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Good God- 16mm Camera value plummets in the last year...


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#1 Kirk Anderson

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:05 PM

I haven't heard very many people talk about it, but jesus, 16mm camera prices has plummeted in that last year.

I've collected over 10 16mm cameras over the last 6 years and just sold my last one. From K3's to bolex's, scoopics and arris.

I just sold my full Arri S package to a guy in TX who's never going to use it.
It's going to be used at a prop for his shoots.

3 years ago Arri S's were going on ebay for $1500 or more. I tried to Sell it in LA and SF for over 6 months. Started a 1250, downed to 1000, then down to 800. At $800 it still took 3 weeks. Lenses, mags, cases, 1000ft of film, light meter and a mole richardson light! $800 good god.

I saw a super 16mm CP16R on Craigslist listed for $300 to $200 then down to $100. Still hasn't sold, but the guy has bundled it with another CP16 and is trying to get $300 for BOTH OF THEM.

In may I saw a Eclair NPR full package ready to shoot sit on CL for weeks at $600.

I sold all my 16mm stuff so I could focus on Super8 where processing is less and DSLR HD like everyone else.

I just can't believe it! Do you think prices will ever bounce back? Or are we going to see Arri super16 SR's get sold for less than 1K?!?!
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#2 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:47 PM

I've noticed the same thing Kirk. In my opinion I don't think the 16mm cameras will ever come back to the value they once held.

I bought an ACL II for $3,500 a few years ago (no lenses). I don't even want to look on ebay.
I expected a reduction in demand, but wasn't ready to see it. Still I love the look of film. It's not the film and processing as much as it is the transfer to HD.... that's what kills me.

Tom
btw, the ACL still runs like a top!
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#3 Will Montgomery

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:49 PM

I'd like to find an A-Minima at some point, so if they come down more I wouldn't mind. Ready to step up to something more steady. I'm also investing in lenses that will work with both 16mm and DSLR's.

Seems like the less expensive 16mm cameras haven't lost quite as much like the Scoopics and Bolexes although they have come down about 15% probably. It's the high end cameras that may lose more percentage-wise.

I bought a 1923 Kodak Cine for $12 at a camera swap about 4 years ago. Works great, just needs double perf 16mm which is hard to find. Somehow I think that will keep it's value.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:58 PM

16 has long been the format for ultra low budgets. With digital shoving it out of that niche, it's in that transitional dip between being equipment you use and collector's item.






-- J.S.
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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 02:15 PM

This is why I was able to get a Steenbeck for £75 (£20,000 new) and a pic-sync (£6000) for £1. And that was five years ago.
I still love them, though, and one day I hope to have enough money to feed my K3. If 16mm. reversal is still around then.
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 02:48 PM

Interestingly, maybe this will help film in the long run. I think for a long time, 16mm held steady, but more crucially, was not ADDING new users, because the gear was too expensive. Now, those steady users are abandoning the format for digital. The gear is getting cheaper, and there are many (more than we think I think) who are keen on trying film, and now more cameras are affordable. Stock prices and processing seems to be holding steady, and high def transfers are coming down in price.

Honestly, I think 16mm is in for a second wind. And with all the new HD cameras coming and going, I'm planning to upgrade my Eclair to widescreen, and looking to shoot some 16mm for my next doc.

Ultimately, I doubt I'll even bother to sell my cameras. The prices are falling to much, and they have a lot of sentimental value. They're awesome to look at, so if/when the worst happens, they will be wonderful things for the mantel and bookshelf, to reflect upon, and recall some good times.

BR
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#7 Kirk Anderson

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 04:16 PM

Good replys gentlemen.

It was just so shocking to me that it feels like it happened over night. I swear that in 1 year prices have dropped like 40% especially in higher end cameras.

When I was trying to Sell my Arri S package for $1,000 this guy posted a 35mm Arri 2C for $900. That's when my jaw started dropping.
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#8 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 01:46 PM

and high def transfers are coming down in price.


Hey Brian,

I have not found that to be the case, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.
Where do you get your stuff transferred if you don't mind my asking?

Thanks,
Tom
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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 03:03 PM

I have not found that to be the case, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.
Where do you get your stuff transferred if you don't mind my asking?

