As a prelude to some work I will be doing in the next week or so evaluating the Mitchell 205, I was hoping to begin this week by taking a deep dive into some history of this camera. However, after many hours of searching, we are no more informed about the history of the 205 now than we were before we began. Still, I will share what little I know about this interesting successor to the Mitchell BNCR. Feel free to correct me if I am sorryfully misinformed, but here’s what I think I know.
Word of mouth says that the Mitchell 205 was first developed by Henryk Chroscicki, founder of Technovision in Rome, for his equipment rental company. Chroscicki was born in Poland in 1919 and is credited as a producer, director, cinematographer, and owner of an equipment rental house. If you do a basic Google search for the 205, you will find pictures of a Technovision 205 at work on “Apocalypse Now” (1979) and a Mitchell 205 on the feature film “1900” (1976) alongside director Bernardo Bertolucci and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, but not a whole lot of additional information. We also spotted a January 1973 ad from Mitchell Camera Corporation advertising the Mitchell 205-R 35mm Silent Studio Camera.
This Mitchell 205 began its life as Mitchell NC #583. Records show it was first sold in 1955 to Allan B. DuMont Labs, then returned to Mitchell and sold again in 1957 to Irving Smith. The camera was later converted to spinning mirror reflex, we think by Mitchell Camera, and installed in the smaller, “lighter” 205 blimp. The Mitchell 205 camera features a 205 degree variable shutter, rotating mirror reflex viewfinding system, neutral density and contrast filters as well as high and low critical focusing in the viewfinder, variable pitch control, and a fiberglass magazine blimp housing. The Mitchell ad suggests that the camera blimp housing was made from lightweight magnesium castings. We can attest to the lighter weight as we just had to move the Mitchell BNC rackover around a few times. The 205 is still heavy, but much lighter than the BNC. Feel free to share any information you have about the Mitchell or Technivision 205 cameras, or any wonderful adventures you might have had with one.