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#1 Julian Fletcher

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 06:08 AM

Hi,

 

I am fed up with my Bolex SBM. The viewfinder is so dim, I can't hardly see it at f8 and its a pain to focus.

 

I am almost tempted to switch to super 8 and go for a Canon 814 or 1014 XLS - which have split image rangefinders - but appreciate the extra resolution 16mm gives.

 

So, my questions are

 

a) Does the Canon Scoopic have a split image rangefinder style focusing aid, in the viewfinder? I did read that the earlier "grey" coloured model does, but the later model doesn't. I massively prefer focusing aids with a split image / lines which come together when in focus.

 

B) Does the viewfinder go dim as the lens is stopped down?

 

Your help would be much appreciated. If anyone has knowledge of any other 16mm cameras with such a viewfinder, it would be much appreciated.

 

I attach an example of what I mean.

 

Cheers

Julian

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#2 Glen Brownson

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 06:43 AM

Hi Julian

The M & MS versions (newer black ones) dont have split image, and do darken with increasing f stop.

I've found this difficult to use when filming in bright conditions.

G


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#3 Robert Lewis

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 12:03 PM

Julian ... I have a difficulty in understanding why you are finding focusing your SBM such a problem.

 

I have a Bolex SBM, and I do not experience any difficulty.

 

Whilst you haven't said what lens or lenses you are using, I am wondering why you are trying to focus at f8. What one is advised to do when focusing is to open up the lens to it's maximum and then focus. That way you have maximum brightness through the viewfinder. Having focused, one should then close down the lens to the required exposure setting and all should then be well ... maximum brightness whilst focusing .... sharp focusing  .... followed by correct exposure.


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#4 Julian Fletcher

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 12:20 PM

Julian ... I have a difficulty in understanding why you are finding focusing your SBM such a problem.

 

I have a Bolex SBM, and I do not experience any difficulty.

 

Whilst you haven't said what lens or lenses you are using, I am wondering why you are trying to focus at f8. What one is advised to do when focusing is to open up the lens to it's maximum and then focus. That way you have maximum brightness through the viewfinder. Having focused, one should then close down the lens to the required exposure setting and all should then be well ... maximum brightness whilst focusing .... sharp focusing  .... followed by correct exposure.

 

I think that approach works well for static objects, but trying to shoot young family who are moving around - focusing is tough. Using S16 SBM, 16mm Switar RX, Kodak Vision 3 50D.


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#5 Robert Lewis

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 02:39 PM

 

I think that approach works well for static objects, but trying to shoot young family who are moving around - focusing is tough. Using S16 SBM, 16mm Switar RX, Kodak Vision 3 50D.

 

Gosh Julian!

 

With the constraints under which you are working, I can see that you not making life easy for yourself. Quite apart from the fact that you are using a slow stock, I have the impression that you are trying to focus at the correct f stop.

 

I think you would find it much easier if you were using 250D, say, because it would give you a higher f level and that would, in turn, probably allow you to get maximum light into the viewfinder if you were opening up the lens to focus. It would increase your depth of field too so helping you film young children who, I suspect, are moving around making focus more difficult.

 

I have some experience with the Super 8 cameras with split image rangefinders, but frankly I find those much more difficult to focus than the Bolex SBM, and the points I make about the speed of the film you are using would apply just the same.


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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 25 November 2016 - 10:07 AM

 

you are trying to focus at the correct f stop.

 

I think you would find it much easier if you were using 250D, say, because it would give you a higher f level and that would, in turn, probably allow you to get maximum light into the viewfinder if you were opening up the lens to focus. It would increase your depth of field too so helping you film young children who, I suspect, are moving around making focus more difficult.

Eh? He has to focus at the correct stop- he's following a moving target.

If he used a faster film he'd have to stop down even further so his finder would be darker, not lighter, when stopped down. It would make no difference to the finder brightness when opened up for focusing- that's determined by the maximum aperture of the lens. It's nothing to do with the film.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 25 November 2016 - 10:08 AM.

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#7 Robert Lewis

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Posted 25 November 2016 - 11:39 AM

Eh?C-He has to focus at the correct stop he's following a moving target.

If he used a faster film he'd have to stop down even further so his finder would be darker, not lighter, when stopped down. It would make no difference to the finder brightness when opened up for focusing- that's determined by the maximum aperture of the lens. It's nothing to do with the film.

 

It seems you have your view, and I have mine. The lower the f number the shorter is the depth of field. A faster film would allow the use of a higher f number which would in turn yield a greater depth of field. This would mean one had a greater range in focus if the required f number was higher and so within that greater range there would be less need to constantly re-focus. It works for me and very well too. I didn't use the term "stop down". I referred to opening up the lens when focusing. Furthermore, I used the term "maximum brightness when focusing" not "increased brightness". You seem to have forgotten that Julian appears to focusing at f8. Opening up the lens to maximum aperture when focusing would most certainly result in a brighter image in the viewfinder than would an image at f8. Finally, you say "He has to focus at the correct stop ...". It is that about which Julian is complaining and it isn't so.


Edited by Robert Lewis, 25 November 2016 - 11:52 AM.

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#8 Mark Dunn

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Posted 25 November 2016 - 02:25 PM

Saying that using a faster film makes the viewfinder brighter isn't a "view", it's wrong. FYI the right stop for 50ISO at 24fps on a sunny day is about f11-16 so he hardly needs a smaller aperture.

 

OP, sorry if you're confused, but Robert isn't helping you, and you don't need to use faster film.

