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Probaly buying an Arri 16BL


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#1 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 10:48 AM

Hey Guys,

I am planning on buying an Arri 16bl. Here's the deal.

It took me some time to choose whether my next film camera should be a HD one, or an 16mm one. I don't like HD. Well, i do like it but not if it's used for cinematic movies, shorts and documentaries. For a couple of years i have been working in the extreme sports industry as a skateboard/snowboard cinematographer. The camera's i used most of the time were the Sony Vx's ( 2100 and 2000 ), DVX's, PD150/170's, etc. As i am still young ( 18 ) and have no college graduation or bachelors whatsoever, I am mainly a self taught filmmaker. Allthough making those kind of movies is bassicly my work, it's not where my filmheart really lies ( hehe ). I want to make shorts, docus, etc.

So i got some super8 camera's ( canon 514, 518, bauer 715xl and some nizo ) to learn more about real cinematography inplace of setting your wb correct, shutter correct and pressing a red button ( ofcourse this is excessively speaking ). At this moment i shot 3x k40, 4x v 200t and 2x kodachrome 100D.

Since the Dollar is pretty weak nowadays the search for an 16mm camera came earlier then expected. No point in waiting, right? The camera won't drop in value all of the sudden in 5months.

After some research i found the Arri 16BL. It's exactly the price range i was looking for. I did some more research on the camera. I looked in probaly every thread concerning the 16bl. It all looked great. I want to buy the 16bl with videotap, blimped lens housing and crystal sync motor. I don't think 4:3 is a problem because i figured that i would sell the camera after a few projects and then buy a SR1 instead for super16.

What are you guys opinions on my decision ? Any things i should look out for ? Any things i should NOT do ? Maybe i'm asking too much, but this is my first dive into 16mm world, and i don't want to mess it up. Especially since i'm spending all my money on this.

Greetings,
Sander Ferdinand
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#2 David Auner aac

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 10:56 AM

Hi Sander,

my advice: have a good look around here on the boards, there have been a lot of people asking the same questions you are. I was one of them. I finally decided on an Eclair NPR which is currently being S16'd in Germany. Depends on your budget too. Use the search function of the boards to find all the threads about buying the first 16mm camera. Also get a couple of good books on film cameras, you'll find these in the recommended books section right here. Good luck! If you have any specific questions feel free to ask!

Cheers, Dave
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#3 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:26 PM

Hi Sander,

my advice: have a good look around here on the boards, there have been a lot of people asking the same questions you are. I was one of them. I finally decided on an Eclair NPR which is currently being S16'd in Germany. Depends on your budget too. Use the search function of the boards to find all the threads about buying the first 16mm camera. Also get a couple of good books on film cameras, you'll find these in the recommended books section right here. Good luck! If you have any specific questions feel free to ask!

Cheers, Dave


I already done research. Out of that research came the 16BL. I made this topic to see what you guys opinions were on my choice, compared to my background and my future plans.

Pardon my english :)

Edited by Sander Ferdinand, 03 March 2008 - 12:26 PM.

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#4 Keneu Luca

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:41 PM

If you will be using your 16mm for extreme sport cinematography, I don't see a need for a crystal sync motor. Will you be interviewng the athletes? If so, you will also need a solid audio recording set-up and audio guy to tag along with you who knows how to ride the levels.

If you don't need to record sound, I suggest the Arri S.
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#5 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 01:14 PM

I will be using the 16BL for shorts and docu's. I would like to use sound so i want it to be crystal synced. I will not record the sound with the camera itself.
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#6 Tim Carroll

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 02:15 PM

The main downside of the Arriflex 16BL is service, finding someone who can service the camera for you. Not sure who does ARRI service in the Netherlands, but before you put your money down on the camera, I would recommend finding someone who is qualified to service it for you. A motion picture camera, especially a "wet lubed" camera like the Arriflex 16BL, needs service at least once every four years as the lubrication in them dries up. Find the serial number of the camera you plan to purchase and then see if you can find a service tech who will service the camera for you. I know here in the States, ARRI INC won't service 16BL cameras below a certain serial number because parts are no longer available for them. It is probably the same way in Europe.

