Here’s my latest camera purchase – the French-made Mundus Color 60. Mundus produced these cameras in a variety of models from 1948 to 1976. At first glance it looks like a typical movie camera from the period and it takes 16mm film on 25ft spools, however it’s made to shoot single exposures like a still camera. These cameras are pretty rare even in France. I found this one on Ebay from a seller in Greece and although I haven’t tested it yet, everything appears to be in working order.
I havent been able to find any manual or instructions online but judging by the mechanisms it isn’t too complex. The lenses function the same as any other manual still camera. This one came with three, including what appears to be a macro add-on. You can select f/stop and shutter speed from open to 1/300.
This is a very interesting camera in the fact that it shoots single frames on 16mm film and Mundus manufactured a special projector for you to show the images one at a time, advancing through your photos similar to the way you would present slides. I suppose for the average photographer in the 40’s and 50’s the advantage of this camera was that you were able to get 500 exposures without having to change rolls. Given that typical cameras of that era shot on 110 and 120 film with 12 exposures (perhaps 24 max?) being able to shoot 500 images and have them collected on a single piece of reversal film would be pretty advantageous. Or a disaster if you happened to drop a spool while unloading the film you just spent two weeks exposing.
The lever on the side advances the spool inside the camera and also readies the shutter release. There is a small lever near the lens that trips the shutter and exposes the film. Then you advance again, which is the same as winding the film for your next exposure on a still camera.
Above are some still photos from a French website. As you can see, this thing makes some cool looking photos. I’m going to experiment with this camera using double 8mm reversal film because no one manufactures regular 16mm film in 25ft spools. Double 8mm is actually 16mm film that has extra sprocket holes and is meant to be run through a single 8 camera once, then flipped over and run through the camera again, exposing on the other side of the film. When you develop double 8mm rolls, the processor would cut the film down the middle and splice the two pieces together, giving you a 50ft roll of 8mm wide film. It would be less expensive for me to buy bulk 16mm film and wind it onto 25ft spools myself, but I’m just not that crafty yet. Check out this video featuring the Mundus:
I’ll post my results in a few months as it’s going to be as long of a process as getting my Super 8 films online. I have to have it developed and then telecined to view the results. I’m very doubtful I’ll find one of the Mundus projectors anytime soon. But because it is 16mm film I think I’ll have a pretty easy time finding a processing house that can give me high-res still enlargements if I really like the images.
The Mundus is an interesting counterpoint to the recently introduced Lomokino movie camera manufactured by Lomography. Where Mundus shoots still photos on movie film, the Lomokino shoots movies on 35mm still photo film! The Lomokino works the same way as the olde tyme movie cameras, where the camera operater had a crank on the side that he would manually turn, exposing frames of film as fast or as slow as he cranked.
Here is the Lomokino:
Here’s a really nice example of a Lomokino film: