Breaking Down Stanley Kubrick's Favorite Cameras and Lenses

Stanley Kubrick has always been a mythical character in cinema. What tools did he use to build his masterpieces? 

What was the first camera you were given and how did it change your life? 

For Kubrick, it was a Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera that his father gave him at 13. This was one of the many cameras that Kubrick would use over the course of his career, but it was also the spark that ignited a genius. 

Kubrick's name is almost synonymous with legendary cinematography—I mean, the man convinced NASA to loan him lenses to shoot Barry Lyndon. On that film, Kubrick used an Arriflex 35 BL, as well a Mitchell BNC. 

These were modified for Zeiss lenses that were developed by NASA. These f/0.7 lenses enabled him to expose using only candlelight and light from sunsets. 

So, what other kinds of cameras and lenses did Kubrick use over the course of his career? 

Check out this video essay from Cinema Tyler and then let's dig deep into Kubrick's cameras. 

Here are a list of the cameras and lenses discussed (via IndieWire).

  • Garflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic Camera
  • Kodak Monitor 620
  • Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model RF 111A
  • Rolleiflex K2
  • Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model K4
  • Rollei 35
  • Polaroid Pathfinder 110A
  • Leica IIIc
  • Pentax K
  • Hasselblad
  • Nikon F
  • Subminiature Minox
  • 35mm Widelux
  • Polaroid OneStep SX-70
  • Arriflex 35 IIC
  • Kinoptik Tegea 9.8mm
  • Novoflex 400mm f5.6 lens
  • Cooke Varotal 20-100mm T3
  • Cinepro 24-480mm in Arri Standard Mount
  • Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7

Kubrick began life as a photographer. Check out how some of the most famous images he captured helped inspire his later works. 

The Cameras That Stanley Kubrick Used For His Films 

Here's a breakdown of the cameras Kubrick used on different movies. I tried to add any relevant technical specifications associated with each film, as well. It's important to remember that these cameras were just tools in the hands of a master. Kubrick needed tech to accomplish his dreams, but it was his dreams that put them into motion. 

Fear and Desire (1953)

  • Color: Black and White
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Camera: Bell & Howell Eyemo, Mitchell NC
  • Negative Format: 35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Killer's Kiss (1955)

  • Color: Black and White
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Camera: Arriflex 35 IIA, Mitchell NC, Bell & Howell Eyemo
  • Negative Format: 35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

The Killing (1956)

  • Color: Black and White
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Camera: Arriflex S, Mitchell BNCR
  • Negative Format: 35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Paths of Glory (1957)

  • Color: Black and White
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66: 1 (theatrical ratio)
  • Camera: Arriflex 35 IIA, Mitchell Camera
  • Negative Format: 35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XohngVy9cho

Spartacus (1960)

  • Color: Color
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1 (35mm)
  • Camera: Technirama Delrama Anamorphic (Lenses by Panavision), Technirama/Super Technirama 70
  • Negative Format: 35 mm (horizontal) (Eastman 25T 5248, 50T 5250)
  • Cinematographic Process: Super Technirama 70 (anamorphic)
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm, 70 mm

Lolita (1962)

  • Color: Black and White
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66 : 1
  • Camera: Mitchell BNCR
  • Negative Format35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

  • Color: Black and White
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66 : 1
  • Camera: Mitchell BNC
  • Negative Format: 35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Digital Intermediate (4K) (2020 remaster), Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

  • Color: Color (Technicolor) | Color (Metrocolor)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1 (35mm)
  • Camera: Mitchell BFC 65mm camera, 65mm Super Panavision Lenses (65mm), Mitchell FC 65 Model, Super Panavision 70 Lenses
  • Negative Format: 65 mm (Eastman 50T 5251)
  • Cinematographic Process: Cinerama, Digital Intermediate (8K) (2018 remaster), Dolby Vision, Todd-AO, Super Panavision 70
  • Printed Film Format: 16 mm ("flat" version), 8 mm (Cineavision, 1:2,35, anamorphic), Digital (Digital Cinema Package DCP), Eastman Color Print Film type 5385 (anamorphic), Eastman Color Print Film, Type 5385, 35 mm, 70 mm

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

  • Color: Black and White | Color (Warnercolor) (uncredited)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66 : 1
  • Camera: Mitchell BNC, Angenieux Lenses, Newman Sinclair Auto Kine, Arriflex 35 IIC, Angenieux and Kinoptik Tegea Lenses
  • Negative Format: 35 mm
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Barry Lyndon (1975)

  • Color: Color (Metrocolor) | Color (Eastmancolor)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66 : 1
  • Camera: Arriflex 35 BL, Cooke Speed Panchro, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses, Mitchell BNC, Canon K35, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses, Arriflex 35-IIC, Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses
  • Negative Format: 35 mm (Eastman 100T 5254)
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: Digital (Digital Cinema Package DCP), 35 mm

The Shining (1980)

  • Color: Color
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33 : 1 (Full Screen), 1.37 : 1 (negative ratio), 1.66 : 1 (theatrical ratio - Europe), 1.78 : 1 (Blu-ray), 1.85 : 1 (theatrical ratio - US & UK)
  • Camera: Arriflex 35 BL, Zeiss Super Speed and Cooke Varotal Lenses, Arriflex 35-IIC, Zeiss Super Speed Lenses
  • Negative Format: 35 mm (Eastman 100T 5247)
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

  • Color: Color
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33 : 1 (Full Screen), 1.37 : 1 (negative ratio), 1.66 : 1 (theatrical ratio - Europe), 1.78 : 1 (Blu-ray), 1.85 : 1 (theatrical ratio - US & UK)
  • Camera: Arriflex 35 BL, Zeiss Super Speed Lenses, Arriflex 35 IIC, Fries Mitchell 35R3, Nikon Lenses
  • Negative Format: 35 mm (Eastman 400T 5294)
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

  • Color: Color
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33 : 1 (Full Screen), 1.66 : 1 (theatrical ratio - Europe), 1.78 : 1 (Blu-ray), 1.85 : 1 (theatrical ratio - US & UK), 1.37 : 1 (negative ratio)
  • Camera: Arriflex 535B, Zeiss Super Speed, Variable Prime and Cooke Varotal Lenses, Moviecam SL, Zeiss Super Speed and Variable Prime Lenses
  • Negative Format: 35 mm (Eastman EXR 500T 5298)
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm (Agfa CP20)

What's next? What defines a cinema camera

No Film School recently wrote about a camera and one of our readers commented the following: "If it was called a video camera, I'd understand why it shoots UHD only. But since it's called a Cinema Camera, it should shoot in DCI 4K. It doesn't, oh well!..."

Reading comments, the good, the bad, all of it, is not only a way for us to learn what you are interested in reading but it also informs us about topics to consider exploring further.     

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1 Comment

Oh look, a Kubrick article on NFS.

April 26, 2020 at 7:11AM, Edited April 26, 7:11AM

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