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Recommendation for 16mm Camera

16mm Camera Recommendation Cinematography

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#1 Daniel Schutte

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 10:48 AM

Hi all,

I'm looking to shoot a short film on 16mm in the near future, and was hoping for some recommendations of cameras to look into. Bearing in mind that I have to consider other aspects of the shoot, including lenses, I'm willing to pay around £1000.

Some features I'm looking for are:

Consistency in registration - one thing I've learned from watching various tests is that the results of a given film stock can range from professional to unusable depending on the precision of camera movements. 

Sync sound - I'm not worried about the volume of the camera itself, since I'll most likely dub dialogue after filming, but I was hoping to use a simple field recorder on set to make the dubbing process easier. Obviously this won't work if there is too much frame rate deviation.

Ability to hand hold/shoulder mount.

 

Ease of maintenance - considering that I'll be investing quite a bit of time and money into this project, I'd like to have any second hand gear checked over by a technician without too much cost/hassle.


So far, the Eclair NPR is looking like the best bet, but I'd appreciate any other suggestions.


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#2 aapo lettinen

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:09 PM

how many shooting days you'll have, would it be possible to rent the camera and lenses from a private owner so that you could use much better gear and would still manage under the 1000 camera budget? 

would make much sense to me especially because you want sync sound. you could maybe be able to rent an super16 Arri SR or Aaton LTR or XTR and couple of lenses for the whole shoot instead of buying an very old basic N16 sync sound camera with the cheapest lens you can get.


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#3 Daniel Schutte

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:21 PM

I did consider that, but the shoot might be fairly long for a short film - perhaps 4-5 days. Rental for cameras like the 16sr3 are around 400 pounds per day (from what I've seen), and decent lens sets can be even higher (I use the example of the 16sr3 because I specifically want to shoot on standard 16, not super 16) . On top of that, I'd probably need to do various tests prior to filming. 


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#4 aapo lettinen

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:21 PM

another thing is, servicing of film cameras by a proper technician is relatively expensive for a 500-700 pound camera body. by renting you would get a camera set which would already be in proper working order and no need to spend additional cash for maintenance and service.

 

it would maybe be possible to get an stardard16 Aaton LTR or Arri SR1 with a basic zoom lens like Zeiss 10-100 on the 1000 pound budget but they would not be CLA:d and would need additional cash to get to a working order...

something which popped up on eBay on quick search:

https://www.ebay.com...RwAAOSwPDda8ju2 

 

for Eclair NPR your lenses would probably be the Angenieux 12-120 and maybe one or two c-mount primes if possible. or a c-mount wide angle prime and trying to use slr lenses (nikon ai-s etc) for longer focal lenghts


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#5 aapo lettinen

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:30 PM

I did consider that, but the shoot might be fairly long for a short film - perhaps 4-5 days. Rental for cameras like the 16sr3 are around 400 pounds per day (from what I've seen), and decent lens sets can be even higher (I use the example of the 16sr3 because I specifically want to shoot on standard 16, not super 16) . On top of that, I'd probably need to do various tests prior to filming. 

you could probably get a good 4-5 day deal even from a rental house as a student. from private owner, if you know one, they could for example ask the 400 for the whole shooting period including the lenses. should not be more than 1000 in any circumstances, probably around 400-800 I think (without knowing the rental options and owner operators in your area...)

 

any 16mm camera manufactured can do standard16 and most of the under 60 years old models use the normal "sound film" with 1R perforations. newer cameras have more speed options and better viewfinders and may have video tap etc. useful but the main benefit are the lens mounts (PL) which are modern so that you can rent or borrow or purchase even the most current lenses and use them with the camera. with a Arri-B or Eclair or Arri-S or Kinor16 mount camera you are limited to purchasing the 40-50 years old lens models, you can't usually rent or borrow extra lenses easily because nobody uses those old mount lenses anymore or they have been rehoused to PL long time ago


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#6 Daniel Schutte

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 06:26 AM

Yes, it seems like getting a vintage camera might only lead to further problems. I found a pretty good deal on a 16sr, but decided against it since bayonet mount lenses are few and far between, and extortionately expensive. I was planning on buying some C mount lenses for the NPR, but I suppose for 16mm Double X one should probably use the highest quality optics available.

 

I think I might call around and ask for rental prices on a 16sr3. I suppose the reliability of a rental camera will negate the need for tests, and probably produce a much cleaner image, thus saving money in the long run.


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#7 matthew roberts

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 07:04 AM

Hi Daniel,

 

I have an SR3 adv which I would rent out, I am based in London. 

 

I only have limited lenses though - Zeiss super speed 9.5mm MKIII, CP.2 21mm, CP.2 100mm.

