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Dirt Cheap 35mm cameras


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#41 Todd Frank

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 10:54 PM

I recently downloaded a pdf file of the schematics for a 35mm film movie camera.How would I get a replica built?I plan on going into production on my 1st feature within the next year and getting it replicated should be cheaper,than buying one already made.Companies who have them already made are just capitalizing on how scarce these cameras are.


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#42 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 11:08 PM

What do you mean by replicated?  As a non-functioning prop for a scene?


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#43 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 03:26 AM

Any one off machines are expensive, so manufacturing a functioning 35mm film camera is going to involve employing highly skilled machinists (therefore expensive). Don't confuse the cost of mass produced cameras with hand built cameras, they are different processes, with the production scale hugely reducing the unit costs of the former.

 

You don't need to buy a camera for feature film, renting is the way to go or buy then sell the camera at the end.


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#44 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 10:46 AM

That's why I asked if he meant building a camera as a non-functioning prop.  A real, working camera is a hand-assembled precision instrument -- you aren't really paying much for materials, that doesn't account for the real costs.


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#45 Todd Frank

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Posted 14 August 2016 - 08:24 PM

@David Mullen, ASC Well,how much would someone build it for me at a bargain?I want my 1st feature to  be done on film.


Edited by Todd Frank, 14 August 2016 - 08:27 PM.

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#46 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 14 August 2016 - 11:22 PM

Todd,  which camera did you get the schematics for?  Show us a small sample from one of the pages.


Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 14 August 2016 - 11:23 PM.

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#47 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 August 2016 - 11:51 PM

@David Mullen, ASC Well,how much would someone build it for me at a bargain?I want my 1st feature to  be done on film.

 

 

Why would anyone build a 35mm camera from scratch when there are hundreds lying on shelves gathering dust? 


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#48 Kevin T Masuda

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Posted 14 August 2016 - 11:53 PM

@David Mullen, ASC Well,how much would someone build it for me at a bargain?I want my 1st feature to  be done on film.

 

If you want to shoot on film then just rent or buy a camera on eBay then sell it at the end of the shoot. There are already great cameras already built so unless you plan on starting a line of motion picture cameras to sell, it's unnecessary and would likely outweigh the costs of the budget for your film.


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#49 Kevin T Masuda

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Posted 14 August 2016 - 11:56 PM

It would be better to put that money towards your actual feature (i.e. camera rental, film, post production, etc.)


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#50 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 12:00 AM

If the cheapest way to make a 35mm feature was to build the camera from scratch, then someone would have done it by now.


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#51 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 01:04 AM

I plan on going into production on my 1st feature within the next year and getting it replicated should be cheaper,than buying one already made. Companies who have them already made are just capitalizing on how scarce these cameras are.


Well, lets first do the math on how much it would cost to shoot a feature on 35mm, if you were renting equipment.

Lets say you shoot 10:1 ratio... lets say you get stock for .15/ft which can be found if you're ok with old short ends. Lets say you get a 3 perf camera to save on film stock, so you only use 60,000ft worth which is is $9k for stock alone. Process and transfer would be around $27,000. So you're looking at $36,000 for the "film" aspect at best. A 3 perf camera rental will be around $300/day + $1000 for glass and accessories. So for a complete package, including all the accessories you NEED to shoot, you're looking at almost $4k a week, as most rental houses charge a 3 day week. So your total rental for a 2 week shoot would be $8k.

Now, lets say you "buy" a used camera. Nobody sells complete 35mm camera kits with batteries, follow focus, mattebox, filters, tripod, shoulder kit, monitor and of course glass. Honestly, the camera "body" and magazines are the least of your concern, it's the accessories which kill the budget. You can get a modern super 35mm camera body and magazines for between $3k and $14k. When you're done with the shoot, you could just put it back on ebay and get your money back. However, the glass will run you $4k per lens, USED! Ohh and before you say, you'll use DSLR glass on your PL mount S35mm camera, you can't. So in the long run, its far better to negotiate with a local rental house OR suck it up and spend $40k on a complete used camera package and prey when you're done with the shoot, prices haven't dropped.

So... lets say you've got a buddy who can make castings for aluminum, steel and magnesium. Who has a really good 5 axis CNC machine. Who is a very good programmer and is willing to donate the time it takes to build the machine code line by line. Now, lets say they have nothing else in their life to do for a year. They're willing to put in a typical 8hr day and make a camera for you. They STILL wouldn't be able to make it. Why? Does your guy have a background in electronics? How about optics? Who is building all the optical system necessary for the viewfinder to work? How about the electronics necessary to keep the camera running at a crystal locked speed. Does the guy who runs the CNC machine, know those things? Nope, not at all. See, camera companies generally build everything in house and they have experts for each part of the camera. Yet, it still takes them years to design and manufacture a new camera. It's not like the digital world, which is just re-badged pre-existing integrated circuits, speciality companies building custom silicone like imagers and some clever code. No sir, film cameras are made almost entirely in-house, with only things like motors, belts and bulk materials.

