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Arriflex 16S, WOW!


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#1 Tim Carroll

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 06:09 PM

Just got back my test footage from the Arri 16S I rebuilt. Paul Duclos of Duclos lens in LA set up an Angeneiux 12-120 T2.2 for me for the camera. I am totally blown away. I always considered the Arri 16S to be a little nicer camera than a Bolex, but no where near the quality of an Arriflex 16SR. Boy was I wrong.

I did a framing test because my camera has no frame lines in the viewfinder and the thing came out about 98% of dead on, in other words, the framing chart I framed the shots off of was just a hair off to one side, something I can easily compensate for when shooting. And I repeated the test at full zoom, 60m and full wide, with the same results at all three settings.

Then I did a registration test and it was absolutely spot on. As tight as my SR. Not a waver.

And finally I did a series of focus tests at full wide, 60mm and full zoom, and the image is crisp from edge to edge, something I never got from my years of shooting with a Bolex.

I am truly blown away, I had no idea the camera took such nice images.

One very happy Arriflex 16S owner,
Happy Holidays everyone,
-Tim Carroll
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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 08:33 PM

...the Arri 16S I rebuilt.

Hey, Tim,

What was involved in rebuilding that camera? How big of a project was it?
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#3 Nathan Milford

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 08:45 PM

I just sold my 16SB to help finance my film.

I already miss it! I just finished overhauling it and modifying it....

What a great little camera...

- nathan
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#4 Tim Carroll

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 11:18 PM

Hey, Tim,

What was involved in rebuilding that camera? How big of a project was it?


For guys like Nathan it is probably a walk in the park, for two reasons. One, Nathan is a really good camera repair technician and two, Nathan has all the necessary tools available to him. For most of us who are not camera repair technicians and do not have a shop full of motion picture repair tools, it is a bit more challenging. I had the advantage of having been a mechanical design engineer who specialized in small mechanism design in an earlier life. So I had a bevy of small precision tools, unfortunately they were not motion picture camera repair specific.

Here is the rather long story.

I have always wanted an Arriflex 16S since it is such a film school camera and I never had the chance to go to film school. ARRI in New York has always maintained my Arriflex 16SR so I called and asked them if they would service an Arriflex 16S if I got one off of eBay. They told me they only service Arri 16S cameras with serial numbers above 15000. I realized that I may not be able to find one with the right serial number, so I decided to see how tough it would be to service one myself. I had rebuilt a couple of Bolexes a few years ago, so I knew that to do this Arri right I would need a Flange Focal Distance gage. They run almost $1600 from ARRI, so I started searching elsewhere. I was able to find one on eBay in Germany for about half of what ARRI wanted, so I bought it. When it arrived, I talked with ARRI in New York and they let me send the 52.000 mm standard out to their shop so they could compare it to theirs and let me know where it fell. (Remember, you want to set the camera up the same way ARRI does, so measuring your standard against theirs is the best way to know your gages are correct). Once I had that done, I started looking for a one owner, low milage Arriflex 16S.

I found one from an estate sale that had only one owner and was made back in 1957, so it was the older design. (See the thread on "Arri S Serial Numbers" for more information on older and newer designs). I checked the camera out real well and put the Angenieux lens that came with it on the camera to check focus. It seemed to be pretty close. I then sent the lens to Paul Duclos in LA and I measured everything else on the camera (like the FFD) and then started carefully taking the camera apart. Specialty tools include spanner wrenches of different sizes and a good set of jewelers screwdrivers.

I have had the good fortune of meeting two gentlemen who were German ARRI techs and both of them were kind enough to discuss the camera a few times on the phone, advising me what to watch out for. I slowly took the camera apart, cleaning and lubricating as I went. I replaced the eyecup which was pretty dry rotted and replaced the rubber motor coupling. I did not take apart the movement assembly, something that should only be done by a factory trained ARRI tech who has the equipment to get it back together again and adjusted properly. But I did remove it from the camera and clean and lubricate it. I then carefully reassembled everything and went through the process of setting the Flange Focal Distance, which is a bit tricky. My camera was a bit off, tight on the top and loose on the bottom, so I had to carefully stone the lower mount on the housing to bring the FFD into spec. When I say it was off, I mean it was off by about one tenth of the diameter of a human hair, but that meant it was out of spec, and I wanted it to be dead on. That is how tight the tolerances are on parts of motion picture cameras. Anyway, I got it to spec and Paul did a great job on the lens for me, and I got it set up and did some film tests. And I was blown away by what a great little camera it is.

