The Pathé Professional Camera

This picture shows front and rear views of the 1908 model. The distinctive placement of the crank on the back was a popular feature. The eyepiece is to the left of the crank, and the dial just above the crank is the footage indicator. The external magazines held 400 feet of film, and the whole machine weighed a portable 22 pounds. Until World War I reduced Pathé’s capacity to produce sufficient numbers, the Pathé camera remained popular among American cameramen. At one point during the filming of D.W. Griffith’s Civil War epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), there were as many as 15 Pathé professional cameras in use. By that time, the camera could mechanically fade to white and black and perform in-camera dissolves (that is, fade out of one shot and into another). As late as 1917, the Cinema News applauded the Pathé camera’s “mechanical simplicity, its expert workmanship, and its steadiness on the screen.”

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