Jump to content


Photo

Looking to get my first S16 setup - advice requested :)


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 James RossSmith

James RossSmith

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Student

Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:01 AM

G'day!

 

I've been a long time reader of this great forum, and I've recently joined so I can discuss and hopefully contribute here. I'm in the process of putting a small production together, a series of short films to be presented online. My background is in analog photography, and I'd really like to utilise a 16mm setup for this production.

 

I've done extensive research into the various camera models available, and I'm hoping to get some input from you guys!

 

I'm allowing a budget of between $3000-$4000 for the camera, which should come with a couple of mags, a viewfinder and a video tap. I'm not too fussed on the lens mount, as I don't have any glass yet, but for the sake of being able to rent, a PL mount would probably be best.

 

Now, I've found an Aaton A-Minima for around the $3500 mark, which seems like a really good price, and I'm seriously considering it. My question: is there a reason why I shouldn't pull the trigger on that?

 

Anything else that a complete newbie should consider before going down the S16 road?

 

Any/all input would be extremely appreciated!

 

Thanks!

 

PS. I'm in Sydney, Australia if that makes any difference!


  • 0

#2 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2427 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:29 AM

A 16SR should come in well under that.


  • 0

#3 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:00 AM

A-Mins are problematic in that they take special wound rolls of only 200' from Kodak. They were designed to get into tight places as a small camera. A good Arri SR 2 or 3 would be a great option as would any of the XTR Aatons (which are better for hand-held work). The LTR54 and LTR7s as well, from Aaton, while older, would also be a good bet so long as it's been converted to S16mm and PL.

 

Though if this is just for one project, I would recommend renting. A Full SR3 package, with lenses, from Arri CSC, for example, comes in at about $500/day list-- though you could certainly get a good discount as I bet they would love to have some of them fielded again.

 

If you do buy, you absolutely must sent the camera off for a CLA, so be sure to budget for that; as well as all the other necessary equipment such as Tripods, Follow Focuses, Matte Boxes, basic filter kit, changing tent, and get your hands on some spare cores as well as film pouches/cans.

 

Also, a note on the Arris, the SR3, and perhaps the SR2 has a strange core replacement thing (i forget the exact name of it) where on your take up side, you'll have no core. Now, this can be nice, or a pain depending on how you shoot, but i'd ask to make sure an SR comes with this as they are a few hundred from Arri, and/or with a 2" core adapter (which is what I use).

 

Also, don't forget your light meter ;)

 

 

Also also, make sure whatever tripod you have is up to the weight of the fully kitted out film camera.


  • 0

#4 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1675 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:10 AM

Check out an xtr rather than an A-minima. The later is more of a B-cam. not sure what you are shooting, but a  XTR is quiet, A-Minima is less so. XTR has 400 or even 800 foot mags, A-minima is 200 only. I own and use a LTR 7 Super 16, it is quiet, has near perfect registration and is quite rugged. I am very happy with it and can confidently recommend to any analogue filmmaker, Aaton.


  • 0

#5 Dom Jaeger

Dom Jaeger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1604 posts
  • Other
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:39 AM

I'm much more familiar with Arris, so probably biased, but I think you'd be better off with an Arri S16 SR2 or SR3 (or as others have recommended an XTR). A-Minimas are lovely cameras, but generally not ideal as an A-cam. The archives here have some good info on this, see for example:

http://www.cinematog...showtopic=18366

 

These days even SR3 kits can be had for within your budget.

 

Another option is to buy the glass and rent the camera, which might be a better long term investment. With S16 sized digital sensor cameras becoming available good S16 lenses should hold (or even increase) in value more than film cameras will. 