The camera has been done for about a week and a half and yesterday, finally, an Arriflex 16S service manual that I found on eBay, it finally showed up. Would have been nice to have a couple of months ago. If anyone is considering rebuilding an Arriflex 16S, I highly recommend getting a copy of the service manual first, as there are a number of operations, if done wrong, can break some very important parts of the camera. And on cameras as old as mine, these parts are no longer available. So if you break them, you're turned your camera into a boat anchor. Also, if you have a newer Arriflex 16S or S/B with a serial number above 15000, it is cheaper to have ARRI in New York rebuild the camera and set it back to factory specs than it is to acquire the tools to do it yourself. And once these little babies are set to factory specs, they really make great images.

-Tim Carroll
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#5 Nathan Milford

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 11:57 PM

For guys like Nathan it is probably a walk in the park, for two reasons. One, Nathan is a really good camera repair technician and two, Nathan has all the necessary tools available to him. For most of us who are not camera repair technicians and do not have a shop full of motion picture repair tools, it is a bit more challenging.


Actually, before I was a camera tech I worked in IT. I was renting my Arri out to a friend for a small shoot in Brooklyn. I happen to be the Gaffer on that shoot. The camera died at 2 AM in the middle of a park in a less than savory neighborhood. I figured I'd pop it open... afterall I'd probably have to send it into a shop eitherway. It was a simple repair but it gave me the confidence to apply for my current position.

Originally, Rich Abel wanted me for HD work because of my IT background, but in my initial interviews I couldn't stop talking his ear off about Aatons so he gave in and they trained me to repair those. I think the second interview sold me when I started talking about obscure camera movements in the first two decards of motion pictures...

I spent today doing the most extensive modifcation to a camera I've done yet... on a member of this forum's camera no less. Milled out a 22mm hole in the front housing (which is impossble to lay flat, damn french engineers)... talk about nerve-wracking...

Edited by nmilford, 24 December 2005 - 01:18 AM.

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#6 Sam Wells

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 11:02 PM

And finally I did a series of focus tests at full wide, 60mm and full zoom, and the image is crisp from edge to edge, something I never got from my years of shooting with a Bolex.Happy Holidays everyone,
-Tim Carroll
[/quote]

Never had that problem with good lenses on a Bolex. The S is a great camera tho.

-Sam
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#7 Ken Maskrey

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 08:13 PM

I did a framing test because my camera has no frame lines in the viewfinder and the thing came out about 98% of dead on, in other words, the framing chart I framed the shots off of was just a hair off to one side, something I can easily compensate for when shooting. And I repeated the test at full zoom, 60m and full wide, with the same results at all three settings.


I also have an Arri S with no frame lines which really threw me. I shot some test film but haven't been to the lab because of the holidays...anyway, how much of what was in the viewfinder did you seen on the print? I shot with an Eclair NPR a couple times in school and had to be really careful about usign the frame lines.
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#8 Tim Carroll

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 09:08 PM

I also have an Arri S with no frame lines which really threw me. I shot some test film but haven't been to the lab because of the holidays...anyway, how much of what was in the viewfinder did you seen on the print? I shot with an Eclair NPR a couple times in school and had to be really careful about usign the frame lines.


What I saw in the viewfinder was just about exactly what the film captured full frame. A hair was shaved off the left side of the frame, and there was a hair more on the right side of the frame compared to what was in the viewfinder. The top was pretty dead on and the bottom showed just a hair more than the viewfinder.

Now remember, this is full frame. Which is fine if you are going to be telecining the footage. But if you are going to be projecting the footage, then you won't be seeing full frame. If you are shooting to project the image, then do frame tests and view the footage with a 16mm projector. That will tell you how to accurately frame.

-Tim Carroll
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#9 kev5000

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 10:45 PM

I got my ARRI S in 1998 and I still love!!!. I shot three movies with it all ready and in development to shot my feature with it. Crisp images and very reliable. I have plans to upgrade it to S-16.
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#10 Rachel Oliver

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 04:32 AM

I have plans to upgrade it to S-16.


Hi;

I heard the Arri 16S's are hard to "upgrade" to S16? Any one know it that's true?

Olly
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#11 Tim Carroll

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 09:26 AM

Hi;

I heard the Arri 16S's are hard to "upgrade" to S16? Any one know it that's true?

Olly


It is very difficult to upgrade to Super 16. To find out more, talk with Jorge at Cinema Technic. He has dealt with the issues involving the upgrade, though he does not do the upgrade himself.

-Tim Carroll
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#12 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 01:10 PM

It is very difficult to upgrade to Super 16. To find out more, talk with Jorge at Cinema Technic. He has dealt with the issues involving the upgrade, though he does not do the upgrade himself.

-Tim Carroll


Hi,

Bruce McNaughton who often posts here, has a company that converts the S to Super 16 http://www.arandafilm.com.au/
I have not seen a conversion but worth a chat.

Stephen
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#13 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:52 PM

Having fun now. I am posting this for anyone else who has an Arriflex 16S and wants to shoot with the constant speed motor and wants it to run at 24fps.

