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16mm Bolex questions


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#1 Michael Mitchell

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:15 PM

Hi everyone. This is my first post here, I have been lurking around these forums for a couple days, and finally decided to post. I'm producing and directing a surf movie project in super 16mm this summer, and I had a bunch of questions.

1. The camera I want to get is either the Bolex SBM, Bolex REX5, or Arri 16 S. Right now, I'm leaning more towards the SBM because I like the bayonet mount (for PL mount lenses, with a converter), and I feel that overall it's a better camera (I'm not 100% set on this, though, if you have suggestions to another camera, I would love to hear them). Also, I need suggestions on where to get this camera converted to Super 16, and the cost I should expect to pay.

Noob question: Is bayonet mount the same size as C mount? Can you put a C mount lens on a bayonet mount camera and vice versa? If not, can C mount accept PL mount lenses with a converter?
Also, what do you all think of a Bayonet-to-PL converter, is there any quality control to look out for? Obviously it can't effect lens quality, but if you don't get the right one, couldn't there possibly be focus issues?

OK, so if I do go with the REX5, with C mount lenses, what kind of quality can I expect from such lenses as the Switar 10mm and the POE 16-100? Is the quality anywhere near what I could expect from a PL mount Cooke/Century prime? If someone could fill me in about any reviews on either of these two lenses, that would be great. (Or just give me your own personal review, haha) For the SBM, I am aware that Super 16mm cameras are not compatible with many regular16mm lenses. I have heard good things about the Kinoptic 5.7mm, Zeiss 16mm, and many other PL mount lenses, but I'm not sure if a $3000+ lens is in my budget. Any other suggestions for good super-16 PL, bayonet, or C-mount Lenses? thank you.

ELECTRIC MOTORS: OK, I really don't know anything about these, so what is the most reliable, best quality Bolex motor? I've been looking at the ESM and MST, but I've heard things about reliability issues. I would hate to be far away from civilization and have a motor just die on me. Are there any non-Bolex brand motors that I could look into? Is it correct that, in order to use the 400ft magazines, you must have a motor on the camera, plus a motor on the magazine?

Underwater housings for a Bolex 16mm camera....Suggestions, prices, etc. are helpful

Thank you, I know we have some bolex experts on board, hopefully you guys can help me out!!

Michael Mitchell
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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 03:56 PM

SBM>> easy-ish to super16 yourself even including the finder mod - you'll need a mill or a good machine shop/machinist for a few bits - I've done it.. takes time, $$$ for someone else to do it no idea ... ;)

RX5 mod is destructive unless you send it out (you'll loose the turret function)

Bayonet/C-mount/PL>> yes, easy to get a c-mount to bayonet adaptor... search on eBay - c-mount to PL dont think so, not a good idea (still though could be one somewhere)

Switar 10mm preset is a damn fine lens optically, 'ziess-ish' even - problem is it vignettes on super16, though with a crop to 16/9 its pretty minimal - standard Switar 10mm not as good, but still a fine lens - POE, nice thought I prefer the primes ... it will vignette also in the wide range - another option is the 12.5-100 Vario-Switar (three variants, each with different set-ups) it vignettes even more than the POE in the wide range but can be sent to Bolex to be modified for full coverage/zero vignetting (think $$$!) - you've chosen two of the three lenses that vignette ;)

I personally own the preset 10mm, 26mm, 75mm, 150mm and the 'PTL' 12.5-100 Vario-Switar (no mod done yet)

Motors>> well if you are going to get a motor, why not just get yourself an EBM or EL and forget lugging around the damn spring all the time ? If you want the dual set-up option though I'd go for a Tobin motor ... no longer made but often turn up on eBay - I own a TXM20B - loud (as they ALL are) but any xtal speed you want combined with a milliframe controller - and it can provide the right voltage for the 400' mag motors to run at the higher speeds that the main bolex motors wont (cool) ..

Underwater housings >> for the wind ups - turn up often enough on eBay... search - I own one for the EL, a much rarer beast - no idea where to get one from unless you wait years on eBay

Prices ... sheesh, as variable as the wind and price fixing allows - a butterfly farts in Venezuela and the prices will double
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#3 Babar Khan

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 09:04 PM

1. All great options! I have a Rex 5 that I recently had converted to S16 by Jaakko Kurhi (www.jkcamera.com). He does a great conversion including a viewfinder upgrade if necessary. Cost for me with a complete overhaul/lube was about $1450.00 or so. Camera is running absolutely beautifully now. For specific costs check his site (depends on camera model etc.)

2. I stumbled across a C mount to PL converter last month, at Visual Products designed for Bolex, which looks beautifully made. That is the only one I know about. Les Bosher makes a Bayonet to PL mount adapter should you end up with a SBM.
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#4 Michael Ryan

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 07:31 AM

Hello Michael,

Contact Bernie O'Doherty at Super 16 Inc for the Super 16 conversion. Bernie has good prices and is, perhaps, the best motion picture repair guy in the world (over 35 years experience). Check out his site here: www.super16inc.com


As someone who grew up in Huntington Beach, good luck with your surf film. Chase the sun, baby!!


