Grahame N's Web Pages


THE STORY OF
PATHÉSCOPE APPARATUS


By 1960 Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd, the UK agent for the French Pathé company, (by then owned by a UK business man) had got into financial difficulties and found itself in receivership. As a sort of tribute to the Pathéscope Company and the 9.5mm amateur movie film gauge, the leading UK amateur movie magazine Amateur Cine World, published an excellent potted history of Pathéscope in the UK, spread over the three editions for August, September and October 1960. These are reproduced here (with probably a few minor updates).

I should like to thank John Shearsmith who formerly published the ACE amateur movie magazine and also purchased the copyright of the defunct Amateur Cine World magazine, for permission to reprint this material.

Prices in this article are in pre-decimal £ pounds sterling. The sh. abbreviation is for shilling - there were 20 to the pound. So 2sh. is 10p in modern UK £. The p. abbreviation is for penny - there were 12 pennies to the shilling, hence 240 to the pound. 5p. is 2.5 modern decimal pence. Right monetory history lesson is over - as I am now 71 years old as I write this, I remember this all only too clearly!! Please let's not now adopt the Euro - who said Euro??

The abbreviation of ft. is the imperial foot measurement - now illegal in the UK unless we ever really do get out of the EU. So most measurements in 9.5mm were in metric as it was a French company that launched the film gauge. Film chargers are said to contain 30feet/ 9 metres of film - they actually contained about 27ft 6inches. So a length of 8.5 metres or so is more accurate. Projectors normally take 400 foot or 120 metre spools. Filmprints were 30ft / 9metres; 60ft /20 metres; 100ft / 30 metres / 300ft / 100 metres. Again a pre-decimal lesson for length measurement ends here. All a bit approximate I guess.

February 2017 - Sorry -just discovered this was not complete! Now all done and dusted! Let me know if you spot typos etc! - gln



Pathéscope Ltd was formed in 1912, with offices in Piccadilly Circus, London, for selling Pathétone gramophones and the 28mm K.O.K. camera and projector manufactured by the French parent company Pathé Cinema. The camera was hand-turned, had an f/4.5 lens, and a peephole/reducing-lens finder. The projector was particularly interesting, with its built-in dynamo to power the lamp, driven from the hand-cranked mechanism. It was thus independent of the mains supply.

The 28mm stock had three perforations per frame down the right-hand edge, and a single perforation - on the frame line between pictures - on the left-hand side. This 28mm equipment had been introduced as the first safe home cinema, all the films being on safety base. This was a notable advance, for the highly inflammable 35mm nitrate film constituted a horrible danger when used with the then common gas or paraffin illuminants, and even with electric lighting, danger still lurked for most of the machines sold for home use had no take-up device, the film being left to spill on to the floor or into a basket.

Arrival of 9.5mm

The 28mm gauge was large enough to give adequate illumination of the screen without too complicated optics, and the mechanical problems were not too stringent because the magnification of the picture on the screen was relatively small. However the equipment was neccessarily rather bulky and the film costly, so work was started in the Pathé Cinema factory even before World War 1, on the development of a smaller gauge for home use.

The result was the arrival of a 9.5mm projector and printed films in France late in 1922, several months before Eastman Kodak launched the rival 16mm gauge. In December 1923, Pathé Cinema introduced 9.5mm reversal ortho stock and the Pathé Baby Ciné camera in France, and when in October 1924, Pathéscope moved their offices to Lisle Street., they opened a laboratory there, and introduced the camera and projector to this country.

The Baby Ciné Camera

The camera was hand-turned, and took 30ft of 9.5mm film in special Baby chargers, the lens was a 20mm f/3.5 fixed focus, and the finder was of the open frame peep-sight type. The hand-crank transported 7 frames per turn, and was intended to be turned at two revolutions per second - Pathé having chosen 14 f.p.s. as the best compromise between smoothness and flicker on projection and economy in the use of film,. The footage counter took the form of a disc driven from the mechanism, indicating in units of 100 frames. The choice of an enclosed charger for the film was a shrewd one, for it certainly simplified the loading process and protected the film right up to the time it was developed. The camera cost £5.

Accessories which came later, included portrait attachments, and three different types of finder - "optical", with a front reducing lens; the Biocam lens and ground glass, in fact, a miniature camera; and the "decentering" giving a crude type of parallax compensation by shifting the rear peep-sight. There was also an f/2.7 Tessar lens version.

The Baby Ciné Projector

The Baby Ciné Projector, later known as the Home Movie, also cost £5. It was a nicely made, sturdy machine of cast construction, originally designed to take the 30ft and 60ft enclosed reels, to which the film end was permanently attached, being rewound into the reel immediately after projection - indeed, it had to be, for the film path was "closed", i.e. the film could only be inserted or removed end-on.

The lens was a 32mm f/3.5, and a number of alternative lamps became available, fed via a resistance in the base from 110 volt A.C. or D.C. mains. They included a 20 volt 10 watt and later 20 watt lamp, and there was also a 6 volt version for operation from accumulators or a built-in dynamo where no mains electricity was available. All models needed an extra resistance for 200-250 volt operation, the first being a mesh covered tubular one in the mains lead.

Drive was originally by hand, but in 1926 a motor attachment became available (for 110 volt operation) at an extra £2-5sh.; there was also a separate rectangular double resistance for lamp and motor, including an ammeter in the lamp circuit to assist correct operation of the machine from 200 to 250 volt supplies, priced at £1-4sh. Later a single lamp resistance, both with and without ammeter, and of similar appearance, was marketed for the hand-turned version, and a better, more powerful motor, the Type C, was introduced.

