The Bell 14 is a Japanese subminiature taking 14×14mm pictures on 17.5mm paper backed rollfilm, made around 1960 by an unknown company.
The Bell 14 is a cheap camera revisiting the Hit concept with a new design. The viewfinder is integrated in the top housing, which is much sleeker than on the traditional Hit. The front window is elongated, imitating the rangefinder cameras of the 1960s. The film is advanced by a wheel at the rear, moved by the photographer's left thumb. The back is hinged to the right, is locked by a sliding bar on the left, and has an uncovered red window in the middle. The film spool must be placed in a small insert before loading it into the inside chamber. The lens has a fixed focus and aperture, and has no marking. The everset shutter gives instant exposures only.
The Bell 14 is identified by the name BELL next to the viewfinder window. Most examples have a blue area on the other side of the window, with the number 14, but some have an unmarked honeycomb pattern instead, faking a selenium meter. The shutter plate is inscribed Bell at the top and MADE IN JAPAN at the bottom, with three stars on each side of the lens. The name BELL–14 is sometimes repeated on the camera's top, but not always. Some examples have a lizard covering instead of black leatherette; at least one is known with a fancy black and cream imitation-caning pattern.
The Bell 14 sometimes appears with a larger recessed lens barrel and a black lens bezel, with no inscriptions on the front plate. It is unclear if these examples correspond to another variant of the camera, or to regular Bell 14 equipped with a removable lens hood.
The original box for the Bell 14 is known in various colours (green, grey or blue). It shows a picture of the camera, together with the words Bell 14 and BELL–14 CAMERA.
The Sing 88 is similar to the Bell 14, with the name SING–88 engraved at the top, and SING 88 inscribed around the viewfinder window. The shutter plate is inscribed MINI CAMERA at the top and MADE IN HONG KONG at the bottom. This might indicate that the production of these cameras was transferred to Hong Kong at some time.
- See the user manual reproduced at Submin.com.
- Honeycomb pattern: examples pictured in McKeown, p.122, in Sugiyama, item 5017, and in this page at Shōwa no shōnen bōken nikki (archived).
- See the examples pictured in this page and this page at Submin.com.
- Lizard covering: examples pictured in McKeown, p.122, and in Sugiyama, item 5017.
- An example is shown at the Japanese site this page at Shōwa no shōnen bōken nikki (archived).
- Examples pictured in this page, formerly at Benbojo's Classic Cameras (archived copy at the Internet Archive), in this page at the Junk Binbō blog, in this page at Shōwa no shōnen bōken nikki (archived), and observed in an online auction.
- Boxes pictured in this page at Submin.com and in this page in Nigel Richards' website, and observed in an online auction.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P.122.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. P.74.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Item 5017.
The Bell 14 is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.
- Bell 14, Sing 88 and user manual of the Bell 14 at Submin.com
- Bell 14 and Sing 88 among 17.5mm film cameras at Subclub.org
- Bell 14 among other subminiature cameras at the Subminiature site of Gary Sivertsen
- Bell 14 in Nigel Richards' website
- Bell 14 outfit including the camera, case, film and developing chemicals, offered for sale at the auction Important and Rare Cameras by Bonhams, Hong Kong, on 3 December 2015.