 

The CP.2's are brand new and the camera was bought from Take2 London about 2 years ago so would be in reasonable serviced condition.

 

I will be sending the camera to Arri in the near future for a full service, but not sure exactly when I'm afraid. 

 

If you are interested get in contact by pm.

 

Mat


Edited by matthew roberts, 10 May 2018 - 07:04 AM.

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#8 Will Montgomery

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 02:58 PM

I would consider raising your camera budget to £2500, finding a more modern 16mm camera that is tested and works, then selling the camera when you're done. Check around where you live to find out what cameras are still regularly serviced in your area. In the U.S. it's much more easy to find a tech that can work on Arri SR's than Eclairs and the parts are much more plentiful. Not sure about the U.K.


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#9 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 12:25 PM

I recently bought a Canon Scoopic from Du-All Camera, it cost me just about 1K€. Fully serviced ofc. So far I've only run two test rolls, and the results were quite good. Downside is it's standard 16mm and it's apparently almost impossible to modify for Super16. Registration is excellent and as far as I can tell running speed is quite accurate and stable, though I haven't tried synching sound to see if it would maintain sync for longer periods of time. It's comfortably handheld and easy to operate. Again downside, the fixed zoom lens, which is a very good lens, but it is fixed. Also it only takes 30m rolls and has no interchangeable mag.

My two cents, make of it what you will. Cheers and good luck in your endeavours!


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#10 Mark Dunn

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 01:30 PM

it's said that cropped 16mm on modern stocks is as sharp as s16 used to be.

We even did it for a student film in 1981/2 on '47. Looked pretty good in a letterboxed print as I recall.


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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 02:25 AM

Yes, it seems like getting a vintage camera might only lead to further problems.

 

I was planning on buying some C mount lenses for the NPR, but I suppose for 16mm Double X one should probably use the highest quality optics available.

 

I suppose the reliability of a rental camera will negate the need for tests, and probably produce a much cleaner image, thus saving money in the long run.

 

I must say something to that. A rented camera can’t be better serviced than your own, regular attention by you presumed. In other words, used equipment that you own, once thoroughly checked, will work as well as everything else. I can offer you a Bell & Howell Filmo 70-DL that I’ve overhauled, it will produce the finest imagery. I disassemble entirely, down to every washer, pin, and spring. I clean each part, see it over, take it back to its place, adjust. I take the time I need and give two years warranty on my work. I can offer you a Paillard-Bolex H-16, lubricated for average temperatures or winterised. You put on C-mount lenses, you underlay shim washers up to 2 mm with some long-thread primes, up to 2,75 mm or 0.108" with a Wollensak Cine Raptar for the distance range beyond the lenses’ close end, something you can’t have with bayonet cameras. Just saying

 

Let me state this in public: There’s much swaggering with camerapeople. It has to be Cooke, Zeiss, Leica, whatnot. There’s much fuss about looks and bokeh. Many discuss HD, 2K, 4K resolution but they don’t bother about projection lenses. They don’t know about the nonflatness of films in camera gates. They have no idea of contact and registration with film printing equipment.

 

Many a cameraman doesn’t have good vision. There are often uncertainties on focusing. In short, a well maintained C-mount lens, even a rather simple one, produces the same result when cleverly used as the most modern system because the fine details are not recorded. They sink in the film grains or clouds of dyes. The high-grade professional lenses’ performance can be detected from 35mm and 70mm prints, not from 16. One has to use microfilms to bring out those differences on 16, emulsions that have more resolving power than lenses have. Believe me, I did do that.

 

The Taylor-Hobson Super Comat, a four-elements lens, holds up to many other systems. I have here an older Berthiot Cinor 25 mm, f/1.5, not coated. It draws a tack sharp but lower contrast image. No need for diffusion nor editing artifice, if you want that character. Finally, the focal separation of a Tessar type lens is unmatched.


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#12 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 09:02 AM

I recently bought a Canon Scoopic from Du-All Camera, it cost me just about 1K€. Fully serviced ofc. So far I've only run two test rolls, and the results were quite good. Downside is it's standard 16mm and it's apparently almost impossible to modify for Super16. Registration is excellent and as far as I can tell running speed is quite accurate and stable, though I haven't tried synching sound to see if it would maintain sync for longer periods of time. It's comfortably handheld and easy to operate. Again downside, the fixed zoom lens, which is a very good lens, but it is fixed. Also it only takes 30m rolls and has no interchangeable mag.

My two cents, make of it what you will. Cheers and good luck in your endeavours!

