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Bolex H-8 confusion


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#1 Lisa Davidson

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:47 AM

Hi. . .

Is there any advantage to using a Bolex H-8 over Super-8? I mean, as I understand it, the film would be cheaper because you can get the 100-foot rolls. But it's so heavy!!! And the viewfinder's pretty awful, too. Is it better because it's just so big and solid and mechanical? And I suppose the film gate is probably flatter. Are these considerations worth the awfulness of carrying it around? I realize that it's a real honest-to-God authentic MOVIE CAMERA, with all the difficulties that that involves. Could you even use it on a monopod, or would it slowly press it to the ground? I can't hand-hold it for very long, because my right thumb starts aching. I mean, is it better anyway? I have a tendency to do things the hard way (which usually means I end up procrastinating or not doing them ever). I just wonder, because I have a Leicina Special which is so amazing, is it actually not as good as a Bolex H-8? I mean, am I falling victim to some propaganda here?

Thanks from a very confused "consumer,"

Lisa
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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:21 AM

An H8 is a double run regular 8mm camera to it has a smaller frame size than super8 - something to be aware of...

They are heavy for the size though - all that spring! - but no heavier than a H16 which you don't hear people complaining about... Try sticking a 400' mag, motor, battery and a zoom on an RX5 .

Maybe psychologically that fact its only 8mm makes it seem heavier ? :huh:

One of the things I've found is that the aftermarket grips are actually ergonomically worse - are you using one ? However, they are helpful if you need a safety style grip (the camera sticks to your hand even if you let go) ...

My advice is to stick to it though - I've found that most cameras are always awkward at first and therefore tire you out but over time your body sorts out the most efficient way to hold/carry something and you soon don't notice, either that or the odd muscles you are using suddenly get stronger ;) ...

Also, if you want to use a 16mm Bolex you'll already know %95 of the the machine

I 're'-realized my Mamiya RZ67 waist level finder actually reversed the image the other day - so when I panned left, the image went right - I remember this being such a non-intuitive hassle to begin with but have since forgotten about it - not even noticing text was in reverse ... I know its not the same as camera weight (but a RZ67 will give a Bolex a run for its money) - but still, there you go :)
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#3 Lisa Davidson

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:16 PM

[quote name='Nick Mulder' date='Apr 5 2007, 12:21 AM' post='164960']
An H8 is a double run regular 8mm camera to it has a smaller frame size than super8 - something to be aware of...

Well, sure, I know that Super-8 has this magnificent size and shape, but at the same time there seems to be a thought out there that reg 8 is better in "some" way that I can't identify. Flatter and cheaper is all I can think of, but there's maybe more.
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#4 Nick Mulder

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:51 PM

I dont know much about your other camera, but if you have a set of Switar primes on your H8 then the optical quality maybe much better than the other/s (especially if its a zoom) ...

One quick way to find out is to shoot similar scenes with the same stock with both cams and get them developed to you can see the results for yourself ...
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#5 kevin jackman

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:36 AM

each camera has advantages and you are talking about two different formats. once you know the 'mechanics' it all makes sense.

the bolex H8 is an old format. it has a frame size that is about a third smaller than super8. the problem with this is the grain is much bigger. the super8 camera has the much bigger frame so you get smaller grain structure and nicer colours.

the bolex H8 can be convterted to double super8 giving you the same framesize as super8 in your H8. this is when the H8 really shines.

cameras that use super8 carts have registration issues. the film isnt held in place as perfectly as it could because the plastic cart just doesnt have the tolerances of a metal pressure plate system. the H8 has a metal pressure plate design like professional 16mm and 35mm cameras have. you get a much sharper images with a pressure plate system. this is why H8 regular8 images are far granier than super8 images but they are far far sharper. using a double super8 camera in the bolex also offers such things as removable lenses, crystal sync options, and an easily widened gate. not only that you get 100ft loads or more if you opt for a magazine conversion. cost of stock and processing is also cheaper per foot.

the bulkiness of the camera is just what it is. wait till you use an eclair..its much bigger. ill trade camera bulkiness for silky smooth images anyday.
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#6 Lisa Davidson