That being said, if you still plan on buying an Arriflex 16BL, try to get one with the Zeiss 10-100 blimped zoom lens. They are a little more rare than the cameras with the Angenieux lens, but the Zeiss glass is usually better. And be sure the camera has the front piece of glass in the lens blimp. Many of these have been lost over the years and they are very difficult to find replacements for. So make sure the camera you buy has that piece of glass in the front of the lens blimp. It is sound deadening glass and without it the camera is much noisier.

Best of luck,
-Tim
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#7 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:40 PM

The main downside of the Arriflex 16BL is service, finding someone who can service the camera for you. Not sure who does ARRI service in the Netherlands, but before you put your money down on the camera, I would recommend finding someone who is qualified to service it for you. A motion picture camera, especially a "wet lubed" camera like the Arriflex 16BL, needs service at least once every four years as the lubrication in them dries up. Find the serial number of the camera you plan to purchase and then see if you can find a service tech who will service the camera for you. I know here in the States, ARRI INC won't service 16BL cameras below a certain serial number because parts are no longer available for them. It is probably the same way in Europe.

That being said, if you still plan on buying an Arriflex 16BL, try to get one with the Zeiss 10-100 blimped zoom lens. They are a little more rare than the cameras with the Angenieux lens, but the Zeiss glass is usually better. And be sure the camera has the front piece of glass in the lens blimp. Many of these have been lost over the years and they are very difficult to find replacements for. So make sure the camera you buy has that piece of glass in the front of the lens blimp. It is sound deadening glass and without it the camera is much noisier.

Best of luck,
-Tim


Well, i either buy it from here ( classified section ) or from Visualproducts.com. If i'm buying the 16BL from Visualproducts.com, wich would be in a mint state, i would not have to get the camera serviced because i'm only keeping the camera for maximum a year. With that in mind, would you suggest this camera the right choice for me ?

Thanks for giving me some glass advice. I'm currently bidding on a cheap Schneider Kreuznach Arriflex Cine Xenon 1:1.4 25 mm. I believe those fit in the blimphousing. Ill lookout for those Zeiss lenses too.

Thanks,
Sander Ferdinand
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:47 PM

The 16BL is the perfect "first" camera, because that's exactly what it will be -- you'll shoot with it for awhile, get sick of it, and replace it with something better.
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#9 Tim Carroll

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 04:02 PM

Thanks for giving me some glass advice. I'm currently bidding on a cheap Schneider Kreuznach Arriflex Cine Xenon 1:1.4 25 mm. I believe those fit in the blimphousing. Ill lookout for those Zeiss lenses too.


You cannot use prime lenses with an Arriflex 16BL with a zoom lens blimp. And the Angenieux 12-120 zoom lens blimp will not fit the Zeiss 10-100 zoom lens and the Zeiss 10-100 zoom lens blimp will not fit the Angenieux 12-120. You need to decide what lenses you are going to use with the 16BL so you get the proper blimp. The prime lens blimps are pretty difficult to find. And only certain prime lenses will fit in them. You need to do more research before you buy or you could end up with a group of fairly expensive parts that don't work together.

-Tim

PS: The Arriflex 16BL you described above, with a crystal sync motor, Visual Products is selling that for $4900 US. There are quite a few "first" cameras you could get for less money than that.
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#10 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 04:17 PM

You cannot use prime lenses with an Arriflex 16BL with a zoom lens blimp. And the Angenieux 12-120 zoom lens blimp will not fit the Zeiss 10-100 zoom lens and the Zeiss 10-100 zoom lens blimp will not fit the Angenieux 12-120. You need to decide what lenses you are going to use with the 16BL so you get the proper blimp. The prime lens blimps are pretty difficult to find. And only certain prime lenses will fit in them. You need to do more research before you buy or you could end up with a group of fairly expensive parts that don't work together.

-Tim

Thanks. Seems i still have loads to learn about lenses and there compatibility's.

PS: The Arriflex 16BL you described above, with a crystal sync motor, Visual Products is selling that for $4900 US. There are quite a few "first" cameras you could get for less money than that.

