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The History of the Mitchell


Dave Bourbois
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Hello I had a few questions about the venerable tank known as the Mitchell.

 

There was the Mitchell Standard developed in the silent era, then the Mitchell NC a little later.

 

What sort of lenses did these cameras use?

 

With the advent of sound the Mitchell BNC was introduced, a camera that utilized a rack over focussing system, much like the NC, only this time it came blimped.

 

This is where I get a little confused with the lens mounts. Lenses are said to have a BNC mount.

 

Now, later on there was a demand for direct reflex viewing so companies like Cinema Products and Panavsion developed versions of the BNCR.

 

When I see used Mitchell cameras I'll often see them advertised as a BNCR when in fact Mitchell didn't develop theirs until the late sixties, The Mitchell BNCR had a different mount, right? I think it was called an R-35 mount.

 

The Cinema Products BNCR that had a Prisim behind the lens reflex viewing system instead of a spinning mirror, what mount did those use? BNC? R-35? I've seen some lenses advertised as BNC or BNCR? Are they the same?

 

After the BNCR Mitchell developed other cameras that near ass I can tell were never inteded for sync sound, but I imagine that some of them were.

 

Cameras like the MKII, the SR35, CG and the 35R3. What's the deal with these? Were they ever used to shoot features, I heard of someone using a MKII with a blimp, but I tried asking around for a blimp a few years ago and came up with zip.

 

Then there are the numerous Cinema Products conversions like the CP-XR-35 and the CP-BNCR with the pellicle conversion.

 

Anyone have any clarifications on the type of mounts used, or have other models or variations they wanted to add to the list such as the PSR or the Newall?

 

-Dave

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Hello I had a few questions about the venerable tank known as the Mitchell. 

 

Cameras like the MKII, the SR35, CG and the 35R3. What's the deal with these? Were they ever used to shoot features, I heard of someone using a MKII with a blimp, but I tried asking around for a blimp a few years ago and came up with zip.

 

 

 

-Dave

 

 

The MKII and S35R have been used in Blimps. They are now usually used for stop frame animation, Time lapse or as VFX cameras as they are rock steady at 120 fps. Many are found on motion control rigs with BNCR or Panavision lens mounts. The GC (Goverment Camera) is the High Speed version of the Standard camera. Many of these cameras have been converted by Fries Engineering www.frieseng.com to R35's with a beam splitter or 35R3's with spinning mirror. The R35's can have virtually any mount (Nikon, Cannon, Leica , BNCR, Panavision) Accadamy or S35 Centered, but not PL. The 35R3 accepts PL lenses but has the focal plane shutter removed. (it cant be used for animation.) These cameras have been the camera of choice for VFX and motion control for the last 25 years before the Arri 435 came along. Many Visual effects films such as Star Wars , 5th Element, Titanic, Dante's Peek relied on these cameras.

 

Stephen Williams Cameraman

 

www.stephenw.com

 

(35R3 owner. My camera was used by Digital Domain on Titanic & Dante's Peek!)

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I have looked at some old manuels and can add the following to my previous post:-

 

A 1946 US army manuel states:-

The GC had a turret with 4 lenses. 3 of the lenses were fixexd by 4 screws. The 4th interchangeable lens was fixed by a key latch and some set screws.

The lenses available were 25,35,40,50,75,100,152,250,375

 

A 1967 Mitchell manuel for S35R states:-

A single R8 mount and the following Super Balitar Lenses:- 20,25,35,50,75,100,152 plus the 25-250 Argeniuex zoom.

 

 

Stephen Williams DoP

Zurich Switzerland

 

www.stephenw.com

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Cameras like the MKII, the SR35, CG and the 35R3. What's the deal with these? Were they ever used to shoot features, I heard of someone using a MKII with a blimp, but I tried asking around for a blimp a few years ago and came up with zip.

 

 

Several years ago Birns and Sawyer had a S35R blimp sitting off in the corner of their showroom gathering dust-

 

"The Professional Cameraman's Handbook" is a great reference for Mitchell Info!

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  • 3 weeks later...
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quit torturing me like this.  8)

 

It remains my dream to own an actual Mitchell 35mm (or 70mm) motion picture camera.  But it remains out of my reach, for now.

 

 

You often see 16mm Mitchells on Ebay go for 500 USD! Unconverted 35mm still in militry white from 1500-2500.

 

Hope your dream will come true!

 

Stephen Williams DP

Zurich

 

www.stephenw.com

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"Then there are the numerous Cinema Products conversions like the CP-XR-35 and the CP-BNCR with the pellicle conversion."

 

CP's XR-35 contains a stripped-down NC head, contained within a new fixed base which is about 2/3 the size and about 1/2 the weight of a BNC (which itself contained an NC head).

 

A rotating mirror reflex viewing system is combined with the traditional focal-plane variable shutter.

 

The mirror stops in the viewing position.

 

The integral viewer incorporates a de-squeezer for 'Scope.

 

The lens mount is BNCR.

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