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BOLEX SBM lens suggestions for Super


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#1 Steven Budden

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 03:13 AM

I recently bought a Bolex SBM on ebay, and it came with a POE switar which seems to have a small amount of fungus forming in the lens. Anyway, it seems like the cost to repair the lens wouldn't be worth it because I've found a few of these new in the box for $800. ANd then I begin to think, $800, I can probably get a better zoom for just over that. Any suggestions on a zoom for super for roughly $1200? I have a Switar 10mm preset and a adaptor for c mount. I guess I have to get a PL mount to use most of the good lenses.

A Canon 8-64 sounds nice but is a bit out of my price range. The whole reason I started with a bolex was so that I could afford to own my own equipment and head out to film when inspiration strikes, keeping it low budget/ experimental. And I don't really want to be treking around with 15000 dollar lenses even if I could afford to. Some of the non super, Angenieux are lower cost. Any deals in the 35mm range? Would it be cheaper to get a high quality picture out of a set of switar primes? I want a small sharp lens that I can do some handheld shots with, closeup being far more important for my current work than distance.

I haven't even done the conversion yet. I'm just trying to secure the lenses that work first so when the converted machine comes back I'll be all set to go.

Trying to decide between low cost conversion and the factory.

Any help appreciated.

Thanks!

Steven
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#2 Robert Morein

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 03:03 PM

You really have to use a Switar zoom.
Bolexes have a prism, a large block of glass, that introduces a form of distortion known as spherical abberation. "RX" Switars have an optical formula that compensates for this by adding spherical abberation in a reverse direction.

For long focal length lenses, it's not a problem. The abberation becomes very signficant at short focal length.

Bolex RX cameras such as the SBM have a nonstandard lens flange to focal length distance. This is very critical with zooms; it cannot be adjusted out by the focus ring. It requires that the flange distance on the lens be adjusted to compensate, but that won't get rid of the focus problem.

The Switar zoom is regarded as having excellent optical quality.
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#3 Ian Marks

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 04:09 PM

I'm not sure that I agree that the Reflex Bolexes have a nonstandard flange to focal length distance, but in any event the prism does indeed introduce aberrations which need to be compensated for for optimum performance, especially when shooting wide open. Your POE zoom has been designed to correct for these, as are other "RX" lenses. It's a shame about the fungus, because your lens is a good one, especially as you have the 10mm Switar for wide shots. Presumably your 10mm will *just* cover Super 16, from what I've heard.

If I were you, I'd be looking at the modified 16-100 Switar offered by JKCamera (no, I'm not associated with them in any way). They turn the 16-100 into a completely manual lens. Check out this link:

http://www.jkcamera....Conversions.htm

Then I'd look for the Century supplementary lens that turns your 10mm into a 6mm super-wide, and pick up a few Series 9 close-up diopters for the zoom. You'd then have a pretty awesome lens package that would provide a lot of range for not a lot of money. (I don't know if the 10mm with the wide converter would vignette on a Super 16 camera - so that would be something to look into.)
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#4 Steven Budden

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 04:39 PM

I'm not sure that I agree that the Reflex Bolexes have a nonstandard flange to focal length distance, but in any event the prism does indeed introduce aberrations which need to be compensated for for optimum performance, especially when shooting wide open.  Your POE zoom has been designed to correct for these, as are other "RX" lenses. It's a shame about the fungus, because your lens is a good one, especially as you have the 10mm Switar for wide shots. Presumably your 10mm will *just* cover Super 16, from what I've heard.

If I were you, I'd be looking at the modified 16-100 Switar offered by JKCamera (no, I'm not associated with them in any way). They turn the 16-100 into a completely manual lens. Check out this link:

http://www.jkcamera....Conversions.htm

Then I'd look for the Century supplementary lens that turns your 10mm into a 6mm super-wide, and pick up a few Series 9 close-up diopters for the zoom. You'd then have a pretty awesome lens package that would provide a lot of range for not a lot of money. (I don't know if the 10mm with the wide converter would vignette on a Super 16 camera - so that would be something to look into.)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That is helpful...

How could the supplementary lens that turns the 10mm preset switar into super wide not vignette if the 10mm already "barely covers" for super? Also, I am interested in theatrical release in festivals for the shorts, so I hear the 10mm is even more apparent in super for the blow up.

Hmmm... so I can't just stick on a PL mount and use various lenses? Why do they make all these outrageously priced bolex SBM to PL mounts?

As for the JK Camera... What would be the benefit of turning the Vario Switar POE 16-100 into a purely manual lens? Can't it be used that way anyway?