Cinelicious is offering a great rate with their (slightly) lower-end machine plus you get the bonus of their talented colorists.

Cinelab has great rates for HD too... both are sponsors of the site (see ads to the right).

For most transfer houses it's hard to see it in official price lists, you really have to ask (beg nicely) for lower rates. It's my experience that if you have less than 1000' and they can be flexible on a due date usually a deal can be had. They need to keep those machines running as close to 24 hours as possible to make money.

I think book rates for Spirit and Millenium HD transfers can still be in the $600 range, but few would actually pay that much.
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#10 Jesus Leyva

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 05:36 PM

I've noticed the same thing Kirk. In my opinion I don't think the 16mm cameras will ever come back to the value they once held.

I bought an ACL II for $3,500 a few years ago (no lenses). I don't even want to look on ebay.
I expected a reduction in demand, but wasn't ready to see it. Still I love the look of film. It's not the film and processing as much as it is the transfer to HD.... that's what kills me.

Tom
btw, the ACL still runs like a top!



Hey Tom. So I'm buying my Scoopic tomorrow. I will use 16mm film (not using sound) and mix it in with my HDSLR footage. I'm editing both formats on the same timeline in FCP. Mainly my projects consist of wedding videos, documentaries, model shoots, and music videos. I love 16mm vs Super8 because I feel it compliments HDSLR footage quite nicely. Now I noticed you stated that transfering to HD is a pain. My question to you, is if my final product will be viewed thru Web sites and TV's but never going to a movie screen then do I even bother with transferring it to HD. Could I just do a Anamorphic Squeeze with the 16mm to 16x9 to match my HD footage? My purpose to use 16mm is for some nostalgic shots as a contrast to the crisp HD footage. Forgive me if this is basic knowledge but I'm just starting out in the film world and feel like i opened up a whole new can of worms.
thanks for your help.
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#11 Will Montgomery

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:54 AM

Now I noticed you stated that transfering to HD is a pain.

Transferring to HD is easy. Just send the telecine house your film. It's the money that is painful.

If you're doing weddings and they will pay a premium for HD film transfer, I'd go for it. This is their one and only wedding right? :rolleyes: Do you see a demand for Blu-Ray finals or still just DVDs?

HD is becoming more the norm and I believe we will see prices come down on HD transfers. However, you still need to pay for the colorist talent which is the most important piece of the equation in a transfer.

You can also do an SD widescreen anamorphic transfer where (starting with Regular 16mm on your Scoopic) you crop to 16:9 and have the colorist stretch the top and bottom to fill up the 4:3 screen then in Final Cut click the anamorphic box so Final Cut interprets it as anamorphic. Good workflow for anamorphic 16:9 DVD output. Although you will be committing to framing at the telecine process. Same deal if you convert to Ultra16, just have more negative to work with.
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#12 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:38 AM

I believe we will see prices come down on HD transfers. However, you still need to pay for the colorist talent which is the most important piece of the equation in a transfer.


Absolutely. It's difficult to explain to people that they'd freak if they saw what actually came off the scanner (10-bit log dpxs), which are extremely flat and pastel. A good colorist with good equipment knows how to interpret and grade those into a how the scene should look. As for rates, a lot of it depends on the lab's equipment (those with Northlights/Arriscan/Spirit datacine will obviously charge a little more because of the increase in scan-quality), the type of color pass you want, and your relationship with the lab. As a colorist, I really enjoy grading film and I try to give everyone the best possible looking image, whether it's a flat pass or a scene-to-scene color; it's in my best interest and my company's best interest. I believe most colorists feel this way so if you disregard skill and motivation, a lot of what you pay may come down to the quality of scan, which is heavily determined by the equipment. Ironically, a Spirit Datacine would have run you $900k to a million a few years ago, where a 6k Arriscan runs about half that price and gives even better quality scans, so who do you think is going to be charging you more to pay off their equipment?

Also Kirk - I hate to brag but I actually sold my Super 16 Bolex 15 months after I bought it for $175 more than what I payed for it...granted the film stock and processing ate up that little profit I made...but nevertheless it was a big accomplishment! After posting it on ebay/craigslist for 4 months and answering at least 100 annoying questions about it, I did eventually find a buyer. It wasn't easy though, and the decline in the demand for 16mm film cameras is exactly why I sold it as soon as I could. The HDSLR revolution is to blame I think, causing much depreciation in the value of all film cameras in general.
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#13 Jesus Leyva

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:44 PM

Transferring to HD is easy. Just send the telecine house your film. It's the money that is painful.

