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Motorize my Rex-4 or buy a Bolex EBM?


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#1 Ray Noori

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 02:09 PM

Hi!

I've been shooting 16mm and Super-8 film for just over 9 months now. I have a hand-cracked Bolex Rex-4 with a Vario-Switar zoom lens on it. It's been quite good to me, but the hand-cranking is starting to be a bit of a problem. So the way I see it I have two options:

1) Motorize my Rex-4 for $250: Now I know close to nothing about how this is done or what camera qualifies for it. But it seems like this Crystal Sync Motor would do the job on a Bolex Rex-4:

http://cgi.ebay.ca/w...t...A:IT&ih=018

Is that true? Is installing the motor something trivial enough that I can do myself without expert help?

2) Upgrade to Bolex H16 EBM Electric for $750-$1000: I don't know enough abotu the EBMs to know if this is a good and viable upgrade or not. The investment is significantly larger than getting the $250 motor. Would the performance of the EBM be more or less the same as a motorized Rex-4? Also, does the EBM take 400' mags as well?

Again, I apologize if the question is too rookie or too vague but I'd really appreciate any advice.

Thanks,
Ray
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#2 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 05:39 PM

Hi Ray,

Despite what the item description says, the eBay item you refer to is not a crystal control motor.
It can be made to run crystal with an accessory that must be purchased separately. As is, it runs at fairly constant speed but it is not crystal controlled.

An EBM will have a bigger, brighter viewfinder than your RX-4 and will take the 400 foot mags but will lack the single-frame capability and the variable shutter. Top speed is 50fps instead of 64fps on your camera. Both systems will perform the same.

Another thing: your zoom lens will not fit the EBM.

Hope this helps.

Jean-Louis

Edited by Jean-Louis Seguin, 06 June 2008 - 05:42 PM.

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#3 Ray Noori

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 06:15 PM

Hi Ray,

Despite what the item description says, the eBay item you refer to is not a crystal control motor.
It can be made to run crystal with an accessory that must be purchased separately. As is, it runs at fairly constant speed but it is not crystal controlled.

An EBM will have a bigger, brighter viewfinder than your RX-4 and will take the 400 foot mags but will lack the single-frame capability and the variable shutter. Top speed is 50fps instead of 64fps on your camera. Both systems will perform the same.

Another thing: your zoom lens will not fit the EBM.

Hope this helps.

Jean-Louis


Thanks a lot Jean-Louis. I guess that makes the choice a bit more simple, doesn't it. The loss of single-frame capability isn't too big a deal for me as I have yet to branch into animation, but the zoom lens not fitting on it is a big deal! If not c-mount, then what kind of lens does EBM take?

Also, are you by any chance a friend of Justin Lovell's?
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#4 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 06:31 PM

Despite what the item description says, the eBay item you refer to is not a crystal control motor.
It can be made to run crystal with an accessory that must be purchased separately. As is, it runs at fairly constant speed but it is not crystal controlled.


It is not a crystal sync motor...it is a pilotone sync motor. If you have a NAGRA hooked up to this, you don't need a crystal sync.

I don't know what your other equipment is but, unless you really want 400' mags, I wouldn't get into the EBM. I honestly don't think the EBM is significantly quieter.
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#5 Herb Montes

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 07:51 PM

Hi!

I've been shooting 16mm and Super-8 film for just over 9 months now. I have a hand-cracked Bolex Rex-4 with a Vario-Switar zoom lens on it. It's been quite good to me, but the hand-cranking is starting to be a bit of a problem. So the way I see it I have two options:

1) Motorize my Rex-4 for $250: Now I know close to nothing about how this is done or what camera qualifies for it. But it seems like this Crystal Sync Motor would do the job on a Bolex Rex-4:

http://cgi.ebay.ca/w...t...A:IT&ih=018

Is that true? Is installing the motor something trivial enough that I can do myself without expert help?

2) Upgrade to Bolex H16 EBM Electric for $750-$1000: I don't know enough abotu the EBMs to know if this is a good and viable upgrade or not. The investment is significantly larger than getting the $250 motor. Would the performance of the EBM be more or less the same as a motorized Rex-4? Also, does the EBM take 400' mags as well?

Again, I apologize if the question is too rookie or too vague but I'd really appreciate any advice.