Printed Films

The printed films issued for home showing were usually much abbreviated versions of 35mm releases. At first they were imported from France, but from about 1931-2 were produced in England on a special reduction printer which turned out three images side by side on a film 35mm wide with narrow, longitudinal perforations at each edge of a pitch equal to that of 9.5mm, a process still in use today.

The resultant negative has no other perforations, and after development is contact-printed on to a similar positive, which, however, also carries three sets of 9.5mm perforations between the frames of the three sets of images printed onto the film. After processing, the film is slit into three 9.5mm widths, and the perforated margins cut away at the same time.

In order to gain extra projection time with the rather short reels used for the early releases, titles and scenes containing no movement were "notched": a shaped notch was cut into the side of the film two frames before the desired one, and this operated a trip in the mechanism which held the selected frame stationary in the gate for 42 frames (and on some models 56 frames) - i.e. for 3 and 4 seconds respectively at the current projection speed. While this happened an internal slide was moving sideways with several turns of the driving shaft, and on reaching the end of its travel it jumped back, re-engaging the film transport mechanism, and the film automatically moved on again. If desired, a longer delay could be obtained by notching two or more frames, thus repeating the process. Running titles were introduced by 1928, but notched versions continued to be issued for some years.

Camera Film

Camera film was medium speed orthochromatic stock costing 2sh.- 7d. per charger, with an extra 2sh. for reversal processing, though neg./pos. working was also possible. Processing was first carried out on frames,and later Pathé adopted the reversal process with automatic exposure error compensation, by which errors up to about two stops each side of the correct exposure could be minimised by controlling the second exposure during processing. The compensation was done automatically by a photo-cell device and amplifier, and the system continued to be employed virtually unchanged until 1957 when (in common with other processing stations handling all gauges), Pathéscope abandoned it because the new Kodak reversal films - in 9.5mm it was known as SX - did not respond favourably to the treatment. Further it was considered desirable to stop lulling users into a false sense of security, when the majority would probably sooner or later graduate to colour filming, for which processing compensation was not possible. Better, it was thought, for the amateur to get used to exposing correctly right from the start.

The Motocamera


At the rhs Motocamera de-Luxe with variable speeds, waist-level finder and tele attachment

Small though the Baby Ciné camera was, it was not really fully portable, since it had to be mounted on a tripod for steadiness during hand cranking. It became fully mobile in 1926 with the arrival of the French-made Motrix attachment consisting of a spring motor which could be fitted by the user to the side of the camera. The attachment ran about 10 feet per wind, weighed 2 lb., and cost 2 gns. The next year saw the production of the Swiss-made Camo attachment which, only 11 oz. heavier, would run the whole charger at one winding if desired. The cost, including fitting (the camera had to be returned to the works) was £4-5sh.

In 1928 came the first complete narrow-gauge power-driven camera, the Motocamera, taking a rather larger charger (later known as the "P") holding a nominal 30 feet of film (actually 27-28 feet). It had a 20mm f/3.5 Hermagis fixed focus lens, an enclosed optical type viewfinder, and would run 20 - 30 feet of film at 14 frames/second. Lock-on-run, to enable the operator to appear in his own pictures, was also fitted, and the footage counter advanced in 1 metre steps. The price was 10 gns.

Two years later the Motocamera became available with an f/2.7 Krauss Collix or f/2.8 Zeiss Triotar lens, and was re-named the "de-Luxe". There were several models of this, some fitted with variable speeds (10 to 20 f.p.s. continuously variable), and a waist-level addition to the finder, which also carried a mask for the tele-attachment issued for the Hermagis lens. The finder had a warning device which showed when the end of the film was approaching. Price, complete with tele-adaptor (in 1933), was 15gns. In France, where the camera was known as the "Lux", an f/1.8 focussing Krauss lens was available as an alternative.

In th meantime - about 1928 - a momentous innovation arrived: a Super Attachment for the Home Movie to enable it to take 300 foot reels (2gns.). Now at last proper shows could be given in the home without the necessity of stopping every few minutes to change reels. Also, a conversion for the de-Luxe Motocamera was offered by A.O. Roth: an interchangeable lens mount, with two blank mounts on the camera front to take spare lenses: or the fitting of a focussing f/1.5 Meyer Plasmat to the camera, the price complete with camera being £25.

The Kid Ciné Projector

The next year (1929) also saw the introduction of the British-made and much cheaper Kid projector. This had a 20 volt 10 watt lamp fed via an external cylindrical resistance adjustable for all voltages between 110 and 250 volts, and an enclosed, slot-type gate into which the end of the film was fed and the handle turned for threading. It was suitable for notched films, stopping itself at notches, though it did not automatically re-start after a still title - it was necessary to trip a lever for this. The enclosed gate made cleaning rather difficult, and there was a therefore a strong tendency for the machine to scratch films. Price was £2-15sh.

The Lux Ciné Projector

Two years later the much better designed Lux projector appeared. It had 400 foot spool-arms, but could still run the enclosed reels, and used a 60 volt 40 watt lamp fed via a resistance in the base and an ammeter from 90 to 130 volt supplies. A hand-turned version was announced at 18gns., but to the best of our knowledge was never sold in this country; the motorised model cost £21-10sh. A group resistance for 200/250 volt supplies was £2-5sh extra. A 50 volt version was also available for the mains of this voltage. The lens fitted was a 32mm f/2.5 Hermagis, but other focal lengths to 70mm were available.

The projector was suitable for notched film projection, with automatic re-start, a safety shutter dropping behind the film to cut down the otherwise excessive heat developed by the lamp. A litttle later (1933), a more powerful lamp, the 80 volt 100 watt, type S (which could be run off the same resistance) was introduced, and with this the single-frame device could not be used, as it overheated the film.

