Graphic Design of above photo by Marcel Dehaeseleer, 2005

Abraham Zapruder 8MM JFK Assassination Camera And Film, 1963
A Sixteen Million Dollar Twenty-Eight Second 8 MM Film

The most famous 8MM movie footage ever taken was shot by Dallas dress manufacturer Abraham Zapruder of the John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Texas November 22nd 1963. This is the exact model of 8 MM camera Abraham Zapruder used to shoot the film. The film was shot on top of a concrete mound on the grassy knoll in Daily Plaza. It is a record of a few seconds before the assassination, what happened to President Kennedy during the assassination and a second or so after the assassination. The Abraham Zapruder film is a mere 486 frames, just six feet of film celluloid and lasts only 26 seconds.

Watch The Zapruder Film From A YouTube Video - Digital Versions.

Zupruder sold the 26 second film for $150,000 to Time-Life. That was a huge amount of money in 1963. Time-Life published some frames in Life Magazine but for many years, would not permit most of the public to view it. Zupruder testified before the Warren Commission. Zapruder passed away in Dallas on 30th August, 1970.

The FBI has the original Abraham Zapruder camera on display (sometimes) otherwise it's in the National Archives in Washington D.C. under lock and key. The Zapruder film is 26 seconds long and is likely the most famous 26 seconds of film, in American History.

To the right is the original camera with it's FBI evidence sticker on it as it appears today. National Archives - Washington D.C.


Click here for a page that provides the brochure of the camera.

Camera Specifications

Camera Maker: Bell & Howell.
Model: 414PD Director Series
Film Type: Double 8mm - 25ft or 50ft film roll
Film Speeds: ASA 10 to ASA 40
Running Speed: Single frame, 16fps and 48fps (slow motion.)
Lens: Bell & Howell Varamat f1.8 / 9-27mm - Power Zoom
Mechanism: Spring Motor
Lightmeter: Built-in Dual Electric-Eye.
Non-reflex viewfinder (parallax corrected and coupled with zoom.)

The camera zooms from telephoto to wide angle.  It focuses from 6.0 feet to infinity.  The camera has built in haze filters. 

The camera can adjust from f/1.8 to f/22 to accommodate all types of film. 

This is the Spy And Private-Eye Museum's Display
Of The Same Model Camera Used By Abraham Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder - Live On Local Dallas TV

1966 Interview With Abraham Zapruder

The camera's Selection switch on the side gives selections of Animation, Stop, Run, and Slow Motion. 

Life Magazine owned the original copy of the Zapruder film and it was somewhat suppressed for many decades. Life Magazine originally published selected frames from the film in a Life magazine issue dated November 25th, 1966 in an article titled A Matter Of Reasonable Doubt. It was not until the Jim Garrison trial of Claw Shaw that the complete film was viewed in public. Over the years, it has caused a great deal of controversy. Many assassination researchers has studied the film for decades and many of them know each frame and frame number by heart. There have been chapters on the film in hundreds of books on the Kennedy assassination and several full length books about the film by itself. There has also been dozens of videos and television specials done on the film.

In October of 1964 Life Magazine published an issue on the findings of the Warren Commission. On the front cover and inside was more published frames from the Zupruder film. The photo on the left is a copy of that 1964 magazine. The photo on the right is the issue Life Magazine did that contained a few frames from the Zupruder Film the week after the assassination.

The public did not see the complete Zapruder film until it was broadcast March 6th, 1975 on Good Night America with with Geraldo Rivera, on ABC. That was 12 years after the event. Over the years, there had been numerous bootlegged copies of the film that assassination researchers could obtain. For years, the Zapruder family retained a law firm that would enforce use of the film and protect their copyright. The film ended up in the hands of the federal government. There were many lawsuits over the film. One lawsuit claimed that since the federal government now owned the film, there was no copyright and the film was in the public domain. On Friday July 16th, 1999, a three-member arbitration panel of the US Government awarded the Zapruder family heirs $16 million for the film. This was likely the most expensive film ever paid for. That's $615,384.61 a second and we are not even counting the original $150,000 Zupruder was paid by Life Magazine for the film in 1963.

After the Zupruder family was paid the sixteen million, they donated the film to the Sixth Floor Museum which is located in the old School Book Depository Building in Dallas, Texas. You can click here to read the press release from the Sixth Floor Museum. You can also stop in at the Sixth Floor Museum website.


Private Investigator Josiah Thompson spent years studying the JFK assassination. In 1976 his book Six Seconds in Dallas was published which was a micro-study of the Kennedy Assassination. Thompson's book claimed that three gunman murdered President Kennedy.

Over the last 30 years Thompson has investigated over a hundred murder cases. He participated in the defense of Bill and Emily Harris in the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and of Huey Newton on murder and assault charges. His most recent high-profile cases include being investigator for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma bombing trial and investigating the bombing of environmental activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. In 1988 he published Gumshoe: Reflections in a Private Eye, an account of his life as a private-eye.

Thompson's book is one of literally hundreds of books that have been published in the Kennedy assassination that site the Zapruder film.

Today, one can obtain a DVD of the film. Below is a copy of the DVD cover and box.

Here are some links concerning the Zapruder Film

Frame -By -Frame Stills Of The Zupruder Film

View several versions of the Zapruder Film Online

Google Catalog Of Still Images Of The Zapruder Film

The Zapruder Film By Jerry Organ

Zapruder Film History From Wikipeda Encyclopedia

Time-Line Of The Zapruder Film

The Bell & Howell, Model 414PD Director Series could be obtained with a matching movie projector which is pictured with the camera to the right. On Display At The Spy And Private-Eye Museum.

....And The Controversy Continues today........

On the right is two books that continue to help fuel the controversy concerning the Zapruder Film.
The first is a recent book written by David E. Wrone titled The Zapruder Film, Reframing JFK's Assassination. The second one by James Fetzeris titled The Great Zapruder Film Hoax.
These are just two of hundreds of books with thousands of pages pertaining to the Zapruder film. Over the years, the Zupruder film has been said to prove Lee Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, and proved that he did not. It has been claimed that the Zapruder film is a fake, was touched up and/or altered. No other film in history has been so controversial and the debates about what the Zapruder film proves and disproves rages on even to this day. Looking at the Kennedy assassination from an investigative prospective is like falling into a bottomless pit of endless bits of evidence that seem to contradicte each other. It's also a bottomless pit filled with a lot of smoke and mirrors.

Zupruder wasn't even an investigator but he ended up taking the evidence footage of the decade in just twenty-right seconds. If Abraham Zupruder would have been charging an hourly rate for his 28 seconds of eight MM film, his hourly rate would have evidently been something like ah...a little over one billion, nine hundred million, two hundred thousand dollars an hour give or take a few million.Not a bad thing to point out to clients who complain about your hourly rate and short video clips! No other film in history has obtained higher compensation, been studies by so many people nor been referred to in published works so often as Zupruder's film was.

Note: Old Life Magazines, books And DVD shown and the Bell & Howell movie camera model number 414PD Director Series as well as the movie projector owned by Ralph Thomas.

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From The Ralph D. Thomas PI Vintage Collection
P O Box 82148, Austin, Texas 78708
Showroom: 9513 Burnet Road, Austin, Texas 78758
Phone 512.719.3595 Fax 512.719.3594

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