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A question to all the Bolex experts around here


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#1 David Auner aac

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 12:30 PM

Hi folks,
since I am looking into joining the 16mm film world (see my post in the classifieds) I looked around for a couple of cameras. I have picked up a cheap K-3 but am looking to buy a Bolex as well. I am a little confused here. A local dealer has three Bolexes for sale.

One is labeled "Paillard[;] Swiss Made", but no model name is given. The serial inside the camera is 439xx. The serial on the door NOT match, its 646xx. The Camera comes with 2 lenses both Kern, a 75/2.8 and a 25/1.4. It doesn't ahve reflex finder, but a finder on the magazine door.
The second one is labeled "Paillard Bolex[;] Fbr. Suisse/Made in Switzerland". Here the serial numbers do match it is 1541xx. It comes with a Kern 10-30 zoom lens and lens attached finder.

The third, which looks best, really clean inside and quite so outside, is labeled Bolex H16 Reflex. It comes with Kern 25/1.4 lens and reflex finder mounted on top of the camera. The serial is to be found on the door, inside the film compartment and on the tripod mount, it matches is around 1541xx.

So here is my question: if you were me, which one would you get? I'll look around the web whether I can find any info. Someone know a good site for Bolex 16mm cameras? The cost for all three is the same. Thanks for your time!

Regards, Dave
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#2 David Auner aac

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 12:58 PM

Oh, I forgot to add that I am strongly leaning for the H16 Reflex. All three cameras would cost around 200 EU.
Would I be able to switch the view finder for 10x or better if I got an early RX with the 6x finder?

Cheers, Dave
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#3 Herb Montes

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 01:03 PM

I have three Bolexes and I'm partial to my Reflex model but only because it's great for animation. I have two M models which have zoom lenses with reflex finders. Good for all around filming. The M model has a single lens mount. Generally Bolex cameras can be divided between the non-reflex and reflex models and the turret and mono-lens mounts.
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#4 David Auner aac

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 01:09 PM

I have three Bolexes and I'm partial to my Reflex model but only because it's great for animation. I have two M models which have zoom lenses with reflex finders. Good for all around filming. The M model has a single lens mount. Generally Bolex cameras can be divided between the non-reflex and reflex models and the turret and mono-lens mounts.


Hi Herb,
thanks for your help. All three cameras have a turret. I really like primes, so I might be better off with the reflex finder anyway. Is there any downside at all in comparison to the non-RX?

Cheers, Dave
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#5 Sam Wells

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 02:05 PM

Go with the reflex for sure, why would you not want to ?

http://www.tobincine...com/page74.html

Probably JK could put a larger finder on it. (Those 6x are llike looking at a postage stamp)

-Sam
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#6 AdamBray

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 03:56 PM

Go with the Reflex for sure. Get a Rex 4 or 5 if possible. They have better viewfinders. I got my Bolex off Ebay. I got lucky and got one in great condition.
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#7 David Auner aac

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 04:04 PM

Go with the Reflex for sure. Get a Rex 4 or 5 if possible. They have better viewfinders. I got my Bolex off Ebay. I got lucky and got one in great condition.


Hi Adam, the one I am looking at here is presumably a H16 Reflex aka RX-0. I doubt I'd get a RX-4/5 for around 200 EU. But who knows, I'll look around a bit, maybe I'll get one later. Will call up a couple of other dealer tomorrow as well. See what they offer...

Regards, Dave
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#8 Herb Montes

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 04:09 PM

The Rex4/5 have the flat base and the larger viewfinders. Also they have the variable shutter and single frame shaft for sync or animation motors. So the later Rex models are more versatile. The one disadvantage is having to use Rx mount lenses which are more expensive and harder to find. Mine came with Schneider Rx lenses and was originally a Rex4 but had the magazine mount retro-fitted to it making more like a Rex5.
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#9 David Auner aac

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 04:32 PM

The Rex4/5 have the flat base and the larger viewfinders. Also they have the variable shutter and single frame shaft for sync or animation motors. So the later Rex models are more versatile. The one disadvantage is having to use Rx mount lenses which are more expensive and harder to find. Mine came with Schneider Rx lenses and was originally a Rex4 but had the magazine mount retro-fitted to it making more like a Rex5.


Thanks Herb, it looks like I will pick up that H16 RX-0 unless I find anything better in that price range. The newer RX-3/4/5 are out of my budget now. As I stated earlier, this is a birthday present to myself. :D
But I guess I'll spend more later anyway, as I like wide angle lenses!

Thanks for all your help guys!

Cheers, Dave
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#10 Bryan Darling

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 06:24 PM

I've had a non-reflex, Rex-0, and Rex-2. Get a Rex-2, it has a bigger viewfinder and other great options and you should be able to get a body for around 200 euros. It was really difficult to focus the Rex-0 for anything moving, i.e. handheld work, etc. If you can't afford it, I'd just use the K-3 till you can. It's really work waiting, don't rush to purchase a camera just to get one. I've used a K-3 as well, and it's actually a lot easier to operate than a Bolex, just doesn't have all the options.

As for lenses, I highly recommend the Schnieder RX lenses. They are very underrated and as such very affordable. I bought a top-notch set for $250 - 10mm, 16mm, 25mm, & 75mm. The quality is on par with the Switar lenses of that era. I've shot both neg and reversal film and had prints made shot using those lenses it was sharp.

Good luck.
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#11 David Auner aac

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 03:03 AM

I've had a non-reflex, Rex-0, and Rex-2. Get a Rex-2, it has a bigger viewfinder and other great options and you should be able to get a body for around 200 euros. It was really difficult to focus the Rex-0 for anything moving, i.e. handheld work, etc. If you can't afford it, I'd just use the K-3 till you can. It's really work waiting, don't rush to purchase a camera just to get one. I've used a K-3 as well, and it's actually a lot easier to operate than a Bolex, just doesn't have all the options.
Good luck.