Mike
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 09:45 AM

Another camera you might want to look into would be an Eclair ACL. I shot on one, once, and liked it and thusly have heard mostly good things about them. I know Visual Products offers conversions and work on them (and they're nice guys. They sent me a package of mints and a little card with a shoulder brace i bought; nice gesture.) Check 'em out, http://www.visualproducts.com/. Of course, I have to admit, I wish I had the extra money to spring for a good old Bolex. Sounds like a machine gun on a WW2 tank, but such a wonderful camera.
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#6 Babar Khan

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 01:08 PM

Bernie is indeed a great guy but he doesn't do S16 conversions on Bolex - I asked him before getting mine done. He does do the laser brightening if you want to improve the groundglass brightness though.

Hello Michael,

Contact Bernie O'Doherty at Super 16 Inc for the Super 16 conversion. Bernie has good prices and is, perhaps, the best motion picture repair guy in the world (over 35 years experience). Check out his site here: www.super16inc.com
As someone who grew up in Huntington Beach, good luck with your surf film. Chase the sun, baby!!
Mike


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#7 Michael Mitchell

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 01:56 PM

Thanks a lot, you guys are awesome. Now I have a few more questions. ;)

I think im 99% set on the SBM, but I'm still confused about the whole bayonet mount thing. So there are Bayonet-to-cmount and Bayonet-to-PL mount converters/adaptors? Also, is there any quality control to look out for? Obviously it can't effect lens quality, but if you don't get the right one, couldn't there possibly be focus issues?

I don't mind too much if the 10mm Switar vignettes, but I'd rather not have to deal with cropping. I have heard good things about the Kinoptic 5.7mm, Zeiss 16mm, and many other PL mount lenses. Is there any vignetting issues with any of these lenses? Any other suggestions for good super-16 PL or bayonet mount Lenses?


Nick Mulder:
"Another option is the 12.5-100 Vario-Switar (three variants, each with different set-ups) it vignettes even more than the POE in the wide range but can be sent to Bolex to be modified for full coverage/zero vignetting"
-That sounds awesome. How is the quality on that baby? Also, is there a website or something I could look at to read more about that modification? I mean, when you say send it to Bolex, where exactly is that? haha.

thanks a lot guys, you're big ballin' in the mix. :ph34r:
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#8 Nick Mulder

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 02:11 PM

bayonet to c-mount adaptor - like I said, search at eBay - they are all made by bolex... quality = fine - there are many other things that can affect your focus than just the manufacturing tolerances of the adaptor - dont worry so much about it - bayonet-PL dont know about them for reasons you should know about - read on:

Bolex 16mm cameras like the SBM use a prism to deflect I think its about %17 of the light through to the viewfinder (as opposed to a spinning mirror shutter) - this prism affects the path of light as it reaches the film, especially for wide angle lenses you will have a certain amount of loss of clarity/focus if the lenses haven't been optically adjusted for this prism (it is not just a back focus problem, its a 'shape of the glass' problem i.e. you cant fix it) - lenses which have been designed with the prism in mind have been marked 'rx' - as far as I know there are no PL mount 'rx' lenses...

Dont believe me ? read here:

http://www.apecity.c...6mm_cameras.pdf

So your both your Zeiss and Kinoptic lenses will suffer here to certain extents - only testing will tell - lenses over ~50mm are excluded, and should work fine regardless...

12.5-100 - quality is good, try to get the standard one, not the PTL which has a funky two blade iris - and of the two standard versions try to get the one with the aspheron knob and not the iris preset version - the aspheron knob means you can use the 6.5mm aspheron adaptor (i.e. no more Kinoptic needed) and it also works as an excellent macro function when used without the adaptor - if you find one on ebay PM me and I'll tell you which one it is ... The ones pictured at www.bolex.ch (in switzerland... do a search) are the auto/PTL
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#9 Michael Mitchell

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 05:23 PM

Bolex 16mm cameras like the SBM use a prism to deflect I think its about %17 of the light through to the viewfinder (as opposed to a spinning mirror shutter) - this prism affects the path of light as it reaches the film, especially for wide angle lenses you will have a certain amount of loss of clarity/focus if the lenses haven't been optically adjusted for this prism (it is not just a back focus problem, its a 'shape of the glass' problem i.e. you cant fix it) - lenses which have been designed with the prism in mind have been marked 'rx' - as far as I know there are no PL mount 'rx' lenses...

12.5-100 - quality is good, try to get the standard one, not the PTL which has a funky two blade iris - and of the two standard versions try to get the one with the aspheron knob and not the iris preset version - the aspheron knob means you can use the 6.5mm aspheron adaptor (i.e. no more Kinoptic needed) and it also works as an excellent macro function when used without the adaptor - if you find one on ebay PM me and I'll tell you which one it is ... The ones pictured at www.bolex.ch (in switzerland... do a search) are the auto/PTL


Do Bayonet-mount, Rx lenses even exist? Or are they just hard to find, cause I havent seen any yet online. And do they make the 16-100 POE or Vario Switar 12.5-100 in Bayonet Mount?

