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16mm Film Cameras?

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#1 John W. King

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 10:25 PM

Hello all,

 

As a little kid, I used to always shoot and develop my own movies on Super-8mm cameras.

 

In the past few years, however, I've moved toward the digital age using Panasonics and DSLRs. I want to go back to using film, however I want to get higher quality than Super 8 - is 16mm a good choice for a young filmmaker? And if so, what cameras are best? My price range is anywhere below $1000 (or a little above).

 

 

Thanks!


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#2 Lonny

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 10:42 PM

I sold my Beaulieu R16, which I'd spent a LOT of money buying extra accessories, magazines, 200ft spools, Ultra 16 gate to get a Super 16mm NPR.  So quiet, 400ft capacity, crystal speeds!  However, I wish I still had a small, run-and-gun sort of camera, so I've started looking at reflex Bolex 16mm cameras.  Depending on your needs, of course, I think a reflex Bolex H16 would be the way to go.  It's GREAT that you want to shoot film!  Long live film!


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#3 Philip Kral

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 12:40 AM

Lonny brings up an interesting point, are you looking for a run- and-gun camera similar to Super8? Or where you looking for like a heavy duty production camera?

 

One of the advantages of using film, is that all the cameras shoot the same stuff- it's just what luxuries or bells and whistles you want to have with it. There are a lot of good handheld (Or as Lonny put it, Run-and-gun) cameras such as the K-3, Canon Scoopic, Bolex and the R16 Beaulieu. They take 100ft of film (pretty much the equivalent to the 50ft of super8), although some can be adapted to take up more film (Such as Lonnys R16)

 

My first camera was the cheapest I could find- a Bell and Howell Filmo. Now my portable camera is Beaulieu R16 too (Mine is an old spring wound model). Awesome camera. Many of these cameras are also driven by a spring wound motors, which makes them always ready to go without batteries.

 

I agree with Lonny that a Bolex wouldn't be a bad place to start, Bolex's where like the DSLRs of the day, making filmmaking affordable with a camera that had all the bells and whistles (single frame, rewind, etc). I recommend doing some Google search's and compare them with other cameras you'll see on this topic.

 

It's probably worth mentioned that one of the options you could be looking for in a camera, is if the camera is regular 16mm, Super 16mm or Ultra 16mm. They all take the same film, but the gate is bigger on Super 16mm and Ultra 16mm, so naturally you can get a higher quality image. Naturally the price reflects this, many of the cameras I've mentioned come with those gates.

 

Unless you're looking for something bigger (Something that takes 400 feet of film) and can be used to sync sound too?


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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 02:55 AM

Yup...a Bolex is what's in your price range.  Not my favorite 16mm camera, but many other people love them.  I prefer Arriflex technology and I own an Arriflex 16 S/B.  I bought the camera package from Visual Products for $4000.  It included the following:

 

-Arriflex camera body

-Matte box with 2 filter trays

-Batter belt

-Zeiss planar lens kit: 16mm, 32mm, 50mm

 

Got it in great shape and it's still going strong.  Nowadays you could probably get the camera body on ebay for under a grand and send out to get serviced.  But then you would have everything else to purchase. 

 

But I would look at ebay.  There are a lot of decent film items up for sale.


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#5 Chris Elardo

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 12:05 PM

I'm one of those Bolex geeks, and I like what the camera offers as far as flexibility with animation, portability, etc.-  but what kind of shooting do you want to do? Are you set on Super 16 conversion? Some cameras are unable to be converted, or only at considerable expense. If you're happy with 4:3 aspect ratio and don't care about single frame or backwind features then a Scoopic or older Arri, etc. would probably be perfect. Costs rise considerably once you start grabbing lenses, filters, magazines, etc...

 

I have a Tobin time lapse motor along with a crystal synch ESM motor, pre-set Switars, a POE 16-100mm zoom and lots of filters and crap- it's tons of fun but it adds up fast!