Hi Bryan!

Thanks for the info. I'll try and look for a RX-2 or better. I ain't in no hurry. Problem is that I probably won't find one here in Vienna anytime soon. But I'll check Ebay every once in a while. Just curious, are there any other options for me? Beaulieu R16? Kinor? How do these compare to the Bolexes?

Thanks, Dave

Cheers, Dave
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#12 AdamBray

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 03:50 AM

Hi Bryan!

Thanks for the info. I'll try and look for a RX-2 or better. I ain't in no hurry. Problem is that I probably won't find one here in Vienna anytime soon. But I'll check Ebay every once in a while. Just curious, are there any other options for me? Beaulieu R16? Kinor? How do these compare to the Bolexes?

Thanks, Dave

Cheers, Dave



What's wrong with the K-3? I might rather have the K-3 over a non reflex Bolex as long as the K3 did not eat or scratch my film.
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#13 David Auner aac

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 04:04 AM

What's wrong with the K-3? I might rather have the K-3 over a non reflex Bolex as long as the K3 did not eat or scratch my film.


A non reflex Bolex is out of the question from what know now. I just figured that a reflex Bolex with the registration pin might give a steadier image and that lenses would be easier to find around here. I don't have the K-3 in my hands yet, but since I paid only around 75 EU plus shipping, I have no fear, really. If it starts scratching film I'll punish it by using it as a paperweight ;).

Cheers, Dave
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#14 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 06:17 AM

"I just figured that a reflex Bolex with the registration pin might give a steadier image and that lenses would be easier to find around here."

Unfortunately, none of the Bolex H16 models have a registration pin. However, from what Ive read, the later model non reflex cameras provide just as steady footage as the reflex cameras.
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#15 Herb Montes

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 06:54 AM

Hi Bryan!

Thanks for the info. I'll try and look for a RX-2 or better. I ain't in no hurry. Problem is that I probably won't find one here in Vienna anytime soon. But I'll check Ebay every once in a while. Just curious, are there any other options for me? Beaulieu R16? Kinor? How do these compare to the Bolexes?

Thanks, Dave

Cheers, Dave


Actually I'm looking right now at possibly buying a Kinor-16. I've been wanting to buy a pin registered 16mm camera but haven't found a Mitchell in my price range. Since the Kinor has a registration pin, and I confirmed with Olex the camera can be driven by an animation motor, the Kinor may be my next purchase.

I owned a Beaulieu once as a well as a K-3. The Beaulieu was a nice camera but had a tendency to lose its loop. It might have needed servicing so I traded it for a Bolex. The K-3 was okay but I wanted an electric drive camera for animation. The Bolex seemed like a more versatile choice at the time.
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#16 David Auner aac

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 08:02 AM

Unfortunately, none of the Bolex H16 models have a registration pin. However, from what Ive read, the later model non reflex cameras provide just as steady footage as the reflex cameras.


Wait a second: I thought I read somewhere that the Reflex had... Dang. I must have been dreaming. But something is different on the Reflex models right? I am quite sure I read something about them having a steadier image than the non-RX.
Well, that leaves the lens advantage, but I might be mistaken here as well.
Please bear with my ignorance :D

Cheers, Dave
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#17 Clive Tobin

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 08:18 PM

...The second one is labeled "Paillard Bolex[;] Fbr. Suisse/Made in Switzerland". Here the serial numbers do match it is 1541xx. It comes with a Kern 10-30 zoom lens and lens attached finder....

Watch out! If the 10-30 zoom fits, this is an 8mm camera not 16mm.

You had best read my "Identifying Your Bolex" section on the website.

The linked picture pages also have sidebars about which models take the steadiest movies, which will take either single or double perf film, etc.
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#18 David Auner aac

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 09:48 AM

Wait a second: I thought I read somewhere that the Reflex had... Dang. I must have been dreaming. But something is different on the Reflex models right? I am quite sure I read something about them having a steadier image than the non-RX.


Sorry folks, I mistook having registration claw movement for having a registrtion pin. That clear that up.

Cheers, Dave
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#19 David Auner aac

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 09:57 AM

Watch out! If the 10-30 zoom fits, this is an 8mm camera not 16mm.

You had best read my "Identifying Your Bolex" section on the website.

The linked picture pages also have sidebars about which models take the steadiest movies, which will take either single or double perf film, etc.


Thanks Clive. That's strange! It was offered to me as being 16mm. But that one is out of my selection anyways. If I am going to get one of these cameras it's going to be the Reflex one. But I have been offered an Arri in quite bad shape and need to check whether its fixable. I'll post some pictures when I get them. I took a look at the camera today and was quite shocked how one could mistreat a nice little cam like this. It was hung as decoration in restaurant!

Regards, Dave
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#20 Bryan Darling

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 02:14 PM

Hi Bryan!

Thanks for the info. I'll try and look for a RX-2 or better. I ain't in no hurry. Problem is that I probably won't find one here in Vienna anytime soon. But I'll check Ebay every once in a while. Just curious, are there any other options for me? Beaulieu R16? Kinor? How do these compare to the Bolexes?

Thanks, Dave

Cheers, Dave



I would message Boris Belay, I bought my body and lenses from him. He's located in Belguim. He was very reasonable and the Bolex was the smoothest I've ever had. As for steadiness, the Bolex is rock solid- provided that the camera is in good condition. Beware of a Arri in bad shape, may be more work than it's worth. It is a piece of German engineering after all.

Edited by Bryan Darling, 15 June 2007 - 02:15 PM.

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