 

Or as Adrian mentioned (depending on the duration of your shoots and how organised you are) it might be worth looking into renting a full production kit including lenses, grip and accessories - the advantage being that you won't need to pay more to have your gear checked and potentially serviced after buying it, and if there are any issues the rental house can simply supply a replacement. When you calculate your budget, it's worth noting that the cost of buying high-end film gear doesn't end with the purchase, you also need to factor in the added expenses of testing, possible repairs and ongoing maintenance (as well as schedule disruptions when something stops working properly). It's the reason most serious productions rent their gear rather than buying. You can negotiate substantial discounts for long term hire, particularly with film-based equipment these days. Try Cameraquip (where I work), Lemac or Panavision.

 

Or (as a final option) you could find a DOP who already owns a S16 camera and hire them and their camera to shoot your project. 


  • 0

#6 James RossSmith

James RossSmith

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Student

Posted 12 October 2013 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for all the comments guys, definitely some things there that I hadn't considered. I know that the A-Minima only accepts the 200ft rolls from Kodak, but are you also saying that they're 'special' 200ft rolls from Kodak? Ie. I can't just by 200ft recans, they have to be designated for the A-Minima specifically? If that's the case, then that completely rules that camera out.

 

As for the buying vs. renting argument; this film series will be ongoing for the foreseeable future (over a year), and the filming schedule will be sporadic (at best). It will most likely be such that we can only organise a day of shooting a day or two beforehand, given the conflicting schedules of those involved. As such, I'd much rather have my own camera, even if it is more expensive to buy and service. I have my own lighting gear, and we're also looking at getting audio equipment too. The only thing I could myself renting on a reasonably frequent basis would be the lenses. Given that the image quality is going to stem from the glass, I'd rather buy and become familiar with the camera body, and then put money into renting top quality lenses as I need them.

 

Having said all that, I'd still like to look at relatively modern S16 platform if possible. This is what attracted me to the A-Minima in the first place, although I'd like the ability to shoot up to ~70fps and at least a 400ft magazine. I've seen the Aaton Xtera around as well, which seems like a perfect fit, although it may be a little too expensive. As for the Arri's, I'll have to keep my eye out and do some more research, but they seem to be a good fit too. As mentioned somewhere above, most of the shots will be ENG-style on the shoulder, so something more suited to that sort of style will be a big plus.

 

Thanks again!


  • 0

#7 Anthony Schilling

Anthony Schilling
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1053 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Portland, OR

Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:23 PM

I've never used it but like the idea of the A-minima for it's compact size. Not a fan of bigger rigs. One turn off is that Kodak is now only selling the 250D and 500T on the A-minima spools. I don't know if it's easy or possible to load empty spools?


  • 0

#8 James RossSmith

James RossSmith

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Student

Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:31 PM

That's what drew me to the A-Minima as well. It would be such a good platform to build upon, whilst still retaining its small form factor. I have no idea about re-spooling for the A-Minima. If Kodak only sells those two stocks for the A-Minima, that would definitely rule out that particular camera, which is a real shame.

 

I've been doing some research, and the Arri SR-3 High Speed looks perfect for what I need. 150 fps would definitely come in handy (won't need to hire that FS-700), and it's still relatively modern, with plenty of accessories etc on the market. I'll have to keep my eye out, some recent Advanced models have gone for around the $USD2500 on eBay, which would still allow me to invest in accessories and or a lens.


  • 0

#9 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:19 PM

SR3HS is louder than the typical SR as most high speed cameras are. It's not by much; but it is louder none the less. Nothing a barney couldn't solve.

 

If you're going the SR route (like I did) I recommend getting lightweight rods for it which'll make it much more manageable for hand-holding-- though the flat bottom isn't really ideal (though you can just stick it on an apple box when you need a quick set up).

I love my SR3, though I'll say if you get onboards get them recelled, and look into a block battery as well for when you're on sticks.


  • 0

#10 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2030 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 14 October 2013 - 01:34 PM

I've had to practically put my ear ON an SR3 to hear it running...then it wasn't so much of a sound as a vibration. They are the quietest film cameras I've ever shot with. My SR2 is very quiet as well but not as much as the SR3.

 

I've been looking at A-Minimas for a many years and while the size looks great and the 200ft mags don't bother me, the sound level and loading quirks have kept me away.


