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Eastman Kodak and "home movies"

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
[One of a series]

At least in the United States, practical "home movies" were made possible by the introduction, by Eastman Kodak Company, in 1923. of 16 mm motion picture film. Previously, motion picture filming was primarily done with 35 mm film.

The 16 mm format naturally made practical smaller, lighter, and generally less expensive cameras (and certainly projectors). And, for a given running time, the 16 mm format used (in terms of film stock area) only about 18% as much film stock as the 35 mm format, resulting in a substantial (if not proportional!) reduction in the cost of film and processing.

At this time, Kodak introduced its first "home movie" camera (using the new 16 mm film), which was quickly followed by another model, smaller, lighter and easier to use. We will hear more about this in a later section of this series.

Still, the cost of 16 mm cameras, and the cost of 16 mm film and its processing, were not economically attractive to the widest range of potential users, and so, to further reduce the cost of "home movies", Kodak introduced, in 1932, 8 mm motion picture film. This of course resulted in a further reduction in the size, weight, and cost of cameras, and a reduction in the cost of film and its processing.

As you can well appreciate, in order to avoid a substantial deterioration of image quality with this format, a film stock with substantially finer grain had to be developed for this format, and improvements needed to be made in the steadiness of film registration in economical cameras and projectors.

The common way in which 8 mm film was provided was under the "dual 8 mm" scheme. Here, the film (typically 25 feet, plus some extra for leader and trailer, on a spool) was actually 16 mm wide. But the perforations (on both edges) were at essentially half the pitch as for 16 mm film (the frame pitch for the 8 mm format).

The film was loaded in the camera, and when run, resulted in frames being recorded done one side of the film. When all 25 feet had been shot (a little over 2 minutes of shot time!), the camera was opened, the takeup reel (nor carrying all the film) was mounted (other side up) as the supply spool and the camera rethreaded.

On this pass, the frames were recorded alongside those recoded in the first "pass".

At the processing laboratory, the film was processed intact , and was then slit lengthwise to provide two 25 foot lengths of 8 mm film. These were then spliced end-to-end (a total length of 50 feet, with a run time a little over 4 minutes, the same as for 100 feet of 16 mm film), spooled onto a nice reel, and returned to the user.

The first Kodak 8 mm motion picture cameras, the Ciné-Kodak Eight series, was also introduced in 1932. There were two almost identical versions, the Model 20 and Model 25, differing only in the lens with which they were equipped (a fixed-focus Kodak Anastigmat 19 mm f/3.5 in the Model 20 and a fixed-focus Kodak Anastigmat 19 mm f/2.7 in the Model 20.

Here we see, from our personal collection, a Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 25, believed to have been manufactured in 1937.


Douglas A. Kerr: Kodak Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 25 motion picture camera

The camera was powered by a spring motor, wound with the key we see here. The chrome button, which pushed down, made the camera run; it could be pushed past a detent so it would remain in the "run" position so, with the camera on a tripod, the operator could get into the scene.

The camera was equipped with a folding, open viewfinder of the "reverse Galilean" type, actually integrated into the handle arrangement. With the handle raised, the viewfinder was erected for use. We will see it lowered in the later photos.

Here we see a better view of the front of the camera.


Douglas A. Kerr: The aperture nameplate

We see that the nameplate on which the camera aperture settings are presented has, for each one, a description of a scene and situation for which the exposure resulting from that aperture would likely be appropriate. The camera ran at only one frame rate (nominally 16 fr/s) and had a fixed "shutter angle", so the exposure time was fixed, about 1/30 s. And these exposure recommendations were predicated on the speed of a single type of film, Kodak Panchromatic (B&W), which was the primary type of film available at the time for this camera. (Kodachrome color film was not been introduced until 1935.)

The manual, of course, gave further subtleties of exposure planning, including discussion of how to deal with the ambient lighting conditions when shooting in the tropics in summer. But the guidelines on the aperture plate were valuable for the user who didn't happen to have the manual in her skirt pocket.

Here we see the interior of the camera, the left side panel having been removed for access for loading the film. The film transport mechanism is unique.


Douglas A. Kerr: The camera interior

For comparison, we note that in "professional" 8 mm motion picture cameras (such as the Paillard-Bolex H8), a rotating sprocket (fairly small in diameter) is used to pull the film from the supply spool and send it at exactly the correct rate toward the intermittent motion film gate. A second small sprocket was then used to govern the movement of the film from the gate to the takeup spool.

In cameras such as the early Kodak 16 mm cameras, a single small sprocket served both these purposes, the film having a brief engagement with it on the way from the supply spool to the gate and a second brief engagement with it on its way from the gate to the takeup spool.

