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My New Arri BL


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#1 Gino Terribilini

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:01 AM

I was recently browsing on Mandy.com's classified section and saw a listing for an Arri BL for $2000. I thought it was a scam at first, expecting to see the listee's country as some far eastern place and for them to ask for a wire transfer because their sister just got in an accident (yeah.. its happened to me). Anyway, the listing ended up not only being in the US, but also local. I decided to give it a shot, but remaining somewhat pessimistic simply because i've learned that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is- either the camera was a P.O.S., or somebody else had already gotten it. Time went on, and after several emails and phone conversations, I decided to sell my problematic Arri S, my PSP, and my turntables and buy this camera (I checked it out prior to selling the above toys). The package included the camera itself (with an Angenieux 12-120mm lens, TCS crystal-sync motor, and video tap), two 400' mags, cables, huge 12v battery, the case and a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker color chart. Even when I got home, I was expecting to find SOMETHING wrong with the camera, but I still have yet to find a single flaw and I am very happy with my new camera!

I do have a new questions regarding filters- What is the thick glass 3x3 filter that usually goes on the front called (assuming it has a proper name)? Is it recommended to have an ND filter even if you shoot with 50D on f2.5? Does an ND filter do anything to the image itself? Would you recommend having the square glass filter as well as a round UV filter on the lens or just the square filter?

Thanks in advance for your responses.. I have learned to much from this forum already!
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#2 David Sweetman

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:24 AM

I assume you mean an Arri 16BL -- BL alone usually refers to the 35BL.

The clear glass 3x3 is called an "optical flat." it's reccomended that you keep it on the camera whenever there's not another glass filter in front of the lens, because a good amount of camera noise can come out of the barrel if it's not there.

If you're at f2.5, that's wide open on that lens, and regardless of the stock you wouldn't want an ND on there because then you'd reduce the amount of light going in and you'd have to open the iris even wider, which you can't do. So you'd end up underexposing.

You might use the ND (depending on your intentions, the intensity of the ND, etc) if you were stopped way down to f/22 or f/16 to decrease the DOF a little and reduce diffraction. You'll get the sharpest image at f/5.6-8.

2000 is a good price for that package, considering the crystal sync and video tap.

Edited by David Sweetman, 02 June 2006 - 12:25 AM.

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#3 Gino Terribilini

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:26 AM

If you're at f2.5, that's wide open on that lens... So you'd end up underexposing.


I'm sorry, I meant f22
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#4 Frank DiBugnara

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:32 AM

Gino,

You might want to keep your eyes out for the Zeiss lens that has been used on that camera. When I was a student I shot with both the Angenieux and the Zeiss and there is a world of difference between the two. I know someone in Arizona who has the Zeiss and might be willing to sell it...not sure for how much.
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#5 David Sweetman

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:48 AM

I'm sorry, I meant f22


Oh, then yeah, I'd use the ND. The only effect the ND will have on the picture is it'll reduce the amount of light. The only percieved effect is caused by the change in f/stop. For example (according to my understanding) if your meter reads f/22 and you put on an ND4 to expose at f/11 (open up 2 stops), there should be no loss or increase of contrast or diffusion because of the ND. The changes to the image caused by the iris change will be a narrower near and far focus field and a sharper image.

I think all of that is right...someone please correct me if it's not.

oh btw, those Zeiss 10-100s won't go for less than 1,000...which is out of my price range, and it sounds like out of yours as well...check out the thread called "Arri16s, 16:9, and Image Quality" (that might not be the exact title of it - just browse the 16mm Only forum if you can't find it in search) for a good explanation of how to get great images out of the Angineux 12-120.
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#6 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:00 AM

oh btw, those Zeiss 10-100s won't go for less than 1,000...which is out of my price range, and it sounds like out of yours as well...check out the thread called "Arri16s, 16:9, and Image Quality" (that might not be the exact title of it - just browse the 16mm Only forum if you can't find it in search) for a good explanation of how to get great images out of the Angineux 12-120.


The interesting thing about those Angenieux 12-120 lenses is that there were good ones and there were bad ones. I happen to get lucky and get a good one. If you are as lucky, send your good Angenieux 12-120 to Paul Duclos of Duclos Lenses in LA and have him set it up for you. IMHO he does the best work on Angenieux lenses of anyone in the United States. He was the head lens tech for Angenieux USA back in the day and he can really get the best out of the glass.

You can see clips shot with my Angenieux at T4 and T5.6 at the link below:
Film Clips with common Arri 16S lenses

Good Luck,
-Tim

PS: Gino, you mentioned, "I decided to sell my problematic Arri S..." Can you tell me why your Arriflex 16S was problematic? I service those cameras (I had the priceless opportunity to apprentice with Axel Broda and he trained me to service the Arriflex 16S and S/B). I've seen some in pretty bad shape, but most can be brought back to life with TLC. What were the issues with yours? Thanks.
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:51 PM

Oh, then yeah, I'd use the ND. The only effect the ND will have on the picture is it'll reduce the amount of light. The only percieved effect is caused by the change in f/stop. For example (according to my understanding) if your meter reads f/22 and you put on an ND4 to expose at f/11 (open up 2 stops), there should be no loss or increase of contrast or diffusion because of the ND. The changes to the image caused by the iris change will be a narrower near and far focus field and a sharper image.

