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Arri II? Need help to confirmed model as no visible serial!


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#1 George Clark

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 06:43 PM

I have learned a lot from the collective expertise on this great site but as a 35mm notice i am struggling to confirm the exact model of a Arri 35mm camera I am looking to buy. The person selling the camera believes it is a Arriflex II but doesn't know if it is A, B or C or not and cannot find a serial number on the camera (there is not one on the front where they usually seem to be). I've looked at various pictures of other Arriflex II's and it seems to be an early model Arriflex II but i can't be certain. One of the main things that seems to define this model and that I am keen to confirm is the type of movement it employs. If anyone can help to identify the movement in the picture below that would be a great help.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Am I right in thinking that this has the older movement (the circular disc that moves the claw) which preceded the cardiod cam movement (with the drilled holes) that came with the later models of the Arri II?

In case it helps with lens turret has three mounts and they each have their own release rather than one for all three which i heard was something that earlier models had. Ideally I'd like to figure out the shutter angel but i don't know if that is possible without an exact series or model number.

There's a great discussion on this page http://www.cinematog...showtopic=21449 but it seems like a bit of a gray area so any help with interpreting these pics would be greatly received.

Edited by George Clark, 25 October 2011 - 06:45 PM.

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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 01:19 AM

This is either a model I or a very early II. Look for the serial number on the front of the body, either just under the magazine latch knob, or very low on the front, under the turret's taking lens position. They can be very faint. Take pictures of those areas and post them if you can.

If the serial number is under 2000, it's a model I, which means it was a WWII German combat camera, used to make "Die Deutsche Wochenschau", their official newsreel. Parts for the model I are not available, since the factory was bombed on July 13, 1944.

No Arri ever had a single release for all three lenses. My model I's all have individual releases. Given that it's the bell crank movement, the shutter angle must be 120 degrees. It was only with the cardioid cam that they were able to increase the angle to 180. That smaller shutter angle helps in identifying whether WWII footage is German or Allied -- The Allies had the B&H Eyemo, with a 165 degree shutter. You can see the difference on the tank treads.

You're buying it as an antique, right, not as a usable camera?





-- J.S.
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#3 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 01:58 AM

Yes the movement is the older type, which means it's a IIA or earlier. I've read some conflicting information about when the later "dwelling" movement with a cardioid cam was introduced, either it was with the IIA (1953) or early in the IIA production, but I would presume it came the same time as the 180 degree shutter, which seems to have been 1953. As well as allowing a larger shutter angle the new movement design made the camera steadier, as the claw acted as a form of registration pin by dwelling at the bottom of the pull-down.

We have an early Arri 35 in our museum, which has the first movement, a bakelite (or pertinax?) gate, and a single release for all three lenses (sorry John, they do exist). The 120 degree shutter angle is quite a bit smaller than the 180 of later models - you can easily tell the difference looking through the lens port. The serial number on the front of ours is 700, but there's another serial number (570) inside the door. I guess that makes it a pre-war model, going by John's information. I'm curious myself about when the single release was replaced with individual mount releases.

Our camera is fitted with some rather lovely (though uncoated) Meyer Gorlitz Primoplan lenses, including an f1.5 5cm, which I believe was the fastest in the world at the time. From the little research I've done that also places them pre-war, since post-war Meyer lenses (as part of the DDR) seem to be branded Meyer-Optik Gorlitz.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 05:14 PM

Production model I's started with #500 in 1937. It was owned by Samuelson's in London until about ten years ago. So, yours would be very early, the 200th camera made. My oldest is #1420, and the ASC museum has one in the 1200's, all with individual lens releases. So, that gives us a bracketing range for that change. It looks like they also stopped numbering the doors, mine aren't numbered.

It also looks like Arri #1052 had the individual releases. It was issued to Horst Grund in the Kriegsmarine, and he kept it after the war and kept on shooting with it into the 1970's:

http://commons.wikim..._Filmkamera.jpg

http://forum.axishis...=53389&start=15




-- J.S.
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#5 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:04 PM

That's very interesting John, thanks. Number 200 out of 1500 would date it quite early in the war I imagine.

Some photos for reference might be of use to collectors or historians:

Posted Image

The early magazines were unpainted.

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A close-up of the single lens release - two pins that you squeeze together. Must have led to the odd lens falling out on occasion!

Posted Image

The original gate, made from some sort of fibre resin.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 12:53 AM

Interesting indeed. You also have a square matte box pin and no curly bottom bracket, like mine all have.




-- J.S.
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#7 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 05:46 PM

Here's one on German ebay that looks pretty early:

http://cgi.ebay.de/w...3#ht_500wt_1118

It has the round matte box pin but what looks to be the single release. Seller couldn't find a serial number either.
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#8 George Clark

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 11:05 AM

Thanks for the comments and advice. I'm hopefully getting the camera this weekend so I'll send some pictures of it and try and find the serial number myself.
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#9 George Clark

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 04:19 PM

I recently picked up the camera and still haven't able to find the model number. But I do have a copy of the original purchase order from Arri dated 14/3/1951 and it lists the camera as "ARRIFLEX-Handkamera Modell II' with the number 1954. Also a fascinating bit of history is that this camera was purchased and owned by John Richard Moore (most commonly know as Richard Moore) the cinematographer who co-founded Panavision with Robert Gottschalk in 1954. The camera was in Richard's possession until his death in 2009 and it was sold to me by his son. So it seems there's quite a bit of history to it!