And in later 8 mm cameras, there were no sprockets at all. The motion of the film was solely propelled by the intermittent motion in the gate (ugh!).

But in the Ciné-Kodak Eight cameras, there was a single sprocket, but of really large diameter. The design strategy behind this escapes me. But it is certainly pretty.

We also note the marking on the takeup spool reminding the user that it we see that spool full, it means that this is only the end of the "first pass", and that the film has to be reloaded for the second pass.

Of course at the end of the second pass, this spool is empty, and is retained by the user, it being the permanent takeup spool for this camera.

This lovely camera was a Christmas gift, in the early 2000s, from Larry Henry, Carla's son. I am embarrassed to say I did not give it the attention it deserves until just recently.

[to be continued]

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
I remember that my parents had a Kodak double 8 camera (and a Kodak 8mm projector) and I remember that my father had to find a darker room to be able to turn the film over. I think that the camera was similar to that one, but with French text of course:


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Jerome,

I remember that my parents had a Kodak double 8 camera (and a Kodak 8mm projector) and I remember that my father had to find a darker room to be able to turn the film over.

Yes, the manual points out that this does not have to be done in complete darkness, but "the darker the better" (I paraphrase).
I think that the camera was similar to that one, but with French text of course:


Yes, that is one of many. I'm not sure in what era that one was made.

But it is quite a story, overall.

I'm in the process now of photographing a couple of other specimens recently added to my collection, and I'll present them when those shots are ready.

Best regards,


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
[Part 2]

In Part 1 of this series we saw the first Kodak 8 mm motion picture camera, the Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 20/25. We saw that its aperture indication plate was marked for each aperture with a description of a scene lighting situation, a handy guide to choosing a credible exposure. (Exposure metering was, at the time, not practical for the amateur photographer.)

In fact all Ciné-Kodak cameras, through 1939, were equipped with this handy guide.

But this "table" was of course dependent on the sensitivity of the film in use, and was in fact predicated on a particular kind of film, namely Ciné-Kodak Panchromatic Safety Film (B&W), the only motion-picture film actually available to amateur photographers that was suitable for general use.

And the table was predicated on the camera running at the "standard" frame rate, 16 fr/s, which implied a certain exposure time (perhaps 1/30 s), and indeed the early Ciné-Kodak cameras only offered that frame rate.

But soon other kinds of film came into the "picture", such as Plus-X, Super-X, and Super-XX B&W reversal films, and, in 1935, Kodachrome color film. And of course the Kodachrome came in two flavors, differing in "color balance", Daylight (for work under you-know-what) and Type A, for work under incandescent illumination, most often photoflood lamps.

And the Daylight version could be used in two ways: directly, for work indeed under daylight, and with a filter, for work under incandescent lighting. And type A could be used in two ways: direct, for use with incandescent floodlight lighting, and with a filter fur use under daylight. And then there came Kodachrome II, with greater sensitivity. And so on and so forth.

Then, on the newer and more advanced cameras, there was the opportunity to use frame rates other than the standard 16 fr/s, mostly greater rates, to be used for "slow-motion" photography.

So the "cheat sheet" on the aperture indication plate soon became obsolete.

To move forward in this matter, in 1940 Kodak introduced the Ciné-Kodak Universal Guide. This was a simple dial-type exposure calculator. From early 1940 onward, every model of Ciné-Kodak camera was equipped with this device, in a form suitable for the features of that camera, typically riveted on the left side panel (loading door) of the camera. We see a typical one, this on a Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 20 or 25:


Ciné-Kodak Universal Guide

The Guide is particularized for a certain film with a small card inserted in the Guide. In future, all Kodak movie film would come with the appropriate card in the package. The cards, incidentally, always had a silver background, perhaps to make them harmonize with the stainless steel of the Guide proper.

Cameras equipped with the Guide would not have an aperture indication plate with scene descriptions. It would merely show the apertures. The space freed up on the plate would then often be used to carry the model name of the camera, which earlier had been relegated to a nameplate somewhere else, or carried on some other camera feature.

Since it might be some while for film including the guide card to reach the users, for a while each Ciné-Kodak camera included a set of cards for all the film types than available that were suitable for that camera.

The cards for the two types of Kodachrome film had two sides, one side for the film used in daylight (with a filter for Type A film) or with photoflood lamps (with a filter for Daylight film).