Next the projector was was remodelled as the Lux YC, with a gate of new design and enclosed covers for the belt drives. An even more powerful lamop became available for this, the 80 volt 160 watt type SS, which needed another resistance (costing £3 for the 130 - 250 volt supply model) and once again stills could not be shown.

In 1932 Pathéscope moved part of their organisation to a newly built factory at Cricklewood, and brought out their first panchromatic film, PSP. This was said to be four times faster in daylight and ten times faster in tungsten light than the previous ortho film, the cost being 6sh. per charger, including processing.

The Motocamera B

This year also saw the introduction into this country of the Motocamera B (6gns.), which had been issued in France the previous year under the name Mondial B. It was a simpler version of the de Luxe, finished in metal in place of leatherette, and the door opened from the front. The lens was a 20mm f/3.5 Pathex, but a version with an f/2.7 Tessar was marketed later at a greatly increased price. The B had no tripod bush, and was later replaced by the H. Other new arrivals in 1932 were a Super Attachment for the Kid and a frame enlarging camera.

The Pathé 17.5mm Film Gauge


The 17.5mm "Rural" silent 17.5mm projector and "Rex" camera

The ill-fated Pathé 17.5mm film gauge was also launched this year with the announcement of the Rex Motocamera at 18gns., but very few seem to have been imported. Presumably there was a silent 17.5mm projector as well, though neither we nor Pathéscope have been able to trace it. ( it was marketed as the "Rural", but very, very rare! - gln) The stock used had a small square perforation near each edge, with a perforation pitch of about 9.3mm. In appearance it was not unlike a slightly larger 16mm., and it seems odd that Pathé should have tried to launch a new gauge so similar to an already established standard, which had by then been going nearly ten years.

The only advantage one can see in this bold move was that the stock could be slit directly from specially perforated 35mm. film. No new gauge, whatever its merits, has much chance of success unless the standard has first been accepted internationally and the backing of one of the film stock manufactureres assured.

The 200B Ciné Projector

The start of 1933 saw a big event for nine-fivers: the launching of the most powerful Pathé projector yet, the still popular 200B. It was fitted with either a 110 volt or 50 volt 200 watt lamp fed via an external double resistance or transformer, the former being the usual; there was also a 250 watt mains voltage version. The lens was a 32mm f/2.5, and for the first time sprocket feed and a blower for the lamp-house were incorporated.

The former was particularly important when the 300ft super reels were used, for earlier projectors had not handled these well, despite some ingenious braking devices. The supply reel when full had considerable inertia, and as the film had to be pulled from it soley by the intermittent action of the claw, strained perforations all too easily resulted. Further, unless the adjustment of the take-up tension and brake was just right, the film would take-up irregularly and tend to snatch, with further strain on the perforations. The 200B had a 300 foot spool capacity (and later some 900 foot models appeared); thanks to the sprocket feed it was kind to the film.

Still frames could not be shown, and the shutter had only two blades, giving a tendency to flicker with the bright picture this machine was capable of yielding. Previous Pathé machines had used a shutter with one large blade (to cover the film shift), and two very narrow "flicker" blades (though these, in fact, did very little good). Results were just satisfactory with the low screen brightnesses then the order of the day, but with bright pictures a three-bladed shutter with roughly equal blades (or its equivalent) is really necessary. Several quite successful attempts made by users to fit the 200B with a three-bladed shutter, have resulted in some loss of light, but generally enhanced freedom from flicker.

There was no means for racking - probably less necessary with 9.5mm than with other gauges. The price was £15, with the resistance or transformer £1-15sh. and £2-17sh-6d extra.

This year also saw the introduction of a finer-grained panchromatic film PSPF, and a new rapid ortho emulsion, ROF, costing 6sh. and 4sh.7d. respectively including processing. This selling of film "Process Paid" was a new departure for Pathéscope.

The Imp Ciné Projector

In 1934 the Home Movie was discontinued, and the new British Imp (for Improved projector) superseded the Kid, differing from it mainly in that the gate could be opened for cleaning, as in the Home Movie, and that a barrel shutter and a larger aperture lens were used, giving less flicker and more light. The resistance for the 20 volt 10 watt lamp was rectangular and had tappings for mains voltages of 110-250; a different one was necessary with the more powerful 20 watt lamp which followed. Price of the hand-cranked version wa £4-12sh-6d., and with motor drive and a Super Attachment which soon became available, £7.

17.5mm Sound

In late 1934, Pathéscope launched their 17.5mm. Home Talkie projector, the sound track occupying the position formerly held by one row of perforations (rather in the style of 16mm. sound-on-film). This was a big event for for the home showman, and caused quite a stir, for 16mm talkies had not really arrived at that time, and at £60 the projector seemed really good value for money, for the results achieved were quite impressive. Its success was dimmed, however, when 16mm s.o.f. was finally given the backing of several large American and British companies. The Germans also adopted 16mm but - apparently through a mis-understanding - with the sound track on the opposite side of the picture to the American standard.

Eventually this D.I.N. - type track was abandoned in favoir of the American S.M.P.E., and both the Germans and Pathé paid the price for attempting to introduce a new standard withoit first ensuring international aggreement. But the Germans suffered less, for their films could be shown on the newly standardised machines by projecting via a re-dressing mirror.

17.5mm Sound Track Printing

Silent and sound prints in 17.5mm. were produced in the UK by Pathé Pictures Ltd., until 1936, after which Pathéscope took over. The gauge received a further major set-back when Pathé introduced 9.5mm optical sound films, and continued with dwindling support up to the war years, when the company discontinued it and sold their film library. It is now quite extinct, and only the dyed-in-the-wool collector has any use for it.

