Hello, can you use Nikon 35mm SLR still photography lenses with Bolex H16 turret or SBM cameras, for standard 16mm (not S16)? If so, what problems arise? I've read here how Rx adjustment is needed in lenses for Bolex reflex cameras down to a certain focal length, but is it not too costly to have the Nikon lenses altered? As an aside, can you use Nikon lenses on 35mm cameras such as Arri (perhaps I should ask this in the 35mm section). Also, why are movie camera zoom lenses so physically large? Most of them look enormous compared to still photography zooms. I made lots of Super 8, double 8 and a couple of 16mm films in my teens and early twenties, and seeking to get back into 16mm. My longest running films were up to 25 minutes so I have some experience in film making. Thanks, Jon
Bolex and Nikon?
Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:12 PM
Robert M. Ditto
Infinity Focus Pictures.
Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:34 PM
Thanks Richard and Robert, this is very encouraging information. Cameras with lenses are incredibly expensive, so I'm looking around for a Bolex body to put my Nikon lenses on. At the moment I'm looking at an EBM and even an H16 M on ebay. The EBM doesn't come with battery or charger so I would need to get those. The M doesn't have a viewfinder so also looking into that little problem. Very interesting article in Falconer Communications. I knew that John Dykstra built up his own camera systems but didn't know about the Nikon lenses. I know they used Nikon slr cameras for filming a special effects sequence in Indiana Jones 2.
Edited by Jon O'Brien, 24 September 2016 - 09:36 PM.
Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:59 PM
As everyone else has said, you should be fine with most Nikon lenses. The prism issue is real but can be quite subtle and go unnoticed. At f2.8 a lot of the aberrations introduced by the Bolex prism are reduced, and many Nikons aren't faster than that. Bolex decided that lenses beyond 50mm didn't need correction, but from my research and testing, the critical factor is exit pupil distance. This is easily checked by looking through the back of a lens at the apparent position of the iris. The Bolex prism has a more adverse affect on lenses with a very shallow exit pupil - ie if the iris appears to be only a few cms or less beneath the rear element. This tends to be something you find in shorter focal lengths, which is why Bolex simplified things to only correcting 50mm and below, but focal length is not a direct indicator of exit pupil depth. For example, a 25mm Switar has a shallower exit pupil position than a 10mm, and so a nonRx 25mm will look worse than a nonRx 10mm when used wide open on a reflex Bolex.
Anyway, the simple answer is, anything f2.8 or slower should be fine, and if a lens is faster just check that the iris does not appear to sit a few cms or less under the rear element, in which case it's best to stop the lens down. I don't know of anyone who modifies lenses to make them Rx, I suspect it wouldn't be worth the cost.
Regarding your Arriflex question, you generally can't use Nikons (or indeed many other stills lenses) on Arriflex cameras because the Arri flange depth is longer and so an adapter would need to seat the lens inside the camera mount. However some Arriflex models could be fitted with Nikon hard fronts.
Movie camera zooms are larger because they are very often faster, which necessitates a physically larger aperture and the optics to match. The largest ones are also long range, 10 or 12 times zooms with a long end of 250mm or more, which also needs large diameter optics. There is as well the sturdier mechanical construction that cine lenses require which can add some bulk, but I think it's mainly just the high speed and range.
Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:06 PM
Great information, thanks Dom. I didn't know any of that. What do you think of the Bolex EBM, compared to spring wound Rex-4 etc? I don't really mind either way, though the idea of spring wound appeals to me. I had an H16 non-reflex years ago. I'd like to make music 'videos' and short films for the internet, hopefully also to be shown in a small cinema I know (rear projection digital) if I can talk them into it. I know one of the people who run it. That's the dream anyway.
Edited by Jon O'Brien, 24 September 2016 - 11:07 PM.
Posted 25 September 2016 - 06:54 AM
I can offer you a S-16 Bolex RX5 in perfect order, strong spring, comparatively silent for a Bolex.
if you are interested, please email me.
Located in Germany.
Posted 25 September 2016 - 10:32 PM
My apologies if this has already been discussed on this forum ad infinitum, but what if, instead of regular 16mm, we are now talking S16, does all the above advice still apply? Are there any problems added when one considers a Bolex H16 that has been modified to S16? Also, in adapting a RX camera to S16, does the turret need to be moved over a bit to the side, to re-center the middle of frame under the lens, or can the turret stay where it is provided one is using the Nikon lenses?
Edited by Jon O'Brien, 25 September 2016 - 10:33 PM.
Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:41 AM
Here are my thoughts talking from bitter experience
> Yes, is possible to use Nikon 35mm F mount lenses with a Bolex, but they are a major pain in the butt for a few different reasons.
> Picture quality is pretty good and sharp, but always not as sharp as dedicated super 16mm lenses.
> Bolex prism issue has practically zero effect from f5.6 upwards and also on lenses 35mm and above. In sunlight, I tend to shoot 50d at f8 mostly.
> Major issues are crop factor (e.g. 50mm lens designed for 35mm is telephoto field of view on the bolex) and focusing. Focusing is a problem anyway due to the Bolex' very dim viewfinder, but made worse by the very short focus throw of these lenses. Manual focus 35mm lenses were developed with split image rangefinder focusing aids in mind, so on certain lenses you can rotate the barrel by 1mm and you are out of focus.
> Using wider lenses at f8 to f11 helps the depth of field. I used Kodak's DOF calculator app - but remember, the lens has the depth of field not the camera. So, if you are using a 35mm lens on a 16mm camera, you need to select 35mm on the app, not 16mm.
> Have also used a Contax Zeiss 50 1.7 with a C mount adapter - same issues as above, and extremely short focus throw.
> I also have a Switar RX 16mm lens which was designed for the Bolex originally. This thing is very small, feels like a toy and hard to focus on a more modern H16 SBM. It was designed for turret cameras I think, as its hard to rotate the focus barrel way into the mount.
In all honesty, you can get by with 35mm lenses but makes the Bolex even more difficult and agonising to use than it already is. I will be looking for a used Zeiss super speed prime lens in the future, and may even ditch the Bolex altogether.
Good luck and email me if you need more advice.