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:31 PM

each camera has advantages and you are talking about two different formats. once you know the 'mechanics' it all makes sense.

the bolex H8 is an old format. it has a frame size that is about a third smaller than super8. the problem with this is the grain is much bigger. the super8 camera has the much bigger frame so you get smaller grain structure and nicer colours.

the bolex H8 can be convterted to double super8 giving you the same framesize as super8 in your H8. this is when the H8 really shines.

cameras that use super8 carts have registration issues. the film isnt held in place as perfectly as it could because the plastic cart just doesnt have the tolerances of a metal pressure plate system. the H8 has a metal pressure plate design like professional 16mm and 35mm cameras have. you get a much sharper images with a pressure plate system. this is why H8 regular8 images are far granier than super8 images but they are far far sharper. using a double super8 camera in the bolex also offers such things as removable lenses, crystal sync options, and an easily widened gate. not only that you get 100ft loads or more if you opt for a magazine conversion. cost of stock and processing is also cheaper per foot.

the bulkiness of the camera is just what it is. wait till you use an eclair..its much bigger. ill trade camera bulkiness for silky smooth images anyday.


*****
Thanks, Kevin, that was what I wanted to know. DS 8 conversion doesn't change the pressure plate setup; it just widens the gate. Do you know who I ought to send it to to have that done?

And I haven't been able to find ds8 film so far -- where can I get that?

Yes, it has Switar primes on it (I think it wasn't you but someone else who talked about that). One of them is a little wobbly and you can move it a bit with your finger, but the image still looks OK, and another of them is hard to focus (the ring is hard to move), but the third is fine. I finally got the real manual so I can begin to practice loading it. The online ones' pictures are illegible.

Is crystal sync better than Nagra Pilotone? Or maybe you can't hook up Pilotone to H8.
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#7 kevin jackman

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 02:36 AM

ill make points as per your post.

Thanks, Kevin, that was what I wanted to know. DS 8 conversion doesn't change the pressure plate setup; it just widens the gate. Do you know who I ought to send it to to have that done?

the ds8 conversion makes the gate bigger, changes the claw and alters the pulldown distance. you should send it to jk camera aka meritex. google those names and throw in bolex in the search string if they dont show up. consider asking them to convert your camera to 'super duper8' they wont know what this means but essentially you are asking them to make it have an aspect ratio of 1.5 by widening the gate. this will give you better telecine. you would then have to use different lenses methinks (i dont know if the original switars will cover the extra imag area).using the original switars probably means repositioning the turret a bit. the easier method is t just use 16mm lenses. to do this you need to ask jk optical t make you a c mount spacer for 16mm lenses. its only a couple of hundred dollars and opens a whole new world of lens options and coverage for super duper8 is no longer an issue.

And I haven't been able to find ds8 film so far -- where can I get that?

kodak will sell you the ektachrome 100D in batches of five rolls of 400 feet otherwise you can contact john schwind on here he sells it in 100 foot rolls.

Yes, it has Switar primes on it (I think it wasn't you but someone else who talked about that). One of them is a little wobbly and you can move it a bit with your finger, but the image still looks OK, and another of them is hard to focus (the ring is hard to move), but the third is fine. I finally got the real manual so I can begin to practice loading it. The online ones' pictures are illegible.

te lenses sound like they need a servicing and that can be costly. mabye consider my point of using 16mm lenses instead.

Is crystal sync better than Nagra Pilotone? Or maybe you can't hook up Pilotone to H8.
[/quote]

you cant really do pilotone and you wouldnt want to. a tobin sync motor is the best option especially since you can even set them to do thousands of speeds all in sync. you need to see if your camera has a 1:1 shaft. its near the other shafts where you can backwind the film. how many shafts do you see? can you post a picture? if the camera doesnt have a 1:1 shaft you can either get a tobin syn motor and for a small fee clive can change the gear in an 8:1 motor for you to work with the camera on jk optical can install a 1:1 shaft for ou. you can then just find a 1:1 shaft tobin motor. let me know if you go this route for i might have a tobin motor milliframe controler for sale as i have a spare.

ps, the nagra will work independantly of the camera providing it has a sync card in it. dont think about connecting the camera to the recorder, its hell.
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#8 mark_baldry