Owners of Ciné-Kodak cameras not having the Guide, whether still in production or not, could for a nominal fee (USD 1.00 in 1940) have Kodak add one to their camera. When that was done, the aperture indication plate (carrying scene descriptions) was removed and replaced with one only having the aperture designations. In many cases this plate would now also carry (in the freed-up area) the camera model name. But for cameras in which the model name was elsewhere on an important camera feature, the name was not put on the new-style aperture plate, but rather the plate carried the iconic "EKC" Eastman Kodak Company logo.

It was a massive, thorough, and well coordinated product improvement program.

But back to the Guide itself. From the photo above we can easily see its modus operandi. The three arrows on the right side of the dial provide for "exposure compensation". If this camera had offered multiple frame rates, there would have been a separate arrow for each on on the left side of the dial.

Interestingly enough, later, when Kodachrome became the almost universal diet of amateur 8 mm movie cameras, the simpler 8 mm Ciné-Kodak cameras of the period (which did not offer any frame rates other than 16 fr/s) , although equipped with a Ciné-Kodak Universal Guide (or a simplified form of it), again came to have scene exposure descriptions on the aperture control dial.

Plus ça change, plus c'est le même chose

[To be continued]
Last edited:

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
[Part 3]

In The first chapter of this series, I "fast-forwarded" through the initial phase of Eastman Kodak's development of the "home movie" art - the introduction of 16 mm motion picture film and cameras to use it - and got quickly to the second phase, the introduction of 8 mm motion picture film and cameras to use that.

Ciné-Kodak 16 mm motion picture film

But now I will go back to the initial phase. In 1923, Eastman Kodak introduced 16 mm motion picture film, which enabled economical (sort-of) "home movies". The film, called "Ciné-Kodak Motion Picture Film", was B&W panchromatic reversal safety film.

Panchromatic meant that, unlike the "orthochromatic" film earlier available, the response of this film to differing wavelengths of light closely followed the "luminance" response of the human eye to those wavelengths. The result was a "more realistic" rendering of subjects.

Reversal meant that this film, after a clever two-stage processing, itself exhibited the frames in positive form, ready for projection. (In the 35 mm world, the film from the camera was developed into a negative, which then had to be printed onto positive stock to have a print that could be projected.)

Safety referred to the fact this this film used the essentially non-flammable cellulose acetate base, rather than the highly flammable cellulose nitrate base of the 35 mm film then used in studio cameras and as well for the release prints that were shown in theaters.

At the moment, I don't know how this film compares to later well known "named" films, or even what its sensitivity was.

The Ciné-Kodak 16 mm motion picture camera

Kodak's first motion picture camera, the Ciné-Kodak, was introduced in 1923. It was intended for "home" use, the value of 16 mm filming in commercial and educational work being only later discovered. It as of robust construction, the case being entirely of die-cast aluminum, with a weight (loaded) of about 7.25 lbs. The dimensions were 7.9 in. high, 11.8 in. long, and 4.6 in thick. We see it in a stock photo here:


Ciné-Kodak motion picture camera
Stock photo​

Aficionados may note that the most common form of this camera had a pan-like hinged flap that could be closed to cover the taking lens and the port for the viewfinder. This specimen did not have such, in my opinion an aesthetic blessing.​
This camera had no motor (spring-wound or otherwise). Rather, it had to be hand-cranked during the entire shot. Thus, operation from a tripod was essentially mandatory.

This may seem outrageously primitive, but note that in this very era, the professional 35 mm cameras used in studios to shoot feature films were hand cranked in just the same way, as in fact were the 35 mm projectors used in theaters.
The camera could take film on up to a 100 ft. spool. The shot time for that length of film, based on the nominal frame rate of 16 fr/sec (and remember, the frame rate of this camera was not regulated in any way other by a label next to the crank, "Turn crank 2 revolutions per second") would be a little over four minutes.

This was a wondrous machine, which could be appreciated by a teletypewriter engineer or submarine designer, but not so much by a typical suburban would-be home movie maker. The next step was a rather more convenient camera, the Ciné-Kodak Model B, introduced in 1925. At this point, the Ciné-Kodak camera was redesignated "Ciné-Kodak Model A". Here we see a Ciné-Kodak Model B, one of two in our personal collection, this one estimated to have been made in 1927 (yes, it is 90 years old):


Douglas A. Kerr: Ciné-Kodak Model B motion picture camera (1927)

The beauty weighs 5.1 lbs, and its dimensions are 5.0 in. high, 9.6 in. long, and 2.8 in thick, a substantial improvement, handling-wise, over its predecessor. But the big improvement was that it is motor driven, by a spring motor wound with a crank. Thus hand-held operation became feasible.

