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Good starter 16mm camera on a budget?


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#1 Brant Collins

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 12:02 AM

I want to learn more. What is a good budget 16mm camera. Would like someting motor driven or that could me motor driven as an add on.
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#2 Boris Belay

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 06:56 AM

I would say a Bolex H16 Reflex camera : I personnaly think they're great, but they're also the basic learning camera in most schools, so you cant really go wrong, will always be able to sell it back, and a lot of people will be able to help you with them. Also, they're very well conceived, extremely sturdy, there are a lot of them around, some of them still in amazing shape after 40 years in an amateur's closet, and the accessories are incredibly wide-ranging, so the camera can evolve with time.
Regarding budget, I would say that with a bit of luck and patience, you can pick a Reflex model in working order (in my experience, you can trust sellers if they say it is and they've shot with it) for $250. Try to get what's called a Rex-2 model, which is still cheap (perhaps $350) but has a much improved viewfinder (10x. instead of 6x.). And look for a camera with a set of matched lenses by Kern, Berthiot, or Schneider, or a zoom lens by the same brands and Angénieux too.

Besides that, there are other good starter cameras, so search through the past threads on this site and a lot of your questions will be answered !

Info on the history of Bolex :
http://www.city-net....tory/index.html

Pictures, accessories, and info, but not always accurate :
http://www.bolexequi...om/HomePage.htm
-B
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#3 Brant Collins

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 12:24 PM

Thanks for your help
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#4 Robert Hughes

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 12:35 PM

The Bell & Howell Filmo 70 is the American Bolex; simple, sturdy, lasts forever, springwound, takes C mount lenses and a variety of motors, magazines, and associated paraphenalia. Non-reflex, though. The Filmo is one of the earliest 16mm cameras and was a standard newsgathering camera in the 60's and 70's prior to the advent of video news cameras. You can get a good working one with lenses starting about $150.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 02 February 2006 - 12:36 PM.

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#5 John King

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 01:41 PM

I want to learn more. What is a good budget 16mm camera. Would like someting motor driven or that could me motor driven as an add on.


Hey brant,

I'm new to filmmaking too and I have to agree with bobolex, that you can't go wrong with the Bolex camera. I own both Bolexes (I've aquired several over the years) and a Bell & Howell Filmo 70D. Both are great cameras, but I have not seen as much in the way of accessory packages for the Filmo (ie. add on motors) as there are for the Bolex. I know what they even have as accessories for the Filmo except a 400ft. magazine. Mr. Hughes probably could tell you more about that than me, if there are other accessories for the Filmo, I just have'nt seen them coming across the Ebay market, or other used equipment outlets.

There are a variety of motors, both variable and constant speed, that can be added on to the H-16 series of Bolex cameras. Also if you can't get your hands on a 'Rex' model (the trade name for Bolexes with reflex viewfinders), try buying a zoom with dogleg viewfinder built on. That will give you reflex viewing plus the variety of lenses that you would need anyway with the '3 primes set'. I got 2 Som Bertiot zooms, which turned two of my non-reflex cameras into reflex.

Some models of H-16s can also take an accessory 400ft magazine, some cannot. I can't recall the model numbers right off the bat, but if you buy on ebay, look at the picture of the camera, and if it looks like there is something extra built up on the top portion of the camera it is likely the port and cover for the 400ft. mag. I got a Rex 4 Bolex and it cannot accept the 400ft magazine (so with it I have to make do with the 100ft integral load), but the 'Rex 5' series does accept the 400ft mags. (I believe I have these model numbers right-- but bobolex check me)

I've seen plenty of sync pulse generators for Bolexes go over ebay, and not too long ago I saw a beautiful Tobin Crystal Sync motor. It fetched a pretty good price though, but I still would have paid it if I had the money at the time. It's a worthy investment in my book. But anyway there are again a wide variety of accessory items that can be obtained to add-on your Bolex camera. One other thing that I like about Bolex is that they tried to keep as consistent as possible between the make of the various models produced. What this means to us is that we don't have too many worries about buying some accessory and it not fitting our particular model (as can happen with Arriflex and so on). Very few are the times a Bolex owneer will run into this problem.

For example, I have about six or seven 400ft magazines for my Bolexes, some are older models and at least three of them came out for use with the later SBM and EBM models, but each and all of them will fit any of my Bolexes that accept 400ft mags. You have to watch that with Arris, or so I've heard. I've been told by ebay sellers that the 400ft magazines for the Arri S models, should not be used or even attempted to be used with the Arri 16BL. I believe that the Arri S and M models can interchange mags so if that's so neither S nor M series mags can be used with the BL-- again, so I'm told.

But overall, giving what you describe above, I agree that you can't go wrong with the Bolex, but do yourself a favour and try and get the latest models possible, preferrably the 'Rex' models, but don't despair if you can't, I still see a lot of those zooms with dogleg finders on ebay!

Good luck and hope this helps!

