Bell and Howell’s Filmo 70 Camera   11 comments

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70a sideview This is where I started on my 16mm adventure.  I was looking around on Ebay for Super8 film cameras and I ran across a B&H Filmo 70a in a box for a great price and I ended up winning the auction even though I really didn’t intend to.  Has that ever happened to you?  I mean there you are innocently browsing around and then Wham!, then a box shows up a couple of days later with something you hadn’t even been looking for.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 framerate closeup The Filmo 70 is a great starter camera that has a lot going for it: sturdy, inexpensive, easy to understand, easy to use, readily available, cool retro look, good resale value.   Of course there are some things that are not so good: heavy enough to make a great boat anchor, no reflex viewfinder.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 inside

If you go wonder around ebay looking for these monsters you are going to find a blue million variations.  B&H made these cameras for more than 30 years and they make 5 or 6 different models.   The above camera is an ancient 70a model made in the 20’s.  It has just a single lens limited framerate, I have one that goes  from 8 to 16 frames and another that  goes 12 to 24.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Later version frontview Later models add the three lens turret, the ability to hand crank or add motor drive, speeds up to 64 frames a second, upgraded frame counter, additional longer film magazine.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Later version rearview

The camera shown here was used as a sports camera filming high school football games.  It definitely show a good bit of wear but even after all that it still works fine.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Later version sideview So what about repair???  well any old camera found on ebay is quite a tossup.  I have purchased all kinds of old cameras of ebay and it seems that maybe 50% turn out to be OK.  I have purchased the occasional camera that came broke and was easily repaired with a bit of oil or other TLC but generally digging into the guts of any camera is good way to end up with a junk box full of camera parts and not much else.  The filmo 70’s are not too bad to work on if you restrict yourself to the shutter area, if you go beyond that into the spring motor portion then you are asking for the spring to pop out and knock you head off.   One of the oldest 70 that I got didn’t work at first but after I remove the shutter panel from the front I found that it just needed a tiny bit of oil to get it running.  Of course it was only after I had it apart that I found that there was a cap on the front in the dead center of the panel that made it easy to oil without disassembly.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 shutter closeup

Another factor to consider with these old cameras is that they were made for double perf film.  I have had success converting one camera by removing the transport sprockets and sanding off one set of teeth, also the pull down lever needs to be modified to remove one of the teeth on that.  I was a relatively easy convert.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Single Perf Alteration

Another thing to look for if you are looking at 70’s is whether or not your camera has a winder.  Several of the older cameras I got came without keys and I had to make one up to use them.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Crank

I took a 8 inch bolt and did a little torch work with my torch and made a quick crank that gets the job done.  I supposed I could have gone shopping on ebay and found a crank for 30 or 40 bucks but I a just a little to cheap to spend that much on a crank when that is all I spent on the camera in the first place.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Crank closeup

Lenses,  Arrrrrrrrrrg     you do have to be a little careful with lenses with the 70 models.  The 70a’s that I have do not take standard c mount lenses like so many 16mm camera but take a c mount with a special extension at the back so that you focus by actually screwing the lens out the front.    And if you have a turret lens version then you have to look for a lens with out any protrusions out of the back the keep you from rotating the turret.  Oh yeah – and of course there is the issue of getting a matching viewfinder lens.

filmo 70a with lens

Here is my advice if you want a Filmo 70 off ebay – look for a seller with good feedback,  look for a camera that is in working condition hopefully with a lens and crank attached.  Be wary of anything that is “untested” which tends to be another way of saying broken.   Don’t get in a hurry watch them sell for a week or two before you buy.

Good luck and happy 16mm adventures!


Posted January 6, 2013 by 16mmadventures in Cameras

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11 responses to “Bell and Howell’s Filmo 70 Camera

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  1. Thanks for responding on your youtube channel. I modified mine for single perf, and will try running some film through it next week! I really appreciate the help!

  2. Hi. I’ve bought a Filmo 70A that works absolutelly perfect! My only issue is about the double perf films. My camera is in a very rare good conservation state and i’m hesitating about to convert it to single perf but I’ve read you did that in yours. Is your camera working fine after the conversion???
    Thanx a lot!!!
    Helder Martinovsky

    Helder Martinovsky
    • It was very simple to do, and it works just fine. At first I was going to chuck it into a lathe and turn down the teeth. I would up using a new fine tooth file. It took about 10 minutes to do by hand. You want the surface to be as smooth as possible. I have only shot 100′ on mine so far, but it worked well.

  3. Thanx a lot for your answer Chris, it makes me more confident to do the conversion on mine. I’ve already done this on a Bolex projector, but only the teeth and it is perfect! My real fear was about the pull down lever (claw) cause it could cause an unstable movement of the film, as the whole gear of this camera is quite simple. Anyway, after your experience i gonna try this, as i can’t find 2R films anymore and this camera is working just like a new one!
    Thank you!!!!!!
    Helder Martinovsky

    Helder Martinovsky
  4. Hello, I have a Filmo model 70( no other letters) and a 70-A. I’m confused as to the focus. Is it fixed? I can see where you set the appeture from 3.5-16 and the frame rates of 8 and 16. Since the viewfinder isinglass the lens how do you know it’s in focus?? Thanks.


    • It depends on the lens but some of them just screw out a little to focus on object closer than the fixed infinity point. If there is no scale on the lens then it is meant for fixed focus.

  5. I made my entry to the Filmo world a year ago. Now I take 16mm and 8mm Filmo cameras for repair and service. These are very well made products. If someone has a question, I’ll readily answer.

    • I have a Filmo 70-da which seems to run perfectly except that the turret doesn’t seem to lock as well as it should into place for each lens position. There is still a little bit of play back and fourth. Is this a known problem? It wouldn’t seem too hard to fix. Do you think you could service and repair my camera?

    • I would like to know if with a modification to the bell and howell 70a it accepts which type of film also from the Foma company?

      Franco Franceschini
  6. Hello,

    Can you tell me what the serial # is of the Filmo 12-24FPS in the upper photo? A photo of the number would be nice also.

    Thank you.—Steve

  7. I have a filmo 70 model A and whenever I turn the switch on the front of the camera over to the 8 fps mark, it will not run, however it will run at 16 fps

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