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Engineer William Charles Vinten founded the company which became W. Vinten Limited in 1910, originally in workshops in Wardour Street, London, in a building belonging to cinema pioneer Charles Urban, where equipment for the Kinemacolor colour cinema process was made. Vinten had worked there for Urban before taking over the workshops, and Urban was his first customer, ordering 25 projectors.[1][2] Vinten registered a number of patents for improvements in cine cameras and projectors.[3] During the First World War, the Vinten works was taken over for parts manufacture by aircraft builders Sopwith. Vinten worked with them, and also began making aircraft cameras. After the War, the company's main business ceased as the Kinemacolor process it specialised in was superseded; the firm moved to Cricklewood and became a limited company. William Vinten himself died in November 1937,[2] and his wife and sons took over. Vinten again made reconnaissance cameras for the RAF in the Second World War, and continued to develop these afterwards.

The firm moved to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk in 1962.[2] William Vinten's youngest son, also named Bill, ran the firm until his retirement in 1992.[2] The civilian and military businesses (W. Vinten Ltd and Vinten Broadcast Ltd, respectively) separated in the 90's. Vinten took over a number of other related businesses, forming the Vitec Group, based in Richmond, Surrey. Vinten still makes studio equipment, including robotic cameras.

Still cameras

  • F.95 aerial reconnaissance camera, made in several versions from 1953.[1][4][5]

Cine cameras

  • Model K (Normandy): Second World War 35-mm cine camera designed for military use, including combat situations. With three-lens turret (with separate helical focusing for each lens) and clockwork, battery or mains electric motor drive.[6]
  • HS-300 high-speed cine camera, about 1938: 35-mm cine camera capable of speeds up to 300 frames/second.[7]
  • LR-1 High-speed 35 mm camera, about 1980.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Vinten Timeline at Vinten.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 A Bird in the Hand - Celebrating a century of excellence from Vinten (pdf), in Zerb (the journal of the Guild of Television Cameramen), Autumn 2010, pp 40-45.
  3. Patents held by William Vinten at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  4. F.95 Mark 4 with Leitz Canada 45 mm f/2.5 lens and spare film magazine, used for low-level reconnaissance from Canberra bombers, in the collection of the Imperial War Museums.
  5. F.95 Mark 5, serial no. 109 with 4-inch f/2 Taylor-Hobson Anastigmat, sold at auction by Special Auction Services in July 2014.
  6. Normandy cine camera with Cooke Speed Panchro 35mm f/2, Cooke Speed Panchro 50mm f/2, and Dallmeyer Telephoto 6-inch f/4.5; in the Kodak Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford, UK; ('Collections Online').
  7. HS-300 camera with two-lens sliding 'turret', at the National Media Museum, Bradford.
  8. Catalogue entry for a promotional film about the LR-1 camera, at the Imperial War Museum; the film is sadly not available online, nor is there a picture of the camera, said to be used by the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough.
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