mercoledì 24 febbraio 2016

Old glorious movie cameras: Bell & Howell 240 sixteen millimeters

The Bell and Howell 240 was a 16mm film camera with automatic exposure controle and a spring motor loadable with a metal crank. The control barrel on the electric eye must be preset for the right film speed on the camera before filming. The outer scale of the Electric Eye shows the film speed from 10 to 50 Asa, while the camera frame rates varies from 8 to 48 frames per second. It is possible to operate the camera without using the automatic iris control and setting the iris manually. For making single frame exposures it is strongly reccomended the use of a cable release and of a tripod, to minimize camera motion. The camera uses two Mallory PX2 cells to feed the iris control automatism. As soon as the batteries begin to lose their energy, there will be a very noticeable decrease in speed at wich the iris control works.
This camera is a sort of civilian development of a Gun Sight Aiming Point, it's very strong and can take good images in action scenes.
A camera like this has been used by Orson Wells and his micro-troupe in Spain in 1960.

The big selenium cell and the 20mm Super Comat f 1,9 lens with the telephoto attachment

The Orson Well's 16mm camera used in "The Land of Don Quixote", in 1962 was sold in an auction in 2014 for 37,500 USD.

The crank is positioned on the right side of the camera

"We shot with a crew of five: Welles, I, a sound engineer who also drove our Volkswagen truck, our camera operator and another one of the Spanish TV.  We did everything; I did the electrician and  the property master. Orson loved to shoot in a few and everyone did everything there was to do. At times we had four or five 16mm cameras, for example at the Seville Fair there were five 5 of us shooting, everyone was holding a camera in hand and if we saw something interesting we shot it.  Later on of course, he chose what he wanted." Alessandro Tasca di Cutò, executive producer of the documentary.

Orson Wells in Spain with the Bell & Howell 240 during the shooting of "Nella terra di Don Chisciotte" a tv series produced by the Rai, the Italian national broadcaster.

"How I decided to shoot Don Quixote? I had begun to make an half-hour television program, I had the money to do it right; but I fell so madly in love with my subject that I enlarged it gradually and I continued to shoot as I was earning money. I can say that the film has grown as I was working on it. It's a bit, you know, what it happened to Cervantes, who began writing a novel and ended up writing Don Quixote. It's a subject that we can no longer leave once it starts." O.W.

A psychedelic view of a glorious 16mm film camera

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