If you're doing weddings and they will pay a premium for HD film transfer, I'd go for it. This is their one and only wedding right? :rolleyes: Do you see a demand for Blu-Ray finals or still just DVDs?



Actually clients have been buying a Blu Ray player just to see their "one and only"(hehe) wedding in HD. Folks are catching on. But I really hope/feel that because of this HDSLR movement, maybe film resurrects. I will be using Spectra in LA for the telecine. Heard they're talented.

Thanks for the input. Helps a lot.
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#14 Duncan Buckley

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:39 AM

I have been looking online for some time now watching the 16mm market as i'm looking to buy a better camera. The rate for bolex and K3 camera seem to be the same since I bought mine 5 years ago, higher end cameras now seem to vary some a resonable prices and others way way too expensive. I suppose its where you look and the knowledge of the seller.

I'm actually tempted to buy a DSLR mainly the 5D MK2 becasue even though I love film the processing and scanning is so expensive I just cant learn the craft quick enough. If I had a HD digital camera I could learn more by filming more often and seeing the results.

I hope that HD scans do reduce in cost in the future because I'd love to use film more plus I'd love to get that Aaton i keep dreaming about.
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#15 Will Montgomery

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 09:51 AM

Old film pros take for granted that a good colorist must be in the workflow. As new people enter the business from a purely video background they think a little eye dropper color correcting magic in Final Cut is going to work just fine. They aren't working with film so they don't understand that colorists are needed even more with a RED camera. Half the work coming into some telecine houses is RED and a little DSLR now as well.

Video folks have to get over the idea that a new and better digital camera means better color automatically rather than thinking it simply collects more accurate data which still must be adjusted and corrected by a pro.

Film or digital; it's just capturing an image and data.
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#16 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:39 PM

Now I noticed you stated that transfering to HD is a pain. My question to you, is if my final product will be viewed thru Web sites and TV's but never going to a movie screen then do I even bother with transferring it to HD. Could I just do a Anamorphic Squeeze with the 16mm to 16x9 to match my HD footage? My purpose to use 16mm is for some nostalgic shots as a contrast to the crisp HD footage. Forgive me if this is basic knowledge but I'm just starting out in the film world and feel like i opened up a whole new can of worms.
thanks for your help.


Hi Jesus,

I was saying it was "painful" in that it's very expensive to transfer to HD. I love the image quality, especially if it's handled by a good colorist as has been mentioned. I would shoot much more film, but that transfer cost limits how much I can shoot.

If you can handle the price I would go HD as that is very soon going to be the standard, if it isn't already. Take into consideration that on the Fox NFL broadcast, they now have the 16:9 aspect ratio on a 4:3 (the older standard) television, thus cropping the 4:3. The point is as time goes on it would be nice to have your work at a higher resolution IF you can afford it. Down the road you might want to use your footage as part of your reel, which will most likely be in HD.
You can reduce the resolution with decent results, but you can't increase. You mentioned viewed thru Web sites and TV's. Well TV's are HD for the most part. In terms of websites, Youtube accepts HD movies. Something to consider.

In the 90's I bought a High 8 camera, which was great quality at the time, and thought I was the man. That footage is hard to look at now, quality wise.

that's my take on it.

Good luck,
Tom
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#17 Joel Coe

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 09:05 AM

I disagree with many posters here. The value is dropping at the moment, but bear in mind that materiality of film, its history and so on can never be replicated with digital. It is the same as trying to use guitar plugins instead of guitar effects. Sure, you can have plethora of options and more features added, better controls and what not, but it is not about that. In addition, the more HDSLR on the market, the better they are, it is better for the film. Its warmth, unpredictability and precisely that magical depth and latitude, softness and I repeat myself, materiality is what makes it an unique medium. Of course people will use digital, I use it as well, but is not even the contention. Do you guys honestly think when in two years time, you have 1080p HD shooting RAW etc for 300 bucks that film cameras is going to cost 50? It is going to be the opposite. Film is the original medium of FILM, digital is digital. Different sites, different stories. Just my two ft of film. ;)
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#18 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 09:47 AM

