|Lumière camera of 1896|
|Rear view Lumière camera|
|Tin with Lumi`re 35mm film 1 perf. per frame.|
|Biokam camera of 1899-For 17½mm film with perforations in the center between the images.|
|Chrono de Poche of Gaumont|
This camera for middle perforated 15mm film appeared in 1900. Shown are mechanism and body of the camera
. It was described as being manufactured by Alfred Darling in 1907 in Great Britain. But I have yet to see this model camera described anywhere. It has a Ludwig, Dresden 3.5/50mm lens, which points at a German origin.
|Kinora camera for rolls of 1-inch paper or celluloid film.|
The exposed rolls were processed and printed by Kinora Ltd., and made up into flip-book reels for use in their Kinora viewers.
|The Kinora viewer still fascinates|
|Ernemann Kino 2 17,5mm camera/projector of 1904|
|Ernemann Aufnahme Kino A of 1908|
In the background an English (Warwick) projector of 1906.
|Pathé Professionnel of 1908|
Many early film productions were made with this camera. David Griffith used it in 'Birth of a Nation'.
|Pathé Studio used around the same time indoors.|
|Pathé Kok camera of 1913 Back opened showing magazines. It contained for the first time 28mm non-inflammable safety film. Lens 4.5/45mm.|
|Olikos camera/projector 1912 by Cinéma Plaques, France. 84 consecutive images are photographed on a 6,5 x 7 cm glass plate and projected as a motion picture|
|Eclair-Gillon Grand modèle 1913 camera 35mm|
|Akeley camera (1914)|
This 35mm camera (here equiped with telephoto lens) was affectionately called the 'pancake'. It was the favorite of many wild life and newsreel cameramen for its sturdiness until after WW2. Robert Flaherty used it in 'Nanook of the North'(click) and the "Louisiana Story".
|Davsco Professional Kino 35mm camera|
By David Stern Co., Chicago. (1917)
|Butcher/Pathescope, New York, 28mm camera 1917|
Of this Italian camera tipo B few must have been made around 1918 as this one,bought in Argentine, is numbered 67! It has a Cine Sideran, Koristka, Milano 3.3/50mm lens.
|Le Parvo of Debrie|
not quite sure whether this is model L manufactured around 1915. This was a most popular camera. With 'le Parvo' countless famous movies have been filmed, such as Abel Gance's 'Napoleon'.
|Lytax camera by Apparatebau, Freiburg, Germany|
There is very little information available about this camera of around 1920
|Lytax rear view|
|Amigo model A camera Tropical camera for 60m cassettes manufactured in 1921, lens Rüdersdorf, Berlin 3.5/4cm.|
|The first 16mm cameras.Cine Kodak model A and Victor introduced in 1923. The Victor camera shown here is said to be the first 16mm camera equiped with an electric motor. Only about fifty of them were made by special order.|
|Hahn-Goerz Berufs-Aufnahme-Kino 35mm camera, Germany 1924|
|Geyer 16mm camera and projector (1926).|
Quite rare this camera, driven either by spring motor, or by crank.
|Kemco camera 1929, forerunner of Kodak's double 8mm film. Only in Kemco's case four 8mm images were exposed on one 16mm frame by an ingenuous mechanism.|
|Marlo 16mm camera of the short-lived Marlowe Camera Co. of Chicago. A rare item as hardly any of them can be found anymore|
|RCA Victor sound camera.|
The world's first 16mm optical sound-on-film camera introduced in 1935.
|Cine Rola camera|
This may be the only known specimen of this prewar Japanese imitation of the Pathé 9,5 mm motocamera.
|Arrow model 50 16mm camera Dallmeyer f 1.8 lens 1934 , resembling Victor 16mm camera model 3, hardly ever used outside Japan.|
|Prewar Cine Sakura camera. |
Manufactured around 1936 by Rokuohsha, Tokyo (now Konica)
Introduced in 1934 in Great Britain for 9,5mm middle perforated film. The rewinder and reel are hardly ever seen.
|Some other 9,5mm cameras (l to r): |
|Pathescope duplex 9½/4¾mm camera and French Pathé Monaco projector|
One the last death spasms of Pathescope was their split 9½mm widescreen venture of 1955
|Three early Bolexes.|
Auto-cine's: A1 of 1928, B3 of 1929 and H16(without focusing feature) of 1935.
