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help with old bolex h16 non-reflex

bolex non reflex h16 m42 c mount 16mm parallax octometer

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#1 Austin Mitchell

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:27 PM

Hello all,

 

I've recently acquired a Bolex h16 non-reflex camera to try shooting a bit of film.  I'm new to it.  The camera serial # is 88806 and according to the bolex collector website this is a camera from 1936-1937.  It does not have the octometer for parallax correction or top viewfinder cup.  All I have is the camera itself with no extras.

 

My hope is to use a m42 to c-mount adapter on the camera so I could use my pentax still photo lenses, but I don't know how this would work on this type of camera or if it is even possible.

 

I'm trying to figure out:

 

- If I would be able to focus correctly using the pentax lenses and adapter by looking through the top viewfinder.

 

- How the octometer works.  How do you compose shots using different focal lengths with this system and would it be possible using the m42 lenses?  

 

Thanks,

Austin


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#2 Heikki Repo

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:00 AM

Hi Austin,

 

focusing through the top should be possible. However, when shooting you'll probably notice that it can be somewhat tedious to turn the lens to the top position. You could though test with the critical focusing if the marks for focusing on the lens are correct when used on the Bolex and then you could focus with tape measure.

 

As for Octameter, it is quite nice. It has different focal lengths in the same viewfinder. It has the following focal lengths: 16mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 63mm, 75mm, 100mm and 150mm. You can use it with any lenses.


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#3 Simon Wyss

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 02:57 AM

Austin, number 88806 would have been made in 1953.


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#4 Austin Mitchell

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:15 AM

Simon - Thank you for pointing that out, I read the chart incorrectly.

 

Heikki - Thank you for the good info.  My next question is this:  Since the pentax lenses are designed for 35mm still photography, will the focal length perspective still match up with the bolex h16 octameter?  For example using the lenses on a Canon 550D I have to multiply the focal length by 1.6 to get the effective length that I'm shooting.  It seems that for the bolex, I would need to multiply my lens focal length by some number and choose the correct resulting length accordingly for the octameter in order to see the correct perspective while looking at my composition through the octameter.


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#5 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:56 AM

Yes that serial number dates it to 1953, you were probably confusing it with an 8,000 number rather than 80,000. Which is good, since a 1953 model will use single or double perf film. Earlier cameras could only take double perf film (which is harder to source these days) but in 1952 Bolex changed their sprocket rollers to only have a single row of teeth.

 

Without an octameter you won't really be able to frame correctly while shooting, so it's kind of necessary. You could use the critical focusing viewer for a locked off shot (although since it views through the top lens port rather than the middle one you will have a parallax error at close distances). If the camera didn't come with an eyecup for the top critical focus viewer it might have an optic screwed in for an eye-level finder, which means you won't be able to properly view down through it. So if you attach a lens and find you can't view down through the top, you will either need an eyecup optic or an eye-level finder.

 

Pentax lenses should work fine with a good adapter, but bear in mind you might struggle to find a wide angle - for 16mm format you need something like a 10 to 15mm lens. A 25mm is considered the standard focal length. So you might need to get a wide angle C-mount lens.

 

The focal lengths on an octameter viewfinder will correspond to any lens including your Pentax ones, the octameter simply gives the view of a certain focal length on a 16mm frame (which will match what will be recorded on the film - the 16mm camera gate will crop a small rectangle out of the middle of the much larger Pentax lens image circle). The octameter works like a very simple sort of zoom, moving a magnifying element up and down a tube. The parallax correction is achieved by a mechanism that tilts the tube in towards the lens port at closer distances.


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#6 Heikki Repo

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 10:10 AM

Heikki - Thank you for the good info.  My next question is this:  Since the pentax lenses are designed for 35mm still photography, will the focal length perspective still match up with the bolex h16 octameter?  For example using the lenses on a Canon 550D I have to multiply the focal length by 1.6 to get the effective length that I'm shooting.  It seems that for the bolex, I would need to multiply my lens focal length by some number and choose the correct resulting length accordingly for the octameter in order to see the correct perspective while looking at my composition through the octameter.

 

Dom already answered this, but just to clarify: focal length is always the same. Your 100mm lens on 35mm still film camera or full frame digital camera is still 100mm, on a crop sensor camera it's 100mm and on 16mm film camera it's still 100mm. Only the field of view changes, because the area used of the lens is different. When using Octameter you just select 100mm and it'll show you the field of view in 16mm film.

 

But it's true that it might be difficult to obtain wider lenses for 16mm, even 25mm lens corresponds in field of view to that of about 80mm in full frame 35mm.


Edited by Heikki Repo, 05 May 2013 - 10:11 AM.

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#7 Austin Mitchell

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 09:56 PM

thanks for clearing that up for me guys I just wanted to make sure I would be composing my shots correctly with the octameter.  I have a 16mm lens I will try out for sure.


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#8 Austin Mitchell

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:10 AM

Hey guys I have a new issue.  I have the octameter now but it won't attach to the side of my camera because I don't have the appropriate side mounts.  Does anyone have any idea where I can get these mounts that go on the side of the camera?  I can't find any on ebay.


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#9 Richard Jura

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:44 AM

Maybe mistaken but I believe you need a later model door.

 

Rich


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#10 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:39 PM

Even though the octameter was introduced around 1950, your camera may still have originally been fitted with the older tri-focal viewfinder. Unfortunately the mounting attachments are different.

 

 

h16lids.jpg
On the left is a lid for the tri-focal finder, on the right one for an octameter. If yours is like the one on the left, you'll need to source a new door.
 
One of the pitfalls with Bolexes is the many different models and modifications that accumulated (and sometimes overlapped) over the decades of production. It's often much simpler to buy a complete camera than to get a stripped one and then source the appropriate accessories. I should perhaps have mentioned this before, but if you intend shooting with this camera I would really recommend taking it to a Bolex specialist for at least a check-over. They should also be able to help with the accessories.

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#11 Austin Mitchell

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:04 AM

Thanks again Dom and also Richard, you guys are right.  I have the door on the left.  I've looked over the internet and finding the door I need by itself or the mounting brackets for the octameter is going to be next to impossible.  I wish knew I needed the octameter before.  Oh well.  I may end up just selling the camera and octameter.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: bolex, non reflex, h16, m42, c mount, 16mm, parallax, octometer

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