Incidentally, both 17.5mm and 9.5mm sound had the advantage over 16mm, of the sound track being on the same side and of the same propertions as the original 35mm; it could therefore be produced by straight reduction printing. The 16mm track is on the opposite side of the picture and is relatively narrower, so apart from a loss of signal to noise ratio it has to be optically squeezed during reduction printing. Better results are obtainable by specially re-recording the track for 16mm.

The Ace Ciné Projector

Early in 1935 the extremely low-priced (£1-17sh.- 6d.) British made Ace projector appeared, and scored an immediate success. Construction was from high-pressure die-castings, and the original model was intended for the 30ft & 60ft enclosed reels, though a Super Attachment became available at 10sh 6d (After the war the machine was re-introduced in a modified form, dispensing with the internal 60ft take-up chamber and having only the 300ft spool arms, the price rising to 5gns.)

A variety of lamps was available: a 16 volt 8 watt in an M.E.S. screw fitting originally, and the 18 volt 9 watt AC, the 20 volt 10 watt A, and 20 volt 20 watt AD, fed from a resistance or a transformer. It was possible to show still frames but no special provision was made for notched titles. There was a motor attachment at £1-5sh. and after the war an induction motor which drove at 19 frames/second, a compromise between silent and sound speeds (to cater for mute reduction prints from 35mm sound releases.)

In late 1935, Pathéscope transferred its offices to Cricklewood and its showroom and film library to Great Marlborough Street. In this year 9.5mm suffered its first set-back, for Kodachrome became available in 16mm and soon after in 8mm, whereas the first practicable 9.5mm colour process, Dufaycolor, did not appear until two years later, and then needed so much light for proper projection that results tended to be dissapointing, particularly when compared to the brilliance of Kodachrome.

(Continued in the next issue September 1960 - below)


The H Camera

In 1936 the Motocamera B was replaced by the H, which used a smaller, better designed charger, less liable to scratch the film in the light-traps, and made it possible for the size of the camera to be considerably reduced. The original model had one speed of 16 f.p.s. and single frame release only, and an optical finder for the built-in 20mm f/3.5 fixed focus lens. The price was 5 gns. A useful addition was a motor cut-out, the motor stopping before the spring tension dropped enough to slow the transport of the film.

The next year came a version with an interchanheable lens mount - a special Pathe mount, 5/8th diam x 32 t.p.i. was used - and an engraved rectangle in the finder showed the field of view of the tele-lens which also became available; the camera with a 20mm f/2.5 lens cost 6 gns., and the telephoto lens was 5 gns. extra. Some models of that year also had a parallax compensated viewfinder and variable speeds (8, 16, 24, 32 f.p.s.) In France the camera was known as the National H, and was alternatively available with an f/1.9 Berthiot lens.

The H and S Ciné Projectors

SS film, rated at 26 Scheiner, still costing 6sh. per charger, including processing, and Dufaycolor (10sh. 6d.) arrived in 1937, so, too, did, two new projectors. The first, the British "H", with 300ft. arms (some 900ft.), had an 80 volt 100 watt lamp fed via a transformer, and a series wound motor. There was sprocket feed, provision for motorised rewind, and a separate lamp and motor switch. The price was 10 gns. or £11 for a universal version with a resistance in place of the transformer to break down the mains voltage. In France a simpler type of machine, the Coq D'Or, was issued, with 100 watt lamp, 300ft spool arms (but also capable of taking 30ft and 60ft enclosed reels). It was available in both hand-driven and motorised versions, but does not appear to have been imported into this country. (nb The Coq D'Or was fitted with a 60 volt 40 watt lamp to enable the showing of notched films - gln)

The second new machine was the "S", which featured 900ft arms, a 15 volt 200 watt lamp fed via a switch from a built-in transformer for 110-250 volt mains, and a fixed speed sychronous motor, with gear change for 16 and 24 f.p.s. The price was £30. (nb I think the machine was for 110 volts only with a separate transformer for the UK 230 volt mains - gln)

The reason for the fixed speed motor became obvious at the end of the year, when 9.5mm optical sound film was introduced and met with immediate success; the width of the frame was reduced (giving a rather square picture) and a sound-track added at the side. It is easy to be wise after the event, but there is little doubt that Pathé would have done better to have taken this step much earlier instead of introducing 17.5mm.

The Vox Ciné Projector

A sound conversion at £30, marketed for the S" made that machine equivalent to the newly introduced Vox (£60). There was no separate exciter lamp, the light from the projection lamp being utilised to scan the sound track. Volume control was by means of a shutter around the photocell. The three stage amplifier used the newly introduced all-metal octal-based valves, and delivered about 6 watts push-pull to the mains-energised speaker. There was provision for a microphone input for live commentaries, etc. the microphone costing an extra 5 gns.

The Vox was the first Pathé projector to have a framing control. The lens was a 32mm f/1.6, and the large aperture coupled with the highly efficient low-voltage lamp enabled quite large, well lit pictures to be produced. However there was a demand for more light and volume, and in January, 1939, the Super Vox (£85) appeared, using a 31 volt 400 watt lamp and a more powerful amplifier. The 400 watt lamp was also fitted to a new version of the "S" silent projector costing £45.

In the meantime, Pathé had entered the 16mm field (in 1938) with the 200B Plus dual 9.5/16mm projector, and the 16mm Super Talkie. The latter had 1000ft spool arms, a 110 volt 750 watt lamp and a 5-valve amplifier driving a 10 inch loudspeaker on a 3ft baffle. Price was £145. A 17.5mm version, known as the Super Rural, was also available.

During the war, all inports from France ceased, and no equipment was manufactured, but Pathéscope made arrangements with the British Kodak company to manufacture 9.5mm SS filmstock at Harrow, and small quantities of this were available for sale throughout the war. (Kodak and Pathé were closely associated in France.) Pathéscope continued to service equipment and issue printed films. In 1940 new and secondhand camera prices jumped with the imposition of Purchase Tax.