With the spring fully wound, the camera could run for a little under one minute of shooting. The camera could take film on a 50 ft. or 100 ft. spool. The overall shot time for a 100 ft. spool, based on the nominal frame rate of 16 fr/sec would be a little over four minutes.

The camera in the form shown had a fixed-focus Kodak Anastigmat 20 mm f/3.5 lens. A portrait attachment (included with the camera) allowed putting a supplemental lens in place to provide (still on a fixed-focus basis) for subjects at distances ranging from 2 to 5 feet.

As on the Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 25 we saw earlier, the aperture indication plate had descriptions of scenes and lighting conditions as a handy guide to choosing an aperture. This of course was predicated on the camera frame rate (but this camera only operated at the standard frame rate of 16 fr/s) and on the use of Ciné-Kodak Panchromatic Film, the only film type initially available for "amateur" use with this camera. We see that aperture plate here, in situ:


Douglas A. Kerr: Ciné-Kodak Model B aperture designation plate

As with the Ciné-Kodak Eight, from 1940 on one could have this camera (then no longer in manufacture) retrofit with the Ciné-Kodak Universal guide. As part of that process, the aperture designation plate was replaced with one not showing scene descriptions, but only having the aperture indications themselves, plus the iconic EKC Eastman Kodak Company logo. We see that replacement plate here (actually on our 1925 Model B):


Douglas A. Kerr: Ciné-Kodak Model B - replacement aperture designation plate

[To be continued]

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
[Part 4]

In, for example, the original Ciné-Kodak camera, the overall height and/or length of the housing was influenced by the need to accommodate a 100 ft film supply spool and an identical takeup spool "in the same plane". The Model B was able to be relatively more compact by having these two spools "face-to-face", on the same axis.

Were we see a 1927 Model B with the left side of the housing (the loading door) removed and as well with an internal door opened, exposing the "back room" where the film supply spool will live.


Douglas A. Kerr: Ciné-Kodak Model B - supply spool door open

With that internal door closed (it has a nice spring latch to keep it that way), the film will come off the supply spool and enter the main mechanism area by going around a flanged roller, seen at the top of the door.

Then long silver finger rests against the film in the spool and operates a "feet remaining" indicator on the top of the camera. The small drag it imposes on the film keeps the film from spontaneously unwinding more than is called for by the mechanism.

Here we see the camera fully threaded.


Douglas A. Kerr: Ciné-Kodak Model B - threaded

The supply spool compartment door is closed and latched, the film engages the small single sprocket in the familiar two places, held by rather serious retainers ("clamps", per the manual), and the film passes though the exposure gate. There, it will be given frame-by-frame ("intermittent") motion by a reciprocating claw, driven by the small crank wheel seen at the lower left. The claw, by the way, is of the "dual" type, having a "talon" on each side, engaging a sprocket hole on each side of the film. This reduces the load on the film as it is being "clawed", reducing the wear on the film in this phase of its life.

As we saw for the Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 25, the back plate of the mechanism area carries white markings reminding the operator, when threading the camera, to leave the all-important "loops" of film between the sprocket and the gate.

As the film goes from its second engagement with the sprocket to the takeup spool, it passes around an angled "bail". The "camber" this gives the film allows it to readily shift laterally to align with the spool, whose position on its spindle is not precisely controllable. And the film, "cambered" as it is, has an effective width less than its actual width, allowing it to go even more easily between the otherwise closely-fitting flanges of the takeup spool. It of course "flattens out" as it settles on top of the film already on the spool.

The more spacious layout of the mechanism space of the Model B, compared with, for example, that of the Ciné-Kodak Eight, Model 20/25, makes this a much easier camera to thread than the Eight.

All very clever design.

[To be continued]

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
[Part 5]

Magazine loading of the film

The 16 mm Ciné-Kodak Model B motion picture camera was not really very hard to load, but for some potential "home movie" users, that operation was daunting, and discouraged their participation. To deal with this, Kodak in 1936 introduced the Magazine Ciné-Kodak, a camera that used 16 mm film pre-loaded in an enclosed magazine (the load was 50 feet). Both supply and takeup spools were in the magazine, as in fact was the gate (although the intermittent claw was in the camera mechanism itself).

To load the camera, the user just placed the film into a recess in the mechanism area and closed the door. Like spool-loaded 16-mm film (and unlike both spool- and magazine-loaded 8-mm film), the film was run only once through the camera. Thus there was no need to turn the magazine over. Total run time for a magazine was a little over 2 minutes.

The Magazine Ciné-Kodak also offered a number of features beyond those of the Model B. And it was lighter and somewhat more compact.

