"WHAT IS IT?"
November 08, 2006 -- Michael Tisdale
The "Edwyn Gilmour on 16" column in the May 1968 issue of Movie Maker magazine (Vol.2 No.5) posed a question on the identity of this camera:
There are no hints or other mention of the camera; just a picture and the following caption:
"I propose to reveal the identity of this unusual and yet somehow familiar camera to you in the issue after next, but in the meantime would any of you like to hazard a guess?"
Well, since I don't have Volume 2, Number 7 of Movie Maker, I don't know the answer. It looks like the accessory viewfinder is definitely a Bolex Octameter and the two lenses are Kern-Paillard -- it's a 16mm camera, but it's not a Bolex. It has a built-in optical viewfinder, rather than reflex viewing, and appears to take less than 100' loads. Other than that, I have no idea what it is.
So, do you have a copy of the issue with the answer? Got any guesses of your own? Do you know what it is? Just send me an email. I'll update this page if I ever find an answer, and maybe post some of the guesses.
January 23, 2007
Thanks to several emails, I've been able to identify this camera as a 16mm GIC (Groupement Industriel Cinématographique of Paris). The camera was originally designed by Marcel Beaulieu during the 1940s. Mr. Beaulieu, of course, later formed his own company, producing the popular R-16 16mm camera and a range of Super 8 cameras.
Below are two of the emails I've received from readers which contain more information on this camera. First, Andrew Alden from the UK writes:
"Dear Michael, the mystery camera is an easy one! Well, not that easy - the camera is a GIC, made in France, taking 50' loads and available in 8mm, 9.5mm and 16mm all in the same body shape. The 16mm takes 'c' mount lenses, the other two vary. I had a 16mm some time ago and it worked fine - that one had a single 'c' mount, the one in your photo looks as if it has an added turret - similarly the Octameter is an add-on and not standard."
Jean-Michel Blanc has also identified the camera and provided some interesting information on the later connection with SAFAC LB and Movierex. He writes:
"Hello from France,
I think that this camera is a GIC 16mm which has been modified for a turret with two lenses. GIC is the contraction of Groupement Industriel Cinématographique etablished by Marcel Beaulieu in 1949; the GIC 8mm, 9,5mm and 16mm have the same body. But, it is perhaps a movie camera made by Marcel Bonne who etablished SAFAC LB (Société Anonyme de Fabrication d'Appareils de Cinéma) Corporation in 1950'; he was the maker of the MOVIREX movie cameras; the body of the GIC and the Movirex was the same and this corporation have made turret for 3 lenses for the Paillard L8 in 1953."
Thanks again to everyone else who took the time to respond with their guesses and answers!