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How long should camera roll when wound up?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:36 PM

I act sometimes and was in a student film yesterday, or almost in it as they never got to
me. They were shooting 7226 with a Bolex. I don't know the exact model but it looks like any of the Bolexes that I used at one time (haven't used one in more than ten years,)

It's tall and springwound like most Bolexes that I've seen. The director and DP were having difficulty because after winding the camera up, it would roll film for 10 to 15 seconds before
needing to be rewound. They were shooting 24 f.p.s. and from what I could hear it sounded
pretty normal while it was rolling, or rather I should say it made hardly any sound while rolling and nothing that sounded strange in any way.

This was a situation in which it was clear that it wouldn't have been wise to offer help even if I owned a Bolex repair shop so I stayed quiet and soon was cut loose as they realized they needed to figure things out and come back another day.

This camera is the same size Bolex that I remember when I used could take 100' (maybe
200' ?) foot rolls. I remember being able to roll for a decent length of time. I think that something must have been wrong here. I wonder if the regular Bolex users could tell me
how long one should be able to roll at 24 f.p.s. with the spring fully wound?

Thanks.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:41 PM

From what I recall it's around 20~30 seconds on a bolex. Depends how wound up it is. This is only from what I recall, of course.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 09:24 PM

From what I recall it's around 20~30 seconds on a bolex. Depends how wound up it is. This is only from what I recall, of course.


Thanks, even that is longer than their best roll. From what I could see it did appear that the DP was winding it fully up.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 09:37 PM

hmm; might've been a bad spring? I'm not sure if the clockwork mechanism on that can go bad, but it stands to reason it's been wound so much it can't be wound no more.
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#5 Mike Rizos

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 10:16 PM

... it made hardly any sound while rolling and nothing that sounded strange in any way.


What do you mean? The Bolex has a very distinct sound when running properly.
It runs 17 ft on full wind or 28 sec at 24fps.
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#6 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:27 PM

What do you mean? The Bolex has a very distinct sound when running properly.
It runs 17 ft on full wind or 28 sec at 24fps.


I guess that I meant from five feet away on a city street I could make out what sounded like a normal
humming along but nothing that sounded erratic or like movements grinding angrily or anything that would seem to indicate something out of order, even though the short roll times seemed to be not how I remember the
camera operating.

You sound pretty familiar with the camera. Do you find that if you go the full 28 seconds, the frame rate deviates significantly in the last couple of seconds when the spring winds down completely?
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#7 Mike Rizos

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:35 PM

No.
It seems to me the spring mechanism is weak and the camera is in need of service.
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#8 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 07:40 AM

No.
It seems to me the spring mechanism is weak and the camera is in need of service.


Thanks, I'll see what they have for my scenes tomorrow.
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#9 Erik Vilhelm

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:29 AM

If the spring mechanism is weak it probably also slows down (lower fps) during the last few secs of the shot, which probably is unwanted...

Edited by Erik Vilhelm, 01 April 2008 - 08:30 AM.

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#10 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 09:40 AM

If the spring mechanism is weak it probably also slows down (lower fps) during the last few secs of the shot, which probably is unwanted...


Good point, thanks. Though I'll bet that then it does run quieter!

I've since heard that there's a new DP and that the equipment is going to be checked out for
tomorrow.
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#11 Erik Vilhelm

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 03:49 PM

Yep, it gets quieter! In worst case, maybe the speed was lower than the set fps during all the shooting.
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#12 Keith Langsdorf

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 01:13 PM

I've shot on a few Bolex's recently, and I was lucky if I got 20 seconds out of a full wind. I know that in theory they should run for almost 30 seconds, but given their age (and the fact that any spring replacement won't be stock), there probably won't be any "true" number. It'll most likely be different on almost every camera.

As for the slowdown issue: I've never had a Bolex "slow-down." They just stop (or at least they should).
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#13 Simon Wyss

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 03:01 AM

A bit late here I admit. Bolex-Paillard H cameras run between 27 and 28 seconds at 24 fps when fully wound up. It is possible to fudge one. That means complete disassembly and removal of the spring stop. Then you will go up to a minute or so with the danger of overtensioning the spring one day which could break it. On the other hand it runs more down which in its turn demands the governor to be well maintained, otherwise no benefit from the action.