 

Scoopic is a great option that is under $1000. I've had 6 of them and I have noticed most of them can have a little flutter only noticeable in skys. If it was an Arri you'd be able to make tiny adjustments to the mechanism to get rid of it. With the Scoopic you don't have as much ability to adjust; they were meant for shooting football games and vacations...not for making features.

 

However, on the M, MN & MS models (I've had each) the lens is really great. I've had colorists ask me what lens I was using on some transfers because they loved it so much. The fact that it is motorized is a big plus...constantly winding a K3, Filmo, Bolex, K-100, ect. can be painful and difficult on long shoots. You can find a crystal sync mod but I don't believe that is critical. Ultra 16 conversion is easy while Super 16 is nearly impossible or at least impractical.

 

Here's an example:

 


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#13 Ryan Fleet

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 01:44 PM

 

Scoopic is a great option that is under $1000. I've had 6 of them and I have noticed most of them can have a little flutter only noticeable in skys. If it was an Arri you'd be able to make tiny adjustments to the mechanism to get rid of it. With the Scoopic you don't have as much ability to adjust; they were meant for shooting football games and vacations...not for making features.

 

I do wonder what makes those flickers in the sky. It almost looks like compression in the image similiar to the DJI Mavic shooting 4K at 60mbs instead of 100mbs.

 

There is a simple trick to make the flicker not as noticeable. You can duplicate the video layer and place it on top of itself then offset it 1 frame and make the opacity 50%. 

 

Works pretty well. Phillip bloom uses this method to get rid of light flicker in slow motion shots. You can also mess with it some more to get the perfect setting you want.

 

Will, I hope you don't mind but I used your nice dolly shot on the dock as a comparison test. Uploaded to YouTube under unlisted.

 

https://youtu.be/MECXwtacgmA


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#14 Will Montgomery

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 04:03 PM

Hmmmm...that makes me want to re-scan that footage. That was done on a Spirit 2k many years ago, but I know their machine was immaculately maintained.

 

Bernie (at Super16Inc...my go-to Scoopic tech) believed the flickers were due to tiny alignment issues in the rollers and mechanisms of that Scoopic. Unfortunately there's not a clear way to adjust each piece because adjusting one piece moves another one and so on where as Arri's and Aatons are setup for precise changes and adjustments...at least that is how he explained it to me  :) .

 

I've also wondered if the crystal sync (after market mod) on the camera could be affecting that.


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#15 Webster C

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 06:33 PM

I love your commentary on this thread Simon Wyss, saving it for future reference. Incidentally, I found a dirt cheap little Wollensak 25mm fixed focus lens that actual covers the full frame of my BlackMagic 2.5k sensor. Pretty neat. Most of my c-mount lenses vignette a little.

 

Would love to see some examples of shooting of on high resolution microfilm emulsion. Adrian Cousins, who does home processing in London, shot this on high contrast 16mm title stock (Kodak 7363 rated at 10asa):

https://vimeo.com/237972362

 

Daniel, have you considered a CP-16? They are quiet, made to fit on a shoulder, and have good registration. They're also very cheap because they're not "sexy" cameras.


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#16 Simon Wyss

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 01:26 PM

Would love to see some examples of shooting of on high resolution microfilm emulsion.

 

Well, the thing is that I’d have to have some footage scanned at 6K resolution to capture everything that’s on the negatives. It’s Gigabit film, a stock that resolves up to 720 line pairs per millimeter. Reckoning with 7,5 mm image height you arrive at 5,400 lp/mm. It’s even hard to take that to a positive. I pulled positives on common stock, Orwo PF 2. What one sees in projection is the granulation of the print film, nothing the like from the neg. It is entirely pointless trying to convey the smoothness of such imagery, the film is like a mirror.

 

I made contact duplicate negatives on Gigabit film from old 35mm nitrate projection positives. The task is to maintain perfect contact across the image area. Those dupes don’t show any additional granularity. Also a long straight density curve is part of the game, a very sharp upbending from no exposure to the lightest shades of grey, a motion-picture film technician’s dream. It was possible to record what’s on the print. Fresh positives off the interneg look like fresh original prints. You only have the scratches in them that could not be spirited away. If I ever have a lab back I shall certainly produce prints on microfilm positive stock and on Gigabit film itself for comparison.


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#17 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 20 May 2018 - 07:26 AM

Hello,

 

I just today saw an interesting camera come up on ebay:

 

https://www.ebay.com...jEAAOSwUl5bAS-s

 

Although it may not be as well known as many of the usual cameras suggested, the camera has a respectable history of being used professionally and by starting film makers, and for the price, it is hard to beat, comes with a motor, spare mags, two lenses, and with free postage thrown in!

 

If I didn't already have one, I'd buy it...


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