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Bolex image quality across the various H-16 models


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#1 James Hudson

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 04:48 PM

There seems to be a massive price disparity across the various models, from £400 for a serviced h-16 rex1 to £2000 for a rex5, (all regualr 16mm)

I know that lenses plays a big part, as does getting the exposure an6'd lighting right, but all things being equal, does the image vary from model to model?

Watching examples on vimeo, for example, doesn't help because they're merely tagged 'bolex 16mm' or 'h-16'

So someone with knowledge across the handcranked ranges could really help me out here!
Obviously I want the cheapest model, but am prepared to pay what ever I have to for a standard of image.

Here's some links for the kind image I want.


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo

And, no offence, some I don't


View on Vimeo

Can anyone enlighten me?
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#2 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 05:39 PM

Cameras are just boxes that film runs through. I'll admit that I don't know much about the difference across various Bolex models, but the only way I can think of that the camera itself would affect image quality is if the gate sucks; if there is a lot of weave or its getting scratched or something. Cameras tend to be priced according to what sort of features they have and what condition they're in. Given that the cameras are in good shape and have good registration and whatnot, and that they have the same lens mounts, you should get essentially identical image quality with any of them (assuming you keep the same stock, lenses, etc). Spend your money on a camera that is in good condition and has the features you want, and get the best lenses that you possibly can.
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#3 Maya Bankovic

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:00 AM

I've always been very surprised at how good the registration on a Bolex can be- I've used probably over a dozen different ones, all H16 SBMs, and have never been disappointed. I recently used one modified for S16mm and the clarity of the images (Vario Switar primes, in really good condition) as well as the registration surprised even the colourist.

But I'm assuming you'll buy one used? And because they're spring-wound, if the previous owner hadn't used the camera in a while you may find the frame rates imprecise, obviously affecting your exposure. From your "bad" example it looked like there was an issue with the pressure plate being loose (which may have been mechanical or just somebody who'd forgotten to click it back into place). It was also a transfer of a pretty beat-up work print so it's hard to judge how much of the poor registration/ fluctuating exposure/focus happened in-camera. Your "good" examples are overall better shooting.

I'd say try to shoot a test roll on whichever camera you're looking to buy, and definitely shoot your tests on a tripod, or do actual reg tests to see what you'll get.

Maya

Edited by Maya Bankovic, 07 July 2008 - 12:02 AM.

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#4 Jon Schweigart

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 04:17 PM

There seems to be a massive price disparity across the various models, from £400 for a serviced h-16 rex1 to £2000 for a rex5, (all regualr 16mm)

I know that lenses plays a big part, as does getting the exposure an6'd lighting right, but all things being equal, does the image vary from model to model?

Watching examples on vimeo, for example, doesn't help because they're merely tagged 'bolex 16mm' or 'h-16'

So someone with knowledge across the handcranked ranges could really help me out here!
Obviously I want the cheapest model, but am prepared to pay what ever I have to for a standard of image.

Here's some links for the kind image I want.


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo

And, no offence, some I don't


View on Vimeo

Can anyone enlighten me?


That's quite a coincidence. I open this thread and see you picked my first film as the bad example haha. No offense taken. That was my first project in basic filmmaking. I edited by hand first on a steenbeck for practice which didn't help the quality then had my school telecine it. They did a horrible job on the transfer and now it shakes back and forth the whole time. It was a good learning experience though.

All bolex's are capable of creating great images as along as you keep the gate and lens clean. The only real difference in models are stop frame and 400ft spool capability.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 06:01 PM

In proper condition and running at the correct framerate, I see no reason why a bolex should produce lesser images than an arri, aaton, eclair, or any other 16mm camera.
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#6 James Hudson

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 12:31 AM

That's quite a coincidence. I open this thread and see you picked my first film as the bad example haha.


That's how I roll! Insulting other peoples' work across the internet when I haven't made anything yet. I actually like it (appart from the dodgy French accents) The credit graphics were cool. The shot of the back of their heads as they sit in the bar reminded me of Vivre sa vie- which is a good thing in my book.

That tracking shot at the beginging where he starts to walk as the music builds into the chorus could've been so amazing if the camera could've stayed steady.

