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Krasnogorsk 3 - Super 16mm

Super 16mm camera

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#1 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 06:27 PM

Hello all,

 

Well I am new to this web site and I hope my post hasn't been addressed before (I searched the forum of course). I appreciate your patience reading my rather long post, also introducing myself - I apologize if I'm drifting off topic for a moment. :-)

 

Well I am considering starting to pick up a film camera again. I was a Super 8mm user back in the day (1975 through 1981) and I never got the results I was looking for and I don't see that format ever yielding truly satisfying results (in my humble opinion and for what I have in mind, not to be disrespectful!), even with all recent efforts (Pro8mm, Logmar, Kodak's new planned camera line and film stock turnaround - for 2016....). I never bought a video camera/camcorder, because I just don't like the look at all, even the most skillfully graded footage I have seen (it's always glassy, harsh and "digital" looking).

Just to fill you in: I worked small jobs at the Frankfurt tv station "HR" (1977 - 83), and got a lot of insight regarding the sweet old Arriflex 16mm cameras, film loading, servicing, editing on the Steenbecks, in-house processing and the old machines where the films were aired "live" as opposed to telecine transfer which was still in its infancy - those (then) professional 16mm cameras were still in heavy use for all kinds of television productions. I studied photography and cinematography at the University, but I knew it would lead me nowhere - so I dropped out. I went full time for music, a decision I never regretted - but true motion picture film (even with all its hassle) is still my passion.

 

Recently I checked on Ebay: there are a handful of K-3 cameras for sale and most are converted to Super 16mm including re-centering the lens. Most are coming from the Ucraine and Bielarus. Prices are very affordable. I know that the first two numbers of the serial number represent the production year (please correct me if I'm wrong). One model is as recent as 1989 (last production run) - so I should be able to purchase later some nice, sharp prime lenses.

 

Here are my questions:

1) Has anyone purchased an already modified Super 16mm K-3? Is the optical axis really 100% re-centered? Is the new, widened film gate safe regarding scratching the film? I don't see any shifting to the side on the photos regarding the lens adapter ring....

 

2) is the view finder normally modified to match the new format? I wouldn't mind it not being wider, as long as the center is exactly natching film gate and optical axis - and as long as I know when unwanted vignetting occurs. I don't mind some guess work. I'm "old school" if it's necessary :-)

 

2) Would it be recommendable to remove the loop guides right away and hand-load, to eliminate the chance of scratches?

 

3) I don't have anyone who could service the camera nearby - so how reliable is it regarding motor speed, mechanics? I plan on mainly filming at 24 fps - perhaps some slow motion at the highest speed possible...

 

4) is it recommendable to purchase a battery adapter kit since the old, discontinued batteries are usually dead and new ones read to wrong read outs. I will eventually purchase a separate light meter, but the use is not always feasible since I plan on filming mostly spontaneously what I see (as opposed to an improvised studio set up) - some of it for use in music videos. No problem with filming wild (no crystal sync motor needed) as long as the actual film speed is close enough to 24 fps.

 

I don't plan on purchasing a fully serviced K-3 from the US. I am located in Portugal and the costs would be too high for an entry-level camera (will check it out anyway). BUT I see a lot of K-3 footage, both 16mm and Super 16mm (YouTube and Vimeo) which clearly have focus issues. Some shots are razor sharp though (even when considering it's Super 16mm) so it must be a lens issue.

 

I thought about a Super 16mm converted Bolex, but these are much more expensive and also seem to have issues. Do these wind up cameras handle the modern Kodak Vision 3 neg film stock well (jamming, lost loops, jitter, etc.).

 

Any hints and tips highly appreciated. Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Best wishes,

Christian

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 07:22 PM

P.S. Just watched the Ebay photos of the K-3 again: yes: there is a re-centering ring (along with the standard ring) on the camera which clearly shifts the lens to the side where the gate has been widened - I hope this is precision work. Any reply, sharing of experience with this Super 16mm camera highly appriated. Thanks, Christian


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#3 Carlos de Varona

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 12:41 AM

Christian, thanks for mentioning this camera. I have checked out the footage available on vimeo, and I definitely like what I see.

 

I was thinking of getting the canon scoopic, great 16m MOS cam too but, this is more than half the price and there is many available super16s.  What is the max you would pay for one?

 

Thanks bud!