And about the fungus... would I do better to try and have it removed or just purchase another lens, used or even new? The lens did come with a bunch of extras, Tiffen high trans filters that fit, an end lens that brings focus down to 3 feet. Has anyone had experience removing that fungus, or have knowledge about the cost? It also has a few deep dings in the barrel, so it isn't exactly a collector's piece anyway.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Steven
San Francisco
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#5 Robert Morein

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 07:58 PM

That is helpful...

How could the supplementary lens that turns the 10mm preset switar into super wide not vignette if the 10mm already "barely covers" for super? Also, I am interested in theatrical release in festivals for the shorts, so I hear the 10mm is even more apparent in super for the blow up.

Hmmm... so I can't just stick on a PL mount and use various lenses? Why do they make all these outrageously priced bolex SBM to PL mounts?

As for the JK Camera... What would be the benefit of turning the Vario Switar POE 16-100 into a purely manual lens? Can't it be used that way anyway?

And about the fungus... would I do better to try and have it removed or just purchase another lens, used or even new? The lens did come with a bunch of extras, Tiffen high trans filters that fit, an end lens that brings focus down to 3 feet. Has anyone had experience removing that fungus, or have knowledge about the cost? It also has a few deep dings in the barrel, so it isn't exactly a collector's piece anyway.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Steven
San Francisco

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It depends upon where the fungus is.
For example, an Angenieux 12-120 has a sealed cell in which fingus frequently grows. OTOH, if it's on the outside of a cell or group, easily accessible, it might be pretty reasonable. Unfortunately, if it's gone on for a while, the acid secreted by the fungus permanently degrades the surface.
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#6 Ian Marks

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 08:07 PM

"How could the supplementary lens that turns the 10mm preset switar into super wide not vignette if the 10mm already "barely covers" for super?"

Honestly, I don't know if this combination would work for Super 16 or not, but I don't think the addition of a supplementary lens automatically results in vignetting. I don't think Century still makes their adapters, but the last time I looked Chambless was still carrying them, so they could probably tell you. I had one years ago but I stupidly sold it.

I recently acquired a 10mm Schneider which covers Super 16 and have been able to put a Nizo Schneider WA converter on it (originally intended for a Nizo Super-8 camera) and the combination works. I've since acquired a second WA converter - to actually use on a Nizo.

The Century and Nizo supplementary lenses are essentially the same idea as the "Aspheron" supplementary lenses for the Zeiss Superspeeds that turn the wide angle lenses into even wider lenses (and if this approach is good enough for Zeiss...). There are Aspheron attachments for more modern Switar zooms too (but not the 16-100, unfortunately). Bear in mind that for these to work, they have to go on a lens that has a macro function (like many Super-8's) or which focusses very close (like your 10mm Switar and my 10mm Schneider).

A PL mount on a Bolex just seems wrong to me, but I guess the idea is for the Bolex to serve as a "B" camera on a shoot where the "A" camera has a PL mount -that way both cameras draw from the same lens kit. Remember however that even the best PL-mount lenses weren't designed with the Bolex's prism in mind.

"What would be the benefit of turning the Vario Switar POE 16-100 into a purely manual lens? Can't it be used that way anyway?"

The POE has a built-in meter, auto-exposure, and a zoom motor - all things that can get in the way or break. I'm not sure, but you may need batteries to operate the aperature manually (I'm hoping someone else can chime in here with the correct information). If I recall, the aperture control isn't around the barrel of the lens, but on a dial on a piece which sticks out below it - part of a whole bit of business I don't really understand. Turning the lens into a purely mechanical affair makes it comparable to other all-manual professional lenses.

I guess a lens tech would have to look at your lens to determine whether the fungus could be removed - I've heard that if the problem is bad the fungus can "etch" the glass.

You might also just consider purchasing 25mm and 75mm Switars instead of a zoom. With Bolex to C-mount adapters on each lens, you could change lenses just as quickly as with a PL mount.
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#7 Steven Budden

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:55 PM

"How could the supplementary lens that turns the 10mm preset switar into super wide not vignette if the 10mm already "barely covers" for super?"

Honestly, I don't know if this combination would work for Super 16 or not, but I don't think the addition of a supplementary lens automatically results in vignetting. I don't think Century still makes their adapters, but the last time I looked Chambless was still carrying them, so they could probably tell you. I had one years ago but I stupidly sold it.

I recently acquired a 10mm Schneider which covers Super 16 and have been able to put a Nizo Schneider WA converter on it  (originally intended for a Nizo Super-8 camera) and the combination works. I've since acquired a second WA converter - to actually use on a Nizo.

The Century and Nizo supplementary lenses are essentially the same idea as the "Aspheron" supplementary lenses for the Zeiss Superspeeds that turn the wide angle lenses into even wider lenses (and if this approach is good enough for Zeiss...).  There are Aspheron attachments for more modern Switar zooms too (but not the 16-100, unfortunately). Bear in mind that for these to work, they have to go on a lens that has a macro function (like many Super-8's) or which focusses very close (like your 10mm Switar and my 10mm Schneider).