I know there are alot of other 16mm camera's that are far less expensive ( scoopic, h16, k3, kinor ) but i wanted something a bit more proffesional, so i choose the Arriflex 16BL. Learning won't be a problem, i have some friends that shoot alot and i will also be reading this forum alot. I must agree with you that Visual Products price is pretty high ( Even higher with the video tap ), But i'm selling it anyways after a certain amount of time/projects. The value won't drop that much, so price isen't a problem. Ofcourse i will be on the lookout for people selling there 16BL's on the internet, wich could easily save me 1500+ Dollar compared to Visual.
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#11 David Auner aac

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 04:50 PM

Hi Sander,

the 16BL won't be any more professional than a Bolex H16 will, it's just meant for different type of shoot. IMHO, a camera that will rest comfortably on your shoulder would be a better idea for the type of shoot you are describing. You can easily pick up an Eclair NPR or ACL for that kind of money and with some luck you could even get an Aaton LTR. The 16BL certainly is a great camera but I guess not that nice to use handheld for a longer period of time!

Best regards, Dave
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#12 Alex Turner

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:03 PM

Thanks. Seems i still have loads to learn about lenses and there compatibility's.

I know there are alot of other 16mm camera's that are far less expensive ( scoopic, h16, k3, kinor ) but i wanted something a bit more proffesional, so i choose the Arriflex 16BL. Learning won't be a problem, i have some friends that shoot alot and i will also be reading this forum alot. I must agree with you that Visual Products price is pretty high ( Even higher with the video tap ), But i'm selling it anyways after a certain amount of time/projects. The value won't drop that much, so price isen't a problem. Ofcourse i will be on the lookout for people selling there 16BL's on the internet, wich could easily save me 1500+ Dollar compared to Visual.


I would strongly recommend against buying a BL if only because you are stuck with a 1:33 aspect ratio. IMO regular 1:33 is a dead aspect ratio whereas 1:66 can be scanned for HD, blow up to 1:85 35mm, blah, blah, blah...

Also, the 16 BL is is a real brick to handhold, and I won't even start on using primes with that front blimp housing.

For shorts and doc work I would not get this camera. You would be better off with something like the Panasonic HVX200 and shooting video. If you are set on shooting film, my 2¢ would be to buy an Eclair NPR or ACL and have Les Boscher or Bernie O'Doherty upgrade the camera to super 16.
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#13 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:25 PM

First of all, I would like to say thanks for all the replies and help i get.

IMHO, a camera that will rest comfortably on your shoulder would be a better idea for the type of shoot you are describing. You can easily pick up an Eclair NPR or ACL for that kind of money and with some luck you could even get an Aaton LTR. The 16BL certainly is a great camera but I guess not that nice to use handheld for a longer period of time!

Best regards, Dave


Thanks Dave, Like you said, a camera that is more comfortable on the shoulder is a better idea. I will be using the tripod alot among with some shoulderwork shots. My budget is around 6000$ for this camera.

edit: sorry, i mean David :)

I would strongly recommend against buying a BL if only because you are stuck with a 1:33 aspect ratio. IMO regular 1:33 is a dead aspect ratio whereas 1:66 can be scanned for HD, blow up to 1:85 35mm, blah, blah, blah...

For shorts and doc work I would not get this camera. You would be better off with something like the Panasonic HVX200 and shooting video. If you are set on shooting film, my 2¢ would be to buy an Eclair NPR or ACL and have Les Boscher or Bernie O'Doherty upgrade the camera to super 16.


I will not shoot shorts, docu's and music video's in digital. The HVX200 is a good camera, but i prefer film for these purposes. As for the aspect ratio, you have a pretty good point there. Ill look into the other options !

Thanks,
Sander Ferdinand

Edited by Sander Ferdinand, 03 March 2008 - 05:29 PM.

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#14 timHealy

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:39 PM

I agree that the 16BL is a great first camera and all of Tim's comments/advice are worth listening to.

For me the drawbacks of a 16BL are the blimped housing and the slow Zeiss lens and the limitations. I think they were something like a f3.3. Someone correct me if I am wrong. But also the viewfinder is not that great. I think it worked OK for handheld, but if you put it on the ground or on in a tight spot it was hard to look through. Arri did make some sort of periscope attachment for the BL which helped.