I would still like to find the model number on the camera itself and currently I think that it is obscured by the camera's base motor unit which covers the lower area near the lenses where the serial number often is. I have been trying to figure out how to remove the base so as to fully inspect the camera but haven't managed it yet. Here are some photos of the camera and base:

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If anyone has seen a base like this before and knows anything about it i would be interested to learn more and also find out if it is possible to remove. From my inspection it seems that it is the cogs that connect to the camera motor that will need to be removed in order to take the camera body from the base but i can't see an obvious way to do that.

It seems the base unit was added to the camera later on as it is not mentioned in the original invoice as one of the components.

Edited by George Clark, 16 November 2011 - 04:20 PM.

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#10 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 05:09 PM

I've never seen a base like this but I would try removing these two screws:

Screen shot 2011-11-16 .jpg

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#11 Joe Taylor

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 05:45 PM

Hello George. Congratulations on your purchase. That is certainly an A or possibly B model. If you are interested, I will be listing (3) 400' Arri magazine that come in a hardshell fiberglass case on eBay next week. Let me know if you are interested and I will forward you the link.
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#12 George Clark

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 06:07 PM

Thanks Jean-Louis for your post - it'll be interesting to see if anyone is familiar with this base.

I should have mentioned that I removed those two bolts but the base still seemed to be held on via the large cog below -

Posted Image

The small one connects to the motor mounted on the base and the large one connects to the camera gear mechanism. Maybe these should be easily removable but I didn't want to force them but I can't see any screw on this part. When they are turned they turn the camera mechanism.

- - -

Re: Joe - Yes do let me know about the ebay auction thanks.

Edited by George Clark, 16 November 2011 - 06:08 PM.

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#13 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 06:53 PM

The camera has a 3/8 inch tripod socket located pretty far back on the bottom.
About in line with where the door opening knob is located.
Most attachments use this socket as an anchor point in addition to one near the front.
That seems to be pretty much were the rear socket head screw is located.
Maybe you just have work it and rock it a little bit more to try and separate the base form the camera because I doubt somebody would have designed the unit in such a way that you would have to remove the big cog in order to take the base off.

Good luck!

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#14 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 07:50 PM

Hi George,

I agree with Jean-Louis - every base I've seen is attached by the 2 screws mentioned and easily removed.

Never seen one like that though. The provision for fitting rails suggests it's a late after-market version. The quality would suggest it was made by professionals - maybe Panavision?

It looks like the whole kit was refurbished at some time, the serial number is probably on the front beneath the new paint.
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#15 George Clark

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:18 PM

Thanks Dom and Jean-Louis you were right.
I managed to get the base off and there was nothing else holding it on. The resistance was from the large cog that was tightly fitted onto the the motor shaft. It seems to be quite a different mechanism from the wild motors but maybe this is standard for these flat bases? Anyway here's some more pics so you can take a look.

Posted Image

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I have been looking for the serial in these two places and have worn down the paint a little to see if there is anything visible. So far I haven't been able to find anything and i don't want to remove the paint if i can help it. Can you tell me if I'm looking in the right areas?

Posted Image

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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:03 PM

Can you tell me if I'm looking in the right areas?


Yes, those are the places where the number should be. It's a nice paint job, but probably not original, because you can't see the number. They weren't stamped very deep, and it's easy to sand or file the number off. Dissolving the paint would be the safe way to go. If you find a light green under the black paint, that was the original finish on the WWII Luftwaffe cameras.




-- J.S.
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#17 Clive Alex

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:50 AM

Yes, those are the places where the number should be. It's a nice paint job, but probably not original, because you can't see the number. They weren't stamped very deep, and it's easy to sand or file the number off. Dissolving the paint would be the safe way to go. If you find a light green under the black paint, that was the original finish on the WWII Luftwaffe cameras.




-- J.S.

I recently bought an Arri II and it had light green pain under the black pain on the matte box, it was bought from the U.S Air force and on the box said U.S Army U.S Air force aircraft camera. Does anyone know much about these cameras?
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#18 Clive Alex

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:01 AM

Forgot to mention it came with Astro-Berlin and Carl Zeiss Jena lenses and it has a single release for all three lenses and it's in perfect working order.

Edited by Clive Alex, 09 February 2012 - 11:02 AM.

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#19 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 07:32 PM

I recently bought an Arri II and it had light green pain under the black pain on the matte box, it was bought from the U.S Air force and on the box said U.S Army U.S Air force aircraft camera. Does anyone know much about these cameras?


Maybe a captured German military camera 'conscripted' into the US Air force? The single lens release and Zeiss Jena lenses (the original pre-war Zeiss branding) certainly suggest that it's war-era vintage, an Arri 35 rather than a 35II. Could be quite a rare one. Does it also have the resin gate and square matte-box pin? No serial number visible?
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#20 Clive Alex

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 04:14 AM

Maybe a captured German military camera 'conscripted' into the US Air force? The single lens release and Zeiss Jena lenses (the original pre-war Zeiss branding) certainly suggest that it's war-era vintage, an Arri 35 rather than a 35II. Could be quite a rare one. Does it also have the resin gate and square matte-box pin? No serial number visible?

The gate is alloy and it has a round matte box pin with a curved one bellow it like a late Arri, but on the other side of the camera is smooth and doesn't have the disc with Arri's logo and model on it, I wonder if the U.S military contracted Arri at some point to make aerial camera's for them.
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