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#1 Leif Bjarne Hammer

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:54 AM

Hello,
I'm a 16 year old indie-filmmaker from Norway, and this is my problem:
I have used a DSLR (Canon 550D) for short-films the last two years, before that I used a JVC camcorder and before that again a Canon DV camcorder.

I'm not happy with any of these. Digital seems to clean to me, and it never satisfies me visually.

Therefore I've made the decision to go back to film. I want to shoot 16mm or 35mm, depending on what Cannes would accept in their short-film festival (I'm writing a script right now).

I've been looking at the Krasnogorsk 3, the Bolex H-16 and a Kinor-camera. I don't know what to choose.
- My budget is around 500 USD.
- 16mm or 35mm (depends on the Cannes rules).
- I want to be able to sync sound from a separate sound recorder (I'll use a clapper).
- This camera should also be fit for cold/hard weather and long shoots.
- I want a quality that equals that of “Fellini’s Roma” or “Wild Strawberries”
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 08:13 AM

The camera has nothing to do (in film) with matching the quality of another film shot on film. The camera simply holds the film and moves it. All that matters are the lenses, the film stocks and any special techniques used on the film, as well as the lighting.
I would honestly look into renting a film camera. Even if you could buy one for $500; all the ancillary support equipment you'd need, as well as lenses and filters will quickly eclipse your budget.

If you want to keep things as cheap as possible, I'd look into something like a Konvas 2m with some Lomo primes all in Oct-19 mount. Of course that camera is anything but quiet-- even with a barney on. Also, it has a tendency, or at least mine does, of eating fuses like tic-tacs.

The K3 and the Bolex are similar in the fact that they aren't silent at all, and as clock-work cameras, may not run at exactly the right speed, known as crystal sync, so audio could be problematic. I can't speak of the Kinor, as I haven't used it.

For something cheap, and good, in 16mm, though still probably more than $500, I'd look into an Eclair camera. Either an NPR or an ACL. It will probably need some servicing when you get it, as these cameras date from the 60s/70s. They can, however, be converted to S16mm, or may have been already, and allow 400' loads of film as well as takes longer than about 30sec... Very important.

good luck


Also, another good idea would be to look for a DoP who already has a camera package and offer them some $$ to come shoot your film-- since you're a student, many DoPs will be quite ready and able to help out. Or at least has been my experience and what I try to do for students ect.
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#3 Will Montgomery

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:33 AM

I applaud your idea of getting into 16mm. Learning film will be invaluable as you get more into filmmaking.

I would consider a recent model Canon Scoopic MS. I've had colorists ask me what lens I was using because they loved it so much. Even though it's fixed and not removable, it's a very sharp and beautiful lens in the middle f-stop range. It also has a built-in meter and is about the easiest camera to load. The batteries can easily be re-celled. They are simply great starter cameras and you don't have to wind them. Very practical for starting out in film with a low budget. There are many that have been converted to crystal sync, and even the ones without are very steady and should be fine for short takes.

The NPR or ACL are both great options but might be tough to find in good shape under $1000 with everything you'll need.

Before you take the plunge however, realize that it is a slippery slope and the costs add up very quickly. Shooting film is wonderful, but expensive. Syncing audio is another tricky part. While we're seeing a resurgence of sync due to DSLR's, they have the advantage of having at least a guide audio track to establish sync. Film gives you nothing except a clap board visual (unless you get into time code cameras and the $3500+ range.)

So definitely get into 16mm, but try shooting your project with your DSLR first so you'll get through any issues with that. Then you can be more efficient if you want to use film.

I just shot a project with an Arri SR3 and was blown away. Whisper quiet and rock solid. 400' loads are great too after using 100' loads for so long. They are coming down in price but are still at the $5000+ range.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:50 AM

Ironically; on my SR3 over the weekend, I nearly had a heart attack because, despite being hand-held, it was so quiet I was questioning whether or not the film was going through the damned thing.... I just kept on rolling because, what else are you going to do, but man, when it came time for a mag-change, I made sure to have the first tell me as soon as he got his hands into the tent whether or not we had shot anything. We had, of course.
</anecdote>

Also totally forgot the scoopics; haven't used them myself, but I hear good things.
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#5 Will Montgomery

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:00 AM

Ironically; on my SR3 over the weekend, I nearly had a heart attack because, despite being hand-held, it was so quiet I was questioning whether or not the film was going through the damned thing....

