Soldiers don't die

"A man dies only when he is forgotten"

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mel's Movie & Film Cameras

Just two more amazing things I'm lucky to have... Recently found in my parents' house, these are the actual cameras Mel used in the Army.  They are both small, lightweight and built very tough, perfect for the rigors of Army field training. How he was able to get or afford Kodak color film so readily in 1941 is anyone's guess. And it was no secret that he had these cameras either, as the images he took show many of his friends having fun with him.

I feel honored to hold these witnesses to history in my hands.

This is the Argus C3, commonly known as "The Brick". It was manufactured from 1939 to 1966 and was quite popular during the war years. No way to tell exactly what year it's from, but if he had it when he was first drafted, it could date between 1939 and 1941. It looks like he modified the case with slots to insert a leather carrying strap.

It still is in remarkably good condition, considering it's over 75 years old.
The brown leather case is starting to flake off around the edges a bit.

This was about the toughest camera ever built for its time.
It was personalized with his name and serial number.

The back of the Argus Brick. I love the little cheat sheet he made with average shutter speed & aperture settings. This has actually helped me learn how to take good film pictures.

We assumed this case held an old pair of binoculars, but we were mistaken.

And now, here is the camera he apparently used to take his 8mm movies.
This is the smallest movie camera I have ever seen! It's just 5 inches tall, 3 inches wide and 2 inches thick.
I had no idea they made them this small in the 1940s.

The camera is a Bell & Howell Filmo "Double Run Eight."
Like many cameras of the time, it has a calculation dial to compute exposure based on light conditions.  No cameras had built-in light meters at this time,
and this was a quick and easy way to determine proper settings without a light meter.
The camera uses a wind-up mechanism, and it still works.

I had to open it up to see what was inside, and there was still a reel of film in it...Oops.
A quarter is shown for size comparison. 
If you wanted a different lens, they were threaded and
you could just screw another one in where you see the tiny black lens sticking out.

That has got to be the smallest pre-digital movie lens I have ever seen.

I looked up what the "double run" meant...apparently it used 16mm film reels which were split into two 8mm frames, side by side. After you were done filming one side, you'd turn the wheel over and film the other side. Then the film would be cut in half when it was developed so it could be played as 8mm, thus getting double the running time out of one reel of film. Interesting.

The Filmo Double Run Eight was a popular and inexpensive sport camera, so incredibly simple to use and small that it's very easy to imagine him taking it just about anywhere (and hiding it in his pocket when the officers came around) I imagine that he wasn't the only WWII soldier who carried one.