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Was the reflex shutter developed by Bell & Howell Co. ?

Simon Wyss

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Dom, that’s very interesting but not surprising at the same time.


Optically the ARRIFLEX shutter brings complications with it, namely because the sector edges stand away from the film, the further so the more one observes the right hand side (seen from behind film towards scene).


It had been clearly stated in advertisements by Paillard that their H camera is equipped with a “focal plane shutter” at about the same time when the ARRIFLEX appeared. As a matter of fact, the H-16/9/8 had an opening angle of 192 degrees in the beginning, 190 degrees of which are useable due to the distance from the aperture (and depending on the lens’s focal length). Shutter edges never form a sharply confined shadow on the aperture. The Paillard-Bolex H’s shutter has precisely 2.25" diameter, by the way (measured on serial number 10005).

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You mentioned the 'B' word...


The amount of misinformation on the H16 shutter on the net is amazing - funny thing is, some of it actually comes from the manufacturer itself.


After pulling apart and super-16'ing both a SB and an EL I took some measurements of the shutter and the prism light loss - I don't have the numbers in the country at the moment - but they are different enough to be note-worthy, perhaps not so much in exposure but more that the incorrectness isn't even 'linear' with the information provided in some spec sheets. Seems like marketing were perhaps after easy numbers ...

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

Learning every day, the above Filmo Eight Companion dates from around 1939. To make my point about the tweezers with the lens bayonet valid I have to show the first Bell & Howell camera bearing them, the 1935 Straight Eight Filmo:




So two years before the ARRIFLEX. US Patent 2,067,189 to Albert Summers Howell, issued January 12, 1937, protects this clip-on mount. Application for it was filed June 24, 1935.




Note that the rotationally locating stud (28) was moved from twelve o’clock to nine o’clock.

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  • 4 years later...

Not easy to nail it down. What’s obvious is that the mechanism of the variable shutter has been done away with. A new housing. An electric motor drives an above-the-optical-axis shutter, inclined by 45 degrees, via bevel gears as I presume. How many shutter blades is unknown. Also obvious the light from the taking lens alternately hits the film and is diverted downwards. A ground glass in a cavity of the front? A prism? Sight of that from the door side, most probably. No photo of the left side

The four-prongs wheel at the front right top might have received a hand knob or a wheel, it seems to have something to do with the reflex mirror orientation.

The taking lens is now higher, the turret locks differently rotation-wise.


Oscar Ross had applied for a US patent in 1927 (1,777,419 from 1930), the camera is the 2709 judged from the drawings. The subject was in the air regardless of opaque film stocks. Kodachrome was practically useless to the industry.

Agfa in Germany had begun to manufacture colour stocks with a green lacquer backing in 1936. That information needs confirmation.

Now you lay everything 90 degrees over, reduce from four lens ports to three, move the motor from the rear to the side, give up the shuttle gate in favour of a simple claw on the opposite side of the film, compress the body to a minimum and go back to 200-ft. mags on a sloping roof. Still a lot to find out

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  • Sustaining Member

Very interesting camera.

Apropos of nothing; I once owned an Art Reeves Reflex from 1944/45.  It was a beam-splitter/pellicule 35mm camera that was developed for filming on the B29 Super fortress bomber.  Reeves was unable to generate interest in the camera after WWII and only a few survived the scrap heap when the bombers were junked post-conflict.

Wish I had never sold that camera...

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