We see here, in a stock photo, a Magazine Ciné-Kodak and a 16 mm film magazine.:


Magazine Cine-Kodak
Stock photo​

I won't dwell on this cameras, but will move forward to 1940, when Kodak introduced its first 8 mm magazine load movie camera, the Magazine Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 90. The magazines held 25 feet of film, and as with spool-loading 8 mm cameras, after the film has been run through the camera once, the magazine is removed and reinserted other way up for the "second pass". Total shot time for a magazine is a little over four minutes. And anyone who has ever threaded a Ciné-Kodak Eight would really welcome magazine loading!

We see our Magazine Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 90 here:


Douglas A. Kerr: Magazine Ciné-Kodak Model 90​

I consider this to be a very handsome design.

The camera provides for interchangeable lenses, with a Kodak "Type M" mount (with a rather odd latch design), The camera was normally provided equipped with a Kodak Anastigmat 13 mm f/1.9 lens, focusable from 2 feet to infinity, with a smallest aperture of f/22. Alternatively, a 9 mm wide angle or 25 mm telephoto lens can be fitted; with an adapter, other telephoto lenses of greater focal length can be fitted.

The camera is equipped with an internal viewfinder of the "reverse Galilean" type. Its field of view can be set to match the focal length of the lens in use.

The camera can be operated at the standard frame rate of 16 fr/s or at alternative frame rates of 24, 32, or 64 fr/s to provide for "slow motion" photography.

Here we see our camera with the loading door open:


Douglas A. Kerr: Loading door open​

We see (with the stripes behind it) the recess into which the magazine is placed. The door is then closed, and (after running the camera a bit to move beyond the leader), the camera is ready to go.

The lineup

Last night, at auditions for our community theater company's fall production, Arsenic and Old Lace, after all the readings were finished, the director asked all the participants to come on stage and then asked them in various groups to come down to the stage apron and then to gather in various orders. She was of course considering how various contenders would look together as various characters. Probably she did not, for example, want the hero to 6'6" and the heroine to be 4'11".

But, inspired by that, I thought I would have the three players in this little drama from our own personal collection to come onstage so we could see their relative sizes. So here they are (with their viewfinders erected, where applicable):


Douglas A: Kerr: The Three Stooges

From back to front, they are:

• Kodak Ciné-Kodak Model B (16 mm, roll load) (1926)

• Kodak Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 25 (8 mm, roll load) (1937)

• Kodak Magazine Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 90 (8 mm, magazine load) (1940)

Just a beginning

We have seen here just the pivotal beginnings of the Kodak world of motion picture cameras. Over the years, a vast panoply of "amateur" motion picture cameras were introduced by Kodak (and of course by many other manufacturers as well). A "professional" camera in the Ciné-Kodak series, the Ciné-Kodak Special (and then the Ciné-Kodak Special II) came into being and became important in photojournalism and for commercial, industrial, and educational filmmaking.

Later, an even more serious branch of the family was introduced, the Kodak Reflex Special, to compete with such cameras as the Arriflex line, but it had a very small following.

But all that is beyond this series.

I hope this has been interesting and/or entertaining.

Best regards,


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
[Part 6]

Film magazines

The film magazines developed by Eastman Kodak were ingenious in their design.

I apologize for the illustrations used in this section. Good pictures of the innards of film magazines are hard to come by, and at this point I do not have a single magazine of either 16 mm or 8 mm size to vivisect (although an 8 mm victim is expected to arrive tomorrow).

The 16 mm film magazine

Here we see a typical Kodak 16 mm film magazine:


Kodak 16 mm film magazine
Stock photo​

Here we see such a magazine opened for reloading:


Kodak 16 mm film magazine, open
Stock photo​

Because the drag brake operation is disrupted with the magazine opened, the "supply" side roll of film, at the right, almost full, has unwound a bit.

The normal load of film in a 16 mm magazine is 50 feet (providing a little over 2 minutes of shot time).

This magazine has a sprocket system for governing the movement of the film. It is driven by the camera mechanism, the sprocket shaft in the magazine engaging a drive shaft in the camera. The exposure gate (aperture plate and pressure plate) are in the magazine; the intermittent motion claw is, however, in the camera proper.

We see that the interior dimensions (and the locations of the supply and takeup core spindles) are such that a full roll of film on the supply side and a full roll of film on the takeup side could not coexist - but of course, they don't have to.

The film path is fairly unique (but is in fact also found in the Ciné-Kodak Special 16 mm camera when equipped with the 100 foot capacity magazine). The first engagement of the film with the single sprocket (on its way from the supply roll to the gate) is on the bottom (as we see it) of the sprocket. The second engagement (when the film is on the way from the gate to the takeup roll) is also on the bottom of the sprocket, the two lengths of film lying one atop the other on the same sprocket teeth.

