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Milliken High-Speed Cameras

Adam Scott

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Hi All,


I'm considering buying a cheap-ish high-speed 16mm camera to shoot some sports action (probably mountain biking initially, maybe surfing sometime in the future). Looking into what some of the top surf shooters use, I've come across Milliken cameras (used by Jack McCoy, Tim McKenna, and by Sonny Miller on 'Riding Giants', for example).


I've not found a lot of information on these cameras on the web, and they don't seem to have ever been mentioned in this forum. From what I have read they seem to be mostly US military, lab, or NASA surplus (Millikens went up in Apollo 4). Found the following list of models HERE:


D.B. Milliken Co., Arcadia, Cal., USA

Milliken KF 12 A 194? high speed camera 16mm

Milliken DBM (3) 3C 194? high speed camera 400 fps 16mm

Milliken DBM 4, 4A, 44 1954? high speed 64 - 400 fps 16mm

Milliken DBM 5AM 1955 camera high speed 128-400 fps 16mm

Milliken DBM 5 B 1955? high speed (up to 500 fps) camera 16mm

Milliken DBM 5C 1955? high speed camera (64 - 200fps) 16mm

Milliken DBM 5D 1955? high speed camera (24 - 500fps) 16mm

Milliken DBM 55, KF 12A High Speed (up to 500 f.p.s.) 1955? cameras 16mm


The DBM 4 series seems to be 100' capacity, which would probably be what I'd want to keep things compact, and run on 28v DC. I've seen them on sale for as little as $200. The 5C takes a 400' load, and doesn't look too enormous, but the one I've seen on Ebay runs off 115V, and I'm thinking that means mains power (I'm not too hot on electronics though....).


If anyone here knows anything about Millikens, I'd be really grateful for thoughts on the following questions (I'm UK-based BTW):


Power: Any issues powering a 28V DC motor by battery? Feasible to do so in a sea-surface/underwater situation?


Aspect ratio and film stock: There are Millikens out there that have been adapted for Super16. Is this going to cost the earth? Will an unmodified camera take single-perf film?


Lenses: will any c-mount lens work with them?


Generally: Are they any good? Are they complete dogs to work with? Some seem to have non-reflex viewfinders, while others are just point-and-hope jobs.


Thanks very much in advance for any info and guidance.


On the subject of high-speed, those in the UK should look out for the BBC's nice trailer for the 6 Nations rugby which has a 'crash-test' theme - it's cool!





PS. A few of the web-links that I've come across in my trawl:


DBM 5C on Ebay UK

Millikens for sale from Alan Gordon, LA

Filming 'Riding Giants'

DBM 3C for sale

Millikens in Space

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'On the subject of high-speed, those in the UK should look out for the BBC's nice trailer for the 6 Nations rugby which has a 'crash-test' theme'


Found this on the web, under 'Watch and Listen' at http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_unio...nal/default.stm. If they take that direct link away it can also be got to through the general 'Open Audio and Video' yellow button.




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  • 1 month later...

Adam, how far did you get with this?

I've just bought a milliken of ebay and am eager to learn as much as i can about it (about threading tips, lubrication, etc) before shooting skateboarding/wildlife. did you manage to shoot any footage? i'm based in london, and would love to see highspeed stuff you have shot, if you want to hook up.


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Haven't gone any further yet, unfortunately - current circumstances mean the idea is on hold for a while. Haven't gathered much more information I can share either, but great to hear that you've got hold of one. Good luck with it.


If you are shooting with it and would like an extra pair of hands then give me a shout - I am sometimes in or near London and would be really interested to see the camera in action.




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Hello Chaps,

I'm new here, was just searching Milliken on google and...

Anyway I use Millikens quite regularly [not sure what model off the top of my head]. They run off 28 volts, but I have never even considered underwater stuff, and dont think I would. I think I have seen one that runs 115 volts. I know of a company that sells mains transformers that will allow you to basically plug into 24o volts and convert it down to 28 volt.

I believe they can be adapted for super 16, but would be very expensive. The cameras I use require double perf standard 16mm stock [on daylight spools ]

C mount lense are generally available, including cheapo cctv lenses, but you do require some sort of viewing mechanism.

The cameras themselves need a lot of servicing, but looked after will give good service.

I may be in Central London this weekend 19th or 20th if you want some handy tips


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Yeah you are right, we do canera servicing in house [not me, one of my colleagues]

There is a company called 'pirate' [or pirate films] based near Hangar Lane who are familiar with millikens [i think]

Will try to get more details later

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  • 2 months later...

Spotty3 you said there was a company who made converters for the milliken, i really need to get hold of an adapter and power pack!!


If your about could you shed any light on this please!!


The plug at present is some industrial 19pin thing?



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  • 2 years later...
  • 9 years later...

Resurrecting an old thread.


My father was president of DB Milliken during the '60s.

I worked in the shop during summer vacation doing light machining and assembly.


The most-used cameras were never designed to be waterproof and I don't think any of their cameras were.

But there were some 3rd-party enclosures which were built with power pass-through fittings and other features needed to operate under water.


Very little documentation remains and that would be held by Teledyne. You might try contacting the office in Thousand Oaks, CA, but I think this material is long gone.

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  • 3 years later...
21 hours ago, John Kessler said:

Anyone have access to a manual for this DBM4A?  I need pinouts.  I am getting the connector.    Just bought a nice gray military case.

Hi John,

Would love to see a picture of your Milliken. This manual was sent to me by fellow Cinematography member Alexandros Petin:

Dropbox Link to Milliken manual

I have a DBM-54 or 55 with a 19-pin connector. It has been very tricky to find the matching connector - please let me know if you come across one. So far, using the pinout diagram as a guide, I haven't been able to get the motor to budge when applying current (28 VDC) to what I think are the appropriate pins. I haven't put a lot of work into it yet, and have seen that others online have apparently gotten into the camera and bi-passed the multi-pin connector, sending current directly to the motor.

- Webster

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Not sure what is happening...I have written 2 letters and they don't seem to be getting posted.  I am well on the way to full restoration with the HP20 Deutsch 19-pin connector coming and the original service Co. during the Teledyne years sending me info.  I will share everything I find.  I bought that original USN 44 case on Ebay and have blasted and painted it.  New foam done.  New lettering tomorrow.  New handle next week.  I will build a remote control box.  I just ordered an original HUGE DBM tripod with the dovetaol mount.  This old DB4A was converted to 44 specs in 1980.

J. Kessler

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  • 2 years later...

Long ago got the whole portable rig finished, running, and mounted on NASA tripod.  In 2022 I tested it and NF.  Very quiet with everything set correctly.  Got in touch with the folks who helped me before (they rebuilt this camera in 1980).  I will now ship them the DBM-44A for repair.  It has less value if not working.

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