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.