The magazine has a "footage remaining" indicator, displaying though a small window on the magazine (in turn visible through a window on the camera loading door). I have not yet been treated to a glimpse of the mechanism involved, but I presume it works from a spring-loaded finger resting on the supply roll (which no doubt also serves as the drag brake to keep the supply roll from unwinding).

The 8 mm film magazine

Here we see a typical Kodak 8 mm film magazine:


Kodak 8 mm film magazine
Stock photo​

Like most 8 mm roll-loaded cameras, the 8 mm magazine uses a "double 8 mm" arrangement: the magazine is loaded with 25 feet of film 16 mm wide (but with 8 mm format perforations). The magazine is inserted in the camera and the film is run through once, laying down frames along one half of the film width. Then the magazine is removed and reinserted, other way up), and the film is run back through the camera again, laying down frames along the half of the film width.

In processing, the film is developed whole and then slit into two 25-foot lengths, which are then spliced end-to-end to give a 50 foot finished roll of film. The total shot time for a magazine is a little over four minutes.

Here we see a typical 8 mm film magazine open (it is in a Magazine Ciné-Kodak Eight camera):


Kodak 8 mm film magazine, open
Stock photo​

As for the 16 mm cartridge, with the magazine open the drag brake arrangement is disrupted, and thus we see the supply roll (at the top, nearly exhausted) a bit unwound.

As with the 16 mm magazine, the exposure gate is in the magazine, and the pulldown claw is in the camera proper. The port to the exposure gate is covered by an opaque shutter until the magazine is in the camera and the loading door closed, this to minimize light leakage.

Following the lead of all but the earliest 8 mm "consumer" cameras, the 8 mm magazine system does not have any sprocket(s) to govern the movement of the film; all film moment is done by the pulldown claw.

The small "dial" we see in the earlier picture of this magazine is, sadly, not an actual "feet remaining indicator", just a picture of one. If we take the magazine out before a pass is finished (perhaps to put in a magazine with another type of film for the next task), we can mark with a pencil on this little picture the indication of the actual footage indicator (on the camera). Then, when we replace this magazine , we can set the footage indicator to match the state of the magazine so it will then correctly reflect the state of the magazine.

There is such a little picture on each side of the magazine, so from our marking we can tell which side up to put this partially-used magazine when we replace it (that is, which "pass" it was on when removed).

Best regards,


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Since I last wrote on this topic, our collection of vintage Kodak motion picture cameras has expanded, and with it my understanding and appreciation of this marvelous parade of cinematographic tools.

Here are some of the more-newly-acquired specimens that are particularly special (to make a bad pun in the case of two of them).

This is a Ciné-Kodak Special, made in 1933.


This is a high-performance sophisticated (and complicated) 16-mm professional camera, introduced in 1933. For many years, this camera (and its second-generation successor) were a favorite for industrial films, educational films, and quite a few "indie" (and some not-so-"indie") feature films.

This is one of the earliest of this particular model in circulation, serial number 330. (There were many notable design changes made to that model shortly after this one's time.)

In 1948, Kodak introduced the second-generation version of this camera, the Ciné-Kodak Special II. Here we see ours. made in fact in 1948.


The big change from the first-generation version was that the turret now had angled faces so that the two lenses could stay out of each other's way, physically and optically. The lens mount was also changed from a very specialized one to the "Type S" mount, which Kodak had adopted as a standard mount for their wide range of 8- and 16-mm ciné lenses. (Ironically, this was the only Kodak camera to itself have that mount - all others used the Type S lenses through a nightmarish stable of adapters.)

This very specimen was originally owned by Charles T. Chapman (1891 1949), a noted newsreel photographer and later producer and cinematographer of documentary and promotional films.

Another favorite is our 1956 Ciné-Kodak K-100, a semi-professional 16-mm camera.


This was essentially the last of the serious cameras to carry the "Ciné-Kodak" marque. We bought it from the daughter of the original owner, who got it in 1957 to photograph her when she was first born.

Best regards,

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Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Another one of our specimens that has, indirectly, a "special" connection is our 1951 Ciné-Kodak Royal Magazine camera.


This model (introduced in 1950) was the third generation of the Kodak 16-mm magazine load cameras (well sort of - the first two for all practical purposes differed only in the naming as the model naming strategy changed), and in fact was the last of the Kodak 16-mm magazine load motion picture cameras (made until 1967).