My guess is, even with drawings, it would take a team of specialists to re-create a camera. You know, like the guys over at Panavision, they could do it for a million or two. This is why there aren't any "new" high end film cameras because the cost is so great, there aren't enough people out there who could afford it. At least with USED film cameras, they are currently reasonably priced and have support. It's taken almost 100 years for 35mm movie cameras to be similar priced to consumer cameras... I mean you get get an Arri IIC on Ebay for $1500 bux and's fine for shooting a feature with.

In the end, filmmaking on 35mm is expensive, no way around it. The cameras are heavier, the lenses are expensive and the accessories are too. This is why a lot of people resort to the narrow gauge formats like Super 16.
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#52 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 02:12 AM

You most certainly can buy a used 35mm camera for far, far less than manufacturing one. Think in  cost terms of getting a BMW serviced at the main dealer and then multiply that hundreds of times,

 

Arri cameras selling for under £10k on ebay, you can't build one for that price and if someone is doing it for nothing, they could be at it for years.

 

You can also get good deals from rental companies if you;re shooting in one block.


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 15 August 2016 - 02:13 AM.

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#53 Todd Frank

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 02:47 AM

Thank you so much for all of your input.What affordable,4k movie camera you recommend?I need dynamic range and realistically I guess i should be ready to pay $900 used or up to $1,500 used.


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#54 Todd Frank

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 03:15 AM

I noticed one of you mentioned I'd be better off settling for a super 38.Is there a way to crop my footage in post to full frame width and height,aka 35mm-looking?


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#55 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 03:33 AM

I assume you mean Super 35, not Super 38.

 

The aspect ratio on a digital video camera is commonly 1.78. which is pretty close to 1.85, the theatrical standard,  you can crop to a scope aspect ratio in post if required.


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#56 Todd Frank

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 05:13 AM

No,one of you had mentioned I'd be better off using a super 8 or super 16,if I still wanna pick a sensible way to experiment with film.His advice resonated with me.I've seen such cameras sold online for as low as $45 in 5 star good use.Oh,yeah,it was Tyler Purcell,he advised a super 16.

 

Edited by Todd Frank, 15 August 2016 - 05:15 AM.

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#57 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 06:27 AM

Since you were talking about a feature film in your original post, Super 16 would be more sensible than Super 8. You didn't mention experimenting or gaining experience with shooting film.

 

You could try using a 35mm stills film SLR to practice the exposure skills, rather than motion picture film.


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#58 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 10:20 AM

Congratulations on your first feature! What an exciting time for you.

 

Super 8 would be a great place to start, after all that's what Stephen Spielberg started on!

 

Buy a cheap Super 8 camera on eBay, some fresh stock from Kodak and go through the process to see if film is right for you. If you like the basic process Super 8 offers you can jump to Super 16 or 35...heck, why not go 70mm? :)

 

Remember, the cost of the camera is tiny compared to the cost of film, processing and transfer. But most importantly, keep in mind that actually having a good script, good actors, set design, a good director, ect. is what will make the biggest difference. If you have all that then film can make it look better. If you don't have all that then save yourself some money and shoot miniDV.

 

Good luck, and keep us informed on the progress!


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#59 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 11:01 AM

Thank you so much for all of your input.What affordable,4k movie camera you recommend?I need dynamic range and realistically I guess i should be ready to pay $900 used or up to $1,500 used.


Digital cameras have the same problem that film cameras have. The camera bodies aren't too much money, it's the accessories that kill you. It's worse with digital because the glass makes a bigger impact due to the crispness of the format.

There are no $900 decent 4k cameras. There are no $1500 decent 4k cameras. There are consumer toys... but nothing worthy of shooting a feature. Cheapest 4k digital cinema camera worthy of shooting a feature will run you close to $5k, with just a body and maybe a few cards for storage.
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#60 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 11:12 AM

No,one of you had mentioned I'd be better off using a super 8 or super 16,if I still wanna pick a sensible way to experiment with film.His advice resonated with me.I've seen such cameras sold online for as low as $45 in 5 star good use.Oh,yeah,it was Tyler Purcell,he advised a super 16.


Yes, 16mm is a great way to experiment. However, you should first learn a little bit about cameras because you clearly don't understand how they tick or the costs associated. You can't just buy a $45 dollar 16mm camera on ebay and expect it to work. Most cheap cameras are just for show, as they have fogged/fungus ridden lenses and aren't sound mechanically. You really need to buy from a filmmaker who currently uses the camera, in order to find something that works. This is why I recommend cameras like the Bolex H16R EBM, all of which are a single sprocket camera that works with modern stocks. However, with glass and battery, it will run you close to a grand used. Then you need a decent light meter and of course film stock.

Remember, one roll of 100ft 16mm stock for one of those smaller cameras costs $45 - $65 dollars depending on where you get it from. It will cost you around $45 to process and transfer and it only lasts around 2 and 1/2 minutes. So your little experiment will still cost you quite a bit of money.

I'll put it to you a different way, if camera costs are a problem, maybe you should start by making a short film with whatever you have, to get some practice and then raise the appropriate capital to make a feature.
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