Ok so if the 10mm Preset vignettes, are there any other similar quality/focal length lenses that don't vignette? Also, does every lens I buy have to be an RX because of that prism issue? That doesn't leave me with many options. If the prism effects the Zeiss and Kinoptic, then wouldn't it effect the standard Bolex C-mount lenses as well? I'm confused about the RX/ Prism thing.

Also, how much should I expect to pay to get the SBM converted to Super 16?
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#10 Nick Mulder

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 09:26 PM

Do Bayonet-mount, Rx lenses even exist? Or are they just hard to find, cause I havent seen any yet online. And do they make the 16-100 POE or Vario Switar 12.5-100 in Bayonet Mount?

Ok so if the 10mm Preset vignettes, are there any other similar quality/focal length lenses that don't vignette? Also, does every lens I buy have to be an RX because of that prism issue? That doesn't leave me with many options. If the prism effects the Zeiss and Kinoptic, then wouldn't it effect the standard Bolex C-mount lenses as well? I'm confused about the RX/ Prism thing.

Also, how much should I expect to pay to get the SBM converted to Super 16?



Bayonet RX lenses - yes, all the zooms... Although they do come in c-mount, but not as often - the one you linked me in the PM was a bayonet mount.

You could get 35mm lenses or newer super16 ~10mm lenses probably in PL mount - $$$ !

yes, no matter how great they are you'll have potential issues with them re. the prism optics ... Any focal length up to about 40~50mm as a matter of fact.

yes, it doesn't leave you with many options

yes, the standard (10, 16 and 25mm) switar lenses dont mix well with prisms either

To avoid confusion read the .pdf I linked earlier or simply buy the RX preset lenses and a zoom like I have - sweet!

Read the earlier posts re. contacts for super16 conversions and ask them directly for costs ;)
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#11 AdamBray

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 01:12 PM

Arri 16S does not shoot super 16.
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#12 Jeremy Rumas

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 01:25 PM

Michael

For a housing for a Bolex, contact Sean at SPL:

www.splwaterhousings.com

His housings are light, sturdy, and he'll get you it back quickly. He took a week to make mine. You have to send your camera with the lens you will use, and make it clear what components you are ok with having removed while the camera is in the housing. Controls for just about anything can be added.

I saw an article in a Surfer's Journal recently from a few years ago on surf filmmaker Jack McCoy. Throughout his whole career he's used wind up Bolex's as his land camera. Said whenever he would make the switch over to battery powered, they'd end up letting him down somehow when out in far away places. There was a photo of him filming handheld from the beach with a Rex 5 with bayonet mount, along with a pistol grip handle. Looking at his website though, it seems he uses SBM's now.

Many influential surf films were made with wind up Bolex cameras, including the moast influential one of all, Endless Summer.

If you were to have only one camera for use both in the water and out, I'd go with a Rex 5, with the sturdier Bayonet mount. I have not used a SBM, but I am going to assume it is heavier and a little bulkier, due to the battery. Possibly some others can chime in here. In the water, you really need to go as light as possible.

My Rex 5 has a turret with C-mounts, but I would go with a Bayonet mount if I were to do it again, just because its sturdier(the only downside it would seem is that its a little more bulky).

There is a bayonet to C-mount adapter on this page:

http://www.jkcamera....Conversions.htm

-Jeremy

Edited by Jeremy Rumas, 20 August 2007 - 01:28 PM.

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#13 Jeremy Rumas

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 01:54 PM

to correct myself:

I confused the EBM and SBM in that last post. So in that photo I saw, yes, McCoy would have been using a SBM I think. And yeah, a SBM would seem a better choice all around for what you are doing than a Rex 5.

-Jeremy
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#14 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 03:03 PM

I second the notion that the 10mm Switar is a great lens.

Curious though why are you locked into Bolex. Look around these days you can probably find a super 16 Arri SR I for a good deal and that would have some serious advantages over the Bolex (although I do love Bolex cameras)
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#15 Nick Mulder

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 12:58 AM

Look around these days you can probably find a super 16 Arri SR I for a good deal and that would have some serious advantages over the Bolex (although I do love Bolex cameras)

If he is shooting surf films what are the serious advantages ?
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#16 Jeremy Rumas

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 02:25 PM

here is another write up on the Bolex Rx prism issue:

http://www.city-net....olex/truth.html


According to this, standard C-mount lenses 50mm and under can be used with good results on reflex Bolex's, IF they are stopped down past about f3.2. The .pdf Nick linked to seems to indicate just about the same thing, that as long as you stop down one or two stops, a loss of clarity should be eliminated.

-Jeremy
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#17 Michael Mitchell

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 06:23 PM

I second the notion that the 10mm Switar is a great lens.

Curious though why are you locked into Bolex. Look around these days you can probably find a super 16 Arri SR I for a good deal and that would have some serious advantages over the Bolex (although I do love Bolex cameras)


I've heard the ARRI's are heavy. But what kind of advantages are you talking about?
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