Magazine article American Cinematographer

Feathercam Cm35

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Feathercam Cm35

Article excerpt

In 1980 Feathercam Inc. introduced the new prototype lightweight C.M. 35 camera at Photokina in Cologne and the S.M.P.T.E. show in New York. The response to the camera was very enthusiastic and most people could not believe that this 35mm camera was as light as it is, lighter in fact than most 16mm cameras. We listened to their comments and solicited any improvements they could suggest before the camera went into production. Upon our return to Los Angeles we discussed the camera with some of Hollywood's top cameramen. We knew we had a winner as there was not a second unit type camera on the market to touch it feature for feature, but we felt there were several improvements we could make that would make the Feathercam not only the lightest 35mm hand-held camera on the market, but also one that could be the foundation for a whole system.

With all the information gained from the feedback, we sat down with Al Beck and his son, Albert, of Cinemechanics. To make our improvements it meant that we would have to go to a whole new redesign of the camera to add features we wanted and yet retain the light weight. Great attention has been given in the design of this new camera to dependability, reliability, ease of maintenance and simple foolproof operation. The elegance with which these objectives have been achieved will be enough by themselves to assure its acceptance by the movie industry, but there is so much more.

Although light in weight, this new camera is loaded with features not found on most of the cameras which are currently in service. The new film transport mechanism is a new but simple concept. It provides two-claw pull-down and two-pin registration. The result is dependable performance and absolute image stability at all operating speeds. The whole mechanism can be removed from its base for servicing.

The film gate is much larger (6'' long) than that normally found in other cameras. This provides for gentle but even pressure on a larger area of film and alleviates the possibility of film damage or emulsion deposits. No threading is needed either, as this is automatically achieved when the magazine is fitted.

The 180° shutter is a dynamically balanced rotating reflex mirror set at an angle of 45 degrees to the light entering the lens. The shutter is also designed to stop in the viewfinder open position so no adjustments are required.

The snap-on 500-foot coaxial magazine can be changed on the camera in less than two seconds. The magazine is simplicity itself to load, since it incorporates a unique loop-forming threading system which ensures correct loading every time. When loaded there is no loop of loose film to catch or snag and no threading is required on the camera. Just snap-on the loaded magazine and shoot. A mechanical footage counter is incorporated into the magazine. At the request of many cameramen, an inching knob has been added to the camera. Most of the electronics have been taken out of the camera and*1" put into a small base tray that sits underneath the camera and supports the magazine. This tray also holds all the switches and plugs to operate the camera.

A bright reflex viewfinder provides the operator with a brilliant image. It can be set for right or left-eye viewing in seconds and is never obscured by the shutter. An extension eyepiece has been added that extends the viewfinder to the rear of the magazine for tripod work and helicopter mount use, plus many other applications. …

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