Grahame N's Web Pages


MILLER
9.5MM CINE CAMERAS
AND LATER


1930s

It appears Miller were a small family engineeering set-up. We do have Gloucester addresses; from mentions in the 1930s Amateur Cine World magazine - Miller Cine Co. Ltd., Elmbridge Road, Gloucester (1934) and later: Miller Cine Co. Ltd., 106 Barton Street, Gloucester, (UK)

Some extra information has now arrived regarding this interesting British made and designed range of 9.5mm cine cameras. We know that Ken Miller had been educated at the Crypt School, Gloucester and worked at the Gloucester Railway and Wagon Works as a draughtsman and estimator. A Mr. T.C. Lane was also employed in the same office, also as a draughtsman and estimator. The two had teamed up as friends by 1930 when the economic depression caused the works to virtually close down because of a lack of rolling stock orders. Ken Miller began to design a 9.5mm cine camera, with possibly his prototype being the first British model produced. Soon the 9.5mm Miller cine cameras were assembled and tested at Ken Miller's home in Elmbridge Road, Gloucester. Mr Lane joined Ken by 1934. Mr Lane assisted with the assembly and went on a sales drive resulting in firm orders of up to 100 units each from the London Camera Company, the Westminster Photo Company and City Sale and Exchange.

With these decent orders, the 9.5mm cine camera assembly was moved into rented premises in Carlton Road, Gloucester with additional help provided by a young apprentice. By around 1936 production was moved to a new locality near the city centre and a proper limited company formed - at Miller Cine Co. Ltd., 106 Barton Street, Gloucester, (UK). It appears two patents were filed by Ken Miller for the governor and the gate presser pad.

The 1939-45 World War put a stop to further 9.5mm cine camera production, but beforehand, because Ken Miller had been considering an 8mm model, Mr Lane obtained financial backing and left to plan production of a 'Sceats and Lane' 9.5mm cine camera - all chance of this dissapearing with the upcoming World War and he joined the Sperry Gyroscope Company for the duration. During the war years Ken Miller produced photo equipment for aircraft at the Barton Street works. Eventually once the dust had settled after the war, Miller launched 8mm cine cameras which were sold through the 1950s till around 1960. At about this time ~Ken Miller died of a heart attack in his middle age and this probably accounts for the direct selling off of the remaining stock and the dissolving of thecomapany on the stock exchange.

(Much of the above new information comes from an excellent article in the Group 9.5 magazine No.54 dated Winter 1990/1991 written by Mr R. Berry who had actually worked at theWaggon Works with Mr T.C. Lane , for which I am very grateful!)


THE MILLER 9.,5MM CINE CAMERA (about 1934)

The first Miller 9.5mm cine camera was announced in the Amateur Cine World magazine dated April 1934

A brief review appeared in the next Amateur Cine World dated May 1934

Probably the first advert - also the Amateur Cine World magazine dated May 1934 - note that some years later, the company address had changed to 106 Barton Street, Gloucester - maybe larger premises?

 

The first Miller 9.5mm cine camera - about 1934

Quite a chunky cine camera - as per my notes - leatherette and chrome finish, variable filming speeds, "P" 9.5mm film charger loading, "C" mount lens - see ACW April & May 1934 (see above for those mentions)

The useful 1930s book by Harold B. Abbott titled "The Complete 9.5mm Cinematographer" mentions this first Miller 9.5mm cine camera - just giving its size: 5 inch by 4 inch by 2.5 inch and that it has 5 filming speeds of 8, 12, 16, 24 and 32 frames / second. "C" mount lenses offered were: 20mm f3.5 fixed focus Dallmeyer, focussing 25mm f1.9 Dallmeyer or focussing 25mm f1.5 Dallmeyer, plus a 3 inch telephoto. The front componemnt of the spy-glass view-finder being interchangeable to suit the lens in use. An external inching knob was fitted.

Someone once told me that engineering quality wasn't perfect and dealers tended to stock the popular Dekko 9..5mm cine cameras instead of the Miller. I think Dekko were a bigger set-up - good advertising, marketing, etc.

Advert in Home Movies & Home Talkies magazine Aug1935
Now available with a choice of lenses with telephoto lens and leather case as extras.


THE MILLER MODEL "B" DE-LUXE 9.5MM CINE CAMERA (about 1939)

The 9.5mm Miller "B" cine camera - about 1939.

Currently all I have is that the Amateur Cine World mentioned this camera in the June 1939 edition. Hopefully the scans are below (sorry, these ACW magazines are in lovely bound volumes, but very difficult to scan decently!). So we can say that this was a redesigned, neater model than the 1934 Miller 9.5mm cine camera. This model "B" took the usual 9.5mm "P" film chargers, (although it would also accept the newer smaller "H" film chargers), The clockwork drive mechanism would run up to the full charger load of around 30 feet of film if fully wound, the release button is rotated for single frame exposures, normal filming and a lock position to prevent accidental running. The viewfinder was engraved to suit the normal 1 inch lens, but also for 2 inch or 3 inch telephoto lenses. Normally the camera was supplied with a "C" mount Dallmeyer f1.9 maximum aperture focusssing lens. A tripod bush was fitted to the base of the camera - blanked to avoid dust ingress to the mechanism. There was a chromed gate and opening pressser pad with a twin claw film drive. Fully variable filming speeds were provided with 8, 16 and 64 frames / second marked. Judging from the wording of the review - it was just a trade announcement - no camera had actually been film tested by the magazine. The launch price was around £11 - quite competative for a camera with an f1.9 focussing interchangeable lens.

