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Dave Bellard's not-so-daily journal and sketchbook 

The Mundus Color 60 16mm Camera

 

I recently featured some work on the website - WASHINGTON CUTUPS - in which I used film shot with a bizarre and unique camera rarely seen in the U.S. - the Mundus Color 60. The Mundus were a brand of French cameras made in the postwar era that shot still photos on 25ft rolls of 16mm movie film. There were several models of the Mundus produced between 1940 - 1970, the most prolific of them the Color 60.

The Mundus is one of most beautifully designed cameras of the 60’s, an almost organic style similar to other French cameras like Beaulieu and Palliard-Bolex movie cameras.

The Mundus is one of most beautifully designed cameras of the 60’s, an almost organic style similar to other French cameras like Beaulieu and Palliard-Bolex movie cameras.

The side opens and the film is loaded like a movie camera, threading the film through a film gate and into the take-up spool.

The side opens and the film is loaded like a movie camera, threading the film through a film gate and into the take-up spool.

The camera has 3 interchangeable lenses however there is no expose meter and the viewfinder is fixed, so taking photos requires complete manual adjustments, similar to many other analog cameras from this era.

My Mundus has three interchangeable lenses.

My Mundus has three interchangeable lenses.

I believe this is a macro lens, but I haven’t used it yet.

I believe this is a macro lens, but I haven’t used it yet.

The only 16mm film available on 25ft rolls are films produced for the single 8mm market. There isn’t a large selection of film stocks available, and only a handful of dedicated small batch producers are still making the film.

The only 16mm film available on 25ft rolls are films produced for the single 8mm market. There isn’t a large selection of film stocks available, and only a handful of dedicated small batch producers are still making the film.

I shot a few rolls with the camera, but it’s not an easy or quick roll to shoot. First there you can shoot approximately 350 frames per roll, with the first 25 frames being overexposed from loading the film. After that, every frame exposed has two actions: first to reset the shutter on the lens, and second to expose the frame and advance the film with the lever on the side.

Loading the film.

Loading the film.

A view of the lever needed to advance the film after each frame. Not a smooth task.

A view of the lever needed to advance the film after each frame. Not a smooth task.

This action is not smooth - in fact it works the carpal tendon in my thumb a lot, so after shooting about 50 frames in a row, my thumb and fingers are tired. So considering that each shot needs to be light metered and focused, shooting an entire roll takes a long time.

Processed film back from the lab, I’ve already been reviewing and cutting up.

Processed film back from the lab, I’ve already been reviewing and cutting up.

Film pieces used in the  WASHINGTON CUTUP  series.

Film pieces used in the WASHINGTON CUTUP series.

Because the camera shoots on 16mm film, essentially half of the width of 35mm film, the image quality is not that crisp, exacerbated by the fact that the view finder is not WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), and all images are subject to how well you can focus based on distance. These self portraits on the right give you an idea of the image quality of the 16mm film. It’s only a step up from 110 film, but the aesthetic is retro-cool and shooting vertical images on 16mm film is fun. In fact, he pieces in the WASHINGTON CUTUP series are some of my favorite artwork produced during my time in DC.

Bellard 16mm Dave.jpg
WASHINGTON CUTUP 1 and BOTANICAL CUTUP 3, in corporate collection.

WASHINGTON CUTUP 1 and BOTANICAL CUTUP 3, in corporate collection.

 
David Bellard