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Testing the Arriflex 16 s/b


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#1 Pete Von Tews

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 10:47 PM

Hello everyone,

I recently picked up a used arriflex 16 s/b, cleaned her up and ordered a roll of Kodak vision 200T (and telecine) in order to test the camera and test my exposure skills before I order film for a real project.

Any ideas come to mind as what to shoot in my limited stock time?

I'm thinking to test the lens sharpness, (and in relation to what I see in the viewfinder) by shooting a sharpness chart and also determining if the focus distance markers on the lens are accurate.

Testing the motor speed by filming a person talking (and recording audio on a seperate recorder) and later see how it matches up.

For exposure I'll probably do basic light exposure tests like a daylight (got a 85 filter) lit room, outside, tungsten lit room, maybe some evening outside shots. Also shoot various shots against the sun/light and behind the sun/light.

On top of it, I will film a grayscale chart/kodak color chart at the beginning of each shot, and all audio will be recorded seperately so I know what I was doing.

How does this sound? any ideas?

thanks!

Edited by Pete Tews, 24 August 2007 - 10:49 PM.

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#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 11:26 PM

Pete,

Not trying to rain on your parade, but most of what you are talking about testing could be done much more accurately by having a camera tech take a look at the camera. As examples:

I'm thinking to test the lens sharpness,


This would be best done putting the lens on a collimator.

(and in relation to what I see in the viewfinder) by shooting a sharpness chart


This would be best done with a calibrated lens set to infinity and focusing the camera on a distant object a few miles away.

and also determining if the focus distance markers on the lens are accurate.


If you are using lenses from the same period as the Arriflex 16S/B, like the old Schneiders, Cooke Kinetals, and Zeiss lenses from that period, the focus scales on those lenses were never terribly accurate.

Testing the motor speed


This can be done quickly and accurately with a strobe.

The other tests you discussed sound fine, but I would recommend having the camera inspected first, so you know everything above is working properly, before you burn up film and telecine time on a camera that may be quite a bit out of spec.

For exposure I'll probably do basic light exposure tests like a daylight (got a 85 filter) lit room, outside, tungsten lit room, maybe some evening outside shots. Also shoot various shots against the sun/light and behind the sun/light.

On top of it, I will film a grayscale chart/kodak color chart at the beginning of each shot, and all audio will be recorded seperately so I know what I was doing.

How does this sound? any ideas?

thanks!


Hope that gives you some ideas,
-Tim
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 01:41 PM

Pete,

The main drawback to doing the tests you talk about above, without first knowing if the FFD is right, the ground glass is right, the movement timing is right, the lenses are collimated, and the motor speed is right and consistent, etc. is that if everything on the camera is spot on (and I hope it is) then you are really testing your ability to light a scene. But if anything on the camera is off, you have wasted the money on film cost, processing cost and telecine cost because the way you are going about testing, the final results on the film will not tell you specifically what is at issue.

As an example, let's say the image on the film is soft or slightly blurry. What caused that? Could be FFD was off, could be Ground Glass was off, could be the lens is not collimated, could be the diopter setting was off, could be operator error. Without first knowing the camera is to spec, you can't have any idea what causes the final image on the film.

Let's say your image is underexposed/too dark, or overexposed/too light. What caused that? Could be motor speed is off, could be the iris on the lens is off, could be operator error, etc. Again, without knowing the camera is to spec, you can't have any idea what causes the final image on the film.

That is why I suggest having a camera service tech, with the right equipment (it doesn't have to be me), check over your camera first, then once you know where the camera stands, then do the film tests you describe.

And while we are on the subject of the final image quality from an Arriflex 16S/B camera, let me take a moment to rant. There have been a number of posts on the internet, most on You Tube, that show images shot with the Arriflex 16S or 16S/B camera. I want to correct something, those images are in no way representative of the quality these little cameras can put out. They are soft and underexposed and look like home movies from the 1950's (now maybe this is what the directors were looking for on these pieces, but I kind of doubt it). The footage tells me that either the operator did not know how to operate the camera and light a scene, or the camera and lens were out of spec.

An Arriflex 16S/B, with Zeiss Super Speed Mk1 lenses, will create the exact same quality image as a $60,000 Arriflex 416 camera with the same Zeiss Super Speed Mk1 lenses, with the only difference being that the 16S/B will create an image that is Regular 16 while the 416 will create an image that is Super 16. Otherwise the image will be identical. The reason for this is that the Arriflex 16S and 16S/B are professional production motion picture cameras, just from an earlier period.

Even one of the earliest Arriflex 16S cameras, with lenses from that same period, can make very high quality images. The footage linked to below was shot on an Arriflex 16S that was made in 1957, with a Cooke Kinetal 25mm lens from that same period. The camera was completely brought back to original ARRI factory spec, and the lens was collimated and cleaned. You can see and judge the results for yourself at the link below (It's a good size file, so give it a bit of time to load):

Posted Image

1957 Arriflex 16S w/ Cooke Kinetal 25mm lens

-Tim
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#4 Michael Mitchell

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 03:18 AM

Hello everyone,

I recently picked up a used arriflex 16 s/b, cleaned her up and ordered a roll of Kodak vision 200T (and telecine) in order to test the camera and test my exposure skills before I order film for a real project.

Any ideas come to mind as what to shoot in my limited stock time?

I'm thinking to test the lens sharpness, (and in relation to what I see in the viewfinder) by shooting a sharpness chart and also determining if the focus distance markers on the lens are accurate.

Testing the motor speed by filming a person talking (and recording audio on a seperate recorder) and later see how it matches up.

For exposure I'll probably do basic light exposure tests like a daylight (got a 85 filter) lit room, outside, tungsten lit room, maybe some evening outside shots. Also shoot various shots against the sun/light and behind the sun/light.

On top of it, I will film a grayscale chart/kodak color chart at the beginning of each shot, and all audio will be recorded seperately so I know what I was doing.

How does this sound? any ideas?

thanks!





I have a question, how much does the ArriS or SB weigh?? I'm curious because weight is the only factor between me buying a bolex sbm or a arri 16s. Also, is it possible to find an underwater housing for the arri16s? thanks.
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#5 Tim Carroll

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 09:00 AM

I have a question, how much does the ArriS or SB weigh?? I'm curious because weight is the only factor between me buying a bolex sbm or a arri 16s. Also, is it possible to find an underwater housing for the arri16s? thanks.


An Arriflex 16S weighs in the same ballpark as a Bolex, they are both relatively lightweight cameras. As far as an underwater housing, someone on eBay was selling an underwater housing that they claimed was made for the Arriflex 16s, but from the pictures, I would doubt that it really was. The whole auction seemed to be "over-hyped" and went for an unbelievable $5600. Here is a picture of the housing:

Posted Image

-Tim
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Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Opal

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Glidecam