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#4 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 08:56 AM

Carlos, I would not pay more than EUR 350 (about 380 USD) plus shipping. I have seen a lot of footage with bad loops (severe vertical streaks and instability), light leaks, typical scratches (very likely from the film guides that won't retract correctly because of dried up lubricant or dirt buildup) and a lot of footage has focus issues and/or vignetting. BUT the best K-3 footage I saw is as crisp and gorgeous.as 16mm/Super 16mm gets. Pure magic!

 

I am reluctant to burning much more money for a 16mm camera that isn't truly professional. I am located in Europe (Portugal) and there are basically only two EU countries (I know of) where you can get film stock/processing/scanning and eventually camera servicing: the UK and my native Germany. But these pro cameras go all for well over 10.000 USD, even heavily used and you'll probably need additional gear and eventually servicing since there are a lot of electronic/digital components (which even might become irreplaceable one day). If I had the money, I'd probably go for a late '60s 16mm camera (for example Arriflex - I heard the model BL can't be converted though), top notch converted to Super 16 (we are all now so used to the wide 16:9 frame that the old 3:4 aspect ratio just doesn't look right any more (IMHO) - and cropping precious 16mm film frame space is truly a waste! These still are mostly mechanical - and electronics (including motors and batteries) can be replaced by modern 3rd party products (usually from the US). As soon as I see LCD displays on a camera from the early '90s or earlier, I am very reluctant. A lot of equipment from this time (I am a musician and a lot of that stuff - keyboards, hardware gear, etc. uses similar technology) is dead and virtually irreplaceable by now. [text edited by myself to fix grammar errors]

 

Just sharing my thoughts, good luck bro!

 

Cheers,

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 25 February 2016 - 09:09 AM.

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#5 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 09:21 AM

P.S. I am not a snob (at all!) of course :-) I say "professional" as in: reliable, stable and sharp image - and able to shoot more than about 25 seconds at a time at 24 fps :-)

 

Christian


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#6 Will Montgomery

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 10:07 AM

I've had a K3 with the recentered lens mount, widened viewfinder, loop formers removed, and even the Bernie's laserbrighten process done to the mirror (highly recommended!). By the time you do all of that you're at $400-500. If you're looking for the cheapest way into 16mm, it's fine, but winding that camera constantly (every 20 seconds of film time) will get annoying very quickly. 

 

"Hey look! What a great shot, wait...do that again while I wind up my camera!" That happened ALL THE TIME for me.

 

I've had other wind up cameras like the Kodak K-100 that at least had a decent spring in them and didn't require winding constantly...although that's not a TTL focus camera.

 

I'll try to answer your questions directly:

 

 

1) Has anyone purchased an already modified Super 16mm K-3? Is the optical axis really 100% re-centered? Is the new, widened film gate safe regarding scratching the film? I don't see any shifting to the side on the photos regarding the lens adapter ring....

I bought the re-centered mount on eBay. Super easy to install. Just 4 screws. Gate scratching? Everything depends on how well the person filed the gate. I'd give it a 50/50 chance. If it does, you can take the gate out and work on it yourself to smooth it out.

 

2) is the view finder normally modified to match the new format? I wouldn't mind it not being wider, as long as the center is exactly natching film gate and optical axis - and as long as I know when unwanted vignetting occurs. I don't mind some guess work. I'm "old school" if it's necessary :-)

Usually not. It has to be drilled out to be wider and is rarely perfect. Du-All camera in NYC did mine and it was fine but not exactly perfect. The vignetting happens on the stock Meteor zoom lens when it is not re-centered on the widened gate. If you pick up some m42 still lens this will not be a concern as they cover a much wider area.

 

2) Would it be recommendable to remove the loop guides right away and hand-load, to eliminate the chance of scratches?

 

Yes, standard procedure for these cameras. It's a little of a pain to manually form the loops but once you do it 5 or 6 times it gets easier.

 

3) I don't have anyone who could service the camera nearby - so how reliable is it regarding motor speed, mechanics? I plan on mainly filming at 24 fps - perhaps some slow motion at the highest speed possible...

Bernie at Super16Inc.com and Du-All camera in NYC service these. Keep in mind that almost any service will cost more than the camera. There's no motor, it's a spring and not reliable or constant...it will slow down as the spring loses tension.

 

If you're just getting into 16mm I'd do the Scoopic MS. I know I've said this a million times, but for the money, you get the best of all worlds. If you have $1000 and don't need to handhold it very much, go Arri SR. I've never done the Bolex thing, plenty of people say they're great, just make sure you can focus through the lens.


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