It is undoubtably the quietest camera I've ever used. Even my DSLR is louder. :D

I had my mags tuned up just before the shoot so that may have helped. The only time I could barely hear it was when I cranked it up to 75 fps for fun.

If you've been using K3's, Bolexes or even Scoopics (although mine is very quiet) not hearing the sewing machine sound is a little disturbing. At least you can see the footage counter on the mags to know that something is going through.
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#6 Leif Bjarne Hammer

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:31 AM

The camera has nothing to do (in film) with matching the quality of another film shot on film. The camera simply holds the film and moves it. All that matters are the lenses, the film stocks and any special techniques used on the film, as well as the lighting.
I would honestly look into renting a film camera. Even if you could buy one for $500; all the ancillary support equipment you'd need, as well as lenses and filters will quickly eclipse your budget.

If you want to keep things as cheap as possible, I'd look into something like a Konvas 2m with some Lomo primes all in Oct-19 mount. Of course that camera is anything but quiet-- even with a barney on. Also, it has a tendency, or at least mine does, of eating fuses like tic-tacs.

The K3 and the Bolex are similar in the fact that they aren't silent at all, and as clock-work cameras, may not run at exactly the right speed, known as crystal sync, so audio could be problematic. I can't speak of the Kinor, as I haven't used it.

For something cheap, and good, in 16mm, though still probably more than $500, I'd look into an Eclair camera. Either an NPR or an ACL. It will probably need some servicing when you get it, as these cameras date from the 60s/70s. They can, however, be converted to S16mm, or may have been already, and allow 400' loads of film as well as takes longer than about 30sec... Very important.

good luck


Also, another good idea would be to look for a DoP who already has a camera package and offer them some $$ to come shoot your film-- since you're a student, many DoPs will be quite ready and able to help out. Or at least has been my experience and what I try to do for students ect.


I'll have to look into camera renting. It may not be possible since I live in Northern-Norway and all the companies who rent out cameras are based in the southern part of the country. DoP's are not an option either. I will look into the eclair though.
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#7 Leif Bjarne Hammer

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:38 AM

I applaud your idea of getting into 16mm. Learning film will be invaluable as you get more into filmmaking.

I would consider a recent model Canon Scoopic MS. I've had colorists ask me what lens I was using because they loved it so much. Even though it's fixed and not removable, it's a very sharp and beautiful lens in the middle f-stop range. It also has a built-in meter and is about the easiest camera to load. The batteries can easily be re-celled. They are simply great starter cameras and you don't have to wind them. Very practical for starting out in film with a low budget. There are many that have been converted to crystal sync, and even the ones without are very steady and should be fine for short takes.

The NPR or ACL are both great options but might be tough to find in good shape under $1000 with everything you'll need.

Before you take the plunge however, realize that it is a slippery slope and the costs add up very quickly. Shooting film is wonderful, but expensive. Syncing audio is another tricky part. While we're seeing a resurgence of sync due to DSLR's, they have the advantage of having at least a guide audio track to establish sync. Film gives you nothing except a clap board visual (unless you get into time code cameras and the $3500+ range.)

So definitely get into 16mm, but try shooting your project with your DSLR first so you'll get through any issues with that. Then you can be more efficient if you want to use film.

I just shot a project with an Arri SR3 and was blown away. Whisper quiet and rock solid. 400' loads are great too after using 100' loads for so long. They are coming down in price but are still at the $5000+ range.


Thanks for the applause. Might save for an Arri. How difficult is it to sync sound with the Arri then? If I'm going to shoot my project on a DSLR first, then I think that ought to be a test shoot: Because I would not want the actors to do something great during that shooting.
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:45 AM

Syncing sound with any crystal controlled camera is as easy as assuring the camera is running at the proper speed by setting it (24 or 25fps, normally) and that the recorder is also set to the proper speed/sampling rate ect.
Then you clap the clap board and line up the sound of the clap with the image of the board closed in your editing program.
You are now in sync.

Arris really are the best cameras in my opinion. You can also look out for an SR2 which is a great little system. Look for one which is already set up for PL mount and which has been converted to Super 16mm; though you could shoot 16mm and crop with good results in slow to medium speed films (up to 200T).

