Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

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Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by Guest » Sun May 31, 2015 3:08 pm


Thanks for the great photos! Very interesting looking camera. Is the body original or remanufactured and unpainted? The auto fade/dissolve mechanism looks similar to the one on my Mitchell Standard.

Are you planning on shooting with it? On an unrelated topic, do you happen to know anyone who has Mitchell VistaVision movement parts for sale? I am trying to restored one that got corroded.


Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by Stein8perf » Fri May 22, 2015 8:28 pm

Hi Mark,

My Stein is serial number 2. It still has the original Stein Camera Co. tag on it although not shown in the pictures... I do have the tag. The camera came from Les Day about 20+ years ago. Not 100% sure of it's background but it may have some connection to Jim Danforth. The movement has been converted to three pin reg and I believe this may be the only camera that was. Who ever did it really did a nice job on it.

I've done a partial conversion on it myself, it shoots film but is not yet completely reflexed. Les passed away before we got that far with it. Crystal drive motor is in the camera base and it makes for a neat little package. I was fortunate enough to be able to buy the original plans drawn up by Mike Bolles at ILM when they were converting these cameras. Several of the cameras are from Fries Engineering, so they may have been involved with Jim Danforth on converting one... possibly this one. by the way... ILM called their conversion the Vistacam. There are about 80 sheets of drawings in all.

Pictures here:

Stein Machine Company still exists to this day. The Great Grandson still has one Color Camera and one Grandeur camera that are all original. Yes... they built the Grandeur stuff for William Fox too.

Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by marop » Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:28 am

Hello Stein8perf,

I tried to send a PM but I don't think they are going thru. Here is what I was asking;


I see you own a Stein? I am aware of the Stein camera. Is it original or Was it converted to Vistavison? Do you have any history on your camera? Are you willing to share any photos? Are ther any serial numbers on the camera or other markings? I know studios will sometimes re-Mark the cameras with a new number if they change them. I know Martin Hill as well and was able to visit and see all his collection while he still had it.


Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by Stein8perf » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:07 am

In the post above I meant to say Martin's collection is now gone.


Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by Stein8perf » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:06 am

Some of those cameras that were auctioned off once belonged to Martin Hill. The VistaVision camera was his and I have detailed photos of it that I will share in the near future. I almost bought it from him in 1995 for 25K but I settled on a Stein that had three reg pins instead...

For those that got to visit and see Martin's collection over the years there was none other like it. Not even the ASC collection compares to what he once had. Martin was the only person outside of Hollywood to have any Panavision equipment. I fortunately, have some of that in my collection here. The collection is now gone.


Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by Guest » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:15 am

these cameras drive me crazy i want one so bad.

at least they are being preserved and going to a good home, wish it was my home!

Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by mitchellbnc » Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:55 pm

Mitchell BNC #232 sold on 5/17/2014 for $25,000. Final bid confirmed at the Profile in History web site, price realized details page.

Theodore Wilhelm administrator

Re: Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by mitchellbnc » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:36 am

More about the 1929 Mitchell Standard referenced above which sold at the Debbioor Reynolds auction:

804. Historic Mitchell NC Standard #257 35mm Camera used to shoot Dracula, Frankenstein, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and effects for Star Trek: The Original Series. (ca. 1920s-1930s) This historic Mitchell NC Standard #257 camera has an incredible lineage. According to the Mitchell Camera Corporation records, camera #257 was originally purchased by Universal Studios in 1929. #257 was used to film All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and for special photographic effects for the re-release of 1925’s Phantom of the Opera.

The camera remained in service at Universal until 1939 when Technicolor purchased the camera and rented it to the Disney Studio from 1939-1945 to photograph their three strip Technicolor animated films and cartoons. A special process was developed, by the revolutionary Disney partner Ub Iwerks and Technicolor, whereby the Mitchell camera would do three black and white frames of the animation cell with the proper Technicolor devised filtration that created the yellow, cyan, magenta master images that could be combined with a special printer into the brilliant Technicolor we all know. This allowed Technicolor to free up the very expensive and quite heavy Technicolor cameras for live action productions.

Thus, some of Disney’s greatest works passed through this camera, including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and Dumbo, until Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks built their own camera system. At that time, Technicolor loaned #257 to RKO Pictures Optical Effects Department for special photographic effects projects. It was there when multiple Academy Award-winning visual effects pioneer, Linwood Dunn, ASC, became familiar with what he considered one of the finest Mitchell cameras
ever built. When Dunn left RKO in 1961 to start his own company, Film Effects of Hollywood, he rented Mitchell #257 and shot effects shots on West Side Story, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and virtually any prestige production needing special optical effects, including Star Trek: The Original Series (Dunn was in charge of the visual effects for the first two seasons, including shooting the famous 11-foot model of the U.S.S. Enterprise as seen in every opening credit). When Dunn received the Star Trek contract from Desilu, he purchased the camera that became one of his prized possessions.

Included with Mitchell #257 are (2) fixed-focal length lenses, a Paris-made 38 – 150mm zoom lens (T:5.6 – 32) with Mitchell BNC mount, Mitchell side viewfinder with aspect ratio slides, (2) 1,000-ft. film magazines, variable speed motor, hand-crank, early stop-motion package, rare set of Technicolor filters. Includes an unprecedented collection of accessories, maintenance tools and parts assembled by Linwood Dunn throughout his storied career as a visual effects pioneer. Includes a Mitchell friction head and wooden tripod legs, in addition a rare camera dolly with Mitchell plate.
An incredible piece of motion picture equipment responsible for creating drama, horror and animated classics, as well as leaving an indelible mark in science fiction history. Includes (9) component-carrying cases ranging from 9.5 x 11 x 9 in. to 13 x 23 x7.25 in. Special shipping arrangements will apply. Camera comes with a letter of provenance from Roy H. Wagner, ASC. $40,000 - $60,000
Mitchell Standard no. 257
Originally purchased by Universal Studios in 1929

Mitchell Cameras Sold at Hollywood Auction!

by marop » Fri May 23, 2014 11:06 am

Did everyone see the auction results at the recent memorabilia auction held by Profiles in History? It was the last group of stuff from Debbie Reynolds' collection. Sold were a Mitchell Standard made in 1929 and used by Universal, as well as a Mitchell BNC, 65mm and a VistaVision. They even sold just the shell of a BNC, a display camera, and got $1,000!

Some of the prices were the highest I have seen for those type of cameras. They had hsitory on what the cameras filmed, which I believe was key to obtaining their high prices. For example the BNCR (the camera was originally made as a BNC and later reflexed) did not even sell in an earlier auction for it's starting price of $5,000. At that time there was no history. This time they had history and it sold for $25,000! A vistaVision sold for $130,000!!! A Mitchell Standard, which filmed some famous early Universal Monster movies, sold for $85,000.

So this is both good and bad for the hobby. Bad if you don't have any cameras (but want one) and good if you already do! Fortunately the cameras I have bought came with little or no history. However I was able to find some history after acquiring them.