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Looking for a good quality 16mm projector


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#1 Jordi Dolcet

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 12:42 AM

Hi everyone,
I am looking for a good quality 16mm projector. I have no idea what brands should I look for and specially, what features a good projector should have. Thanks in advance.
Jordi
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#2 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 09:16 PM

I am looking for a good quality 16mm projector. I have no idea what brands should I look for and specially, what features a good projector should have. Thanks in advance.


A lot depends on what you want it for of course. Are you needing to show sound prints or more to run your "workprints"

I have a personal Bias against the Singers, which I developed back in High School, as no mater what I tried I sould not get the sound to show in sync.. This happened both on the slot load and the Auto load versions.

For a good machine that will give low wear on the film, and provide stedy projection, My favorite is probaly the Kodak Pagents. They do have small fiddly little sprokets that you have to work around. Many have solid state ampliphiers, although of cousre the older ones use tubes. If you are projecting silent that is a non-iisue of course. The RCA are alos good, a bit easier to thread and can alos give good results.

The Eiki and elmo units also have great reputaions although I have not had the privledge of playing with them

The Vicotrs also have some good points, the threading is a bit diabolical, (the film path runs behind the lens) They do have some trip clutches that will stop the machine if the film looses its loop, but which may create an oportunity to develop scratches.

The singers are easy to load, but are no where near as solidly built as the Kodaks.
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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 05:52 AM

Bell & Howells are very popular 16mm projectors - they are certainly well made. Though one problem with them is that the worm gear (forgive spelling) - which is the 'heart' of the projector can crack and this renders the machine unworkable. They can be fixed but apparently, it is very expensive. It's recommended to lubricate this worm gear device on a regular basis to reduce the chance of cracks appearing.

Eiki make good quality projectors too. However, some of their models use rubber belts in the arms and these can break frequently. Sure, the belts can be replaced but it's a nuisance replacing them on a regular basis. My Eiki has an auto loading mechanism which is not really the best design. Always use a lot of film leader when loading this particular projector! Sometimes on a good day, most of the films will be loaded correctly and efficiently by this machine. On other days, about half the films will have the leader scrunched up by the auto threading mechanism and you have to stop it straight away and try again. Eiki also make a slot load projector so this might be a good alternative.

I also have a Singer slot load projector which is a piece of rubbish. Seems a bit poorly made. Good sound quality though. The side cover is not a good design because it completely covers the film transport from view so if something is happening to the film inside (ie being scrunched up) there will be some delay until you know about it. My other projectors have this automatic system of coping with torn perforations (which would usually cause a projector to loose it's loop) and this works remarkably well generally. The Singer does not do this automatically. Instead, there is this crude metal thing that you press down when the projector loses it's loop (when a torn perforation comes along) and it works about half the time. This is a projector that I would recommend only running films through that are in very good condition.

I have three 16mm projectors - a Bell & Howell, an Eiki and a Singer and they all have problems. Oneday, I would like to own a 16mm projector that is reliable.
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#4 Clive Tobin

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 09:21 PM

Bell & Howells are very popular 16mm projectors - they are certainly well made. Though one problem with them is that the worm gear (forgive spelling) - which is the 'heart' of the projector can crack and this renders the machine unworkable. They can be fixed but apparently, it is very expensive. It's recommended to lubricate this worm gear...

No! Be careful! If it is an original worm gear, do not apply any petroleum based lubricant to it. That is what causes the cracks to get started. In fact, if the worm gear is not yet cracked you might want to clean off all the petroleum lubricant grease off all the gears and apply silicone grease instead. This might prevent cracks from getting started.

My projector repair expert tells me that from the very beginning, all of the B&H machines in the 500, 1500 and 2500 series were factory lubricated with the wrong type grease and by now some 80-90% of them have worms that are cracked. The remedy is to install a new type plastic worm that does not crack from exposure to ordinary grease, and also to not use ordinary grease, so this should be doubly safe.

Replacing the worm is a $250 job requiring a complete teardown of the machine and reassembly using some special jigs and gauges.

By the way, if anyone has a B&H mid 1500 machine in the metal case with a cracked worm (1545, 1550 and 1552) we buy these for parts so don't just throw it away. And I am sure that nobody on this forum would knowingly list a projector with cracked worm on Ebay without disclosing the fact. ;-)
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#5 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 11:03 PM

"No!"

Well I wasnt really wrong because I never mentioned what type of lubricant should be used! All I remember hearing is that the worm gear should be lubricated but I can't recall exactly with what.

Yes, Ive heard that replacing a damaged worm gear is very expensive but what about the cost of replacing an undamaged one with a newer type of plastic 'worm'? Would it be considerably cheaper or a similar cost?
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#6 Clive Tobin

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 11:13 AM

... Yes, Ive heard that replacing a damaged worm gear is very expensive but what about the cost of replacing an undamaged one with a newer type of plastic 'worm'? Would it be considerably cheaper or a similar cost?