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 05:05 AM

take a quick look at my web it may help answer a few questions.
standard 8

there is a certain amount of snobbery against Standard 8 but the difference in frame size is only 20% and there are even ways around this to increase the frame.
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#9 kevin jackman

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 11:06 AM

take a quick look at my web it may help answer a few questions.
standard 8

there is a certain amount of snobbery against Standard 8 but the difference in frame size is only 20% and there are even ways around this to increase the frame.


i wouldnt say its an issue f snobery, just quality. like if you are going to go racing, you get the car with the bigger engine instead of the smaller one. in 8mm id like to maximise the image area..much like doing a super16 conversion as opposed to having standard 16. my logic is if im paying roughly the same amont of money per foot id like the output to be as good as possible.
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#10 Lisa Davidson

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 04:47 PM

the ds8 conversion makes the gate bigger, changes the claw and alters the pulldown distance. you should send it to jk camera aka meritex. google those names and throw in bolex in the search string if they dont show up. consider asking them to convert your camera to 'super duper8' they wont know what this means but essentially you are asking them to make it have an aspect ratio of 1.5 by widening the gate. this will give you better telecine. you would then have to use different lenses methinks (i dont know if the original switars will cover the extra imag area).using the original switars probably means repositioning the turret a bit. the easier method is t just use 16mm lenses. to do this you need to ask jk optical t make you a c mount spacer for 16mm lenses. its only a couple of hundred dollars and opens a whole new world of lens options and coverage for super duper8 is no longer an issue.

And I haven't been able to find ds8 film so far -- where can I get that?

kodak will sell you the ektachrome 100D in batches of five rolls of 400 feet otherwise you can contact john schwind on here he sells it in 100 foot rolls.

Yes, it has Switar primes on it (I think it wasn't you but someone else who talked about that). One of them is a little wobbly and you can move it a bit with your finger, but the image still looks OK, and another of them is hard to focus (the ring is hard to move), but the third is fine. I finally got the real manual so I can begin to practice loading it. The online ones' pictures are illegible.

te lenses sound like they need a servicing and that can be costly. mabye consider my point of using 16mm lenses instead.

Is crystal sync better than Nagra Pilotone? Or maybe you can't hook up Pilotone to H8.
you cant really do pilotone and you wouldnt want to. a tobin sync motor is the best option especially since you can even set them to do thousands of speeds all in sync. you need to see if your camera has a 1:1 shaft. its near the other shafts where you can backwind the film. how many shafts do you see? can you post a picture? if the camera doesnt have a 1:1 shaft you can either get a tobin syn motor and for a small fee clive can change the gear in an 8:1 motor for you to work with the camera on jk optical can install a 1:1 shaft for ou. you can then just find a 1:1 shaft tobin motor. let me know if you go this route for i might have a tobin motor milliframe controler for sale as i have a spare.

ps, the nagra will work independantly of the camera providing it has a sync card in it. dont think about connecting the camera to the recorder, its hell.
[/quote]

******
Earlier, I had emailed not jk (meritex) but guy at cameraspro, and this was our dialogue about superduper8.

Me: "\In fact, do you do a Super-Duper-Double-8 conversion (widening the gate yet more so that you can film on the sound-track portion? Or is that too much to take out and it might weaken the camera?"


Him: "We cannot open more the film gate [any more than that]. You will get unsteady pictures and light leak. You need to keep the 0,8mm for the sound track or to support the film under the pressure plate"

So that's one professional assessment anyway. In your opinion, Kevin, is that being a little on the conservative side?

It is a Rex 4, I think. It has a knob for T/I, not a lever. The serial number is 221014, on the base plate, but the camera says 8 on it, not 16. I am assuming it's the original base plate, of course.

Does that mean it has a 10X viewfinder? It doesn't look so great in there. JK told me in his last email (I hadn't asked him at that point about superduper, just super) he could get more light into the viewfinder but not more magnification, but I don't know if that means the film gets less light or not; I should ask him.