Anyway sorry to pick on your film- And sorry to hear your telecine woes (a cautionary tale).

Thanks for your comments people, they fill me with hope. I will get some stuff up on the web that you can insult soon.. :P
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#7 jacob thomas

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 06:10 AM

That's how I roll! Insulting other peoples' work across the internet when I haven't made anything yet. I actually like it (appart from the dodgy French accents) The credit graphics were cool. The shot of the back of their heads as they sit in the bar reminded me of Vivre sa vie- which is a good thing in my book.

That tracking shot at the beginging where he starts to walk as the music builds into the chorus could've been so amazing if the camera could've stayed steady.

Anyway sorry to pick on your film- And sorry to hear your telecine woes (a cautionary tale).

Thanks for your comments people, they fill me with hope. I will get some stuff up on the web that you can insult soon.. :P


The main differences between reflex bolexes are not in image quality but ergonomics & functionality. A RX1 has only a 6x viewfinder (vs 10x and 14x on the RX4/RX5 and SBM/EBM etc), up until the RX3 they didn't have a flat base (which isn't that bad but can be annoying), the RX4 introduced the 1:1 drive shaft which is compatible with a greater number of motors, and the very earliest RX's didn't have a variable shutter.

Edited by jacob thomas, 14 July 2008 - 06:11 AM.

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#8 Simon Wyss

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 03:02 AM

There seems to be a massive price disparity across the various models, from £400 for a serviced h-16 rex1 to £2000 for a rex5, (all regualr 16mm)

I know that lenses plays a big part, as does getting the exposure an6'd lighting right, but all things being equal, does the image vary from model to model?

Watching examples on vimeo, for example, doesn't help because they're merely tagged 'bolex 16mm' or 'h-16'

So someone with knowledge across the handcranked ranges could really help me out here!
Obviously I want the cheapest model, but am prepared to pay what ever I have to for a standard of image.

Here's some links for the kind image I want.


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo

And, no offence, some I don't


View on Vimeo

Can anyone enlighten me?



James, one major difference between Bolex H cameras is the aperture plate. The older models have a steel plate, blackened between the side rails. 400-ft. magazine models from number 226,001 on have an aluminium plate, anodized. It looks light greyish. Now with temperature variations and differences in film top gelatine the adhesion can change. Second influence is the drive: best image steadiness results with regular drive force. That is why the electrically driven Bolex tend to show better steadiness. Third thing: Bolex H from beginning to number 97,800 have a quicker acting spring loaded claw in conjunction with 192 degrees shutter opening angle. From number 97,801 on they have the slower drag claw (one joint less) and 170 degrees shutter angle. The younger cameras seem to bring better steadiness by the cleverly made claw mechanism. You will recognize a drag claw Bolex by the little eccentric sprocket disc just below the gate. This feature is a loop restorer. It was introduced because the drag claw may slip over a perforation hole with thinner film.
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#9 ross e lea

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 04:37 PM

I actually know of the guy who is selling this camera and its about the best setup you're gonna
find out there as far as a Bolex. He's really put a lot into it and its served him well. I was gonna
buy it from him but my car just crapped out and so I can't afford it right now. An EBM will
get you images just as pretty as any arri or other....like anything...its the artist behind the tool!

http://cgi.ebay.com/...id=p3286.c0.m14

He probably wouldn't like me to say this...but I would offer something like maybe $3900 or something and
see if he bites...but I know he's put a lot into it so who knows...
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 06:18 PM

Just a general comment about film cameras: with the exception of gate weave tolerance, and the ability to mount certain types of lenses, or adjust the shutter angle or frame rate (all relatively rarely used for the most part), film cameras are all pretty much equal.

The most important thing for technical quality is the F/stop you use, then the lens you use, then the film stock you use with the film camera.

Even more important than that is what you put in front of the lens, how you light it, and the story that goes with it, but that is off the track of cinematography.

I remember one of the great still photographers described a camera once: "A camera is just a light-proof box that you put film into with a shutter."