Should cost the same. Except that if the failed worm gear caused warping of the sprocket gears then these would cost extra.
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#7 Herb Montes

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 11:54 AM

I had a Singer once. Ate film like it was spaghetti. Go with a Kodak Pageant. When I worked at the University of Texas film library many years ago they used noting but Pageants because of their reliability. I ran hours of film on campus without a jam or film breaking. I own two Pageants now.
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#8 Ole Dost

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 01:09 PM

I´d recommend a 16mm projektor of the Bauer-brand. Bauer -based in Stuttgart, Germany, produced the P-Series. The types P5, P6, P7,P8 equipped thousands of schools, univercities etc. in Germany. You still find them in our schools -even if a Bauer of the early types as the P 5 or P6 had been bought by a school in the early seventies, it is still in use and keeps working reliably. Some say it´s the "VW Beetle" of projectors -it runs, and runs, and runs... Some months ago I bought a used P6. It has been manufactured in the early seventies and had been in use for educational- and training-films in a infantry-unit of the german Army from about 1971 - 2001. I´m sure it wasn´t well cared for. But it runs without any trouble and treats my 16mm films with great care. Always without any "film-eating" or "film-jamming".
You can still by new and never used Bauer projectors -the latest type P8. These new ones are very expensive: more then 2000 Euros (still availible at "Wittner-Kinotechnik"/"Wittner Cinetec"). But on www.Ebay.de you will find used ones for rather few money. I got my P6 for about 50 Euros. In perfect working order.
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#9 Clive Tobin

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 07:20 PM

I had a Singer once. Ate film like it was spaghetti. Go with a Kodak Pageant. When I worked at the University of Texas film library many years ago they used noting but Pageants because of their reliability. I ran hours of film on campus without a jam or film breaking. I own two Pageants now.

I have always liked Pageants. However they never made one with automatic threading. (Oh, the HORROR of having to open the film gate and sprockets and actually TOUCH the film!!!) :-) And the light output is less than with other makes.

For lugging projectors around the University of Washington campus as a projectionist in the early 60s, my preference was for the Bell & Howell 545 which was light weight owing to not having any transformers apart from a little audio output one from the tubes. The RCA 400 was a good machine except for not having a Reverse, making it hard to set up distance and focus before starting the film.

These and the Elmo and Eiki were all good machines. However nowadays most parts are no longer available apart from belts. The exciter lamps for the Pageants are no longer made. Whatever you might think about Bell & Howell, both old and newly manufactured parts (such as worm gears) are readily available, just because millions of the beasts were made and there is enough of a market to support it. The Autoload works fine if it has not been abused and the film path is clean.
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#10 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 08:58 PM

I have always liked Pageants. However they never made one with automatic threading. (Oh, the HORROR of having to open the film gate and sprockets and actually TOUCH the film!!!) :-) And the light output is less than with other makes.


Most of the pagets use the "standard" DDB series bulbs, and so the light should be not too far off compaired to another machine that also uses those bulbs. I know the B&H sometimes have a reputaion of being not quite as bright.

For lugging projectors around the University of Washington campus as a projectionist in the early 60s, my preference was for the Bell & Howell 545 which was light weight owing to not having any transformers apart from a little audio output one from the tubes. The RCA 400 was a good machine except for not having a Reverse, making it hard to set up distance and focus before starting the film.


Some of the RCA units have a reverse.it was only on the more expensive models which insitutions were not as likly to buy. You would have to be ready to put your thumb on the sound flyheel whenver you stopped the film halfway.

These and the Elmo and Eiki were all good machines. However nowadays most parts are no longer available apart from belts.


Thta is probaly true of most of them. Whne the education market went to TV projectors, the merket for 16mm Machines dried up. with no new machines, their is no incentive to make parts . I understand that even DDB & DFT lamps are no longer mainstream .. (used in Kodak, RCA and Victor amoung others.)
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#11 ishan vernallis

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 05:41 PM

along the same lines...
(newbie question)
if you buy a normal 16mm projector,
and you run super 16 film through it,
will you see the whole super frame?

or do you need to replace/modify the film gate?

or is super 16 not intended for projection,
just video hd transfer/35 blow up-

thanks
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#12 Clive Tobin

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 06:15 PM

...if you buy a normal 16mm projector,
and you run super 16 film through it,
will you see the whole super frame?...


No. The part where the sound track would be, over on the right side of the screen, will not be visible.

To run super-16 safely and entirely, you need to file open the aperture and pressure plate, remove the rails that would be bearing on the strip between the picture and sound areas, and probably remove the sound drum and rollers.
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#13 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 01:25 AM

Once at a camera market, I saw a 16mm projector bearing the name 'Super 16.' I wonder if this was just a fancy model name or whether it was a super 16mm projector in the true sense of the word.
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#14 Clive Tobin

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 11:00 PM

Once at a camera market, I saw a 16mm projector bearing the name 'Super 16.' I wonder if this was just a fancy model name or whether it was a super 16mm projector in the true sense of the word.

I would hazard a guess that it is not.