For longer takes on a spring choose the Pathé WEBO. This camera has always made a minute. Bell & Howell Filmo are easy to tune up. The best I know is the Double-8 Agfa Movex Reflex which appeared in 1964: 2000 frames on one wind, i. e. 83 seconds uninterrupted shoot. The old Ciné-Kodak Special also run more than a minute.

On one project I had an old Bolex-H with winding key. Camera on tripod I could retighten all the time without nodding. I think the take was an entire 100 foot spool.
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#14 aapo lettinen

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 03:25 AM

my H16RX (rex0 from 1957) runs 28 seconds at 24fps. i recorded the running noise once and calculated the fps, if I remember correctly it was about 25.5 fps with full spring and 23.5 fps at the end. the camera ran very smoothly. at 32 fps it started from about 34 fps and was about 30 at the end.
My camera can't handle over 40fps without problems. (my K2 runs 50fps without any problem :lol: )
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#15 Nick Robertson

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 01:28 AM

my H16RX (rex0 from 1957) runs 28 seconds at 24fps. i recorded the running noise once and calculated the fps, if I remember correctly it was about 25.5 fps with full spring and 23.5 fps at the end. the camera ran very smoothly. at 32 fps it started from about 34 fps and was about 30 at the end.
My camera can't handle over 40fps without problems. (my K2 runs 50fps without any problem :lol: )


My Rex5 runs for 23 seconds safe but drops a frame or two on the 24th second - needs a new spring motor to be perfectly consistent. 10 seconds isn't right at all.
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#16 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 03:53 AM

An old thread but worth discussing as it's a common fault with spring driven Bolex cameras. Andrew Alden's Bolex Bible estimates a spring motor can pull 19' of film through on a single wind, which is almost 32 seconds at 24fps. In my experience it's usually a bit less than that. Most spring drives lose 1 -2 fps towards the end of the unwind at 24, a good one will stay steady till the last few seconds.
While the spring itself can age and lose strength, or the graphite powder inside the motor housing can leak out and cause spring friction, often the cause of a camera slowing down is excessive friction in the mechanism. This can be anything from damaged gears, worn bushings or corrosion to a simple lack of lubricant. Don't assume you need a new spring motor if your camera is slowing down.
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#17 Simon Wyss

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 05:54 AM

I can only agree. Problem is that almost all amateur cameras have not been serviced as they should. A freshly bought camera could already have been one to two years old. The old time lubricants slowly oxidized, disintegrated with warmth, got stuck in the cold, so after another two years they would all have needed grease and oil in those critical places like the upper governor bearing, shutter bearings, gear bearings to the dozen, and the claw bearings.

The Paillard-Bolex was sold using watchmaker's slang but it wasn't built for easy service. In the end it is a throw-away product like Pathé, Victor, Kodak, Nizo, Siemens, Agfa, Beaulieu, Eumig, Wollensak, Revere, Keystone, Emel, Ditmar, Zeiß. Only Bell & Howell has different stuff inside. Even after 80 or soon 90 years you give a Filmo a cleaning plus the right oil, it will run like on the first day.
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#18 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:11 PM

Throw-away product? There's a reason Bolex is still the most popular amateur 16mm camera out there, and it's not because it looks cute. Unless it's been abused or exposed to damaging environments, even a 50's Bolex can still run like clockwork, with only minimal servicing. Of course they need some tlc, like anything mechanical, but leaving it in a cupboard for two years certainly won't harm it. And the comprehensive service manuals and hundreds of tools and jigs they produced make it one of the most service friendly products on the planet. As long as you know what you're doing.
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#19 Simon Wyss

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 02:32 AM

They should just not run like clockwork. A spring motor camera in fine shape purrs rather quietly. I've once heard or haven't a Bolex which stopped midst-take in the desert after it's been disassembled at Yverdon, cleaned, and reassembled. The fine sand together with the grease acted as a grinding agent. Those gears were lapped. Unfortunately, the axles and bearings were ground out.

The H camera is not built for repair. In spite of all the accessories you mention the mechanism has to be primed to the housing in order to not leak in any light. Which other camera needs this?
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#20 Joe Zakko

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:05 PM

i just got my bolex so i haven't run any film through it yet, but whenever I run it, it runs for a normal amount of time, but the sound of it running slightly weakens right before it stops. Does that mean the fps lowers at the end of the shot?
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