As mentioned elsewhere on this forum, you can run the camera very nicely off a couple of Radio Shack 7.2 volt rechargeable Ni-Cad battery packs wired in parallel. Here is the Radio Shack part number #23-322. They are like $24 each if you buy them each with a charger, or you can buy one charger and battery pack and then just buy another battery pack, this will save you some money. I bought two chargers so I can charge both batteries up at the same time. Make sure to wire them in parallel, not in series. If you are confused about this, ask an electrician or the folks at Radio Shack.

If your constant speed motor is in decent shape, this battery pack will run it very nicely and the speed should be very consistent. Problem is, these are mechanically governed motors and are decades old, so even though the speed is very consistent, it may be consistently slow or fast. Here is the good news, they are adjustable. Mine was running at 23.6 fps (measured with a strobe). It is pretty straightforward to take off the back cover of the motor(held on by two screws) after removing the inching knob, and you can see the governor. Now put the inching knob back on but leave the cover off. There is a little screw and lock nut that adjusts the spring tension on the governor. You tighten or loosen that screw and then lock it back off and test. I was able to adjust my motor so now it is 24.06 fps. It is not as precise as a crystal sync motor, but it is good enough for shooting MOS or for doing the type of sync Rodriguez did in el Mariachi.

And with this battery pack set up, there is no need to convert your magazine torque motor to 12 volt operation.

So if you can't afford to buy a crystal motor and to have your magazine torque motor converted to 12 volts, here is an inexpensive way to get you out there shooting your movie.

If you have any questions or want more details, post here and I will try to help.

Happy New Year,
-Tim Carroll

PS: The strobe I use for working on the camera is a Media Logic SC102 strobe. They stopped making them a number of years ago, which is a real shame because it is very handy when maintaining your camera. I ran into one on eBay and right now it is going for something like $36, and brand new I think they were close to $200. So if anyone is interested in doing what I describe above, you may want to check out the auction because a strobe is necessary to set the governor on the constant speed motor. Here is the Listing:
Media Logic SC102 strobe

Edited by TimCarroll, 02 January 2006 - 09:42 PM.

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#14 Marty Hamrick

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:52 PM

I love the ArriS,it's my favorite MOS 16mm camera.I have a friend with one that's sitting dormant.I've been trying to talk him out of selling it unless he gives me a deal on it first.I understand it can be coverted to super 16 and PL mounts.Does anyone have any experience with this?
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#15 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 10:12 PM

I love the ArriS,it's my favorite MOS 16mm camera.I have a friend with one that's sitting dormant.I've been trying to talk him out of selling it unless he gives me a deal on it first.I understand it can be coverted to super 16 and PL mounts.Does anyone have any experience with this?


See above.

-Tim
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#16 Rod Otaviano

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 02:15 AM

I understand it can be coverted to super 16 and PL mounts.Does anyone have any experience with this?


Just noticed Duall Camera is now offering this conversion to Super 16.

http://www.duallcame...e_Arri16S.shtml

(I don't work for those guys, just thought the information might be of use to some of you)
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#17 Tim Carroll

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 09:47 AM

Just noticed Duall Camera is now offering this conversion to Super 16.

http://www.duallcame...e_Arri16S.shtml

(I don't work for those guys, just thought the information might be of use to some of you)


If anyone has had a camera converted by Duall, I would love to hear about the experience and how they like the camera. Pros, Cons, etc.

Thanks,
Tim
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#18 Keneu Luca

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 06:10 PM

I had them overhaul (not super 16 upgrade) my camera. No complaints. Everything is fine so far.

But is the super upgrade worth that price for this camera? Then you have to go and buy new lenses, too.

I think it's great that an upgrade is available, but is it really an economical decision? I'd consider it - if it were significantly cheaper than $5,000.

Edited by Keneu, 25 June 2006 - 06:11 PM.

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#19 Michael Collier

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 09:29 PM

you dont neccisarily need a new lens. Some 16 lens' can cover the whole frame without vinetting. Stay away from wides, of course, but I would at least test the lenses I have availible before buying new sets. Also some places will convert some of the agneuxies and other lenses into super 16 lens. Note that with most of these, it does increase the focal lenght (a 12-120 might becoem a 15-125 or so) I am not sure what the change in view angle would be, as the super 16 frame changes the angle weather or not you upgrade your lens. If you get the S16 upgrade, talk to your tech about those options as well.
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#20 Keneu Luca

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 02:15 AM

Anyone see this?

http://cgi.ebay.com/...ewI...A:IT&rd=1

$152 for the port cover. Wow. I got one off ebay that came attached to an Arri S body shell a few months ago for just $50, and even then I thought I paid a bit much.

Goes to show what a valuable camera this is.
As time goes on, I am more and more proud to own one.

Edited by Keneu, 09 July 2006 - 02:17 AM.

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