The Gem Ciné Projector

After the war, manufacture of the "H" camera started in Britain, and development continued of the Gem projector prototype which had been begun by the then chief engineer of Pathéscope and the late Leslie Snoad prior to 1939. In 1946 French made SS camera film again became available, at first rated at 26 Scheiner again, a change in processing downrated it to 23 Scheiner (in 1953). The very much faster VF (32 Scheiner) arrived in 1948.

The same year saw the first production models of the British-made Gem projector. This was completely different in design and appearance from previous Pathé machiues., having a horizontal rather than a vertical layout, with the 900ft arms held on a curved bracket above the machine. Construction was of alloy die-castings throughout. It had a single sprocket behind the lamp-house which the film met before and after the gate., and used a 12 volt 100 watt lamp; the twin claw had a quick pull down cycle, with a correspondingly large shutter opening, giving a notably high light efficiency.

The Gem was therefore capable of a good light output, though some of this was lost throuugh the relative smallness of the aperture of the projection lens, a 32mm f/3.5. 25, 38, 45 and 60mm lenses were available as alternatives, and later a 32mm f/2.5 lens was introduced which gave appreciably better illumination. The original price was £37-10sh. and a 16mm version soon became available at £40.

To cater for sound enthusiasts, a sound attachment for the Gem was developed and marketed by an independant firm, A.C.E. (Associated Cine Equipment) Ltd.

The Pax Ciné Projector

In 1949, the French-made Pax 9.5mm sound projector appeared (£165). (In France this machine is known as the Jonville Sonore, but in this country that name is reserved for the magnetic stripe version mentioned below. There was also a French 9.5mm mute version which was not imported ibto this country, and a 16mm sound model, which was available here in small numbers).

For the first time in Pathé machines, the Pax used a standard pre-focus capped lamp (up to 750 watts), a separate exciter lamp, and a governed series motor for 16 and 24 f.p.s. There was no sprocket to smooth the path of the film between the intermittent gate motion and the sound head. Instead a chute constricted and regulated the film motion, somewhat in the style of the original 17.5mm talkie, but this provided drag rather than smoothing, and sometimes gave difficulties with joins.

The Son Ciné Projector

Hence the need for a better design soon became obvious, and in 1951 the basic Gem picture-head design was combined with a sound-head and a different base by Pathéscope's engineers, and the Son projector was the result. This also had a black crackle finish in place of the stove enamelling of the Gem, and a governor was fitted to the motor to control it at 24 f.p.s., the variable speed feature being retained for the lower speeds. The designer of this British machine was the late John Foster, and the price was £78. A further increase in the light output was given by a 32mm f/1.6 lens which became available.

The Webo A Camera

In 1947-48 Pathé issued two cameras which were a radical departure from their previous practice: the two Webos, the A and M, which do not appear to have been imported into Britain before 1950. The Webo A, in 9.5mm only, used a special magazine load, holding 50ft of film, and (unlike a charger) incorporating both the gate and the intermittent movement inside the magazine. The advantages claimed were that the camera could be loaded even more easily and quickly than a charger model, and if required the type of film could be changed without the loss of more than one frame.: at the same time, the longer film length meant longer running before reloading.

On the other hand, having the intermittent in the magazine means higher manufacturing, and particularly maintenance costs, which of course have to be passed onto the user in some way (though film in a magazine is priced the same as a 50ft spool). One can make out a good case for magazines (which incorporate a gate) in preference to chargers (which don't) - though extra care is needed in manufacturing and fitting if the lens-film register is not to be affected - but what the advantage is of having the intermittent in the magazine as well is not at all clear. Certainly the camera is simplified a little, but dozens (indeed, probably hundreds) of mechanisms must be manufactured for every camera to ensure that the film is wildly enough available in various parts of the world.

The Webo A uses lenses with a special bayonet mount, making for quick interchangeability, the one normally fitted being a 20mm f/2.5 or f/1.9 Berthiot fixed focus lens. Focussing lenses are also available, as well as a telephoto and a wide-angle adaptor. The footage counter is visible in the viewfiinder, and automatically resets to zero when a new magazine is inserted. The price of the standard model was £43, and in France a de-Luxe version with variable filming speeds was also available, though not imported here.

The Webo M Camera

The Webo M or Special, made in both 9.5mm and 16mm versions, is a very versatile camera meant for the serious amateur or semi- professional. Its outstanding featuures are a three-lens turret (with standard "C" mounts), and a reflex viewfinder system which operates from a beam-splitter between the lens and the film, directing about 10% of the light into the eye-piece. As the image can be rather dim if fast film stock is used, a secondary optical finder is fitted for normal and tele lenses. The camera also features variable filming speeds from 8 to 80 f.p.s., a frame counter, and a variable shutter, with which fades can be made, with the help of the back-wind, disssolves are also possible.

Numerous lenses in focal lengths of 10 to 145mm are available in the Berthiot range normally supplied, but any "C" mount lenses can be used. Other accessories for specialist applications, such as electric motor drive. micro- and macro-attachments, etc. are available. Film load in both 9.5mm and 16mm versions is 50ft or 100ft open spools, and if required, the 16mm version will take single perforated film for subsequent striping. The camera at present costs about £157 without lenses.

Incidentally this is the first time that Pathe used 9.5mm spool loading and sprocket feed, though other manufacturers had pioneered this long before. The reason for its introduction was no doubt to minimise the differences from the 16mm version. Because of the absence of a safety perforation margin at each edge which tends to absorb any slight light leaks between the spool and the edge of the film, extra care is necessary in manufacture and handling of the spools to guard against edge-fogging. (The lack of such a margin was one of the reasons why single-run 8mm spools never caught on.)