|Some prewar Siemens 16mm cameras|
From left to right: Models C (1934),FII (1937) and D (1934)
|Newman & Sinclair 35mm Auto Kine camera of 1946|
|Bolsey 8 camera Manufactured in 1956, it was claimed to be the smallest (single) 8mm camera, both for taking single shots as well as movies. Lens Bolsey Elgeet Navitar 1.8/10mm fixed focus|
|Haydon & Urry Ltd., London, 35mm projector 1897|
|Prestwich 35mm projector, around 1898|
|Matagraph 35mm projector of Levy, Jones @ Co. Ltd. London 1898.|
|English 35mm projector around 1900. Possibly Warwick|
|Another English projector of the same period (Warwick?)|
|Edison 35mm Home Kinetoscope # K 3015, after 1902.|
|Radiquet & Massiot 35mm projection mechanism around 1904|
|Myers projector 1905 for 17,5mm large middle perforated film|
|AAR 35mm projection mechanism of 1907 of the Berlin firm Stachow|
|Edison 22mm Home Kinetoscope 1912.Manufactured in 1912 for uninflammable 22mm double perforated film with three rows of images|
|More than one hundred years|
Film sizes, marvelous scope for collecting
- 35mm, struggle for standardization
- Many early filmsizes
- Variety of amateur film sizes
- Safety uninflammable film
- Glass- and semi-gramophone records
- Other formats
- Neuf-cinq, nine-five, 9,5mm
- 16mm, sixteen millimeter
- 8mm - Bootlace
- Super/single 8 and super 16mm
- Collecting off-gauge movie equipment and films
- More sizes: 8,75, 11, 38mm
- Literature and links
Struggle for standardizationOne hundred years of cinema is also due to acceptance of one standard gauge. Whereas film equipment has undergone drastic changes in the course of a century it is a little miracle that 35mm has remained the universally accepted film size. If film had followed the same course as video, with its continuing change of systems, the development might have been delayed considerably.
Click on icon for Monkeyshines Edison film strip of 1890
Edison Kinetograph film strip of June 18th,1891 (click)
In May 1889 Thomas Edison had ordered a Kodak camera from the Eastman Company and was apparently fascinated by the 70mm roll of film used. Thereupon W.K.L.Dickson of his laboratory ordered a roll of film of 1 3/8"(ca. 35 mm) width from Eastman. This was half the film size used in Eastman Kodak cameras. It was to be used in a new type of Kinetoscope for moving images on a strip of celluloid film, which could be viewed by one person at the time.
Even at that time there was already a variety of widths:
- 54mm (2 1/8") (Friese-Greene in 1887)
- 54mm paperfilm (2 1/8") (Le Prince, 1888),
- 54mm (Skladanowsky, 1895 ), see also Skladanowsky filmclip
- 60mm(Prestwich, Demeney, 1893-96)
Demeny Phonoscope 1893
Gaumont-Demeny Chronophotographe, 1896
- 38mm (Casimir Sivan/E.Dalphin, Geneva, 1896)
- Parnaland 34 (35?) film perforation (showing Sarah Bernard in Hamlet)
- 63mm (Veriscope, 1897).
- 65mm (Hughes Moto-Photoscope, 1897)Also for 3" wide film
- 68mm (Biograph 1897 camera)
- 70mm unperforated experimental film, Birt Acres 1894
- Lee & Turner colour film, 1901
The abovementioned William Dickson, after leaving Edison, used 2 3/4" (70 mm) for his Mutoscope & Biograph Company' productions to avert Edison's patent rights. Cameramen of this company travelled all over Europe to produce documentaries of a remarkable image quality.
Widescreen also proved excellently suitable for other subjects.click for image
One of the problems to be dealt with was the strength of the film base. Because film is pulled through the filmgate in short strokes it comes under high tension. Therefore perforations were torn time and again. Eastman overcame this weakness by doubling the thickness of the nitrate base, which was normally used for film packs from 1896 onward.
By the turn of the century film appeared to become big business. the struggle for the monopoly of the patents intensified. To avoid lengthy court cases the nine major producers of the time decided to pool their rights in the Motion Pictures Patents Company in 1909. This consortium threatened to outlaw outsiders from further film production. Despite the general outcry one favourable effect was that 35mm became standardized to Bell & Howell specifications. It was adopted a.o. by the Congrès International des Editeurs de Films in Paris in the same year. It was named standard-size stock, in Germany Normalfilm and in France pélicule format standard. Eastman Kodak became the chief film supplier (see 1912 ad).
This does not imply that no further attempts were being made to introduce other gauges. The standard size was besieged continuously for reasons of economy, projection quality or aesthetic design.
Great variety of amateur film sizesA fierce competition raged in the amateur market. Economy and dimensions were the chief ingredients. The public had to be won over by relative inexpensiveness. Amateur film was usually cut from 35 mm professional raw stock , that was produced in large quantities and therefore economical to buy. The film was cut in two or three lengths - the substandard size, or "Schmalfilm" in Germany.