Another question I keep forgetting to ask, how do they do telecine on superduper8? Don't they need a special gate, or do a lot of places have this? I saw the article about Sleep Always, and he talks about telecine in that.
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#11 kevin jackman

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 05:56 PM

dont bother with the guy at cameraspro. i would ring jk optical directly. from what i understand cameraspro does not do their own machining. theres a guy in switzerland called reudi muster at ruedi muster film and television who has been doing wide double super8 for years. jk knows their stuff. once again to ensure coverage with the wide gate ig go to 1mm lenses.


It is a Rex 4, I think. It has a knob for T/I, not a lever. The serial number is 221014, on the base plate, but the camera says 8 on it, not 16. I am assuming it's the original base plate, of course.

ok im not sure what you mean. can you post a picture of the windup side of the camera?

as for your viewfinder i really dont know. i think i have a rex 4, i cant remember..its the viewfinder i have so its what i live with. it doesnt bother me although it could be nicer. google bernie and laserbrighten. he can give you an extra stop of light for not a lot of money. you can also do a homemade video assist so you look at an lcd screen instead of the viewfinder.

from what im told all rank telecine machines that can do super8 can do the work in 16:9 and actually zoom in or out of the frame to get the whole image area
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#12 mark_baldry

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 07:11 PM

*****
Thanks, Kevin, that was what I wanted to know. DS 8 conversion doesn't change the pressure plate setup; it just widens the gate. Do you know who I ought to send it to to have that done?

And I haven't been able to find ds8 film so far -- where can I get that?


you could try a "Span 8" conversion. This is keeping the camera as it is but widening the gate to use almost the whole 8mm width between the spockets. you would also need to re-centre the turret slightly but it will give you a roughly 2:1 image ratio. This is something i am in the process of trying myself rather than a Double Super 8 conversion because Regular 8 films stocks are a lot more varied and widely available.
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#13 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 12:56 AM

If I were to get a reg 8mm , I'd get an H8 (I've always liked the H16) and shoot the 100D, which I bet is still finer grain than 64T in S8. There are some beautiful H8 setups popping up on ebay sometimes.
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#14 mark_baldry

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 04:15 AM

If I were to get a reg 8mm , I'd get an H8 (I've always liked the H16) and shoot the 100D, which I bet is still finer grain than 64T in S8. There are some beautiful H8 setups popping up on ebay sometimes.


the results i have had with 100D have absolutely blown me away, i'm just shooting the last scenes of a film shot entirely on 100D reg 8 which i switched to recently after 15 odd years of Super 8 and i don't miss Super 8 one bit. i know that's heresy but it just my own experience which is why i started the website as it's a severely underated format.

Edited by mark_baldry, 09 April 2007 - 04:17 AM.

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#15 Glenn Brady

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 07:21 AM

theres a guy in switzerland called reudi muster at ruedi muster film and television who has been doing wide double super8 for years.


Ruedi Muster's Breitwand DS8 format uses the full width of DS8 film, so it's unlike the so-called SuperDuper8 format with which it's often confused.
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#16 kevin jackman

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:55 AM

i dont suggest the span8 conversion for several reasons. with it you will have to get 16mm lenses to get the coverage. you will also get an aspect ratio of 2.66:1. if you crop it down to fit 1.85:1 or HD 1.77 you are wasting a lot of image area that could be turned into footage minutes. otherise you have cinemscope. is this what you are looking for?

that 100D that looks great in regular8 is due to proper registration. doing that in DS8 will reduce the grain by about 20%, more if you go super duper8. can we start calling that maxi8? i dont think there will be light leaks or anything from grinding out a bit of the gate. somebody around here has already done it and hasnt had a problem.

lisa, what are you planning to shoot? will the 100D do it for you?
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#17 Lisa Davidson

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 08:29 PM

[quote name='kevin jackman' date='Apr 8 2007, 03:56 PM' post='165730']

once again to ensure coverage with the wide gate ig go to 1mm lenses.

*****1mm lenses? What do you mean?


can you post a picture of the windup side of the camera?