The National 11 Camera

Also in 1950, the motocamera HB appeared in France, but was not imported into Britain until 1954, when it was renamed the National 11; as its original name implies, it is really a re-styled version of the H, with a few improvements, such as a swing-up lens in the viewfinder to suit it to the Hyper-Cinor wide-angle attachment available for the 20mm f/1.9 Berthiot Cinor lens usually fitted, parallax compensation, speeds from 8 to 32 f.p.s., and a new exterior finish of light-grey stove enamel. Price was originally £5-13sh. and currently the camera costs £48-16sh. with a National Optical f/1.9 focussing lens.

9.5mm Kodachrome

1951 saw the introduction at long last of 9.5mm Kodachrome to this country. Made in France and having to be sent back there for processing, involving a delay of several weeks, it nevertheless caught on immediately, despite its faitly high price. How much more of the potential home movie market Pathé could havc captured for 9.5mm had colour film been available earlier is a matter of conjecture; but by the time it arrived a great number of devotees had turned irrevocably to 8mm.

The Pat Camera

In 1953, Pathéscope produced a very low-priced British made camera aimed at the mass market, the Pat. It was a very simple instrument, with an open frame finder and a lens which only had two stops (on the Waterhouse principle) marked Dull and Bright. (These were said to be f/4 and f/10 respectively, but on test proved to be nearer f/10 and f/18, while the focal length was appreciably greater than the stated 20mm.)

Processing compensation was supposed to give an acceptable result under most conditions; however the lens quality was very variable, and the camera never became really popular, though at £15- 1sh. (reduced almost immediately to £13-18sh-3d), it was by far the cheapest then on the market in any gauge. It had the standard Pathé screw lens mount, and much improved results were obtainable with better lenses.

Magnetic Stripe

Pathé was the first to introduce (in 1953) magnetic stripe recording in France (even before it was available on 16mm in America), but its introduction here was delayed; it was winter 1954 before it was brought to this country, by means of the French-made Marignan stripe projectoor (by this time 16mm stripe had become firmly established - another opportunity missed). The Marignan was a very simple projector, developed from the basic Joinville-Pax mechanism, and built to do one job only - record and project stripe at 16 f.p.s. It would not run at 24 f.p.s. or take optical tracks.

The construction was similar to that of the Pax, though an asynchronous motor was fitted and the chute not used. Lamps up to 750 watt could be accommodated and the amplifier was a separate unit. A 16mm version was also produced. The prices were £190 and £250, including a transformer to suit our 200 - 250 volt mains.

(Concluded in the next issue October 1960 - below)


3. CONCLUSION - 1950s ON .......

The history of the Marignan and subsequent machines is a little complex, as they had different names in the UK. In France they were all different models of the Joinville; in Great Britain the optical sound version was called the Pax, and the magnetic only version, mentioned above, the Marignan. Even here, however, there was no consistency, for the 16mm model of the latter was sometimes called the Marignan and sometimes (erroneously, we believe) the Joinville. It appears the Pax used a series wound governed motor, wheras all the Joinvilles used asynchronous ones. One of the characteristics of the magnetic-only version was that the chute used on the optical Pax, was dispensed with, and that the erase head was placed immediately before the record/playback head.

The next development was the Joinville mag./optical in both gauges, in which the chute was re-introduced and the erase head moved to above the top sprocket. The machine could play optical and record and play magnetic stripe at 16 and 24f.p.s. , though we believe that the recording head was placed a little further from the picture aperture (20 frames) than standard. The amplifier was not separate, as in the Marignan, but was built in. The price was £270 for the 9.5mm and £300 for the 16mm.

The Aurator Stripe Attachment

In spring 1955 the British-made Aurator stripe attachment made its appearance; the Model A for the Gem and Son at £57; the Model B for the H and 200B, and Models C and D for 16mm projectors were also announced. There was no need to make any alterations to the projector; it was simply stood on the sound attachment, and the film led over guide-rollers to and from the sound head. Fairly good results were obtainable, but naturally machines with constant speed drive were the most satisfactory.

Duplex Film

In 1956 came another new development, which, however, did not prosper: Duplex film. Basically the idea was to halve the running costs and also produce a slightly wider aspect ratio than standard by providing two side-by-side perforations to the film (still in the frame line area) - the result being named Duplex; half the gate and viewfinder was masked off and the film run horizontally through the camera - held horizontally - which exposed it along half its width; then the charger or spool were turned over, the other half exposed, and, after processing, the film slit into two lengths each 4.75mm wide, called Monoplex. In fact the idea was to do with 9.5mm what Kodak had done some twenty years earlier with 16mm to produce double-run 8mm.

The camera adaptation was fairly simple, but radical re-design was necessary for the projector - a standard machine could not be simply operated on its side, for overheating of the lamp would result. (Only in the last year or so have lamps been developed that can be burned in the horizontal position.) The simplest solution - an optical system that would turn the picture through 90º, so allowing an orthodox projector design to be used - was never produced commercially.

Duplex Cameras

The first camera in the new system to become available was a special version of the Motocamera H, the HDM. This could produce both Monoplex and Duplex pictures (i.e. the mask in the gate could be removed, so allowing full-frame pictures) and the claw was de-centred to engage in one of the perforations. The camera would not run the older style - called "Classic" - film. Even at the modest price of £33-3sh. it did not sell very well, mainly, we think, because of projection difficulties.

In France there was also the Orly camera, produced in two prototype versions, one for Classic, and one for Monoplex and Duplex film; io the latter a mask shielded half of the gate for Monoplex, and this was coupled to a mask which adapted the viewfinder to suit. Accompanying it was the prototype Mirage Duplex projector. Neither, however, went into production on a commercial scale.