The first attempt was demonstrated in England by Birt Acres in 1898. His camera, projector at the same time, the Birtac, used 17½ mm size with perforations on one side.
In the same year J.A.Prestwich introduced 13mm equipment, but little was heard of it since.
In 1900 Gaumont-Demeny ventured with an unusual size: 15mm, with center perforation. The Chrono de Poche did not make it either. Nowadays it is a rarity. In the same year another French firm introduced the Mirograph which used an equally odd size: 20 mm. It had on one side notches instead of perforations. I have yet to see one single specimen.
In the United States the first projector using non-standard film appeared around 1902. This home cinema used a carbide lamp. It was called the Vitak and used 17,5mm film. A few years later another projector appeared with a similar appearance. It was the Ikonograph, using 17,5mm film with a large center perforation.
In 1923 11,5mm was re-introduced in the USA with the Duplex projector.
Safety filmIn 1897 a fierce fire destroyed the cinema pavillion of a charity bazar in Paris, which took the lives of 124 people. It is no surprise that an immediate search was opened for a replacement of the highly inflammable cellulose nitrate stock. In 1908 the first non-flam acetate film was marketed. It took decennia of perfection before it could supplant the old stock. Only in 1950 the tri-acetate film could be considered equal to nitrate film. However, for amateur films it was employed right after its invention.
Home Kinetoscope show (click)
In 1931 Cinelux film projectors were introduced, a silent and sound model. A highly unusual 24mm unperforated Ozaphan film size was being used, the mechanism being a beater movement.
The Pathé Kok projector (The name was taken from from the newly patented logo of a cock) was equipped usually with a dynamo. So it could be used on the not yet electrified countryside. At the same time 28mm cameras were marketed. The emphasis was on showing theatrical films copied from the large film library of Pathé, however.
Initially the new size seemed to do well and was accepted as a standard size for the home cinema. By 1918 10.000 projectors were sold.
The projector enjoyed quite some popularity. In the United States 28mm was accepted as a standard size for portable film projectors by the Society of Motion Picture Engineers. 935 Titles were for rent.
Later developments made the format decline in popularity. Yet the Kok projectors are a showpiece in a collection nowadays, especially so because of its splendid design resembling a robust old-time sewing machine.
Glass and semi-gramophone recordsBesides emulsion on film base experiments were carried out with celluloid and glass plates. There was still a fierce competition between the magic lantern with its non-inflammable glass slides and the vulnerable film stock.
- As early as 1890 Rudge projected moving images from glass plates for the Bath Photographic Society.
- In 1892 Demeny followed with an apparatus named, the Phonoscope, with which a glass plate with 18 photographs of a man saying "je vous aime" could be projected.
- In 1897 E.&H.T. Anthony in troduced their Spiral camera projector exposing 200 images on a glass plate.In the same year the Bettini Brothers introduced their 'Plattenkinematograph' recording 576 images on a glass plate.
- In 1898 Leo Kamm used for his Kammatograph a round glass plate of 30 cm width on which 350 to 550 images were registered in spiral form.
- Bettini plattenkamera Germany, around 1900, 576 images on photographic plate.
- The Cinéphot of Huet & Cie. introduced in 1904 used a double magazine with 2 x 24 frames on a disc of 6".
- The French Olikos of 1912 employed a rectangular 9,5 x 9cm glass plate on which 12 rows of 7 images each were registered.
- A similar apparatus was the French Le Seul using a glass negative of 9 x 12 cm
- The American Urban Spirograph of 1915, apparently inspired by the popular gramophone, used a celluloid disc with 1200 frames. Each disc had a projection time of two minutes. A disc library with hundreds of titles was to be made available. It is doubtful whether it ever came that far, because nothing was heard more of the venture after some time.
Images on Aladdin disc
- The Polish inventor Kazimierz Proszynski devised around 1915 an amateur camera/projector, the Oko, for 12cm film. Miniature images were arranged horizontally in rows of fifteen. The film was projected from left to right, providing a 20 minutes film show from 3 feet of film.
I have a brochure but have been unable to find any reference that the system was seriously considered, or the Duplex lenses ever made available.
Neuf-cinq (nine-five)After thirty years of experimentation with different widths in 1922 one was marketed which stood a better chance. In December 1922 Pathé introduced its home cinema, Le Cinéma chez soi, called the Pathé Baby.
