Mitchell Camera Corporation, Glendale, California                                 Late 1940's - 1950's



Mitchell's Director's viewfinder, or sidefinder as it was also called, actually functioned in a variety of roles. It found use, mounted on the side of a Mitchell Standard 35mm motion picture camera, or could be used by a Director (or cameraman) as a hand-held viewer for framing out a scene. 

Originally developed by Mitchell for use on their cameras, it could also be fitted to Bell & Howell's 2709.  In fact, some of Charlie Chaplin's Bell & Howell 2709's  were eventually equipped with Mitchell finders, since they were easier to use.  The Mitchell was capable of inverting the upside image found on the Bell & Howell finder, and had the added capability of swinging upward to open the camera's side door. Bell & Howell's finder didn't swing and had to be removed each time.  With the capability to swing outward as well, and when used with a set of cams, the finder could be adjusted for parallax. 

The finder's design is covered by many patents as seen on the plate attached to it.  Although George Mitchell held numerous patents for viewfinder designs, cinematographer Tony Gaudio, ASC, is credited with designing the finder on Mitchell's earliest cameras.  According to  The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson, "Tony Gaudio was said to have patented the view-finder in use on the early Mitchell, with the cooperation of Mitchell and Bausch and Lomb engineers." As yet, I haven't been able to locate more information or any patents by Gaudio, who was one of the earliest users of the new Mitchell Standard 35mm when it was introduced in 1921/1922.


Although the Mitchell's finder was introduced much earlier, Mitchell moved to Glendale, California from West Hollywood in 1946, dating this finder's manufacture to the late 1940's to early 1950's.   


An important note for collectors or users:  The particular finder shown here is made to fit a Mitchell Standard 16mm camera, having a 9/16" dovetail mount.  Mitchell 35mm finders having a 1/2" mount will also fit the Bell & Howell 2709, which also has a 1/2" dovetail mount.  I became aware of this while trying to acquire a Mitchell finder for my Bell & Howell 2709.   The first one I bought had the 9/16" dovetail, which of course, didn't fit.  Several Internet blogs later and a subsequent purchase, I have a much better idea of what fits and what doesn't.  As I learn more, I'll post new information here.