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Buying first super 16 camera


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#1 Stephen Andrew Roe

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 07:51 PM

Hi all.
I have decided to sell my current video camera (DVX100) in favour of S16 because I feel it's time to get a bit more serious about cinematography.
Basically I'm seeking advice on which direction to go in terms of cameras and specific models.
I figure I'll have a budget of around £1500 with which I'll need both camera and a reasonable selection of lenses. I know that isn't a great deal of money, but I'm a student so naturally I'm pretty low in the ol' fund department.
I realise that I could shoot standard 16mm on a cheaper camera (and have done in the past), but I see this as a longer-term investment and would ultimately want to switch to super 16 further down the road, so I may as well just do it now while I have some money.
Sorry for such a standard/boring question, but any help would be appreciated.
Also I plan on buying it from (hopefully) a store for peace of mind, rather than so t'bay, so if anybody has any links to places that may have used kits for sale I'd appreciate it - bearing in mind I'm based in the UK.
Thanks
Stephen
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#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 08:01 PM

Stephen,

I think your budget is going to be pretty tight, but this place is located in your neck of the woods and sells used motion picture camera equipment. They have an Aaton that is not too much more than you want to spend.

FilmCameraKit

Best,
-Tim
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#3 Nick Norton

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 10:46 PM

For the amount of money you are willing to spend, i'd suggest going with a regular 16mm camera and "upgrading" to super16 down the road.

First of all, there is A LOT to learn on the film medium... and you can learn all of it in regular 16mm. I would suggest getting something silent/sync if you plan on shooting dialogue/etc. A very versatile camera is the Eclair ACL. Not as large as some other 16mm cams and it's silent/sync.

Also, one has to think of having a camera serviced if purchasing used from somewhere on ebay. 16mm cameras are going to be fairly old and certainly used in your price range. Also, the ACL is somewhat easy to convert to super16.

Your best bet is to find a camera already modded to super16 on ebay... and hopefully getting a deal.

But definitely do some more research to find out which cam is right for you.

-nick
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#4 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 02:45 AM

Either an Eclair ACL or an Arri BL is probably the best option in your budget for sync sound film. There have been some great deals on eBay for ACLs lately, as low as $1,500 US (I think around $1,100 EU) with zoom lens. You can get the camera and start shooting regular 16mm and meanwhile save up for a super 16 conversion.

As far as lenses, your entire budget is not really enough to get a professional set of prime lenses. But it's fairly cheap to rent them as needed.

Edited by Jason Hinkle, 23 February 2009 - 02:48 AM.

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#5 Ian Cooper

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 04:07 AM

Either an Eclair ACL or an Arri BL is probably the best option...


Whilst not forgetting it seems generally accepted that the Arri 16BL can't be converted to S16.
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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 04:26 AM

Either an Eclair ACL or an Arri BL is probably the best option in your budget for sync sound film. There have been some great deals on eBay for ACLs lately, as low as $1,500 US (I think around $1,100 EU)

Just so you know, we don't use the euro here.
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#7 Will Montgomery

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 05:01 PM

I would suggest holding on to your video camera and saving for a lower-end regular 16mm. You might be able to make some money with your current camera and start the film learning process at the same time. There are plenty of situations (gasp!) where a video camera is more appropriate.

It might be tough to get enough money by selling that video camera to buy a good Super 16 camera anyway so keep it and start saving. When you get a paying gig to use a 16mm camera you can always rent one or use that money to buy a higher-end one.
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 05:13 PM

Just so you know, we don't use the euro here.


They use the £ Sterling, though no shillings and 6-pence anymore.

Of course, when they sell bananas by the pound, people come and confiscate their scales and slap them with fines equal to assaulting a police officer :blink:
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#9 Boris Belay

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 06:02 PM

Whilst not forgetting it seems generally accepted that the Arri 16BL can't be converted to S16.


Indeed, that was my impression too...