The projector came first. Its transportation mechanism was almost identical to the Lumière Cinématograph of 1895. The apparatus projected a steady image of amazing clarity considering the lamp of 6 Watt. Cassettes with lengths of 9 or 15 meter 9,5mm film could be bought or rented from depots. These films stood out by their great definition. They were reduced from Pathé's considerable 35mm archive. Subjects included newsreels, documentaries, comedies and feature films. Some were colored by a stencil imprint method. An ingenuous system was used to prolong the projection time. By means of notches in the film a mechanism was set into motion in the projector by which certain images - titles or close-ups - could be frozen for a few seconds.
As a result of later developments the size never became popular in the U.S.A. In Europe it was. Even in Japan imitations of 9,5mm movie cameras and projectors were manufactured before the war (Cine Rola). In 1938 9,5mm sound film was introduced with the Pathé Vox sound-projector.
It may come as a surprise to some but 9,5 mm still has a following. Cameras and projectors are still manufactured, or more precisely, modern equipment is being converted to this size. Films are still re-perforated by some firms and developing facilities are available, given enough patience.
Internationally 9,5mm fans form a closely knit community holding yearly global gatherings. The best nine-five films of that year are projected then.
Sixteen millimeterKodak could not lag behind Pathé. John Capstaff of the Kodak laboratories had already been experimenting with another size. They had come to the conclusion that 10mm was the minimum image width for acceptable quality. Perforations on both sides would occupy another 6mm, making a total of 16mm. This gauge had the additional advantage that flammable 35mm stock could not not be slit in half for amateur use.
In 1923 16mm was introduced. In the battle for the amateur market Pathé boasted that its size was cheaper because of its economical use of the film width. Its prices suited all(?) purses. In their sales' slogans Pathé boasted that 9,5mm had almost the same frame size of 16mm at the price of 8mm.
Kodak opposed that middle perforations could cause stripes over the image. Moreover if the projector claw failed to hit the perforation accurately the images could easily be damaged.
The grain quality of 16mm was better. Kodak introduced with 16mm a reversal developing process with variable second exposure. It did away with the procedure followed so far to have negative film copied onto positive stock. As a result the costs were reduced to only 1/6 of the negative/positive process.
In later years a sound track was added on one side of the film, sacrificing one row of perforations. It was accepted as an SMPE standard in 1932.
17,5 mmSplit 35mm had always been popular as an alternative gauge. The American Sinemat camera/projector used it with perforations on one side in 1915.
Because changing reels in the middle proved to be cumbersome a number of manufacturers introduced straight 8mm wound on 50 ft reels (Univex, Bell & Howell), or in cassettes (Agfa). Because of the lack of uniformity resulting in limited availability straight 8mm did not catch on.
New sizes in the fiftiesIn spite of its advantages nine-five lost field. Kodak had acquired a main share in Pathé in the late twenties. It had no interest in pushing that size actively. The supremacy of 8 and 16mm lasted for a considerable number of years. Yet there were attempts to introduce for the amateur economic widescreen sizes.
In fact in the first year of WW2 in the German magazine 'Film für Alle' J.Pauli of Berlin proposed using first one half of the 16mm size, turn the film around and then expose the second half. It involved holding the camera vertically and the use of a mask. The projector would need a prism to project a horizontal wide-screen image. Once one half of the film was projected it needed to be turned over in order to project the opposite half. How a film was to be edited without interfering with the opposite frames was not gone into wisely.
Pathé made a more serious attempt to hook on to the popularity of widescreen in the fifties by introducing a duplex and monoplex format in 1955. 9,5mm was double perforated and split in the middle to a 4 3/4mm size which was to be projected horizontally in widescreen. It was an ill-conceived idea. The public showed no interest at all. Few cameras and projectors were sold. The venture was abandoned soon and forgotten in no time. Available stock was converted to the classic 9,5mm size. The 4 3/4 mm Lido/Orly Duplex cameras and the Monaco Duplex projector have become rare collectors' items.
Super/single 8 and super 16Eight millimetre also underwent a transformation in 1965. The frame image was enlarged by 50% by using smaller vertical perforations. The so called super 8 film was supplied in 50' 8mm cassettes (having a striking resemblance to Meopta cassettes introduced years before). As from 1973 with magnetic sound stripe. Fuji attempted to introduce a far better conceived single 8 mm system but could not compete with Kodak.
WidescreenAs stated before widescreen became popular in the fifties. However, it was proceeded by various attempts in the past, even in the nineteenth century as we have seen before, followed by:
- 1900 - 75mm Wide Film of Lumière
- 1900 - 70mm Cinéorama of Raoul Grimoin-Sanson
- 1914 - 70mm Panoramica (of Filoteo Alberini)
- 1926 - 63,5mm Natural Vision, R.K.O.
