James's Camera Collection: Bell & Howell Two-Twenty

Bell & Howell Two-Twenty "Wilshire"
Bell and Howell 220
Owner's manualFormat: 8mm
Transport: Spring-wind
Exposure: Manual
Approx. date of manufacture: 1958
Approx. original price: $39.95

Growing up, we had a black B & H 8mm projector that was built like a tank and worked wonderfully. But for some reason I never felt anything for their movie cameras. The seemed very simple and utilitarian, but they lacked a soul. The Ford of movie cameras.

I've seen this thing all over the place. I don't think I could have avoided getting one; like Polaroids and moths, you end up with one in a box of stuff whether you like it or not. So I have no idea where I got it or why I got it, all I know is that it appeared one day with its own case. Maybe it's haunted. Maybe if I ran film through it, I'd take movies of the future or something.

Maybe it's the gray krinkle finish, which to me looks like the Reveres and Wollensaks of the same era but more spartan.

This one has the "sun dial" on the bottom: the idea being you could quickly and easily adjust the aperture for the prevailing lighting condition. Movie cameras with electric eyes are still a few years down the road.

This is pretty-much identical to my B&H One-Nine, except that the lens aperture is around 2/3rds of a stop slower.

In advertising, this model was called the "Wilshire."

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