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Advice on 2-perf camera purchase?


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#1 Alex de Campi

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:24 AM

Apologies, I'm new around here - so not sure if this post should go here or in the newbies/advice section.

I'm not a dp - I'm a director (so, y'know, speak slowly, use small words) who's a bit of a camera obsessive. Been shooting S16 and S8 music videos in London for a couple years and now family has forced a move back to New England. My co-owned LTR remains in London with its other parent, my regular DP, and I frequently go back to London to shoot.

I really enjoy the freedom of owning my own camera. I've been hankering for a IIC for some time now, based on the fact that I could afford one and it's simple enough for me to use myself or with a very small crew. Also, Kubrick. The more I look into it, the more a 2-perf conversion appeals to me - I heart the scope, and the cost savings is crucially important to a filmmaker like me with no money but a love of the pretty. What I want to do with the camera is shoot a few fairly basic music videos for some friends (fair amount of handheld; minimal grip; no over/undercranking)... but then also potentially shoot two short films back to back next spring.

This puts me in a tough situation. As a play MOS music video camera, a IIC-T would be brilliant, but then shooting short films (admittedly, one of which is a silent) I fear sound issues unless I go at it 60s Italian-style.

So this suggests I should look more at a Kinor. Benefits: presumably a Kinor could be available with a variable speed motor - attractive, from the music video point of view - can someone comment on this? Also, video tap. Negatives: it looks like a bit of a tank, which means running around NYC shooting a nouvelle vague style music video with a 2 person crew might just kill me. Also, being a newer and more versatile camera than a IIC-T it's going to be more expensive. How much do 2-perf adapted Kinors run, and what should I look for? I know bugger all about the Kinor, so if anybody can link to an idiot's guide ref it and 2-perf - then I'd appreciate it. (I've already read what's available on this forum and also konvas.org)

Also, has anybody put Lomos on a IIC? Either via having both adapted to PL mount or putting a Russian hard front on the IIC?

Lastly, is there any third option I haven't considered? (Don't say the Penelope or something I can't afford - assume budget is south of $8k. Don't say an HD camera; just take it as read that I have an irrational bias towards film, sigh, shake your head, and move along.)

So, about a zillion questions. Any comments or advice on part or all, gratefully received. What I'm basically looking for is maximum oldskool beauty for minimum cash (...aren't we all) that I can play on for a couple years and learn up, then perhaps put aside (or save as a B cam) when budgets allow me to rent modern 35mm cameras.

Please feel free to try to sell me your camera/lenses, but bear in mind my directing career has so far been funded by mastercard and as such I am unlikely to purchase anything immediately.
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:56 AM

Hello Alex,

Bruce "G'day" McNaughton is selling a 2-perf Arri II (A I think?) on Ebay. Last time I looked it was going for $4,200.00 USD. From what I hear, his T-scope conversions are going for $2,400. It could be higher now 'cause of the dollars differential. The camera is worth about what he's asking. Yet, in this soft economy, you might find one cheaper and get Bruce to do the chop job to 2-perf and get away a little cheaper.

Some of us here love 2-perf and hope you get a rig you're happy with.
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#3 Alex de Campi

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:01 PM

I know, saw Bruce's camera (we're in touch) while having a general cruise for camera porn on ebay and that's how the whole thing got started.
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:05 PM

Bruce is a good man and will throw you a proper camera. Victor Huey is trying to move his Commie cam that is still sitting on Bruce's bench awaiting conversion.

There's another Bruce here, Bruce Taylor. He's got a 2-perf commie cam ready to shoot with all the supporting junk.
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#5 Alex de Campi

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:10 PM

I need to know more about the commiecam in order to decide whether it makes sense for me. Clearly a lot of people around here love it, though.
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#6 Bruce Taylor

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:14 AM

I need to know more about the commiecam in order to decide whether it makes sense for me. Clearly a lot of people around here love it, though.


Yep, Victor Huey has a Kinor 35H body at Aranda Film for sale now. I suspect the conversions (2 perf, new electronics, video tap) would run about 10k plus the camera (2-3k?). Then you need to get some Lomo lenses- Sergey Kravchenko had a few sets in the classifieds here for 7-10k. Then you have a 30-35lb camera to put on your shoulder for run and gun. What I'm getting at is that it is going to be pretty expensive and it is not a lot of fun to run around with. I've run around downtown LA with it, but it really is a bit of a beast (it does balance pretty well on your shoulder, but it's heavy).

Anders Banke (solidentertainment.se) had an Arri IIb hardfronted with a Russian OCT19 mount, so it can be done. He sold it on ebay a year or 2 ago for about $2k.

I think any way you slice it 2 perf is a bit of an expensive proposition when it comes to the upfront costs. The cheapest would probably be Bruce's Arri on ebay.

Another thought would be to get your feet wet with a very cheap Konvas 1M turret camera (complete package hopefully still $1k or less, look for sp314 on ebay), crop the presentation to whatever aspect ratio you want, shop for really cheap short ends and shoot 4 perf.

