripod sizes and found this in my copy of "Professional Cameraman's Handbook" from 1981.