John Mark King
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#6 Brant Collins

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 03:07 PM

Thank you for the great response. How long does a Bolex run on one wind. I will most likely get audio on my Canon GL-2 and sync audio in Final Cut.
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#7 Ian Marks

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 04:32 PM

About 28 seconds at 24 fps.
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#8 Brant Collins

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 05:13 PM

Anyone use a Beaulieu 16mm?
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#9 Ian Marks

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 05:45 PM

Brant, did you mean the older spring-wind Beaulieu or the electrics? I used the electric on one occasion and found it delicate and finicky compared to a Bolex or Filmo. I'm curious myself about the older wind-up version, as you don't have any of the electronic or battery issues. One nice thing about the Beaulieu cameras is that they have a mirror shutter, so you don't lose any light to a beamsplitter, and there's no need for specially corrected lenses.
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#10 Clive Tobin

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 06:44 PM

Hey brant,


The Arri S and M cameras use totally different magazines. The S ones have a (very noisy and sparking) torque motor and no sprockets. The M ones are gear driven and have sprockets that must be threaded.

The Bolex models Rex-5, SBM, EL and EBM will take the Bolex 400' magazine.

The Bolex Rex-4, Rex-5, SB, and SBM will take the Tobin TXM-20Ba crystal motor and the TTL time lapse motor. Earlier ones will almost always take the TXM-26B crystal motor. The EBM and EL cameras and ESM motor will take the Tobin TXM-24 crystal control unit.

The TXM-27 crystal control will fit the Arri 16-BL camera *IF* it has the EMP or BLE motor. The Arri 16-S and 16-M will take the TXM-22A crystal motor, or the TM-23 variable motor if the original variable motor is shot.

We no longer make a crystal motor for the Krasnogorsk K-3 in case someone mentions this one. Cheers,
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#11 Brant Collins

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 09:56 PM

Brant, did you mean the older spring-wind Beaulieu or the electrics? I used the electric on one occasion and found it delicate and finicky compared to a Bolex or Filmo. I'm curious myself about the older wind-up version, as you don't have any of the electronic or battery issues. One nice thing about the Beaulieu cameras is that they have a mirror shutter, so you don't lose any light to a beamsplitter, and there's no need for specially corrected lenses.


I found a guy who referbishes super 8 and 16mm Beaulieu, they are more money but almost "new" I was interested in the battery type.

http://www.ijmincorporated.com/
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#12 Robert Hughes

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:51 AM

Hey brant,
I have not seen as much in the way of accessory packages for the Filmo (ie. add on motors) as there are for the Bolex. I know what they even have as accessories for the Filmo except a 400ft. magazine.


The B&H Filmo 70-HL,-HR, and -KRM models all accept motors and 400' magazines.

A Filmo runs about 35 seconds on a wind. If you want a long-running springwound camera, get a Kodak K100; it is also an excellent camera and runs about 45 seconds on a wind.

Sync audio? Fuggedaboudit. These cameras are noisy and wild. If you want sync, you're in a whole 'nuther price bracket.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 03 February 2006 - 04:55 AM.

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#13 Ole Dost

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 09:01 AM

Anyone use a Beaulieu 16mm?


I ´m using a Beaulieu R16 -together with some different 16mm-Cameras. I like the R16 -it is not heavy and especially those with the revolver-turret are so "small" that you can put them in a small bag and easilly take them everywhere -it´s the right camera on a journey. Very good viewfinder and the camera-mount is a standrad c-mount. This means you can get a lot of lenses for example on ebay. And the Schneider- and Kern primes are great. This is what I consider to be a disadvantage: It´s very loud. For sync-sound-recording you have to try to blimp it somehow. But all of the cheaper 16mm-Cameras are loud. The quiet cameras are much more expansive.
Best regards,
Ole
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#14 Ole Dost

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 09:18 AM

I want to learn more. What is a good budget 16mm camera. Would like someting motor driven or that could me motor driven as an add on.


The Beaulieu R16 is a good budget camera. But the best I know is the russian made Kinor 16 (2,2,3)xm. You can get them on ebay for 600 - 1000 $. The Kinor 16 was in use for TV-Newsgathering. It is the russian attempt to rebuilt the Éclairs or the Ari SR. Like those, the Kinor 16 uses quick-change mags. And it has a registration pin -something, you won´t find in a K3, a Filmo, a Bolex or a R16. The registration pin offers superb picture-steadiness. It´s really "arri-class". As a German, I should do my best to support german economy and so I should use and advertise Arri. But I really wonder: Why buying a Arri SR for thousands of Dollars when you can get the same quality with a kinor 16 for some hundred Dollars?
But the Kinor 16 offers not only Arri-quality -it also offers Ari-Size. Especially with the 400ft-mags.
So I recommend the Kinor 16 2xm for "normal filming" and the Beaulieu R16 for the mountain trip...
Ole
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#15 Clive Tobin

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 10:24 PM

...the Kinor 16 uses quick-change mags. And it has a registration pin -something, you won´t find in a K3, a Filmo, a Bolex or a R16. The registration pin offers superb picture-steadiness. ...


You are implying here that the Bolex doesn't have a steady picture, which is not true for late model Bolex cameras that are not worn out and are serial number above 100401, and are running at normal speeds such as 24 FPS. These have the so-called "registration claw" which is a bit of a misnomer, but these cameras have perfect repeatability which you can verify for yourself with double-exposure tests. It is hard for me to see how already perfect registration can be greatly improved on. The Filmo cameras are also known for having professional grade registration.
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