  • 0

#11 Zac Fettig

Zac Fettig
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 338 posts
  • Other
  • Boston

Posted 14 October 2013 - 02:23 PM

Would you buy a French car or a German one, given a choice?
 

I'm biased. I love my Arri, even if it does sound like a sewing machine. I wish I could buy a SR3 right now.

 


  • 0

#12 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1883 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 14 October 2013 - 03:40 PM

I've had to practically put my ear ON an SR3 to hear it running...then it wasn't so much of a sound as a vibration. They are the quietest film cameras I've ever shot with. My SR2 is very quiet as well but not as much as the SR3.

 

 

Hey Will,

What are your maintenance costs on your SRs?  Do you know what they are doing when they do a CLA?  I mean specifically,  your tech on your SRs?  Do SRs have a required service after an elapsed time or is it just the footage used that brings up a service?


  • 0

#13 flavio filho

flavio filho
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 247 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London

Posted 17 October 2013 - 08:57 AM

You could buy a Bolex EL. They come in a very good price these days and for a starter they're really good.
The Kern zoom lens that comes with has an internal light meter very accurate.

And... I'm selling one in case you're interested :)
 


Edited by flavio filho, 17 October 2013 - 08:58 AM.

  • 0

#14 Randy J Tomlinson

Randy J Tomlinson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 109 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • USA / Europe

Posted 17 October 2013 - 10:44 AM

im selling my arri SR3 advanced for 3000 AU $

it comes with two 400' mags and two battery packs (refurbished) and charger as well as a ground glasses etc...

PM me for detail list of what i have.

 

 

ricardolino_elektronik_film-videokameras

 

ricardolino_elektronik_film-videokameras


  • 0

#15 Dom Jaeger

Dom Jaeger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1604 posts
  • Other
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:26 AM

You could buy a Bolex EL. They come in a very good price these days and for a starter they're really good.
The Kern zoom lens that comes with has an internal light meter very accurate.

And... I'm selling one in case you're interested :)
 

 

I wouldn't recommend an EL for sound recording, if that's a requisite.

 

 

Hey Will,

What are your maintenance costs on your SRs?  Do you know what they are doing when they do a CLA?  I mean specifically,  your tech on your SRs?  Do SRs have a required service after an elapsed time or is it just the footage used that brings up a service?

 

I've managed a fleet of rental SRs (mainly SR3s) for 8 years, as well as serviced numerous film school SRs, they're incredibly durable. For an owner-operator who might only use their camera sporadically - excepting exposure to fine dust or sand or corrosive environments like beaches, or a poor storage environment - they should only need a service check every few years and a major CLA maybe once every 5 or 6 years. That would be a strip down and fresh lubrication of the movement and drive chain and checking for wear in those parts, as well as service to the mags and possibly recelling the on-board batteries. Arri lubricants are extremely long lasting, so if a camera wasn't used for a few years and stored well you could extend that further. If the camera was working fairly constantly you would want to have it checked more frequently, with a major service every 3 or 4 years. I imagine you could probably work an SR3 moderately for many years without a CLA before you'd notice any issues (mainly noise and unsteadiness), but by then you would have introduced more wear and replacement costs than if it had been regularly serviced. 

 

The magazines tend to require more regular attention than the camera, particularly the feed and take-up tensions.

 

If the camera has been exposed to excessive dust, sand, salt spray or sea water it should be immediately serviced.


Edited by Dom Jaeger, 17 October 2013 - 11:27 AM.

  • 0

#16 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1883 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:27 PM

 

.

 

 

I've managed a fleet of rental SRs (mainly SR3s) for 8 years, as well as serviced numerous film school SRs, they're incredibly durable. For an owner-operator who might only use their camera sporadically - excepting exposure to fine dust or sand or corrosive environments like beaches, or a poor storage environment - they should only need a service check every few years and a major CLA maybe once every 5 or 6 years. That would be a strip down and fresh lubrication of the movement and drive chain and checking for wear in those parts, as well as service to the mags and possibly recelling the on-board batteries. Arri lubricants are extremely long lasting, so if a camera wasn't used for a few years and stored well you could extend that further.