If you can afford it, it seems like people are selling older SR's for not that much more than what you are paying (but beware the french motors and electronics if you go that route). Some are even Super 16. Or perhaps and Aaton or and older Eclair.

Whatever you choose, enjoy shooting film. When you see your footage projected or transferred to video, it will simply knock your socks off.

Best

Tim
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#15 timHealy

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:46 PM

I would strongly recommend against buying a BL if only because you are stuck with a 1:33 aspect ratio. IMO regular 1:33 is a dead aspect ratio whereas 1:66 can be scanned for HD, blow up to 1:85 35mm, blah, blah, blah...


I wouldn't say 1.33 is completely "dead". It can be transferred to video as easily as 1:66, HD or otherwise, cropped. Also I worked on Darren Aronofsky's lastest movie last week where they are shooting regular 16 and they are doing a 2.33 anamorphic crop in a digital intermediate.

I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like when they are done.

Best

Tim
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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 06:24 PM

As much as I love Arris (i have the SR3), I'd agree that an aaton or eclair woudl be a better choice. Further, you won't have to sell them, as you can get them converted to S16mm later on and they are (the aatons and SRs at least) easier to get serviced.
Visual Products is a great company IMHO. I have bought some stuff from them and never had a problem.

Best of luck on your first camera choice!
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#17 Freya Black

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 06:38 PM

I wouldn't say 1.33 is completely "dead". It can be transferred to video as easily as 1:66, HD or otherwise, cropped. Also I worked on Darren Aronofsky's lastest movie last week where they are shooting regular 16 and they are doing a 2.33 anamorphic crop in a digital intermediate.

I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like when they are done.

Best

Tim


Tim, please tell me more! :)
Do you know what the motivation behined this is? I know that Darren had a lot of trouble with the fountain and everything, so I wondered if that drove him to work at a more accessible level this time around, or maybe he is drawn to the aesthetic. Perhaps a bit of both? Do you know if he is shooting 500ASA too?

Personally I'm mostly not into the high resolution thing and feel drawn the other way, although my next film shoot is likely to be anamorphic scope at 50ASA! eeek! That's a bit different tho.

I really would love to hear more as I very much like Darren Aronofsky's work.

love

Freya
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#18 Alex Turner

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 06:52 PM

I wouldn't say 1.33 is completely "dead". It can be transferred to video as easily as 1:66, HD or otherwise, cropped. Also I worked on Darren Aronofsky's lastest movie last week where they are shooting regular 16 and they are doing a 2.33 anamorphic crop in a digital intermediate.

I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like when they are done.

Best

Tim


My point is just, practically speaking, investing several thousand $$ into a 16mm camera that has a fixed 1.33 aspect ratio does not seem like a smart investment at this time.
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#19 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 12:10 AM

I wouldn't say 1.33 is completely "dead". It can be transferred to video as easily as 1:66, HD or otherwise, cropped.


My point is just, practically speaking, investing several thousand $ into a 16mm camera that has a fixed 1.33 aspect ratio does not seem like a smart investment at this time.


Both correct. If you are shelling out 5k for a camera, even in weak dollars, you better be able to upgrade it to S16. I would also agree that Aaton/ Eclair are better choices than fixed 16 Arris.
As an owner of both Eclair ACL and Aaton cameras I couldn't recomend them enough. Easy to service, easy to convert to S16, low(er) price point, portable, pretty ergonomic, good selection of lenses (on an ACL you can choose any lens you can think of with relatively cheap [but solid] adaptors. You could use anything from the latest, sharpest Cooke, Zeiss glass to ancient [but great] Kinoptik glass and everything in between if you felt like it!)

Go Team Eclair/ Aaton! :lol:

Edited by saulie rodgar, 04 March 2008 - 12:11 AM.

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#20 Sander Ferdinand

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 11:07 AM

Well, there is a s16 Aaton XTR for around 7k on ebay. The seller lives 20minutes away from me. I know XTR's are alot more proffesional then the camera i originially planned on buying (16bl) but i will not be using this camera till atleast summer or november, so i will have loads of time to learn everything about lenses, etc. toughts?

Edited by Sander Ferdinand, 04 March 2008 - 11:09 AM.

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