After this model, the emphasis in 16-mm cameras was in the semi-professional and professional spheres, where spool loading was the norm (in part because of the greater film capacity via that mode). Magazine loading, however, continued to be very attractive in the "consumer" cameras, all using 8-mm film.​

Of special interest is that Princess Elizabeth, soon to become Queen Elizabeth II, used a camera of this very model (sadly, probably not this specimen, as near as we know) to take the charming movies of her young children that have recently been unearthed and presented by the BBC.

Best regards,

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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

It's so fascinating that the entire span of history of this great invention spans such a short time. By contrast, our original systems of tooling flints lasted hundreds of thousands of years of stable technology!


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Asher,


It's so fascinating that the entire span of history of this great invention spans such a short time. By contrast, our original systems of tooling flints lasted hundreds of thousands of years of stable technology!

Yes it is. If we speak of motion picture film photography "as available to the average citizen", then that era only began in the US in 1923, less than 100 years ago. And Eastman Kodak, who brought that about, with regard to the 16-mm branch was no longer making cameras after about 1973, an era only 50 years long.

There are other technologies whose use by the general public came and went in what seems to me to be a really short time. Of course, owing to the logarithmic nature of human time perception, what seems like a short time to me would have seemed like an eternity to me when I was. for example. six years old.

I think of the use of facsimile transmission over the telephone network for the average civilian.

Or even the use of CFL's to replace incandescent lamps in home lighting, now essentially superseded in turn by LED lamps. We were just finishing our conversion to CFLs when it became apparent that we should be veering toward LED lamps.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Best regards,


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Often the names that are given to things reveal much about the state of mind of the person, or company, that gives the name.

Eastman Kodak coined the name "Ciné-Kodak" for their first motion picture camera, and then applied that as the marque of essentially all their motion picture cameras for quite a while. At one point, the shifted the spelling to "Cine-Kodak", perhaps feeling that including the accent aigu was too something for American consumers.

But the use of that marque came to an end in a funny way. In 1956, Kodak introduced the Cine-Kodak Medallion-8 camera, an easy to use magazine-loading 8-mm movie camera, intended for the typical home movie shooter. It had interchangeable lenses, and one version was equipped. as its "kit lens" (as we would say today), with a focusing lens. The lens aperture was set in the familiar way with a ring on the lens.We see that version here:


We see that it is equipped with a "zoom" viewfinder so that the field of view of the finder could be made to match that of the lens that was aboard.

These two "Medallion family" siblings were joined in 1997 with two further, rather different, versions. They both had embedded non-focusing lenses, and were equipped with a camera-based aperture setting wheel that had provisions for setting the aperture based on descriptions of the scene and lighting situation. One version was equipped with a turret that put in place a wide angle or telephoto converter. The overall design was rather different:


Among other design differences, the "zoomable" viewfinder was gone, as there was no need to accommodate different lenses. (Well, there was the matter of the different fields of view on the turret version, but that was taken care of with three different "frames" in the viewfinder.) And they lost the slot to accommodate a carrying strap (a feature that none of the other Kodak movie cameras had anyway).

In the Kodak literature of the time, these four versions were spoken of as the "four Medallion models". But in fact, as a matter of detail, while the earliest two carried the name "Cine-Kodak Medallion-8", the two later versions carried the name "Kodak Medallion-8".

Now was it that these two "non-interchangeable lens" cameras were thought by Kodak to not deserve the honored "Cine-Kodak" name, of was it just a matter of timing: "Effective today, the name 'Cine-Kodak" will no longer . . ."?

It's hard to tell, from my vantage point.

But is is interesting.

Best regards,


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
The actual end of the trail for Kodak 16 mm motion picture cameras (at least for "commercial" cameras) was the Kodak Reflex Special. This was intended for "studio-class" work, competing in a way with such cameras as the Arriflex. It was introduced in 1961

We see a typical one here:


As the name would suggest, this camera has "full time reflex viewing": the operator sees continuously the same image that is laid on the film. This works by having the front face of the opaque sectors of the rotary shutter mirrored so they are in fact mirrors. The shutter is placed at at 45° angle to the optical axis.

During the part of the frame cycle when the film is being moved between frames, the shutter (in the usual way) blocks any light from the lens from going to the film. But since the shutter blades are mirrored, during that phase the image-forming rays from the lens are directed to the side, where they form an image on a ground glass screen. The operator then views that through an eyepiece optical system (just as we do, before the shot, in an SLR still camera).

The camera is electric motor driven. There were several different motor drive assemblies, readily interchangeable. They varied to suit the context of operation.

