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My Old Mauer


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#1 John King

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 10:57 PM

Hello all,

Recently I purchased a Mauer Model 150 16mm camera. The fellow I bought it off of included an adapter for Nikon mount lenses to the integral C mount, so I can use Nikon lenses originally intended for 35mm still photography on my 16mm film camera--> really neat feature. The camera is also set up on the old 60 Hz cycle 'Pilotone' for sync sound. I have'nt got to play around much with the camera and a users manual was included, but it seems to me that the manual could have been more 'complete' I guess. Anyway it just seems that there ought to be more in it.

Also I tried doing a search on the J.A. Mauer Company, who made the camera, but could find nothing on them to turn up. I'm sure the company is out of business now, but I'd like to know something about the history of these old Mauer cameras.

Anybody here ever had experience with Mauer cameras? In particular the model 150? If so any and all info opinions, ect. would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

John Mark King
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#2 Ian Marks

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Posted 01 February 2006 - 01:16 PM

I have a bit of familiarity with the Maurer (I think that's how it's spelled). I agree that there is little information out there. If your camera is the one I'm thinking of, it resembles a 16mm Mitchell, has gear-driven 400-foot magazines, a continuously variable shutter with a control that looks something like an old telephone dial, and a turret which accepts four C-mount lenses. I don't recall whether it had a rack-over feature, but I think so, and some had a fairly elaborate side finder with interchangeable masks for different focal lengths.

My understanding is that this camera was extremely well made, with image steadiness that equalled or bettered the Mitchell. The one I examined certainly was nice, with a beautifully finished gate and interior. It must have been very expensive when new. I've seen interchangeable Maurer motors in sync and variable-speed flavors (Maurer also manufactured a sync motor for the Cine-Special, and I have one of those). Also, many of the Maurers were set up as animation cameras, although I don't know if Maurer made an animation motor or if that was a third-party item.

I think that Maurer stopped making their cameras sometime in the early 1960's, but continued to make instrumentation cameras for the government and clients like NASA. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think Maurers have flown in U.S. space missions.

Somewhere I have an older copy of the Cinematographer's Handbook, or Cameraman's Handbook, or whatever it was called, and it has the specifications and operating instructions for the Maurer. It's packed away in a box somewhere, but if you're interested and can give me a bit of time, I could probably locate it and Xerox the relevant pages for you. You can e-mail me at filmwonk@hotmail.com. Hope this helps.
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#3 John King

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 05:49 AM

Mr. Marks,

Thank you so much for your reply. Yes you describe my camera pretty much, except the turret on mine accepts three C-mount lenses. It does take 400ft. gear driven magazines and they (I got 4 mags with the package) are of the 'mickey mouse' type associated with the 'Mitchell look'. However, different from the Mitchell, the Maurer (You were right about the spelling, I checked again--oops!), mags have a knurled knob screw situated between the two chambers that locks the mag down onto the camera, which really looks more like some older Bell & Howell 35mm operations that I have seen.

The manual that I do have mentions a variable shutter, but the telephone dial thingy that you mention as the shutter control is on the inside of the camera itself --right? Anyway that's where I saw something that looked like what you described. It looked to me as if there were tiny screws in each of the dial holes, so am I looking at the right thing?

The overall construction just screams 'ROCK STEADY!'. I opened up the inner compartment and if I didn't know better I would have sworn that the whole thing had been milled from one big block of steel. The inside is polished to a gleaming finish, really beautiful! (and heavy-- but I got a tripod to go with it too so that's OK)
Yes, it does have a rather elabourate side finder, with a very wide viewing area (almost like a small cctv monitor) that slides onto another finder built into the camera. This is whats really weird looking to me. It almost looks like the camera had a reflex finder added on as an afterthought. I guess it could be a modification, but it looks so integral to the original construction. Well if it was a modification it was a good job! (I'm still in contact with the fellow I bought it off of and will ask him about that).

It does have what looks to me like a variant of the old Mitchell gearing at the back of the camera for the rackover system, but again I will have to check up more on this as I can't seem to easily move it and don't want to try and force it until I know exactly what it is and what it does.

Yes, I will probably be e-mailing you, and if you don't care PLEASE photocopy the material you have on the Maurer cameras, I will gladly pay you for your trouble.

Again thanks so much for your response and help!

John Mark King
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#4 Boris Belay

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 07:09 AM

I check and the Maurer 150 is indeed in the "Professional 16/35mm Cameraman's Handbook" by Verne and Sylvia Carlson, 1970-1974 but only in the early versions of that excellent reference manual, well worth investing in it. I also have a 1994 "Fourth Edition" of the same book and the Maurer is not in there anymore, so make sure you get the right one !
You can easily find this classic on internet, and you won't regret paying the $10 the early editions go for !

And yes, that elaborate viewfinder is integral to the camera. Looks good !
-B
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#5 Ian Marks

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 12:43 PM

The book that Boris mentions is the book I was talking about, and you can find them around in used book stores. There's a used book store in my area (North Hollywood, California) called the Iliad that always seems to have a good selection of film books and I wouldn't be surprised if they have one. I believe they do a brisk business by phone and mail order, so you might want to contact them (although they're just about to move a few blocks from their long-time location and might be unavailable for a week or two). The book has lots of good information about other vintage cameras too, like the Eclair CM3, so I'd agree with Boris that it's a very worthwhile investment.

I'll start digging around in my cartons of books for my copy.
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#6 John King

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 12:52 PM

Ian and Boris,

Thanks so much for the info, you guys are the greatest! I'll do some searches on the internet and see what I can turn up on the book.

Thaks again!

JMK
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 02:45 PM

I think that Maurer stopped making their cameras sometime in the early 1960's, but continued to make instrumentation cameras for the government and clients like NASA. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think Maurers have flown in U.S. space missions.


Not only were Mauers in U.S. Space missions, they were the 16mm camera of choice for footage shot on the moon. They made a camera called a "DAC", a Data Acquisition Camera, which is a funny name because it sounds as if they were talking about something digital. Anyway, when Neal Armstrong was descending down the ladder to the lunar surface on the Apollo 11 landing, Col. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin pointed the Mauer out one of the portholes on the lunar module, set at something like one frame per second, and it recorded the astronauts hopping around the craft at an accelerated rate, tracking their motion. You can see this footage on many of the programs about the Apollo landings. So anyway, Mauers are clearly a highly reliable brand, since they were the cine equivalent of the Hasselblad from NASA's perspective.

Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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