Or rent my 2 perf Kinor, of course ;) . (Had to throw that in!)

Good luck.

Bruce Taylor
www.Indi35.com
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#7 Alex de Campi

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:28 AM

Yeah, the more I look at it, the more G'Day Bruce's IIC looks like the right camera... even if I only use it on 3-4 productions I have the feeling it'll pay for itself.

Still, now to decide about lenses. After using superspeed primes it's hard to go back to a zoom or slow primes.

If I'm ever shooting in LA and the project warrants it, I'll take you up on that Kinor rental offer. I do want to play with a commiecam, I just don't want to be committed to something that's likely to be $10-15k in cost to own.
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#8 Bruce Taylor

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 12:35 PM

Yeah, the more I look at it, the more G'Day Bruce's IIC looks like the right camera... even if I only use it on 3-4 productions I have the feeling it'll pay for itself.

Still, now to decide about lenses. After using superspeed primes it's hard to go back to a zoom or slow primes.

If I'm ever shooting in LA and the project warrants it, I'll take you up on that Kinor rental offer. I do want to play with a commiecam, I just don't want to be committed to something that's likely to be $10-15k in cost to own.


Have Bruce hardfront the IIC to PL (or OCT19), rent the superspeed primes when you need them and you're on your way!

That's the rub on the commiecam 2 perf situation- the initial cost. For me, the low initial cost of a complete 4 perf Kinor 35H outfit made it seem worthwhile to give it a go. However, the cost of relatively modern Lomo glass has skyrocketed with the roll out of the RED, so I really wonder if it is such a great idea now. Converting an Arri BL3 or 4 to 2 perf and renting glass might be the best thing now.

If you find yourself in LA, drop by. Take a test drive and shoot with the Kinor to see what you think.

Bruce
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 01:29 PM

Ask Max Jacoby what lenses Kubrick used on Orange. The production pics I've seen look like an ordinary Arri II with ordinary turret mount lenses. He may have found some better glass than the very-available-for-a-low-price Schneiders, but they look an awful lot like Schneiders. If they were, they look just fine on screen. Sellers like Visual Products might have a blimp kicking around. You see those in the Orange pics as well.

Bruce's recommendation on a BL is something to think on. We've been bumping the idea around for a few months or more. The camera market has changed because of REDDREAD. See what you can come up with on a BL. The 1s and 2s are a little noisy yet way quieter than an Arri II. The 3s and 4s are fantastic cameras and "bathroom quiet." G'day Bruce can convert a BL to 2-perf in his sleep.
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#10 Alex de Campi

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:58 PM

Yeah, that's the heart of the debate. Arri IIC for fun (and yeah, I've seen the Orange production pics, they do look like the schneiders on a turret), or drop another $10,000 and get something I can use for the shorts and a putative feature. The thing about the kinor 35H is, as you say, if I decide to get into that league of spending a used BL3 or 4 makes a lot more sense. My instinct is still to go with the IIC with a PL hard mount and see how I like shooting like a big grownup on 35.

Question: if you're shooting 2perf, do you actually end up with effectively a much higher speed camera (assuming you've got a decent variable speed motor*)? Say the top rate of the camera is (I'm choosing a random number here) 54 at 4-perf. As the film is going through the gate at about half the speed it would be with 4 perf, does that mean you can get up to circa 100 frames/second 2-perf on a 54 frames/second 4-perf camera? Or is that voodoo mathematics?

* this obv doesn't apply to the IIC but might to a BL.
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#11 Mitch Gross

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:41 PM

Voodoo math because the limiting factor is not just getting film transported but also the inner workings of the camera -- pulldown claw, registration pin, shutter, etc. That's still doing the same work no matter the number of perfs.
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#12 victor huey

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:08 PM

Hi Alexi, I have a spare Kinor 35H body, sitting at Bruce's right now I had bought from Raf. I got the body cheap, and was going to build a "B" camera 2 perf Camera body. My "A" body Kinor has been sitting on Bruce's bench partially converted already. Bruce offers 20% discount for two conversions done at the same time. So I have been waiting for someone to convert their body along with mine to take advantage of the discount.
The price of a total rebuilt, new electronics, new mirror, new optical path, KS pin conversion, 2 perf conversion will cost you about 10K, If i can get $1500 for my body, then your cost will be 11,500 or so...but then you have a totally rebuilt camera inside out. Add another 2k for a video tap, and there you have it. The price of investment will recoupe itself on your first feature. There are now several of these rigs on the east and west coast, that you can rent as back up KInor 35H for a B camera. One feature was just shot with a 2 perf Kinor 35c body, and the owner is selling that body after he finished the film. So he has recouped most of his cost already, instead of renting a camera, or buying an outdated Arri 2c with limited use. If you have any questions email me. vichuey@yahoo.com.