Thanks,
Ray


This motor is one of several that can run the Rex4. They are quite common on eBay. You would need to get a battery pack for it. I have a question though, why are you handcranking your Rex4? Is the spring drive broken?
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#6 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 09:41 PM

Thanks a lot Jean-Louis. I guess that makes the choice a bit more simple, doesn't it. The loss of single-frame capability isn't too big a deal for me as I have yet to branch into animation, but the zoom lens not fitting on it is a big deal! If not c-mount, then what kind of lens does EBM take?

Also, are you by any chance a friend of Justin Lovell's?




Hi Ray,

The EBM has the Bolex bayonet mount. The C-mount Vario-Switar zooms do not fit.
Some, like the 16-100 or the 12.5-100 are available in the bayonet version.

Justin is one of my customers. I did the super16 conversion on his Bolex.

I have a couple of EBMs right now, if you're interested.
If your RX-4 is in good shape, I could offer you a trade-in allowance.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#7 Ray Noori

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 11:09 PM

This motor is one of several that can run the Rex4. They are quite common on eBay. You would need to get a battery pack for it. I have a question though, why are you handcranking your Rex4? Is the spring drive broken?


Apologies Herb, that would be because of my rookie phrasing. By handcrancking I guess I meant handwinding. I am using the spring indeed.
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#8 Herb Montes

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 06:44 AM

Apologies Herb, that would be because of my rookie phrasing. By handcrancking I guess I meant handwinding. I am using the spring indeed.


Well nothing wrong with handwinding. But after shooting 400 feet of film in one day handwinding a Bolex M4 I wanted something better myself. So I ended up getting a CP-16R.
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#9 Craig Mieritz

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 01:41 PM

One correction: the EBM can take c-mount lenses with an adapter, very easily obtained on eBay. The POE 16-100 lens is fast (f1.9) and if you get into a bind with light you can throw on a c-mount lens (nice switars go down to f1.4 or lower). I have an EBM and have used wind-up Bolexes. There is a versatility in having the wind-up with sync motor attached: if you want to shoot under extreme conditions, especially cold, or you are going somewhere without electricity for an extended period it is nice to have the option of hand winding.

Please,please,please be very careful if you do decide to get a super 16 conversion. I'd would try to look at, in person, the work of whoever you are thinking of doing it. At least some nice close-up photographs of finished cameras. There is a big range in quality out there and techniques used in converting these cameras. Things to look out for: accuracy of the framing in the finished cameras, what type of framing markers (16:9, 1.33, 1.85, all 3?, action safe?) they put on it and how they are done.

One final word: the Bolex is not a "professional" sync sound camera. It is a very nice, fun camera and you can do some incredible things with it, but, it will never be noiseless and the components are not of the same grade as professional cameras. That said, my EBM is fairly quiet without the mag (the mag adds a huge amount of noise).

Good luck!
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#10 Ray Noori

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 02:50 PM

One correction: the EBM can take c-mount lenses with an adapter, very easily obtained on eBay. The POE 16-100 lens is fast (f1.9) and if you get into a bind with light you can throw on a c-mount lens (nice switars go down to f1.4 or lower). I have an EBM and have used wind-up Bolexes. There is a versatility in having the wind-up with sync motor attached: if you want to shoot under extreme conditions, especially cold, or you are going somewhere without electricity for an extended period it is nice to have the option of hand winding.

Please,please,please be very careful if you do decide to get a super 16 conversion. I'd would try to look at, in person, the work of whoever you are thinking of doing it. At least some nice close-up photographs of finished cameras. There is a big range in quality out there and techniques used in converting these cameras. Things to look out for: accuracy of the framing in the finished cameras, what type of framing markers (16:9, 1.33, 1.85, all 3?, action safe?) they put on it and how they are done.

One final word: the Bolex is not a "professional" sync sound camera. It is a very nice, fun camera and you can do some incredible things with it, but, it will never be noiseless and the components are not of the same grade as professional cameras. That said, my EBM is fairly quiet without the mag (the mag adds a huge amount of noise).

Good luck!


Thanks for all the advice Craig. I had no idea you could get c-mount adapters for the EBM, but I looked for and found a few on eBay and for reasonable prices too.

The person that I'm hoping would get my super 16 conversion done eventually has done similar work for a few cinematographers in Toronto and they have nothing but praise for his work. That said I'll make sure to inquire about things thoroughly before having the work done.

I've done quite a few very fun short films with the Rex-4 and it's a fantastic camera for what it does. But it does have limitations and that's why I'm looking for an upgrade, except that my funds are rather limited. I was watching an Arriflex SL2 Super 16 camera on eBay that just finished at $11,600, which is out of my price range by about $8,500! What other cameras do you recommend? Sync or no sync.