Monaco Duplex Projector

The Monaco projector was introduced here, but only in small numbers, and was rather expensive - £79-10sh. The design of this machine was extremely ingeneous. The front half, including the gate and spool arms, could be rotated through 90° to a horizontal position for projecting Monoplex. In addition, there was a two-lens turret to provide a short-focus lens to give an adequately sized picture with the smaller format.

The claw could be moved over to engage either the central Classic or the off-set Duplex / Monoplex perforations. The gate channel had two separate apertures and was stepped for the two sizes, and instead of sprockets there were stepped, driving rollers which transported the film by edge-friction. The projector took 400 foot spools and had a 750 watt lamp, and was capable of impressive results; but as stated earlier, it never made any headway. As far as we know, this was the only Monoplex projector put on the market; the conversions Pathéscope promised for some of their other projectors were never, in fact, undertaken.

Lido Cine Camera

Also in 1956 came the Lido cine camera, in three versions, one for Classic film and one for Duplex, both with single running speed, and the Universal or 1V, which could run both Classic and Duplex / Monoplex. In the latter, both the sprocket and the claw could be decentred for running the double perforated film, and the viewfinder was automaically masked to correspond to the change in picture size. This model also had variable speeds (8 to 32 f.p.s.) and single frame release. Only very few Duplex cameras and none of the 1V were imported into this country. Even the Classic model did not become generally available until two years later.

The shape of the camera was rather novel, with its two fins giving a comfortable hold in the horizontal position. Prices were about £50 for the Classic and £75 for the Duplex, both with a 20mm f1.9 Berthiot focussing lens. Nothing has been heard of Duplex for several years, and one assumes it was abandoned some time before Pathéscope ran into difficulties.

The "P" Cine Projector Series

Another new introduction in 1956 was the P series of cine projectors from France, based on the Joinville design also seen in the Pax and Marignan. The first seems to have been the PR16, a mute AC/DC version with mains voltage lamp, a series-wound variable speed motor, and a new lamphouse. The optical sound version of this was the PS10, which had the new lamp-house and added guiding rollers above and below the gate. Otherwise the machine was similar to the Joinville and included the chute and synchronous motor drive which were features of that machine.

The chute was used for the last time in the mag. / optical PM15, which added full and half-width (but not edge) stripe on single-perforated 16mm film. Like the Joinville mag./optical, the magnetic scanning point was displaced 30 frames from the picture aperture - a little further than standard. This projector was the first in the series to have an H.F. erase, positioned just before the record/play head. Price was £345. However the sound-head was not really satisfactory, and it was completely re-designed for the next series of machines.

The basic silent machine, the P16, was similar to the PR16 but used an asynchronous motor and had the guide-rollers above and below the gate. (Incidentally, both the silent machines only had 1000ft spool arms. while the sound ones had double that capacity.) The PS16 optical sound version used the re-designed sound-head, which had a jockey-roller to obtain a larger angle of wrap on the sound-drum, and a twin stabilising roller between this and the sprocket. The amplifier was also re-designed, and employed printed circuit techniques. A germanium photo-diode replaced the P.E.C.

The PSM16 Cine Projector

The PSM16, which followed in 1958, added stripe recording and play-back, including edge stripe. At the same time the scanning point was brought back to conform with international standards. This is a very versatile machine, which has provisions for recording from optical to magnetic magnetic track, if required , while mixing in fresh material, and also for superimposition on the mag. stripe. The price is £330.

Most of the above mentioned projectors are also available in 9.5mm versions.their code names being prefixed "P9.5", etc. The latest version of the PSM16 seems to have added an extra sprocket between the gate and the sound-drum, and this should give better isolation from the intermittent gate motion. At the same time guide-rollers above and below the gate have been dropped.

Pathéscope Colour Film

In 1957 Pathéscope Colour Film (PCF) arrived. Its origin was never revealed, but at the same time it was never denied that it was, in fact, Ferraniacolor. Unlike 9.5mm Kodachrome, it was processed in this country - within a few days - and was considerably cheaper. It is also faster. The stock was originally rated at 23°, but a new emulsion enabled it to be up-rated to 25° Sch. This and the new SX film have a smoother finish than other stocks, and trouble was experienced with some of the older cameras due to excessive take-up tension. Pathéscope undertook to re-adjust this and the gate pressure at a nominal charge to suit the new and old film stocks.

1958 saw the partial break-away from the French parent company, and the formation of Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd. under a new chairman and managing director. Though the company continued as sole concessionaires of the French and German Pathé organisations, its objects were the expansion of home production, and the marketing of 8mm, as well as 9.5mm, printed films, and of cameras and projectors in all three gauges. First results were the British-designed derivatives of the Gem, but with a different base, the Mark V111, Mark 1X and Mark XV1 for 8, 9.5 and 16mm., the first using the newly introduced 8 volt 50 watt integral mirror lamp, and the other two the 12 volt 100 watt lamp as originally used in the Gem. Prices are £31-10sh., £32-10sh., and £33-10sh. respectively.

