An Interlude with the Mitchell MK II

You all know how much I enjoy playing with this equipment. This afternoon I was revisiting John Hora’s Mitchell MK II S35R camera. It brought back to mind how much I hate the door on this camera, but love everything else the camera can do. John’s camera features the BNCR hard front, a swing-away video tap, and a Fries Engineering crystal motor. The magazine John put on this camera is from his Cinema Products XR35, which was sadly lost when John passed away.

The MK II represents a step forward in high speed 35mm spinning mirror reflex cameras, capable of shooting from 1 frame per second to 128 frames per second. It features many of the same conveniences that Mitchell cameras were famous for, like a variable shutter, as well as critical focus, contrast filter, and color filter all built into the viewfinder door.

The Mitchell MK II S35R uses NC style magazines, and this model can still use the shoulder mounted magazines if you can find them (though I don’t know why you’d want to). While not Mitchell’s most elegant design, this camera is easy to thread, easy to maintain, features a lot of accessories, and can be used for animation, live action, or high speed cinematography, all in one reasonably portable package.

Mitchell did manufacture a blimp for the MK II (which I had the misfortune of picking up once, do not recommend) which did make the camera reasonably quiet. The two blimps I have used were not super quiet, but if you need a spinning mirror reflex high speed camera, this is a pretty good choice.