- 1929 - 70mm Grandeur of Twentieth Century Fox
- 1930 - 56mm Magnafilm Paramount
- 1930 - 70mm Realife, M.G.M.
- 1930 - 65mm Vitascope Warner Bros.
- 1954 - 65mm Todd-AO click for picture of camera
- 1955 - 55,625mm Cinemascope-55
- 1956 - 65mm Super Panavision
From the foregoing it is clear that standardization was dictated by the economical power of one or more manufacturers. One result was the universal acceptance and growth of the medium for amusement, information and in some cases as an art form.
Collecting off-gauge movie equipment and filmsFor the collector hard to find off-gauge equipment/films are a true hunting-ground. In particular the sizes that were never heard of anymore. One may still profit from the relatively low prices as compared with photographica. 8, 16 and 35mm equipment/films are often offered for sale, but it becomes more difficult with 9,5, 17,5, 22, 28mm and all the other sizes mentioned.
From 3 to 75mmOne hundred years of cinema has yielded almost one hundred film gauges from 3mm to 75mm. The smallest of 3mm was developed in 1960 by Eric Berndt for NASA to be used in space flights. It had a centre frameline perforation. The largest was employed by Lumière in 1900 for large screen presentations at the Paris Exposition.
Most of these film sizes have been relegated to oblivion, much to the detriment of its inventors/manufacturers. Each size has its own history.
Certainly I have not mentioned all of them. Here are some more sizes:
- 26mm paper film used in the Refcy Japanese paperfilm camera around 1930
- 38mm (Casimir Sivan, Switzerland).
- 11,5 mm (regular 8mm+ 3,5mm for sound track) optical sound film used in a Kenner's Real Sound toy projector around 1965
8,75mm film used in the seventies in The People's Republic of China for educational, propagandistic and other purposes. Chinese 35mm film stock was being slit into four strips of 8,75mm film and sound striped afterwards. Projectors for this size were also being manufactured there by a number of companies.
GanGuang FL8,75 mm projector
- Super duper 8mm. This new wide-screen 8mm film format had its international debut in December 2003. Sleep Always, the first feature film shot in the new "super-duper 8", screened in Spain at the Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia and in New York as part of the International Festival of Cinema and Technology. Super-duper 8 utilizes traditional super 8 film but uses also the area normally reserved for the sound stripe (as with super 16). When transferred to videotape super-duper 8 utilizes 30% more image area in every frame.
- Super 9,5mm. Actually 11.6mm obtained by slitting 35mm film stock in three strips. Prototypes were made by amongst others by Elmo and Beaulieu in the nineties. But the project was abandoned for lack of venture capital.
- Acres, A.B. : Frontiersman to Film-maker (2001, MS as yet unpublished)
- Ceram, C.W.: Archeologie du Cinema (1966)
- Collins, Douglas: The story of Kodak (1990)
- Crawford, Merritt: The first thirty years (Movie Makers December 1930)
- Dery, Michel: Le format idéal (article)
- Jenkins, R.V.: Technology and the American Photographic Industry 1839 to 1925
- Kattelle, Alan: Home Movies (2000)
- Kennedy, Donald D.: The Film Industry in the People's Republic of China (SMPTE Journal vol.85 Nov '76)
- Lieshout, Henry van: Cine film formats ("Sixteen Frames" Spring '90)
- Limbacher, J.L.: Four aspects of the film (1968)
- Matthews, G.E. and Tarkington, R.G.: Early history of Amateur Motion Picture Film (article March 1955 Journal SMPTE)
- McKee, Gerald: Film Collecting (1978)
- A Pot-pourri of film widths and sprocket holes,
Milestone Movie Cameras (Articles in American Cinematographer, Jan. 1969).
- Rossell, Deac: Living Pictures. The origins of the movies (1998)
- Theisen, Earl: The history of nitrocellulose as a film base. (Article March 1933 Journal SMPTE vol 20)
- Table of film formats by Mark Baldock
- Scott E. Norwood's Motion Picture formats
- Eric Lange: Formats spéciaux
- Cinematographes - French site with fine images of curious formats
- History of sub-35mm film formats, by Jan-Eric Nystrom
- (widescreen) Film formats
- Standardization by F.H.Richardson (1918)
- Récapitulatif des principaux formats (French)
- "Small Movies" info on 8 and 16mm sizes
- Super-Duper 8 by Rick Palidwor
- Who invented the cinema?
- Birt Acres (1854 - 1910), film pioneer
- Collecting vintage film apparatus
- Pictures of vintage apparatus
- 17,5mm Equipment (Grahame L. Newnham)
- The 28mm page (Grahame L. Newnham)