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#6 Will Montgomery

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 01:09 PM

If you're coming from Super 8 I highly recommend looking at a Scoopic MS. They are fairly modern cameras often used for shooting high school football games in the U.S. They are the easiest 16mm cameras EVER to load, have a great (although fixed) zoom lens, batteries that can be easily re-celled and have a good autoexposure system that is extremely convenient. You're not going to shoot a feature with it but is just perfect for run-n-gun type shooting like for weddings and family events.

 

I think I was in a similar place you are now but about 8 years ago. I went through about 5 or 6 16mm cameras until I landed on the Scoopic MS for most things run-n-gun and an Arri SR2 when quality is most important and I have time to set up a shot.

 

Here are three decent entry level cameras...the Kodak K-100, Russian Krasnogorsk K3, Scoopic MS.

 

16mm_cameras.jpg


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#7 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 01:30 PM

One thing to note is that whether it's Super 8 or 16mm, today they are using the same emulsions that are a lot more advanced than when you were a kid. Same goes for scanning technology. 16mm camera bodies are pretty cheap but the price of lenses has gone through the roof lately.


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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 02:30 PM

If you're coming from Super 8 I highly recommend looking at a Scoopic MS. They are fairly modern cameras often used for shooting high school football games in the U.S. They are the easiest 16mm cameras EVER to load, have a great (although fixed) zoom lens, batteries that can be easily re-celled and have a good autoexposure system that is extremely convenient. You're not going to shoot a feature with it but is just perfect for run-n-gun type shooting like for weddings and family events.

 

The Scoopic is good for exactly that and you basically don't have to think.  You don't even have to meter if you want to trust the internal meter (which I wouldn't.)  The entire camera system is decent, but way too automated if you're looking to really get your hands dirty with the format.


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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 02:53 PM

 

The Scoopic is good for exactly that and you basically don't have to think.  You don't even have to meter if you want to trust the internal meter (which I wouldn't.)  The entire camera system is decent, but way too automated if you're looking to really get your hands dirty with the format.

I've actually had multiple colorists ask me what lens/camera combination I was using with the Scoopic because the footage was so sharp and exposure was spot on. It's not like most Super 8 exposure systems that breathe like crazy; it's remarkably good at exposing for what I'm focusing on. I do however set it and usually turn off the auto-exposure once set. 

 

From what John is saying about putting toes into 16mm from Super 8 and video, Scoopic would be a great step to get 16mm quality with Super 8 ease of use. 

 

If you want a camera that is rock steady and ready to shoot a feature go with an Arri SR (1, 2 or 3). Good luck carrying that around like a Super 8 camera or any video camera if you need that portability however.


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#10 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 02:57 PM

We have several regular clients who shoot on Scoopics, and the image quality is always very nice - sharp as a tack and quite steady.

 

I personally love my ACLII, but it's probably out of the OP's price range, once you factor in lenses and additional mags. If you're shooting anything long form, or where reloading the film is an issue, it's hard to beat a camera that takes preloaded mags. It takes about 10 seconds to swap out mags on the ACL. The trade off is that it's a bit on the heavy side, but it is built like a tank!

 

-perry


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#11 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 03:01 PM

I've actually had multiple colorists ask me what lens/camera combination I was using with the Scoopic because the footage was so sharp and exposure was spot on. It's not like most Super 8 exposure systems that breathe like crazy; it's remarkably good at exposing for what I'm focusing on. I do however set it and usually turn off the auto-exposure once set. 

 

From what John is saying about putting toes into 16mm from Super 8 and video, Scoopic would be a great step to get 16mm quality with Super 8 ease of use. 

 

If you want a camera that is rock steady and ready to shoot a feature go with an Arri SR (1, 2 or 3). Good luck carrying that around like a Super 8 camera or any video camera if you need that portability however.

 

I fully appreciate the benefits of the Scoopic.  I used it in college and it's a decent entry-level 16mm camera. 