Other movie equipment for 16mm and 8mm has had the "super" applied as an adjective to the model number in the past, but not meaning it is actually for super-8 or super-16 film.
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#15 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 08:22 PM

Some of the RCA units have a reverse.it was only on the more expensive models which insitutions were not as likly to buy. You would have to be ready to put your thumb on the sound flyheel whenver you stopped the film halfway.


At the risk of repling to my own posting and thus confirming that I talk to myself :) I rembered that there is this old promotional film on You Tube:



Which shows an RCA 400 series projector to potential customers. The unit in the film is one of the upper end units that did come with a reverse switch, unlike the one Clive had to use at university. I am not 100% sure but I think the projectors at my old high schoool were split about down the middle with some having the reverse. although it is a feature that did not work well, the framing changed from forward to reverse, and The flywheel on the sound drum would push the film out of Sync if you were not careful.

(I got in the habbit of Pressing my thumb against the sound drum every time I shut down the projector to stop the drum from transporting the film out of sync.)


Anyway, this is a chance for the Younger folks who did not grow up with these fine machine to see the sort of unit that got us older guys interested in Fim in the first place.
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#16 Scott Bullock

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 09:31 PM

along the same lines...
(newbie question)
if you buy a normal 16mm projector,
and you run super 16 film through it,
will you see the whole super frame?

or do you need to replace/modify the film gate?

or is super 16 not intended for projection,
just video hd transfer/35 blow up-

thanks


I've been toiling with trying to make my own Super 16 projector as none have ever been manufactured that I have found. Part of the problem is the fact that if you widen the aperture to 1.66 at the projector's gate, you still won't know if the projector's lens will cover the entire frame. This is especially troublesome on projectors with a fixed focal length lens. If you are going to widen the aperture make sure that you are doing so on a projector with a variable focal length lens. At least you will then increase your odds of finding a 'range' where Super 16 can be adequately projected. As Clive Tobin has mentioned, there are a number of modifications that may be necessary to get a regular 16mm projector to project Super 16. It can be costly if you aren't careful, and in the end the best you'll probably ever be able to do is project work print. At least, this has been my experience thus far; I've pretty much concluded that Super 16 is best dealt with on video with the potential of being blown-up to 35mm.
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#17 Scott Bullock

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 10:12 PM

No. The part where the sound track would be, over on the right side of the screen, will not be visible.

To run super-16 safely and entirely, you need to file open the aperture and pressure plate, remove the rails that would be bearing on the strip between the picture and sound areas, and probably remove the sound drum and rollers.


And even if you've done all of this (widened the gate, removed rails, made sure that rollers don't scratch the film, and have removed all of the sound mechanisms, etc.) there's still a possibility that the projector's lamp won't properly illuminate the entire Super 16 frame. And even if you've taken the time to re-center the lamp, the lamp itself may not light the frame correctly if it has an internal reflector that simply wasn't designed for the added image area. Believe me, these are not negative comments against Super 16, especially as an acquisition format, but as a projection format it's an entirely different can of worms. To be honest, it seems that there's very little if any infrastructure in place to support S-16 as a projection format.
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#18 Nick Mulder

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 06:15 PM

Of the projectors I've used:

Singer - loud and crunched my sprockets ... (ugly also)

Eiki - 16SL nice

Elmo - 16CL nicer! quietest of the three and I now own one
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#19 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 08:02 PM

And even if you've done all of this (widened the gate, removed rails, made sure that rollers don't scratch the film, and have removed all of the sound mechanisms, etc.) there's still a possibility that the projector's lamp won't properly illuminate the entire Super 16 frame. And even if you've taken the time to re-center the lamp, the lamp itself may not light the frame correctly if it has an internal reflector that simply wasn't designed for the added image area.

Most projectors also have the soundtrack "towards the chassis", only the Hellene Curtis Natco, Moviemite and some very early kodascope and RCA units have the Perf towards the chassis. (all of which have the lens pointing to the LEFT of the projector.)

Only those units offer the posibility of recentering the lens. as there would be phyical room to modify the lens mount. Trying to move the lens on the others would have the lens embeded in the chassis., or interfering with the film path in the case of the Victor.

And sound is out of the question with Super 16 as there is no room for a soundtrack.
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#20 John Wood

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 10:46 AM

The later Bell & Howell machines with the ELC type lamp are indeed excellent if they are in good condition.

I've noted the comments regarding lubrication of the worm gear: My experience however, would seem to indicate that there's a bit more to it, ie. a problem in manufacture.

I was given a brand new B & H replacement gear some time ago expecting it to come in useful if / when the one in my machine cracked. It sat on a shelf in my nice clean workshop, on hand if it was ever needed (not that I was looking forward to the half day's work needed to do the job). I happened to glance at it one day and noticed brown lines appearing under the nylon sleeve in exactly the same pattern as a failed gear. My nice new gear was useless! The original one however, is still perfect. I can't help thinking it might be just 'pot luck' ?!?

Solid (replica) replacement gears were available at one time though I'm not sure of the situation now. Best regards, John W
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