I don't really purchase 16mm equipment anymore, but when I was offered a collection of cameras, including this Arriflex 16M, that belonged to an old friend and former client, I couldn't say no. The Arriflex 16M "Magazine" camera was introduced in 1962 as a successor to the venerable ARRI 16 ST. Like its predecessor the ARRI S, the ARRI M is a spinning mirror reflex 16mm motion picture camera with a bright viewfinder, a 3-lens divergent turret to work with a variety of lenses, and a small, compact formfactor. The M improved upon the S by adding interchangeable ground glasses, a brighter viewfinder image, an easy to open and close hinged camera door, and easier to use, gear-driven, interchangeable magazines in 3 capacities (200', 400', 1200'). The M also features a built-in Pilotone generator. Arriflex listened to feedback from its many happy ARRI S customers in designing the ARRI M, and built upon the ARRI S's reliable pin registered movement and spinning mirror viewfinder to developed this innovative, next generation 16mm production camera.
Believe it or not, this eariler serial number ARRI M (sn. M 092) was dirtier and grungier than the other cameras in this collection. But under all that dirt, was a wonderful, smooth running, ARRI M camera. After a lot of cleaning, I was able to inch the camera and magazine by hand using the motor coupling. The movement (the pull-down claw and the registration pin) and the shutter all worked smoothly. The spinning mirror shutter is clean, without any major scratches or gauges in it. The viewfinder optics are very dirty, but I managed to clean them up enough the evaluate the camera. Other than needing a deep cleaning and a general service, this camera is in pretty good condition. I found a variable speed motor in my collection of parts and was able to power the camera up. Everything ran very smoothly. The camera comes as pictured, with a 400' magazine, an Angenieux 10-150mm zoom lens, and a variable speed motor. While they are not pictured here, we also have several 1200' magazines in stock that can be added to this package. This camera and lens are offered in as-is, unrestored condition.
ARRI was founded by August Arnold and Robert Richter in Munich, Germany in 1917. Friends from school, Arnold and Richter already had some experience in the motion picture business, having worked as cameramen and lab technicians. They began their business by building a film copying machine using parts out of an old film projector they purchased secondhand. While sales of their machine were going well, both men continued their work in many aspects of the movie business, including as cinematographers, producers, and lighting technicians. In 1918, they worked on their first film with director Fred Stranz, a western called "Der Schwarze Jack" (or Black Jack).
By 1920 they were producing their own short films, and using the profits to improve their printers. In 1924, Arnold began designing their first motion picture camera, the KINARRI 35, as well as their first lighting equipment. This camera was completed by 1925 and Arnold sent it to Richter in the United States where he had gone to learn about the American film business. Their second camera, the TROPEN, which featured an adjustable rotary shutter, was produced during this time as well. In 1928, the KINARRI 16 was developed for an amateur filmmaking audience, along with a 2nd more advanced model that featured an internal spring wind mechanism. In 1934, with sound films now dominating the market, ARRI developed a portable sound camera, but patent issues prevented it from being sold commercially. Success came soon after though.
In 1937, the ARRIFLEX 35 was released, a revolutionary handheld spinning mirror reflex 35mm motion picture camera that featured a spinning mirrored shutter and a parallax-free erect image viewfinder. This design, which saw many innovations and updates after its introduction, was produced until 1978. The Arriflex 35 is a World War II vintage camera, and saw use by the German military during the war. Some early examples of the ARRI 35 were captured by American troops and brought back to the US. In 1946, ARRI introduced the next generation of this camera, the Arriflex 35 II. So influential was the Arriflex 35 series of cameras, that it was awarded an Academy Award of Merit in 1983 for "the concept and engineering of the first operational 35mm, hand-held, spinning mirror reflex, motion picture camera."