A PL mount on a Bolex just seems wrong to me, but I guess the idea is for the Bolex to serve as a "B" camera on a shoot where the "A" camera has a PL mount -that way both cameras draw from the same lens kit. Remember however that even the best PL-mount lenses weren't designed with the Bolex's prism in mind.

"What would be the benefit of turning the Vario Switar POE 16-100 into a purely manual lens? Can't it be used that way anyway?"

The POE has a built-in meter, auto-exposure, and a zoom motor - all things that can get in the way or break. I'm not sure, but you may need batteries to operate the aperature manually (I'm hoping someone else can chime in here with the correct information). If I recall, the aperture control isn't around the barrel of the lens, but on a dial on a piece which sticks out below it - part of a whole bit of business I don't really understand. Turning the lens into a purely mechanical affair makes it comparable to other all-manual professional lenses.

I guess a lens tech would have to look at your lens to determine whether the fungus could be removed - I've heard that if the problem is bad the fungus can "etch" the glass.

You might also just consider purchasing 25mm and 75mm Switars instead of a zoom. With Bolex to C-mount adapters on each lens, you could change lenses just as quickly as with a PL mount.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Ian,

I've found out on the POE switar it can be used manually. You just set it on a certain manual setting. I don't like the auto exposure idea but I've heard it works pretty well in this case. Also, from what I hear you can cut in the POE vario switar with the later switar primes and not notice much of a difference in contrast or sharpness. Also, it can zoom even to 16mm in super "if you're lucky" whatever that means. So that and a 10mm with an adapter should be a pretty well rounded arsenal at an affordable price. At leat enough to get me started.

And about the bolex only working with switars because of the prism viewing system, I believe there are some PL mounts that correct for this (Les Bosher makes one, and there are those blue ones on ebay) which run around $500. So that could be an option as well.

Do you work a lot with the small primes? Is it worth paying more for a preset, do you think?

Steven
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#8 Ian Marks

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 02:39 PM

I know the POE zoom can be used manually - it just seems somewhat less convenient to have the aperture adjustment where it is instead of around the lens barrel as on every other lens. Not a huge deal. I just bought an 18-86 myself but haven't taken it out of the box. My understanding is that the 16-100 is good for super-16 all the way through its range.

As for non-Switars working on the reflex Bolexes, I know that some non-RX lenses will work just fine with no adjustment whatsoever. It's just a matter of finding out which ones (which means shooting some kind of test). Among those that supposedly "don't work," I believe many will work just fine as long as you stop down a couple of stops from maximum aperture. I think the situation is more critical with zooms than with primes (although the Pan Cinor 17-85 F2 is supposed to be one of the lenses that will work without special adjustment). I know that film-to-flange distance is critical with zooms anyway. One occasionally sees the 12-120 Angeniuex in a special "RX" factory C-mount, so I'm pretty sure that it's one of the lenses that doesn't work well on the reflex Bolex in its usual C-mount form.

I think the later, pre-set Switar primes are the perfect set up for a Bolex with a turret - everything's made to work together, the lenses are famously sharp and contrasty - it's all just very old-school cool. On a bayonet camera, I think I'd rather have a zoom so I'm not constantly switching lenses (a pain with C mounts). Whether or not it's worth it to pay more for the pre-sets over the earlier versions is a personal choice. I don't own a set of Switar primes myself... the prices on the presets are too high for me.
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#9 Sam Wells

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 07:36 PM

I have a 10mm "old" Switar RX and a 26mm "preset" - the 26 is a touch sharper but they match quite well.

I have the Century 6mm adapter also, but the Bolex Aspheron is better, also more money. (the Bolex design is actually what Zeiss used)

I don't know if it would cover S16 any better than a 10mm bare, I wouldn't count on it.

-Sam

Edited by SamWells, 20 May 2005 - 07:37 PM.

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#10 Steven Budden

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 11:47 AM

Anyone have any experience comparing the newest, Multicoated switars to the older ones or the presets?

I wonder how much the Multi coating changes things? It sure changes the price!

STeven
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#11 Steven Budden

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 12:07 PM

I wish there were more lenses available for the Bolex Bayo mount!

Anyway, Les Bosher makes a bayo to PL mount. Surely he would correct for focal distance right? Then I could use PL lenses, or could I only use PL zooms or primes over 25mm focal length?

Also, I know you can use Switars on non bolex cameras (non reflex) and the footage markers are just wrong right? So what if I use non rx lenses on the bolex (under 25mm)? Will the footage just be wrong or will the image I see not be what I get?

Thanks!

Steven
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