I'm a big fan of the Eclair ACL camera, so I suggest you take a look at the Eclair discussion sub-forum on this site for a lot of info on these wonderful (for the price, certainly) cameras. The idea of buying a Reg.16 camera first and having it converted to Super-16 down the road when you have money is a good suggestion too. Even though you may be able to find a cheaper camera kit that is already converted (at least on eBay) than the price of a 16mm. kit plus conversion may be, if you just don't have the money, that makes sense. Also, with the quality of current film stocks, going wide-format from a Reg-16 image is a decent option nowadays (if obviously not ideal).

Also worth mentioning are the old workhorses Eclair NPR, going very cheap these days -- see the new discussion on this topic on the Eclair section here too. Again, Super-16 converted cameras may even be within your price range... on Ebay.

Regarding lenses, you will find out that you should either stick to a set of prime lenses or put up with annoying limitations of zoom lenses when/if you shoot Super-16 on that budget. The zoom lenses that cover S-16 with a good optical quality and go a bit wide are just very sought after and often fetch a price that is above your whole budget for a single zoom lense. So if you want a zoom lense, you will probably have to make do with a lens that doesn't go under 15/16mm in focal length (ie, medium wide) or, if it does, that vignettes below that range and thus is as limited.

As for buying from a shop, I don't think it's really a likely possibility within that budget. But two things about eBay to reassure you : a lot of sellers are really quite dedicated and honest, and will reveal their true colors (if that is necessary at all) with a bit of questioning. Also it is quite common for prospective buyers to turn to this forum with their questions or worries about eBay auctions, so you shouldn't hesitate to do so yourself.

Finally, this is where the "buying reg-16 and upgrading later" scenario comes back : if you buy on eBay a kit that is in decent condition and then send it to a shop like Les Boscher's (in the UK) for a conversion, you end up with a completely revised S-16 camera that's as good as if it came from a shop, but affordable.

Good luck, don't hesitate to ask more questions, and welcome to the wonderful world of 16mm!
Boris
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#10 Stephen Andrew Roe

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 09:48 PM

Thanks a lot everybody for the input.

With regards to keeping the DVX and potentially getting paid work with it, I totally understand what you're saying and appreciate the suggestion but to be fair, I don't really see myself doing much paid work for the moment. I'm at university full-time and that's keeping pretty occupied, plus afterwards I plan on doing a masters in cinematography, so I'm not going to get too involved in the big bad world just yet. Every single time I'm shooting stuff, whether in school or extra-curricular, I can't help but think "why aren't I shooting this on 16mm." So I figure it's time to make the switch.

I think that going down the route of buying reg 16mm and converting later is my plan now. I've also decided do sell some of my still camera kit for the 16mm fund (2 leica M's plus lenses - ARGH!). So I figure my new budget should be somewhere in the region of £3000 - which should be a little handier.

I reckon it's gonna be an ACL with an overhaul/s-16 conversion (sooner rather than later).
Rather than spend half my life just reading about it; I just want to get out and shoot 16mm asap as that's the best way to learn, right!

Thanks again for the suggestions - keep 'em coming!

Stephen.
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#11 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 11:34 PM

Ah, for some reason I thought you use both GBP and EU in the UK...? I guess I should know these things...

The ACL is a great choice, of course me Borris and Nick here all have one :-) I watch them on eBay constantly. A fine looking ACL auction just ended with zero bids - starting bid was $999 US. So that would have been yours for about 700 pounds with plenty of budget to do a super 16 conversion straight away.

Good luck!
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#12 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 11:38 PM

Ah, for some reason I thought you use both GBP and EU in the UK...? I guess I should know these things...

The ACL is a great choice, of course me Borris and Nick here all have one :-) I watch them on eBay constantly. A fine looking ACL auction just ended with zero bids - starting bid was $999 US. So that would have been yours for about 700 pounds with plenty of budget to do a super 16 conversion straight away.

Good luck!


GO TEAM ACL!!! :P

The thing to be careful about ACLs is buying a multi speed motor with the body, the HD or the CP16 modified one are great motors to have, but the HD is the best. Unless the camera is very cheap and one is planning on buying a multi speed motor down the line . . .

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 23 February 2009 - 11:41 PM.

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