 

Thanks Dom.

If an SR has been properly maintained what does a CLA typically cost?  

 

Do you have any thoughts on comparitive maintenance costs for SR vs Aaton vs ACL ?   For the exercise one could assume they all begin as low mileage fully serviced cameras.  Owner operated,  sporadic use.   Hard question,  I'm guessing,  but a really interesting one that has bugged me forever.

 

Cheers,

Gregg.


  • 0

#17 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2030 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:19 PM

 

Hey Will,

What are your maintenance costs on your SRs?  Do you know what they are doing when they do a CLA?  I mean specifically,  your tech on your SRs?  Do SRs have a required service after an elapsed time or is it just the footage used that brings up a service?

Just saw your post Gregg, sorry it took a while.

 

A good lube, tune, flange adjustment, general quieting of body and one lens collimating an SR shouldn't be more than $750. I know Bernie at Super 16, Inc. would probably charge about that and it would purr like a kitten when done.

 

NOW, keep in mind that once that is done, your camera will probably be fine for several years unless you are renting it out alot. These SRs are meant to last and are built like tanks so one service will go a long while.

 

I've got a good friend who's also an Arri tech that will check on my cameras from time to time if I notice anything.

 

Also, ARRI will help you out from time to time if you catch their techs on a good day. I'm sure they don't officially support older SRs anymore but they love to see them running and will usually offer advice if not parts and service.

 

Everyone has their favorite cameras and I have alot of respect for Aaton but in the U.S. you may be better off with ARRI SRs since there are just so many of them around and so many people can work on them. Ask around in your home town for a rental house; you may find an aging ARRI tech that's relegated to working on lenses that would love to open up an SR again.


  • 0

#18 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2030 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:22 PM

ACL's are also a favorite of Bernie's so if you have questions you can call or email him and he'll give you an Irishman's opinion on all those cameras...he's worked on all of them for many years.

 

http://super16inc.com


  • 0

#19 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1883 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:47 PM

ACL's are also a favorite of Bernie's so if you have questions you can call or email him and he'll give you an Irishman's opinion on all those cameras...he's worked on all of them for many years.

 

http://super16inc.com

 

Thanks Will,

I keep meaning to do that but I always feel a bit mean picking someone's brains if there is no chance of future work.  The East Coat US is about as far as you can get from NZ.   In the 80s/90s when I owned an ACL I and had it serviced regularly there were a few ACLs used by Aussi Tv that had migrated to NZ,  and a few people who knew how to service them.  I had a tech who worked at TVNZ who like most guys did jobs after hours.  He was quite cheap and could make that camera feather quiet.   But I lost touch with him,  can't find him.  Resurfacing (me) after a 20 year break (now ACL II) it is hard to find anyone in NZ who knows ACL.   Best strategy sofar seems to be to interest techs at Panavision etc in after hours jobs,  though they are not familiar with ACL.   ACLs are very simple.  The whole movement,  drive train and prizm block is mounted on a single metal plate,  a small thing sitting in the palm of  ones hand.  They should be cheap to maintain,  but the available expertise is shrinking.  On the other hand,  parts are cheap,  very modular.   And there are still people in Aussi,  Europe and the States who have the tools to do a full rebuild.   


  • 0

#20 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2030 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:41 PM

Bernie won't mind the conversation, even if you wouldn't send something to him, he's good people.

 

I sent my Beaulieu 4008 to Björn Andersson in Sweden a couple years ago and it felt like I was sending a child off to boarding school on the other side of the planet. But the end result was a perfect camera, probably in better shape than the day it was made. Took a while with customs and everything but it was well worth it.

 

I would just make sure that whatever camera you get into service won't be an issue for you. 


  • 0


Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineTape

The Slider

Opal

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Visual Products

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Abel Cine

Opal

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

The Slider

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks