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Arriflex BL4S 35mm motion picture camera with PL lens mount

Item #C14408

The final entry in the venerable Arriflex 35 BL series of cameras, the ARRI 35 BL 4S is a remarkable production tool, and one of my personal favorite cameras. The BL 4S is easily hand-holdable, or can be mounted on a geared head or a fluid head. It has a variety of operator-friendly features, including interchangeable ARRI Glow ground glasses, long and short orientable viewfinders, heated eye cup, pistol grip with remote on/off, PL lens mount, and variable pitch control. This camera package includes:

  • ARRI BL 4S camera body
  • four 1000' magazines
  • 6x6 two-stage swing-away matte box
  • long and short erect image orientable eyepieces
  • heated eye cup
  • pistol grip with remote on/off
  • PL lens mount
  • black and white video tap (NTSC)
  • drop-in follow focus
  • Tobin Cine Systems remote speed control
  • ARRI Glow ground glass
  • power cables and cases for all

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Arriflex BL4S 35mm motion picture camera with PL lens mount
Arriflex BL4S 35mm motion picture camera with PL lens mount
Arriflex BL4S 35mm motion picture camera with PL lens mount

A Brief History of ARRI

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."

The Arriflex 35 II B model was released in 1960, and featured a new transport claw design and a fixed 180-degree shutter. In 1964, the Arriflex 35 II C model was introduced, bringing with it an improved viewfinder system with larger viewfinder optics, interchangeable ground glasses, an interchangeable eyepiece, and a variable shutter. The Arriflex 35 II C was manufactured through 1979. In 1979, ARRI introduced the Arriflex 35 III camera, a successor to the ever-popular 35 II C. The Arriflex 35 III was a spinning mirror reflex camera that featured single pin registration, a variable shutter (adjustable from 15 degrees to 135 degrees), interchangeable doors, and an interchangeable ground glasses.

  1. Jon Fauer, "The History of ARRI in a Century of Cinema", ARRI, updated 2021, View source.
  2. "100 Years Inspiring Your Vision", updated 2017, View source.
  3. Jorge Diaz-Amador, "Camera Profiles - Arriflex 35-II Series," updated 2020, View source.