Thanks,
Ray
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#11 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 03:42 PM

Hi Ray,

Please be careful: of course C-mount adapters are available for the EBM, but I repeat
you cannot use them with the 18-86 or 16-100 Vario-Switar zoom lens.
It just won't fit.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#12 Craig Mieritz

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 04:37 PM

Hi-

Maybe I wasn't clear. You would use the c-mount for the small switar prime lenses only. There are plenty of bolex mount 16-100 lenses out there (the one I'd recommend). Another caution: if you have to buy the lens on eBay, verify with the seller that there is no lens fungus, heavy dust, etc. in the lens and only buy from someone who is willing to offer an absolute money-back guarantee. When you get the lens, take a REALLY bright (like an l.e.d.) flashlight and shine it down the lens
and look carefully for any flaws. 99% of the people selling these lenses will say there are no flaws and sometimes there are. I am speaking from personal experience on this. I think they just don't know what they are looking for sometimes or they don't have a bright enough flashlight. My final advice is caveat emptor. And then some. There's a lot of equipment being bought and sold and resold out there on eBay and elsewhere. Lenses don't like extreme heat, bouncing around, etc....If you buy a camera sight unseen, be prepared to put a little money into it, and factor that into the price that you pay.

For your price range, you are somewhat limited. CP-16R. Eclairs (despite the name, the NPR is not "noiseless"), Canon Scoopic (there are two models of this camera , one of which is preferable but I cannot remember which is which). The Scoopic is a fun little camera, but no sync sound, interchangeable lenses and no super 16.

I'd figure out first what you want to shoot, then decide which camera will fit that need. Try to actually look at the model of camera that you are interested in or even renting it for a day or two. It could save you some heartache and cash in the long run. There are many people who know much more than I do about the different cameras available. Go into the different forums and do some searches and then ask questions.

If a low-end camera isn't going to fit the bill, you should look at renting higher end cameras. No maintenance and you're not tied to one camera.

Regards-
Craig
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#13 Ray Noori

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 01:37 PM

Thanks for the heads up Jean-Louis!

Craig,

Thank you very much for all the tips and advice. I absolutely agree with you that before I spend a significant amount of money on a new set-up I need to research the camera well before hand and ideally use it for a few days and do test reels. As for what I need the camera for, I'm on a mission to finish 5-6 shorts before November and use them in a demo reel for applying to schools in Canada and the States. I want to shoot on 6 on film, and all but one in black and white. I have three polished scripts so far, two of which I have shot with the Rex-4 and one of which is already edited fully. What camera I use will depend on the other 3 scripts I suppose.

This auction caught my eye last night. Not sure what to make of it yet:
http://cgi.ebay.ca/w...t...A:IT&ih=005


I would love to be able to rent cameras instead of buying, but I live in Waterloo, Ontario. Only an hour from Toronto, but even in Toronto film cameras for rent seem to be hard to come by. I drool whenever I see the adds for rental houses in filmmaker magazine!

Once again, thank you guys for all your support.

Ray
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#14 Craig Mieritz

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 11:46 PM

Thanks for the heads up Jean-Louis!

Craig,

Thank you very much for all the tips and advice. I absolutely agree with you that before I spend a significant amount of money on a new set-up I need to research the camera well before hand and ideally use it for a few days and do test reels. As for what I need the camera for, I'm on a mission to finish 5-6 shorts before November and use them in a demo reel for applying to schools in Canada and the States. I want to shoot on 6 on film, and all but one in black and white. I have three polished scripts so far, two of which I have shot with the Rex-4 and one of which is already edited fully. What camera I use will depend on the other 3 scripts I suppose.

This auction caught my eye last night. Not sure what to make of it yet:
http://cgi.ebay.ca/w...t...A:IT&ih=005


I would love to be able to rent cameras instead of buying, but I live in Waterloo, Ontario. Only an hour from Toronto, but even in Toronto film cameras for rent seem to be hard to come by. I drool whenever I see the adds for rental houses in filmmaker magazine!

Once again, thank you guys for all your support.

Ray


Hmm, well it's a vintage camera on eBay. It sounds like it is "as is." Bid accordingly, if you are interested.

This seems like a pretty fair description of the camera model, and its limitations (I guess you could call only being able to use Zeiss prime lenses below 50 mm a limitation, depending on your budget):

http://www.cinema-as...iscription.html

I have never seen or used one of them. Get over to the Arri forum, there'll be someone who has used it.

Craig
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