I have a Beaulieu R16 with 12-120mm Angenieux lens that I've recently started using. It's been great so far, but I'm having quite a bit of trouble trying to stabilise the camera/image. It's fine, or rather, the camera shake is not particularly noticeable on handheld shots and pans, but for stationary shots I'm getting a lot of camera shake. I'm using a pretty heavy duty Vinten video tripod with floor spreaders, so this I thought would be good enough to stabilise the camera itself, but there's still a really noticeable (to the point of distraction) amount of camera shake.
To the eye it doesn't look at though the lens is shaking that much or at all itself so I can't tell if the problem is in the stability of the whole set-up - camera & tripod - or whether it is something more to do with the motor.
I'm wondering if anyone knows if there are common motor issues (over revving or something??) with the R16?
And also wonder whether anyone has any tips generally on stabilising the R16 with the 12-120 Angenieux? It's such a heavy set-up and obviously the fact the R16 base plate is not parallel with the angle of the lens it means that the tripod needs to be tilted downwards to shoot straight-on, so not ideal for stability in any case!
I guess the next alternative would be to use a shorter lens (as to be honest, I really don't utilise the zoom in the way that it's designed to be used).
Yes it does sound like a registration issue, sometimes referred to as "camera unsteadiness", which has nothing to do with the camera body shaking, but with the film not being properly positioned in the same place for each frame.
You can introduce unsteadiness by incorrectly loading the film in the camera, if the loop is not the right size or the pressure plate is not properly seated, so that's one thing to be aware of. Keeping the gate and pressure plate clean will avoid any potential issues with a gummed up film path.
The other cause is if the camera is worn or out of tolerance somewhere. In this case, as Jean-Louis recommended, you should have the camera checked by a technician. It's actually a good idea to have any older film camera checked if it hasn't been recently serviced.
You can check the camera steadiness yourself quite easily, by shooting a registration test. This test would also help a technician diagnose any problems.
The process is quite simple - at a medium focal length shoot a grid pattern test chart at a distance that fills up the frame. Draw your own grid if you need to. Have the camera firmly mounted on a solid support. You only need to shoot 10 or 15 seconds worth. If you don't mind using more film you can shoot at a few different frame rates to check the steadiness at other speeds (write the fps on the chart as a reference). Then rewind the film in a darkroom or changebag, twist the chart slightly and shoot the chart again, this time just at normal speed, for as many feet as the first pass.
What you'll end up with is a double-exposure with 2 grid patterns overlayed, one slightly skewed from the other. When you view it on a projector or transfer, watch for any movement between the 2 grids. Don't worry about the whole image steadiness (which could be the projector), just watch the gaps between the 2 grids. If the grids are jumping around relative to one another, you have an unsteady camera that needs to see the doctor.
You can use any film that makes an image, even processed negative in a projector, you'll still be able to see the grids.
...regarding mounting on a tripod - if you remove the handgrip from the botttom of the camera you will find a flat tripod mounting hole you can use. This does rather require the use of a seperate external battery pack though.
Agree with everybody. One thing must be considered, though, in spite of all remarks, namely that the Beaulieu R 16 claw leaves the film in the +4 perforation position, counted from the optical axis on. Most projectors and all equipment designed according to the recommendation in ISO DIN 69 move the film to the +3 perforation place. This is the also the case with most cameras and step contact printers but not with all. So pitch variation cancellation does not take place here. Some projectors effect to +1.
From what I know about 16-mm. film perforators groups of three holes or hole pairs are punched generally. It is definitely the case with Bell & Howell perforating equipment. The advance error after each .9" (.8982") is almost double the error of one within a hole group. Punches and dies are made from one piece each.
Sometimes it’s the film. Seldom.
Mechanical play with the advance mechanism need not introduce poor steadiness because it stays in one direction. Once the claw touches the hole edge (wich is by the way the noisiest part) all play disappears.
What else can be in the game? Insufficient lateral guidance. Keep your camera meticulously clean. And, yes, have the loops large enough!
thanks so much for your excellent responses and suggestions.
I try to keep the camera as pretty clean as I can, but will be a bit more meticulous now. Also, as you've mentioned Dom and Simon about keeping the loops large, what else, in terms of loading could potentially impact on registration? As far as I know I am loading correctly and keeping the loops large enough, but I wonder whether there could be some other very minor intricacy I am failing to do correctly when loading the camera.
Thanks for the registration test run down Dom, I'm looking forward to doing this.
And will do a tripod test without the battery too - I have an external battery pack I can use - and see whether this makes an difference.
Failing all this, it'll be off to the Beaulieu doctor.
Thanks again, I'm very happy with all your really helpful comments.
I did have a Beaulieu R16 once, without the zoom, and I did find it hard to properly clean and inspect the gate. The gate didn't open enough to see easily and clean easily. Sometimes I would see an emulsion build up and wonder how long it had been there. maybe I missed it before.
I wonder if there us a possibility of some inertial contribution to your problem from the zoom, with a basically unbalanced camera on the tripod. The whoile thing is front heavy. Normally people ballance a camera on the support, and make sure the configuration has enough stiffness. Sorry if you have sorted this possibiulity already. If not, you could just put a small C mount lens on, and the inertial contribution, if there is one, will be gone.
Not that this affects the existence of other factors. And if there is more than one contributing factor things can get confusing I guess.
Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 15 August 2013 - 12:05 AM.
Gregg is so right. The R 16 as one of the lightest reflex cameras was designed to be equipped with three little lenses like those from Angénieux with aluminum fittings. You preset them, you might be on the run, you only change focal length and expose. A reportage cam
The same happened to the Paillard-Bolex H. Made as a luxury carry-along, one torpedoes its concept with a zoom lens. There are or were strict tripod cameras for heavy objectives. Vive la différence!
Thanks Gregg, I wondered that same thing myself (in much less technical terms!).
The zoom makes the camera super heavy, and yes, as the base of the battery and the lens are not parallel, you need to tilt the head forward to get a 90 degree shooting angle and so the whole arrangement is destabilised even further. I am yet to try the camera with the hand grip / with the battery pack, so hopefully that will make some difference. But I think you're right about just changing to C mount lens.
A semi-related topic about the Beaulieu R16 with the 12-120 lens. It's very heavy and in contrast the turret plate, if that's the correct term, is, as others have noted, quite thin. Is there support made for the 12-120 lens that takes some of the load off the plate?
As a note aside, I'm a real beginner and got the R16 because it was relatively cheap. Seems like a decent camera.
The zoom lens should not be mounted on the Turret camera body only the zoom camera body with auto iris. If your camera has 3 lens ports it should not be used with the zoom lens as it is too heavy.
They are great little cameras, I shot my student short with one years ago. I still have it and plan to get it converted to Ultra16 at some point. It has the ability to be run in reverse which can produce some cool double exposures fades and dissolves. Great little effects camera that runs on batteries. with a prime lens and external battery its very light weight and can be triggered remotely.
Are you sure it's on the mirror? Could it be on the ground glass? As far as I'm aware Beaulieus have two pieces of ground glass sandwiched together with a glue, and over time that glue can deteriorate and cause viewfinder distortion/irregularities. My personal R16 is slightly blurry on the left side, but clear on the right side, so I can only get hard focus with part of the viewfinder.
Anyway, from what I've read, cleaning the ground glass on a Beaulieu is a huge pain and requires disassembling the whole camera, so I've been told if you can live with it as it is, you should.