****Yes, not right away but I can in a while, thanks.
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#18 Lisa Davidson

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 02:39 AM

that 100D that looks great in regular8 is due to proper registration. doing that in DS8 will reduce the grain by about 20%, more if you go super duper8. can we start calling that maxi8? i dont think there will be light leaks or anything from grinding out a bit of the gate. somebody around here has already done it and hasnt had a problem.

lisa, what are you planning to shoot? will the 100D do it for you?
[/quote]

*****
(Hi, Kevin, by the way, it is a Rex 4.)
I can see the freeway at rush hour from my back yard. Originally the reason I started looking at movie cameras was that I want to attach my Questar telescope (C-mount) to a camera, which led me to the interchangeable-lens Leicina Special for which I still have to get the adapters (one bit is back-ordered from Adorama and then I think it will be SKGrimes again, since I can't find a C-mt-lens-to-Leica-M-body adapter readymade). Then I got interested in what else was available and found this H8 for sale in Hollywood (yes, I live in LA) -- The freeway looks quite amazing through a telescope, let me tell you. I live two or three miles above a bend or kink in what they call "the" 210 (the Huntington Drive change of shape), so at a certain point you're kind of right inside the freeway visually. You get these strange flat things that you can't make out exactly, and then you see that they're the backs of trucks, and then they disappear again (this is at night). You're looking through a lot of turbulent air, which adds to the excitement. Of course, the telescope is like a 1700mm lens and I'll only get 1/16 of the frame (?), so maybe I just need a camera lens and not the telescope at all, but I can use it for something else anyway.
I want to film the moon reflected in our fish pond wiggling around in a trippy way.
I want to film certain light patterns in glass bowls filled with water.
I want to film a sushi restaurant that's got an interesting way of serving food.
I want to film pinhole movies intervalometer-style (if possible), which seems to be much more an H8 thing to do than a Leicina thing, since the Leicina film-to-body-cap distance is around 30mm, and the H8 distance is about 10mm (you can use a bigger pinhole and still get a more wide-angle view if you're closer to the film). This would probably be a movie of the light changing in the living room as it moves across the floor, and maybe the semi-transparent cat changing positions. . . I guess she would only be transparent in single frames, but still she could look good as a solid form.

I've been blasting through still film for years, but this is like a whole new world. I finally figured out I should read the ASC manual, so I just ordered it. Well, OK, good night, all.
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#19 mark_baldry

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:33 AM

i dont suggest the span8 conversion for several reasons. with it you will have to get 16mm lenses to get the coverage. you will also get an aspect ratio of 2.66:1. if you crop it down to fit 1.85:1 or HD 1.77 you are wasting a lot of image area that could be turned into footage minutes. otherise you have cinemscope. is this what you are looking for?

that 100D that looks great in regular8 is due to proper registration. doing that in DS8 will reduce the grain by about 20%, more if you go super duper8. can we start calling that maxi8? i dont think there will be light leaks or anything from grinding out a bit of the gate. somebody around here has already done it and hasnt had a problem.

you've not spent much time around Bolex H series cameras! Both the H8 & H16 use C-Mount lenses. I have both of these cameras and the lenses are interchangable. the only difference between H8 lenses and H16 lenses are the lenses are adjusted to take account of the different thickness of reflex prism. The H16 prism is slightly thicker. But H8 lenses will cover a 16mm frame! But we are talking of an 8mm frame not 16mm.

You are now saying a Cinemascope shaped frame is bad but a max8 frame is good???????? the reason i suggested this conversion is because it would be cheaper and a lot less hastle because you only need to widen the gate and not change all the sprockets and claw as well.
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#20 mark_baldry

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 08:04 AM

when i shoot 100d with a little over exposure there is no discernable grain at all. 8mm film types like close ups work, so the pond & sushi bar they would be good but they are not at their best for landscapes for this i would consider 16mm.

you have to decide if it is financially worth spending several hundred $ extra, on top of buying the camera ,to convert to DS8 which will only give you an extra 20% image size but fewer film stock choices?

if the camera was already converted to DS8 then i would say go ahead but personally i would either keep the camera as it is or if a larger image is what is most important add the money you would have spent on a DS8 conversion and go for an H16 16mm camera instead giving you more film stock choices and a vastly superior image to any 8mm format.

Edited by mark_baldry, 10 April 2007 - 08:06 AM.

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