A spool of film up to 100 feet could be mounted in the camera itself. The supply and takeup spool are mounted "face to face", the same scheme used in the Ciné-Kodak Model B of the early 1920s and its direct descendants. When a greater capacity is needed, a 400-foot or 1200-foot film chamber ("magazine") can be mounted atop the camera proper.

The standard model had a three-position turret. A large lever locks and releases the turret. (Well, with it unlocked, you have to pull it out to turn it, then push it back in, the move the lever to the locked position!) The lenses are mounted with a mount (Type R) unique to this model (so what's new?). The lenses push straight in, oriented with a pin that goes into a slot in the mount. Then a pair of levers (per lens position) lock the lens firmly into place. All very handy? Not so much.

A head for direct recording of sound in-camera (magnetic) could be fitted at the factory. It goes in the space in the camera proper where the 100-foot film supply arrangement would otherwise go.

It seems that this machine never caught hold in the competition against such cameras as the Arriflex and the 16-mm version of the Mitchell (that, however, not being a reflex camera). It is reported than only a few hundred were ever made. The model was discontinued in 1968.

Best regards,

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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
So what prevented Kodak from reworking its goals to the changing market.

They were so ahead with their research and patents.

This is a failure of monumental proportions.

Thanks, Doug for this precious little thread. The technical details are really interesting.
One question though: When did the 'super-8' come into being? I remember it had a magnetic sound track.

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Reginald,

Thanks, Doug for this precious little thread. The technical details are really interesting.
One question though: When did the 'super-8' come into being?

Eastman Kodak released the Super 8 film system in 1965.

I remember it had a magnetic sound track.

Yes, a form with a magnetic sound track was introduced in 1973.

Versions with an optical sound track were used for special purposes (e.g., in-flight movies).

Thanks for writing.

Best regards,


Doug Kerr

Well-known member
We recently acquired an interesting and fairly rare variant of the Kodak Ciné-Kodak Special professional 16-mm movie camera. This variant hads what I call the "all-black livery". It was principally intended for use by the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, the object of course being to minimize the chance that a glint of light from any shiny features of the camera wouild give away the presence of a battlefield photographer.

We see this beauty here:


Douglas A. Kerr: Kodak Ciné-Kodak Special, all-black livery version

We can see the difference in the livery from that of the "normal" version here:


Douglas A. Kerr: Kodak Ciné-Kodak Special, "normal" version

The feature differences seen on the "control panels" of the two cameras are due to the fact that the "normal" one shown is an extremely early specimen (it is serial number 330). There are absolutely no feature differences between the "all-black" version and the "normal" version of that period.

One might wonder about the "bright rings" showing on the turret position that has no lens in our specimen. In reality, these cameras were almost always equipped with two (black, of course) lenses. One of those was usually the 25 mm f/1.9 (as seen here), the "kit lens" for this camera. The other was usually some type of telephoto lens. (The usual military package included two telephoto lenses.) Sadly, we do not yet have a black telephoto lens for this machine.

Lenses other than the "kit" lens were mounted on this camera via a mount adapter. Some years before, Kodak had stopped making their stable of lenses suitable for several 16-mm camera families in versions with mounts for each of them, and had developed a "universal" mount (the "type S" mount). These lenses would thence be made only with that mount. Later cameras would have that mount, and adapters would be available to adapt the new lenses with that mount to the mounts on the various existing camera models.

An exception was the 25 mm f/1.9 (the "kit lens" for these various camera models), which continued to be made with the various "parochial" mounts.

To complete the ironic story, the first camera model to itself be equipped with the "S" mount was the Cine-Kodak Special II (the successor to this model), and it was the last, as that was for all practical purposes the last general-use Kodak 16-mm professional camera.

More of a mystery on our "all black" camera is the bright ring on the front edge of the frame rate control knob. That does not seem typical of the "military" examples of this version of which we have seen photos.

As provided to the United States Army Signal Corps, this camera model was nomenclatured "Camera, PH-430". Oddly enough, the PH-430-A and PH-430-B were not variations of it but rather wholly different type of camera (by other manufacturers). Perhaps the thought was that they were functionally interchangeable. I do not know what the designation was for the U.S. Navy ones.

This specimen does not carry any military markings. Various clues suggest that in fact it was made after the end of World War II, perhaps even as late as 1947. Genealogical research is still ongoing.

1948 was, in fact, the last year of the Ciné-Kodak Special overall, it then being superseded by the very similar Cine-Kodak Special II (note Ciné-Kodak vs. Cine-Kodak II). I do not know of there being an "all black" Cine-Kodak Special II.

Best regards,