The innards of my Miller "B" cine camera - the gate opens a little for film threading, but a peg stops it fully opening - probably removing this peg, or spring loading it, would enable access for cleaning the film gate properly. My example (serial number: 2043) is fitted with an f1.9 focussing Ross lens - most seem to be advertised with Dallmeyer lenses. Motor and governor appear to work fine, but the camera takes a while to get up to speed. It has the appearance of home assembly from parts made in small batches - certainly at the time I would have chosen a Dekko or later Pathéscope product..... (The serial number is on the interior face plate - bottom rhs)

It is interesing to see tht my first example (serial no. 2043) doesn't have an inching knob and the camnera door is hinged at the rear of the camera. My other example (serial no. 2588) does have an inching knob and the camera door is hinged from the front. I guess an inching knob was a useful extra anyway, and no doubt the rear door hinging may have caused problems with light trapping just by the film gate. This later design seems to be the model illustrated in the review and adverts pictured below.

Later example with inching knob (sorry no lens!)


This later example has the door hinged at the front of the camera

ACW June 1939

ACW June 1939 - (second page)

We see from the company's own advertisement in the ACW magazine that there were soon three models with different lenses - I guess the f3.5 was a fixed focus variety, with the f1.9 and f1.5 lenses being fully focussing. The Miller Cine Co. Ltd. had quarter page adverts for a few months in the ACW, but once the war started advertising ceased - the camera didn't seem to be listed in dealer's adverts either - most people had rather more serious things on their minds! I imagine the Miller Company got some fairly lucrative government engineering contracts for the next few years anyhow. No more 9.5mm cine cameras were manufactured, but read on -


POST WAR (1945 ON)

Having just done another 'google' (what would we do without 'google'!) - this image turned up - a Miller cine camera model "C" - judging from the appearance this must be from the same stable - but the "D" mount lens is missing - so we know that there was an 8mm Miller cine camera - maybe just post-war, maybe export only. I can see I need to look in a few post war magazines ......

Well - here we have it! The first mention of the post-war Miller 8mm cine camera - this is an advertisemnt in the Amateur Cine World magazine for November 1951 - the first I can find. I recall there was some government post-war edict that new products had initially to be exported - Pathescope had similar problems with their new "Gem" projector. Other improved versions of this Miller 8mm camera followed some years later. At least the company now had a UK distributor!

This was the Miller 8mm cine camera, model "CA" - with variable filming speeds and the adjustable mask on the viewfinder to match different lenses.

By the 1950s, the Miller Camera Company Ltd.. were back - offering a simple 8mm (that is 'standard 8mm' these days!) cine camera. I seem to remember it took standard "D" mount lenses. This later, cheaper, basic model "S" just ran at 16 frames / second. These cameras all took the Kodak 25 foot 'double-run' 8mm movie film like all other 8mm cine cameras. I seem to remember there waa a better version with variable filming speeds and a viewfinder mask adjustable for various lenses. Examples do turn up on e-bay and maybe can be found in a local car boot sale or charity shop. ( I 'pinched' this photo from e-bay - someone in Wales must have one!)

The May 1960 issue of Cine Camera magazine had an 8mm camera guide - the simple Miller model "S" was listed at £19-3sh-8d with fixed focus f2.5 lens and £27-18sh-0d with a focussing lens; the Miller model "CA" also appeared at £34-17sh-6d with the f1.9 focussing lens and £26-3sh-2d with the f2.5 lens. In the same magazine there was a direct sale offer of the "S" model from a private Gloucester address; later in the year Harringay Photographic were listing the "S" on special offer at £15. Sadly foreign imports were severely hitting the UK cine camera market.

This interesting photo really does confirm the guess that this was just a small family engineering works!

I don't remember Miller moving into the Super 8mm cine camera market - by then most photographic equipment production was based overseas anyway - plastic had arrived! In fact an item in the London Gazette for 14th May 1968 lists the Miller Cine Company Ltd. to be dissolved - so I guess that was the end folks!


I would be most grateful for any extra details or information! I have to thank cine enthusiast Chris Wilson, who had just found a 9.5mm Miller model "B", for motivating me to search through a number of old ACW magazines - what fun!

©Grahame L. Newnham - 3Aug2015.


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Created 02Aug2015 .......... Last updated: 03 July 2016 ............ 95gearmiller.htm ............ Grahame Newnham's web pages
06Aug2015 - a few extra scans / more text added, and those typos fixed!
30Jun2016 - more info added