If you just want regular 16mm, there are SR1s, as well as Arri BLs which'll work. For the BL, however, there is an issue finding lenses which work with their blimps.
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#9 Leif Bjarne Hammer

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:49 AM

So Cannes accept 16mm?

One of you said that the camera did not matter that much, so I change iso, aparture, etc. on the lenses? It's important that the camera I choose is sturdy and robust though because of the artic climate: -20 degrees celsius during winter :)
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#10 Will Montgomery

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 01:52 PM

So Cannes accept 16mm?

One of you said that the camera did not matter that much, so I change iso, aparture, etc. on the lenses? It's important that the camera I choose is sturdy and robust though because of the artic climate: -20 degrees celsius during winter :)

I believe March of the Penguins was shot in Super 16mm and I believe on an Arri SR3 because they needed the reliability. High-end digital cameras apparently have trouble with extreme temperatures... or at least did at the time.

If you want to save up for an SR3, it may take a while but there is no camera short of an Arri 416 or possibly an Aaton XTR that can compare. You would never need another 16mm camera (not that any are being made anyway.) Make sure you get a good lens with it. They are PL mount.

Another option since we're having fun here, would be an Arri BL3 or 4 and you can move into 35mm sound sync cameras. Probably for less money than an SR3 16mm. If you find short ends and recans your film costs can even be less.
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 02:07 PM

The only S16mm camera to kin of avoid would be the A-Minima, from Aaton. It's not that it's a bad camera, in any way, it's that the 200' loads for it are kind of restrictive. I believe only Kodak makes them, and they can be a bit of a pain to load. I havn't got a great love for the Aatons in general; but that is just brand preference and familiarity in the end, both the LTR and the XTR, and the Xtera are all very capable cameras. Make sure they have a PL mount though, as some shipped with an Aaton mount. They are probably the best cameras for hand-held work-- far better than the SRs from Arri in my opinion.

For 35mm, the Arri BL4 is a very nice camera, as is the BL3, though very heavy! Forget about hand-held for long periods of time with it-- if you were thinking of it.
Make sure to get 400' and 1000' mags with it. the 400's for when you need "light weight," and the 1000' for whenever you are on sticks. I also would see if you can find a 3-perf converted one to save you some $$ on film stocks and processing. However, if you go that route you can't ever really shoot real anamorphic (with anamorphic lenses)-- though you can always crop to 2.35:1 later on .
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#12 Zac Fettig

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:58 AM

"One of you said that the camera did not matter that much, so I change iso, aparture, etc. on the lenses?" ISO is controlled by the film you've loaded the camera with. It's a measure of the film's sensitivity to light. Aperture is controlled on the lens.

The camera doesn't matter that much, but keep in mind they all have unique issues. If you buy a B&H Filmo, buy a later one (like a 70DR). The earlier ones only take double perf film. If you buy a Beaulieu R16, they have battery issues.

The Scoopics are great cameras. They have some drawbacks though. If the Mag adapter kit develops problems, they can be really difficult to fix. 400' mag adapters aren't all that common either. If you're going to shoot with 100' daylight loads, no problem. It's still probably your best bet for getting started in 16mm. It is the easiest camera to load, and has a built in meter. The lens is really good.

For what its worth, I bought an Arri 16S/B with a Angenieux 12-120mm lens for $500. It won't let you shoot sync sound though, even with a sync motor. The camera is way too noisy and a official Arri blimp for a 16S/B is very rare these days. The biggest problem I'm having is finding/building a power cable. Lack of sync wasn't a problem for me, since I'm not going to be shooting on a soundstage and will have to ADR all my dialogue anyways.

That said, if this will be your first time with film, realize it will cost a lot more than just the camera cost. A decent lightmeter will set you back around $250-$300. Lights, film stock, developing, telecine; the list goes on and on. I'm planning to shoot a no-budget feature with mine, and figure it will still cost between $6000-$9000 (ORWO stock, SD telecine, yada-yada). And that's only because the only things I'm paying for are film and processing; I have most of what I need already.

Keeping the camera warm is very important. But less difficult than you might think. Those chemical hand warmers work wonders, if you wrap your camera. There used to be a company that sold custom jackets for cameras with built in pockets for hand warmers, but I believe they're out of business. A cheap duffel bag with a hole cut for the lens, and a blanket to wrap the camera works pretty well too.