The more recent imports from France include the Lido camera in 8mm (£69-15sh. with f1.9 Berthiot lens) and 16mm (£59-5sh.- 9d. without lens) versions, the Baby 60 cine projector in both 8mm (8 volt 50 watt mirror lamp) and 9.5mm (110 volt 500 watt lamp) versions at £45 - a robust machine of conventional design built into one half of a wooden case - and the good looking Europ, in the same two gauges, which utilises a particularly neat and efficient single-shaft design ; both use the mirror lamp, the 9.5mm version having an extra diverging lens between lamp and gate to spread the light over the larger frame. Film capacity is 400 and 800ft., and the twin claw has a very quick pull-down. Optical framing is provided, and the machine will operate in reverse. Price of both versions is £60. In France a mechanical synchroniser is available for use with sprocketed tape. (I think original 9.5mm Europ projectors were fitted with a 500 watt lamp - gln)

The Prince and Princess

In 1959 Pathéscope produced a very low priced, but versatile, camera and projector, the Prince and the Princess. These are intended for taking and projection of both cine and still pictures. The camera is basically similar to the H model, but has a zinc die-cast body. The cine projector is of quite new pressed steel design, and makes use of a low voltage and wattage lamp, which enables stills to be projected without the need for forced cooling. Both of these machines were the subject of exhaustive test reports in our October 1959 issue. Price is £17-17sh. for the camera, and £11-11sh. for the hand-driven version of the projector, with the motorised version £3-3sh. extra. (Sadly it soon appeared that only colour stills would withstand the heat of the lamp without the film melting! - gln)

At the 1960 Paris Photo-Cinéma-Optique Salon, Pathé re-introduced Classic only versions of their Monaco and Mirage projectors. And only a few months ago, the Webo Rio-Phot made its bow in France. A coupled exposure meter cine camera, it is a special version of the 50ft magazine-loading Webo A with interchangeable lenses in C mount.; the semi-automatic exposure meter behind the lens is set for 10 A.S.A. filmstock.

The latest phase in the story of Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd. is told on page 446. (see next section below)


New Deal For 9.5mm ? ("Leader Strip" of the UK Amateur Cine World magazine dated October 1960)

This is the third consecutive issue in which we have surveyed the situation brought about by Pathéscope (Great Brtain) Ltd.'s financial difficulties. We had hoped - and expected - that this time there would be firm news to report. There is not; yet we feel confident, even though at the time of writing, the auction of existing stock and laboratory equipment at Cricklewood is only a few weeks off.

Despite the lack of hard facts, the position has sufficiently improved to enable us to predict that the sale will not take place. We are optimistic because (1) the clamping down of all activities has been eased to the extent of permitting the Kodachrome films held by Pathéscope to be sent to France for processimg, which will be carried out without further charge to the owners; indeed, most of the films should have been returned by the time this issue appears.

(2) We are informed that the processing of black and white stocks will follow, but that the processing of P.C.F. is likely to take some time.

(3) Negotiations for the rehabilitation of Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd. have reached their final stages. There are still some loose ends to be tied up, but it does not seem that any of the few remaining problems are incapable of solution.

In the August issue we wrote: "Any rebuilding that may be practicable depends upon hard cash - a great deal of it. It will not be enough for Pathéscope here merely to tick over. If 9.5mm is to make any impact and meet the powerful, organised competition of 8mm., it must undertake a publicity campaign on a big scale". We are authorised to state that plenty of cash will be available in the expected event of the deal going through.

So there the matter rests at the moment, but it may well be that when you read this an official announcement of a new deal for 9.5mm will be already a week or two old. We have kept this column open for some considerable time after we should have closed for press, for this announcement has been expected hourly. As the final deadline approached we were asked if it would yet be possible for an advertisement by Pathéscope to be published as a loose-leaf insert in A.C.W. Unfortunately it was not - we were already too far behind schedule - and we must therefore ask the indulgence of the large number of nine-fivers who have written us requesting suggestions for a solution to their individual problems. We can only counsel them to exercise their sorely tried patience just a little longer, but they can be assured that for our part we shall do all we can to look after the interests of nine-fivers and help put this gauge back on the map.


A.C.W. leader page 'Stop Press' - October 1960.


The Finale

An excellent, well researched and really comprehensive history of the Pathéscope company - prepared and written by some of the Amateur Cine World technical writers I guess. Really a full obituary for Pathéscope. Well not quite, this article was written in 1960, but the Pathéscope Company continued in the UK for a few more years. The company and stocks (and some staff I believe!) were taken over by the Great Universal Stores Group. The main intention was to use the Pathéscope trade mark on their photographic products in their Mail Order catalogues. The company was re-named Pathéscope (London) Ltd, the North Circular Road factory building was sold, to Johnsons of Hendon, and trading continued from a GUS warehouse in Brooke Street, London. The supply and processing of 9.5mm camera film continued till about 1964, as did the sale of 9.5mm cine cameras and projectors. Whilst the name continued on other photographic products, the supply of 9.5mm products continued thanks to enthusiastic main dealers D.M. (Michael) Bentley and LGP Cine (the late Larry Pearce) for a few more years. Sorry this article was left incomplete, but is now fixed! - gln Feb2017)

My Own Experience

I was on holiday with my mother in the Spring of 1960, we were actually on the beach at Skegness, (well I was born in Lincolnshire and my mother regularly visited old friends from those days). I was 15 at this time and had been keen on the 9.5mm film gauge since I was 10 yeas old. I walked up into the town to get the latest Amateur Cine World magazine and saw the bad news about Pathéscope. My first move was to buy up a few chargers of Pathéscope 9.5mm camera film from the local photo shop. At the time, it was impossible to get the 9.5mm film chargers, they had to be returned with the film for processing and then were retained by Pathéscope. I think I ended up with at leat four 'H' chargers easily. Once the films were exposed, they were sent to Microfilms for processing and I had my own 9.5mm 'H' chargers to use! I was happily able to continue filming using 9.5mm Geveart film stock, loading my own chargers in a suitable black bag. Worked out cheaper too! Oddly, although 9.5mm Kodachrome, Ferraniacolor and Gevacolor were available at the time on the Continent, no-one seemed to make a quick buck importing some, so I amd most others, stayed on black and white throughout most of 1960.


Return to: PATHE MENU ................ or return to: MAIN MENU


Created28Mar2015....... Last updated: 07 February 2017 ..............pathe/pathepathescope.htm .......... ©MMXV Grahame .L. Newnham