Bell & Howell Foton

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by kmac, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. I'm sitting on the sidelines with this one, just watching. Start bid US$0.99, already US$456 with six days to go. A good chance to check contemporary market value at end of auction.

    Bell & Howell Foton 35mm Rangefinder Camera Cooke Amotal 2 Inch f/2 Lens RARE | eBay

    Here's a rather lengthy write-up about the Foton. Apparently a very reliable camera but no one seems to know why successful Bell & Howell movie camera maker decided to make a very expensive still camera.
    orsetto likes this.
  2. No doubt cut from the same cloth as the Kardon, with development happening during WWII and meant as a replacement for the then unavailable Leica and Contax cameras due to the war.

    As soon as the war ended and new Leica and Contax units started hitting the marketplace again, the over-developed and too expensive Kardons, Ektras and Fotons of the world had no place in the market to exist and died quiet deaths.
  3. I think it was Bell and Howells' idea of making the "best" of something. The price was just too high for the market at the time.
    Popular Photography 1949-11​
    orsetto likes this.
  4. Great link: was never aware of Mike's site before. Wonderful, exhaustive writeup with many great pics, vintage promo materials. One particular ad really made me laugh: Joan Crawford had a shady rep as one of the first movie stars to hawk anything and everything as long as you paid her, but this takes the prize for mendacity (she was about as personally familiar with sophisticated cameras as she was with Packard auto transmissions). The brass on her: she must have shot near-identical ads for several different products on the same day (I swear I recognize that wagon wheel from her cigarette ads and at least a couple other items).

    Joan CrawfordFotonAd.jpg
  5. Thanks for posting folks

    Winning bid was US$854.00. This places it as "Average" according to the Collectibend site. The camera had bubbling chrome on the lens mount depth of field bezel, and badly worn anodizing on the lens barrel. The leatherette was firmly in place though unlike others currently on the market which have shrunken and/or peeling leatherette. IMO the camera may have fetched more had it been in better cosmetic condition, and possibly lifted it into Collectibend's category of "Very Good"

    A Foton body in poor condition, "For parts or not working", fetched US$190.50 two days ago. Where would you get a lens ? Wait long enough I suppose. It seems lenses are everything with Foton camera sales when considering a sale price

    Two other Fotons' are currently listed, one of which has a somewhat hefty price tag, but includes a f2.8 100mm lens as well as the prime 50mm. However, the speed dial knob is missing, what a shame. The knob attaches to what I would say is a grossly over-engineered splined shaft, but that only tells us about the quality of the Foton, built strong and built to last (provided parts don't go missing)

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