If you're serious about getting started in film, and have no experience with film in any way, you might also want to try Super8. The cameras are a lot cheaper, even for a really good one. The film choices are pretty good these days (Kodak Vision3, Fuji Velvia, etc.), and you can get a short shot and telecine'd for under $500 if you're careful. Even easier to load than the Scoopic, and it'll give you some experience with film.

I'm guessing you grew up in the digital age, and have very limited experience with film. If that's the case, the first thing I'd recommend you do is go buy a 35mm still camera, preferably an old one with full manual controls (ex. Pentax K1000), and a few rolls of slide film and go shoot with it. Get some experience working with film. It is a bit different than digital, but the skills transfer.

Cannes does not accept exhibition 16mm prints. You'll have to check their requirements for exhibition formats, since it changes by film category. I don't think they care what you shot on.
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#13 zachary sala

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 08:58 AM

i've shot sync sound with a bolex rex 5 and H16.
It's an extremely difficult task to cut the motor sound from tracks, and most non crystal camera's lose their sync at or around 30 seconds.
I did a shoot in 10 degree weather and my bolex started to freeze, for the most part not made work in extreme cold.
The quality of a bolex and krag is a bit more shaky than that of a higher end camera such as arri sr, also consider the length of the wind to that of the arri.

I would find someone with a bolex and do a few tests to see if possible to get the sound quality you want without the motor noise.
Also keep in mind that the price of the camera, lens and gear isn't too much after you buy the film, process and edit it.
Many filmmakers can work with what they have, you just have to plan this out.

I myself worked alot 3383 color print stock, contact printed it to save money..but the colors are really strange with that.

WELCOME THE WORLD OF FILM!

Edited by zachary sala, 17 November 2012 - 08:59 AM.

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#14 Matej Pok

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:44 AM

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#15 steve waschka

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 11:26 PM

i have no k3 experience. i have used russian film gear. some good some bad. i dont think its super consistent stuff. i do shoot bolexs. they are not a first choice for sound. you can get barnies made for them. but theyre more than the camera. you can wrap them in a thick hoodie. zoom lens out the sleeve. the quality is fine if the camera is in good shape. the newer the body the better the claw mechanism. but you can leave them windup style and toss it in a back pack with a changing bag. unless you like sprocket light bleeds on your "daylight" load reels. i have an arri bl16. thats a quiet camera. when i first got it i couldnt tell if it was running. i was so used to bolexs. you can convert either to "ultra 16" but any ratio conversion processes are very high dollar if done right. every thing the film touches has to be polished if its in the exposed area or it will leave scratches. thats every guide roller body part you name it. the bl35 would be my arri choice for a 35mm sync camera thats not super expensive. but a questionable one with no lenses will be near $5,000. i would recommend you shoot what you can get your hands on for free, rent, whatever. build a reputation based on the art. get paid. buy some good stuff when you can. if i could go back and do it again id get an arri sr3. prob $10,000 for an ok one with no glass. its a very common film camera. lots of parts out there, its super 16. or can be. im not sure if all 3's are. but 1's and 2's arent. you can do a real video assist system. which is the deal. you can get a good feel for sound and where to drop your film scans in before you even get stuff back from the lab. a real issue is getting caught up in the gear. from my experience, buying inexpensive gear to try to get noticed can lead you down the path of worshiping the gear. there is always the next level of lens, next level of filter, next anything that costs more than you are spending now. and it never ever ends. theres always a parabolic mic you think you need or a clamp you think will solve the problem. how about lighting!? dont forget that stuff. you cant go buy all that. you look at the rental price lists as a newbie and its not an answer either. the day rates on a camera are more than $500. i feel for you. if you believe robert rodriguez, he borrowed his arriflex to shoot his big break movie. wrapped it in a towel or a sweater or something. jumpin out of trucks. fallin off school buses. there used to be a video floating around the net somewhere about it. id go that route. some of my favorite pieces of gear are items ive concocted out of free or inexpensive items that solve a problem, solve it well, and im still using them even though i can afford the glitzy piece of gear now. i hope that helped. theres no way to cram all the years and dollars ive spent ramping up to what is still not industry standard for the times into a post. all i can say is its all about the end product.


forgot about your freezing issue. good luck. cameras dont like cold. even my digital stuff. stay positive!

Edited by steve waschka, 30 November 2012 - 11:27 PM.

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