Victor
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#13 victor huey

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:21 PM

Hi Alexi, The Price of BL3 and BL4 have dropped, to around 20-25K, and therein lies the rub. To convert one to 2 perf will also run you around 10k , so you initial cost is going to be around 30-35K, and that is without lens. The price of used lens in the age of RED have sky rocketed, but Oct.19 lens are still way cheaper than used Zeiss.....so buying a crystal sync konvas will do all your music video stuff as well as a Arri2c, but using lower cost Lomo lens. It's all about the glass now, so when your feature project finally comes together, you can upgrade to a kinor 2perf body. You can extract a 2 perf frame out of a four perf frame, using current editing software like FCP, so while you are burning film at four perf rate , for music video's you are usually shooting short ends anyway. Get the body that is right for you, but building a system based on lomo glass is a good way to start. Even people who buy the red body suddenly find out how much real 35mm glass costs.

victor
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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 08:53 AM

Yeah, that's the heart of the debate. Arri IIC for fun (and yeah, I've seen the Orange production pics, they do look like the schneiders on a turret), or drop another $10,000 and get something I can use for the shorts and a putative feature. The thing about the kinor 35H is, as you say, if I decide to get into that league of spending a used BL3 or 4 makes a lot more sense. My instinct is still to go with the IIC with a PL hard mount and see how I like shooting like a big grownup on 35.

Question: if you're shooting 2perf, do you actually end up with effectively a much higher speed camera (assuming you've got a decent variable speed motor*)? Say the top rate of the camera is (I'm choosing a random number here) 54 at 4-perf. As the film is going through the gate at about half the speed it would be with 4 perf, does that mean you can get up to circa 100 frames/second 2-perf on a 54 frames/second 4-perf camera? Or is that voodoo mathematics?

* this obv doesn't apply to the IIC but might to a BL.


Hiya Alex! I've seen your work around so it was a bit of a suprise to see your name here! :)

I would go with the IIC. Why? Because it's incredibly cheap first up. Second because it's probably easier to maintain an arri than a commie cam stateside and third because if you do decide to shoot a feature or shorts it will be great to have a b-cam (assuming you don't find a way to blimp it or record the sound another way)

You will be shocked how much cheaper 35mm film processing is in the U.S. than the u.k. and shooting 2 perf over there will probably be cheaper than shooting S16. Not to mention the availability of short ends etc

Lastly given the kind of films you normally make, would it be that far amiss to record your dialogue sergio Leone style and have the sync float a bit? Or are you worried that people might think that your film was too weird! ;)

love

Freya
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#15 Alex de Campi

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 10:50 AM

Hi Freya, nice to meet you! I'm always so amazed when people have seen my work; I feel that my stuff is so niche that I'm generally off everyone's radar. Do you have a link to your work? I'd like to get acquainted with what you do.

I agree with all you say. The IIC would definitely work for a live action video I have in the pipe; my silent short and probably my other short. I have no problem working on the second short MOS/italian style - as you know, my style is quirky enough that a little bit of floating sync shouldn't really be an issue - I'm not exactly known for naturalism, anyway. (Yes, I will record a scratch track on set.) Victor's camera is a great deal but at the moment I really want to put a package together that's under $10,000 including glass so it's not the camera for me.

I haven't actually shot here in the US yet (I'm in production on about 3 animations right now, though, so am keeping busy) but I'm really itching to. Possibly back in London in August shooting my biggest mv yet - mid teens £ budget which is like all the money in the world. We can shoot more than five rolls! Woo!
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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 12:31 PM

Hi Freya, nice to meet you! I'm always so amazed when people have seen my work; I feel that my stuff is so niche that I'm generally off everyone's radar. Do you have a link to your work? I'd like to get acquainted with what you do.

I agree with all you say. The IIC would definitely work for a live action video I have in the pipe; my silent short and probably my other short. I have no problem working on the second short MOS/italian style - as you know, my style is quirky enough that a little bit of floating sync shouldn't really be an issue - I'm not exactly known for naturalism, anyway. (Yes, I will record a scratch track on set.) Victor's camera is a great deal but at the moment I really want to put a package together that's under $10,000 including glass so it's not the camera for me.

I haven't actually shot here in the US yet (I'm in production on about 3 animations right now, though, so am keeping busy) but I'm really itching to. Possibly back in London in August shooting my biggest mv yet - mid teens £ budget which is like all the money in the world. We can shoot more than five rolls! Woo!


I don't have links to my work at the moment tho I expect this might change in the next couple of months, obviously I'm usually involved in some preety weird film and video stuff myself (some animation more recently too), which is probably how I know about what you do. :) You might be off the radar for a lot of people but everybody else doing weird/niche stuff can see you fairly clearly I think! ;)

Let me know if you need any help on the August shoot if you get a date confirmed. It would be fun to get to see you work and to help out on something that's at least slightly closer to what I do! :)

love

Freya
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