Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

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Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by mediaed » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:01 am


You have an odd mashup of parts. The wood sticks are pre 1930. The head is post 1946. The 20th Century Fox knobs on the tripod are add-ons most probably from some other piece of equipment as Zanuck did not take over Fox until 1935 and branded parts were probably a few years away from that.

The question is "Why" would you mount a light on a camera tripod as that was never done. Depending on the light, it would be more period correct and more manageable on a Mole Richardson rolling stand.

I know of at least one person who would really want the sticks for his 1928 Mitchell and may have a trade available. He might even spring for the whole thing though the head is not period.


Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by Chefjason » Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:16 pm


First I want to thank you in advance for your time and any information that you can provide. So I found this tripod and I'm doing minimal cleaning but this was ten times worse than you see it in the pictures doing good bug larvae and other things but I did not want to touch the patina on the wood or the bulk of the camera tripod. I will be mounting a New York City Theater spotlight on the camera mounting plate using the screws that mount it to the housing so will not be modifying any part of it. I was just wondering given the to Scheels the one on the camera mount the one on the tripod base and then those numbers that are on the ring that goes underneath the tripod if there's any information that can be found where this tripod may have been used. My email is again I thank you for your time and any information that you provide that would help me to understand the provenance of this item.

Kind Regards,
Camera tripod Mitchell

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by mediaed » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:38 am


Fun thing about the fact the Newall being so nicely fitted to the Mitchell.

The Newall camera is the result of Mitchell refusing the Pound as payment. When it was found that Mitchell has not filled for copyright fot the NC camera in England, the Rank organization decided to make their own version.
The story was that the design was licensed.
Interestingly enough, a friend in England sent me a batch of 2 1/4" camera negatives that were being thrown out from the successor company which feature Mitchell blueprints for complete camera assemblies going back at least to 1925 as well as larger ones for the Newall. I am in the process of digitizing and cataloging them.

A few outright changes were probably necessitated in production so as to not be instantly identified. But it is said that the Newall toolworks took a few months to duplicate the precision of the Mitchell manufacturing.

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by marop » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:06 am

Hey Guy Bagdall,

Cool camera and yours has seen a lot of history through its life. You are right that the US military is the single largest purchaser of Mitchell Cameras. However, in glancing over the list of sales they didn’t really start buying Mitchell’s until 1934. Although coincidentally they bought #124, the camera just before yours. The military generally purchased Mitchell’s with high speed movements which were called GC, for Government Camera. Your “L” base (which holds the turret) was sold in 1948. I see your “movement” (I think that is what you are referring to as the lacing mechanism) has metal gears. When sound films came along they changed one of those to a phenolic gear (a synthetic material) with a metal core. This was to make the camera more suited for sound filming by quieting it down some. They did not want metal to metal gears.


Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

by guy bagnall » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:58 am

Hi Ed - I have a Mitchell Standard #125, bought Oct 4th 1928. It ended up in England as a stop-motion camera but still has certain parts that are missing on other similar-age cameras.

It was bought by the Cinematographer Norbert Brodine, who was working at RKO and Paramount from that time and, possibly using that camera, shot films for William Wyler, Raoul Walsh, Frank Borzage, Lloyd Bacon, Gregory La Cava, WS Van Dyke and Roy Del Ruth, as well as a Buster Keaton picture, The Paranoid Plumber (1932).

It has a Newall 400' mag, which 'were both heavier and quieter than the American models, more suited to film sets than newsreel or military uses, they use an elegant quick release mechanism on the mag door, rather than the Mitchell screw action which sometimes needed a hammer to get it off.'

The lacing mechanism has the matching 125 number and the turret bears the number 751. I noticed the Mitchell badge is the plain brass one, although slightly later cameras of the same year had the black and silver version.

I have been told most Mitchell Standards were bought by the government and relatively few were found in the studios, let alone bought by an eminent and highly-regarded Cinematographer. I had this camera in the cupboard for years, given to me by an animator friend, and I am slightly ashamed to have only found out anything about in the last day or so! I had to clear out the cupboard and aim to sell stuff to reclaim the space, but this feels like finding a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow in the garage!


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?