 

But based on your budget/portability needs/quality, I would split the difference between the Scoopic & Arri SR and go with a Bolex, John.


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#12 John W. King

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 09:37 PM

First of all, thank you all for so many replies within one day!

 

But to answer some questions, I'm looking for something in-between run-n-gun and heavy duty. I don't want to shoot weddings and home videos so much as I want to make short films with a camera. I have a good cameraman that can handle heavy equipment, so weight isn't a matter, neither is windup or in-sync sound. 

 

I've done a ton of research in one day, and I'm considering between a Bolex H16 and a Krasnogorsk K-3. I love the quality of both, especially in B&W film (I'm moving toward making dark films, such as film noir, etc, so I want a low-light feel).


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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 09:40 PM

That's kind of camera independent. I would personally look into a good Eclair ACL or NPR package as it can grow with you a bit (go S16mm, change to PL mount etc etc). It's a buyer's market for cameras at the moment-- though lenses are another issue. Staying R16 on something with a C Mont (NPR) you can get some pretty good pretty cheap glass on a still pretty serviceable body which will open you up to 400' loads and some accessories which could carry over to something like an SR or LTR/XTR in time if you wanted to go that way.

I think one would find a K3 and a Bolex limiting in the long term, especially if you ever plan on shooting those new-fangled "talkies"


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#14 Will Montgomery

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 09:54 PM

 I've done a ton of research in one day, and I'm considering between a Bolex H16 and a Krasnogorsk K-3.

I've never owned a Bolex but I think you'd find the construction of the Bolex to be far superior.

 

A possible advantage on the K3 would be the M42 lens mount which has some great inexpensive glass available from Pentax. Maybe the form factor is a little easier to shoot with on the K3 and it is reflex so that helps when focusing. 

 

Even with all that the Bolex would be a better made camera for sure.

 

Can you get a reflex H16? If so I'd go with that.


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#15 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 10:06 PM

I've never owned a Bolex but I think you'd find the construction of the Bolex to be far superior.

 

Agreed.  I've never used a K3 but I've used the Bolex.  I think it will fit your needs, provided you are okay with an MOS camera as Adrian pointed out.  I was looking at the Rex-5 before I bought my Arri S.  They should be within your price range, now.


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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 10:07 PM

Of the two I'd go Bolex over K3, generally, though a properly working one of either is.. well.. properly working. Bolex has a special place in my heartof course, and there are times I'd've killed to have had one with me.


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#17 David Cunningham

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 10:47 PM

Bolex are heavy duty, dependable, easy to learn and quick cheap and easy to obtain. However, if you hope for Super16 i'd go Eclair or Arri as Bolex gets crazy expensive and difficult to covert to Super16. If you are happy with regular 16, bolex all the way.
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#18 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 11:13 PM

From my point of view, the Bolex is one of the easiest cameras to convert. Very affordable too. I have done easily over 50 conversions.

Jean-Louis
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#19 aapo lettinen

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 05:37 AM

I also like Bolexes a lot. Krasnogorsks have much brighter viewfinder image but I have used my Bolex over 12 years and it has missed a frame only ONCE. 

If shooting in cold I usually use A-winded spools to bypass the feed side friction which is not working reliably in my camera if ambient temperature is low (could use a little maintenance but there is nothing else wrong with the camera and a-wind does not create any scratches to the film so not a problem at all I think :) )

 

Krasnogorsks are easier to repair, though, and the lenses are quite good but those bodies are not as versatile as C-mount cameras where you can use almost every lens ever invented if you have corresponding adapters. 


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#20 Chris Elardo

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 11:38 AM

Bolex's are, by far, one of the cheapest and easiest camers to convert to S16. I have a S16 Rex5 and I'd love to add an SBM to the mix. Clean SBM's have become VERY difficult to obtain because they're the most rugged lens mount + the easiest to convert. Owners are definitely hanging on to these models.


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