James's Camera Collection: Univex B8

Universal (UniveX) Trueview B8
Univex B8 movie camera
Format: 8mm
Transport: Spring-wind
Exposure: manual
Approx. date of manufacture: 1939
Approx. original price: $9.95 to $19.95 depending on lens speed. $9.95 in this configuration

Owner's manual

I wrote a lot more about Univex movie cameras in the C8 page. Rather than repeat it here, I'm going to give a summary.

Unversal Camera (aka UniveX) was a company that made "value-priced" cameras, both still and cine. They did it by pricing the cameras cheap and locking the user into their proprietary, incompatible film formats. They made the real money, as did Kodak and Ansco and Agfa and others, on selling film and prints.

UniveX's first movie camera was the Model A8, which was single-8 format. Single-8mm spools ran through the camera once (like still-camera film) and that's it. Double-8mm ran once and then you flipped it over and ran it through again, like you would with audio tape later on. Single-8mm had the advantage of being slim, which reduced the size of the camera.

The A8 was the base model, and it had a folding frame viewfinder mounted on the top. It appears people didn't like it because they sold an accessory tube-style viewfinder that mounted behind the lens.

This model B8 is simple an A8 with the viewfinder as standard equipment. This camera was offered with either of two lenses. The less expensive was the Ilex-made Uvitar ƒ/5.6 ($9.95). For $10 more you could get it with a Wollensak ƒ/3.5. Mine has the Uvitar. I assume paying double for the camera and getting only 2/3rd of an ƒ/stop advantage wasn't a big draw.

Univex B8 left sideUnivex B8 with cover offUnivex C8 and B8 side-by-sideAs far as I can tell, they only made this for a short time and then released their C8 for the Golden Gate Exposition and New York World's Fair, both in 1939.

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