I disagree with many posters here. The value is dropping at the moment, but bear in mind that materiality of film, its history and so on can never be replicated with digital. It is the same as trying to use guitar plugins instead of guitar effects. Sure, you can have plethora of options and more features added, better controls and what not, but it is not about that. In addition, the more HDSLR on the market, the better they are, it is better for the film. Its warmth, unpredictability and precisely that magical depth and latitude, softness and I repeat myself, materiality is what makes it an unique medium. Of course people will use digital, I use it as well, but is not even the contention. Do you guys honestly think when in two years time, you have 1080p HD shooting RAW etc for 300 bucks that film cameras is going to cost 50? It is going to be the opposite. Film is the original medium of FILM, digital is digital. Different sites, different stories. Just my two ft of film. ;)


Can't forget about the cost differential and the decaying knowledge of film-based workflows through generations. Cost being that when you do get a camera, lets say, that looks like raw footage from the Alexa that costs under a grand (or some ridiculously cheap number), the majority of producers just won't bite the bullet to shoot film when the difference in superficial (not aesthetic) quality is so marginal. "Decaying knowledge" in that the majority of younger filmmakers growing up are so dumbfounded when it comes to shooting film. "People still use that?!" And this mentality will eventually contaminate the business entirely until film can only sustain itself through an overpriced niche market (like 8mm). I can't tell you how often these ad agency producers call us to discuss workflow, and proudly say how they shot an entire campaign of spots on a 7d or 5d. Really?! You're happy that you spent all this time and your footage looks like (comment withheld)?! It's because the people writing the checks are the ones who don't even notice, or fail to see that there's nothing but an inversely proportional relationship between increase in technology and increase of quality.
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#19 Joel Coe

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:26 AM

Can't forget about the cost differential and the decaying knowledge of film-based workflows through generations. Cost being that when you do get a camera, lets say, that looks like raw footage from the Alexa that costs under a grand (or some ridiculously cheap number), the majority of producers just won't bite the bullet to shoot film when the difference in superficial (not aesthetic) quality is so marginal. "Decaying knowledge" in that the majority of younger filmmakers growing up are so dumbfounded when it comes to shooting film. "People still use that?!" And this mentality will eventually contaminate the business entirely until film can only sustain itself through an overpriced niche market (like 8mm). I can't tell you how often these ad agency producers call us to discuss workflow, and proudly say how they shot an entire campaign of spots on a 7d or 5d. Really?! You're happy that you spent all this time and your footage looks like (comment withheld)?! It's because the people writing the checks are the ones who don't even notice, or fail to see that there's nothing but an inversely proportional relationship between increase in technology and increase of quality.


This is all true. This will happen, film will move out of the commercial market, but again, I like that. I see kids who are digging film more than they do digital. I met DPs in their 20s who just love film and they shoot film whenever they have a chance. Sure, the commercial clients will ask for the latest technology. That has always been the case. And while, as you rightly put, 16mm will become a niche market, but it already is. One of the best new exhibitions I've seen recently (In ICA London) which got big praise, has been shot and projected entirely on 16mm.
So,it will preserve its dignity and the value of cameras will again go up a bit, but eventually, it will never be extremely expensive. More importantly, the value will stay stable. Here in UK, you can't find Super 16mm Bolex for under 1k. And that is without the lenses. So, I don't know. We'll see, but in essence, I agree with everything you wrote, it is just that I'm not too worried about the commercial market. I know the aesthetic value of film. If someone can't see it, that is his or hers problem. It's the same argument one can have about hi-fi gear. Is it justified to buy valve amp from the 80s or to buy the whole new set with GPS. :)
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 08:47 AM

I'm not quite sure why any of this would really surprise anyone. The writing has been on the wall for decades - I'm surprised it took this long. It is quite difficult, requiring extremely good crew and equipment, to make 16mm look as good, technically speaking, as many of the currently-available and very cheap HD cameras. It's always a pity when traditions are lost, but film has had really a very good run and several reprieves - starting many decades ago - when it seemed that the end was near.

I'm now just about willing to admit that it is over.



P
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