The biggest difference in cost with the Bolex has to do with whether it is motor-controlled or spring-driven, or if it is S16 or regular 16 all of which are more convenience/conformity issues than real technical issues.
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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 03:24 AM

Disagree

Bolex-Paillard cameras from my country are funny things but a catastrophy in maintenance. The design is so poor that light can leak in through the little windows of the counters. They were all luted around the inner blank and should be re-luted after every disassembly. Sometimes you find a black wool thread there.

A good camera is a good instrument that you can look after. Take this into account when purchasing one. Every Dollar or Euro or Pound or Rouble is an investment when there's a service. No experienced people around - no values. Same in real estates, you know it all.
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#12 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 08:46 AM

Simon,

I cannot disagree with you more.

Over the years, Bolex has probably sold more motion picture cameras then all the other brands combined. And a great many are still in use. I would say this a testament to the soundness of it's design.

There are dozens of very qualified and experienced service technicians all around the world and the manufacturer is still active and supplying spare parts.

Bolex cameras have kept their value far more than some other well known brands, perhaps because it is one of the easier cameras to convert to super16.

Jean-Louis
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#13 Simon Wyss

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 09:58 AM

Bonjour, Jean-Louis

Allright, sometimes I am a bit provocative. I know the f*** (ilm)ing Bolex. You know well yourself that many of them are dry in crucial places, that they have an aluminium plate bearing the threads for lenses to be screwed in, that the weight of three lenses may rest on a single central screw and they had to add that rubber-cushioned blocker. You know well that the Bolex bayonet is not a cameraman's thing to clean and lubricate. You also dislike to loosen steel screws out of the aluminium body when there is intercrystalline corrosion. You know as well as I do that the fixation of the reflex viewfinder long prism is made with cork, sometimes with leather pieces, and that there are more half-serious things about her.

A Bolex H in good condition is a workable camera, no doubt. The inital question was after image quality across the various models. Bon, il n'y en a pas. They are all alike as to the mechanism.

I think the Bolex is so popular simply by the price. You buy an EL and have a 16 mm camera with built-in exposure control. There is nothing the like with an Eclair, an Aäton, a CP, an Arri, a Mitchell, a Berndt-Bach. Only Canon Scoopic has this feature and the Eumig C 16 has a semi-automatic diaphragm control. Pathé ? Beaulieu ? Non.

I didn't mean to hurt any feelings towards the Paillard-Bolex H. Mine are very mixed. I shouldn't be surprised if somebody found out one day that the Bolex H is a German design or an American or - who knows - a French.
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#14 ross e lea

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 11:52 AM

these shady comments about Bolex regarding leaking light and crap....iz xactly that.........CRAP! Bolex is just as good as the others in design and performance, its just
a matter of difference in how that performance works. I've not only shot on Bolex, but Arri, Aaton and an Eclair too. I've even shot a scene with a Bolex EBM and an Arri
16BL at the same time...and guess what, while examining the footage where we put the cameras in close proximity...the colorist made me and the producer come back
into the room to try and guess which one looked better (or which one was which) and WE GUESSED WRONG! wasn't because one looked better...its that we couldn't tell
any difference between the two!
I'll reiterate a few comments back by someone earlier in this thread, its MORE important whats in front of the lens, and how well LIT it is!!!!!!

You guys are being too much of NERDS by over-analyzing bullcrap!

its good to do research to know what you're buying, and watch previous flicks shot on certain cameras, etc....but in the end...STOP being
the nerdy technician, and start being the entrepreneur artist! :-)

Edited by ross e lea, 29 September 2008 - 11:57 AM.

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#15 Simon Wyss

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 03:39 PM

There seems to be a massive price disparity across the various models, from £400 for a serviced h-16 rex1 to £2000 for a rex5, (all regualr 16mm)

I know that lenses plays a big part, as does getting the exposure an6'd lighting right, but all things being equal, does the image vary from model to model?

Watching examples on vimeo, for example, doesn't help because they're merely tagged 'bolex 16mm' or 'h-16'

So someone with knowledge across the handcranked ranges could really help me out here!
Obviously I want the cheapest model, but am prepared to pay what ever I have to for a standard of image.

Here's some links for the kind image I want.


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo


View on Vimeo

And, no offence, some I don't


View on Vimeo

Can anyone enlighten me?


Ross, you are so right. Only who is going to enlighten James ?
  • 0


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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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