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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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