I think all of that is right...someone please correct me if it's not.


Just for the record, Neutral Density filters usually come in mulitples of .3, where each .3 of filter density reduces light by one stop. So a typical set would be ND .3, ND .6, ND .9, and sometimes ND 1.2, for reduction of one, two, three, and four stops respectively. For short people often say "N3" or "85 N6" or whatever.

In theory a neutral density filter is "neutral" and should not color or diffuse the image. But filters aren't always perfect. For the most part though, you can trust you'll get a reasonably "clean" and unaltered image, especially if you're replacing the optical flat with the filter. What you may notice though is the way the lens performs at different apertures. Wide open is usually not as sharp or contrasty as somewhere in the middle.

just browse the 16mm Only forum if you can't find it in search) for a good explanation of how to get great images out of the Angineux 12-120.


You can get great images into them, but not out of them. They seem to get stuck somewhere in the middle. :P
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#8 David Sweetman

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:11 PM

Just for the record, Neutral Density filters usually come in mulitples of .3, where each .3 of filter density reduces light by one stop. So a typical set would be ND .3, ND .6, ND .9, and sometimes ND 1.2, for reduction of one, two, three, and four stops respectively. For short people often say "N3" or "85 N6" or whatever.


right, thanks for cearing that up. I was just typing off the top of my head, I thought I could remember the numbers without looking them up. ND .6 is 2 stops, got it.
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#9 Gino Terribilini

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 07:44 PM

PS: Gino, you mentioned, "I decided to sell my problematic Arri S..." Can you tell me why your Arriflex 16S was problematic? I service those cameras (I had the priceless opportunity to apprentice with Axel Broda and he trained me to service the Arriflex 16S and S/B). I've seen some in pretty bad shape, but most can be brought back to life with TLC. What were the issues with yours? Thanks.


The problem was the lenses.. I had two Rodenstock prime lenses (25mm and 16mm) that were extremely difficult to insert into the turret and even more difficult to focus. I had taken the camera in to get serviced several times at Alan Gordon, but they never fixed the problem. The lenses' housings were all scratched up and it was scratching the camera as well. He suggested getting some emmory cloth and sanding them down. By then I had paid well over $1500 in servicing it (including getting it converted to 12v) and then the torque motor died. That was the last straw, so I sold it and bought a camera that was nice and clean and didn't need to be serviced.
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#10 Tim Carroll

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 08:22 PM

The problem was the lenses.. I had two Rodenstock prime lenses (25mm and 16mm) that were extremely difficult to insert into the turret and even more difficult to focus. I had taken the camera in to get serviced several times at Alan Gordon, but they never fixed the problem. The lenses' housings were all scratched up and it was scratching the camera as well. He suggested getting some emmory cloth and sanding them down. By then I had paid well over $1500 in servicing it (including getting it converted to 12v) and then the torque motor died. That was the last straw, so I sold it and bought a camera that was nice and clean and didn't need to be serviced.


Sorry to hear about the troubles. Those Rodenstock lenses are not my first choice. But everything else with the camera was definitely fixable, and for $1500, a good tech would have had that camera purring. If you ever get another S, send it my way and I'll tune it up for you. The camera I did the above film test with (one that I rebuilt last fall) is fifty years old, you would never know it by the quality of the images it can still produce.

Best of luck with your new BL. Certainly is alot quieter than the S. :D

-Tim
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#11 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 09:59 PM

(according to my understanding) if your meter reads f/22 and you put on an ND4 to expose at f/11 (open up 2 stops),

Just for the record, Neutral Density filters usually come in mulitples of .3, where each .3 of filter density reduces light by one stop. So a typical set would be ND .3, ND .6, ND .9, and sometimes ND 1.2, for reduction of one, two, three, and four stops respectively. For short people often say "N3" or "85 N6" or whatever.


Stills world uses ND2, 4, 8 etc. - the reciprocal of the transmittance. MP uses ND0.3, 6, 9 etc. - the optical density OD = log10 1/T

Same thing, different name. So you're both right.
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#12 Gino Terribilini

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 02:05 AM

If you ever get another S, send it my way and I'll tune it up for you.


I will do that.. thanks for the offer. I only wish I had known earlier. AG was the only place I knew of where I could service an S. I had contacted Axel, but he said that it would have been about $900 for the first service because he takes the camera apart completely and puts it back together. Thorough, but not in my price range. Anyway, the S is a great camera and I hope to have another some day. Thanks again!
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