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Are 16mm cameras worth investing nowadays?


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#1 Anh T Dang

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:35 AM

I came across a fully functional XTR prod with videotap, 6 mags and 7 batts put for sale for $6,500.

 

Now I have no doubt that the XTRProd is a very nice camera and the price seems pretty good to me. But technicals aside, and strictly business-wise, is a 16mm camera system still worth investing into? Everywhere I go nowadays, I see digital. The last time I talked to a local DP, he said his $80,000 SR3 system has been on the shelf for 2 years while his REDs and Nikons have been getting most work. This DP does a lot of commercials, corporate videos and occasionally features.

 

I'm in love with the S16 format but wanted to take extra caution when it comes to buying gears, so I'd like to pick you experts' brains on this matter. It seems like people are still buying/renting 16mm cameras but mostly for personal projects. I'm aware that there's a wedge of work out there that asks for s16, but is it big enough to put my money in?

 

Thanks a lot in advance!

Anh Dang.


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:24 PM

I wouldn't look at a film system as a money-maker. They're nice to have and I still get to use my SR3 on occasion; but honestly, you'd make a lot more money a lot more quickly spending 6500 on a MKIII package of some kind, or one of the Black Magics which people seem to be taking a shine to.


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#3 Pavan Deep

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:51 PM

It's very difficult to get 16mm jobs, but it does depend where you are, it's good to have and that's a very good price. I think very few people make much money from working with Super 16 alone.

 

Pav


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#4 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:29 PM

i just shot a low budget ad yesterday on S16. processed overnight. Got it scanned and graded today. edit starts Monday. 

Everyone at post house was saying that colours and looks come out well on film. The colourist was very excited grading a film based project.


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#5 Will Montgomery

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:36 PM

... or one of the Black Magics which people seem to be taking a shine to.

Just shot a talking head job with two BMCC's and one Pocket Cinema Camera. The end result after working with my film colorist was great but shooting with them was frightening as there's no indication of how much space is left on the hard drive and the audio section is simply horrible without any meters. I recorded sound on a Zoom H4N and used the on-board BMCC sound simply to sync the audio (which worked flawlessly).

 

It was actually an interesting half step away (or to) film since I shot in the "film look" mode which requires heavy post color correction but my colorist was pleased with his options even in the ProResHQ codec. Not enough hard drives to shoot raw.


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:42 PM

Aye. the time remaining is a pain. Though, what I learned was if you hit playback it'll give you the time recorded at the bottom. Then it's just a question of knowing how "long" each card size goes. On the feature, shooting RAW on the cinema, I had each drive labeled "conservatively", e.g. 55 min on the 480gb and 25min on the 240 gb sandisks. Then we change them out much as we would short-end film. It's worked pretty well so far, though we had two "roll outs." Nothing lost though (though I wish it gave an audible warning of something; else you can miss that it's rolled out).

 

on board is crap; but we're doing double system. I much prefer, as well, the pocket, to the cinema--- easier for me to know what lenses to use and I get to use my S16mm glass!

 

Which bringing this back on topic; may wind up being a problem if you're looking for a S16mm package. If the BMPCC and competitors (which may or may not come out) could cause a huge run up in price for S16mm glass, much as the RED, back in the day, caused "cinema" lenses to become way over-inflated in price for many years (it's still actually kind of an issue, if you ask me).


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#7 Will Montgomery

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 01:29 PM

If there was going to be a run on 16mm glass it would have already happened. I don't think most people that are buying the Pocket version think in terms of cine glass; they are thinking, "what's the best m4/3 lens I can get?"

 

It was actually nice to have something of an autofocus for a few shots with the Pocket Cine camera. For run-n-gun that's useful from time to time.

 

Now everyone will be looking at 4k and thinking they have to have that.


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#8 Will Montgomery

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 01:31 PM

As far as S16 as an investment... I don't think any camera body is much of a good investment these days in terms of money you'll get out of it from jobs. But from a creative health standpoint it's an excellent investment for sure; especially at today's prices.


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#9 steve waschka

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 09:02 PM

I think the number of clients savvy enough to ask for s16 is slim. I think the point more is about your love of the format. If it helps you generate more inspired and effective work... I'm not sure you can put a price on that. 


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#10 Philip Kral

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 11:49 PM

I personally just recently bought a S16 package. Although I would like to get some work out of it, I mostly bought it for the long term investment. That is, mostly personal projects and paid projects in the future. The way I see it, I just need one camera as long as film lasts (Even if we have to make it in our basements). 


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#11 Philip Kral

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 11:49 PM

I personally just recently bought a S16 package. Although I would like to get some work out of it, I mostly bought it for the long term investment. That is, mostly personal projects and paid projects in the future. The way I see it, I just need one camera as long as film lasts (Even if we have to make it in our basements). 


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#12 Philip Kral

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 11:52 PM

Holy crap, I hit the space bar to make another point and instead it posted this 3 times. Sorry about that, I was going to add that for steady work your still going to have to focus on a digital system. But any digital system will be a short term investment until the next "best thing" comes out. So try to keep in mind to purchase accessories and lenses you can use for multiple cameras. Now excuse me while I go and try to find out how to delete those other posts....


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