Spilt-image finders do go dark at small apertures, it's the nature of the optics. They work well on prism-type viewfinders, such as most Super-8 cameras, because the prism is in front of the iris so you always view at full aperture. The later Scoopic 200 has a mirror shutter, not a prism, so the finder will go dim as you're viewing through the iris.

You may be able to have the ground-glass laser etched to improve the brightness- it was popular a while back but there don't seem to be many references to it now. I don't know if Beattie would be able to make a custom screen

http://www.intenscre...om/products.htm

 

Perhaps someone will chip in with some ideas.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 25 November 2016 - 02:39 PM.

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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2016 - 06:39 PM

The speed of the stock has no relevance when you are opening the iris all the way in order to focus in terms of getting maximum brightness in the viewfinder. And filming with a slower stock might allow you to shoot the scene at a wider lens aperture without an ND (or a less heavy one) compared to a faster stock and thus have a less dark viewfinder when operating.
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#10 Robert Lewis

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 05:32 AM

The speed of the stock has no relevance when you are opening the iris all the way in order to focus in terms of getting maximum brightness in the viewfinder.

 

 

I agree entirely. The point is that Julian said he was focusing at f8, and not opening up the iris to focus.

 

My point was that if he was opening up the iris he would have a brighter viewfinder. That is why I suggested he followed that procedure. The point I made about using faster film was in relation to increasing the depth of field and so perhaps reducing the frequency of refocusing as his children moved about whilst being filmed within an increased depth of field.


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#11 Julian Fletcher

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 01:34 PM

Thanks for everybody's input so far.

 

So imagine the scenario, we are in a park, nice summer's day. 3 year old daughter running around. I am trying to capture her on super 16mm.

 

I use 50d, shut down the shutter opening on the bolex to its minimum (i.e. most closed setting), and with my lightmeter - I meter 1/200secs approx. at 24fps. That gives me around f8. The variable shutter on the bolex has no effect on viewfinder brightness btw.

 

I can't use a tape measure to measure the focus so I have to rely on what I am trying to see in the viewfinder. Of course, I initially focus with the lens wide open, but resorting to that every time (unless its a static object) is impractical.

 

I choose to do the above, as it allows me to keep the lens open only to f8. If I was shooting 200t, or 250d - I'd be about f16 or even f22. Then I wouldn't see anything in the viewfinder - let alone to keep focus or even to the follow the action.

 

As a rule of thumb, I think I am doing the right thing keeping to 50d - but the whole thing is really getting me down.

 

Anybody got any suggestions or answers to the original question?

 

Cheers everybody.


Edited by Julian Fletcher, 26 November 2016 - 01:36 PM.

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#12 Glen Brownson

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 03:23 PM

Apologies if you already know this, but your post mentions super 16 - the Scoopic is standard 16mm.

Difficult and costly to convert to Ultra 16, and from what I have heard extremely difficult to convert to super 16.


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#13 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 06:28 PM

For a given view finder,  with the iris set, the things that affect the image brightness in the viewfinder are...

- the intended brighness of the exposed image.

- the speed of the fim stock.

- the shutter speed

- how denatured your eye is if you have been careless on a sunny day...and of course the condition of your eye(s)

 

If I missed something,  I will get told so...!.

 

I'm sure most of these have been mentioned already.  But consider the last one.  If viewfinder brightness is an issue.....protect your eyes a bit,  wear heavy sun glasses and remove just as you get on the finder.  Wear a good hat that shades your eyes and the finder.

 

But of course,  some VFs are crap compared to others.  Ones eye can adapt to a split prism VF.  But there are simple,  cheap aternatives.  Beulieaux have a reciprocating mirror.  I'm sure other cheap cameras have mirrors....


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#14 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 07:16 PM

The thing to remember with moving subjects is that depth of field is your friend. At f8 and beyond you should have enough depth of field with S16 to cover most action that doesn't get too close to the lens.

For example a 25mm lens at f8 set to 10' will cover anything from about 6' to 25'.

C mount lenses aren't really well suited to pulling focus during a shot, although you can practice a simple focus pull.

With Bolexes, there is also the option to use the reflex viewfinder for focussing with the lens wide open, but then switching to the door finder for following a moving subject.
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#15 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 11:00 PM

Regarding the initial question about 16mm cameras with split image focussing aids, I don't know if the early version Scoopic has it, the M and MS models don't, as mentioned already, and I can't think of any other 16mm camera that does. (It's rare to find one with a fixed lens.)

Some of the old Pan Cinor 16mm zooms had split image focussing aids, can't think of any other 16mm lenses that went that route.

As a point of historical interest, the Zeiss Ikon Movikon 16 from the 1930s used custom Zeiss lenses coupled to a rangefinder, the only movie camera I know of to use such a focussing aid. Beautiful piece of engineering, possibly the best pre-war 16mm camera made, but somewhat rare and unfortunately with the pull-down claw on the wrong side!

If you really want a bright viewfinder you probably need to move up to spinning mirror type designs like Arriflex or Aaton.
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#16 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 11:29 PM

Just a small addition, I feel your pain about the Bolex focus. I shot a lot with them during my youth, but just recently bought one for my school. I wholeheartedly agree with the viewfinder issues, it's a real problem.

My procedure like mentioned above, is to simply do everything with the lens all the way open until I run the camera and then stop it down for the shot. Spinning mirror reflex cameras aren't really that much better with focus racks during shooting, the viewfinders get a lot dimmer thanks to half the amount of light getting in, so it's still hard to focus. This is why practicing the moves and marking them on a follow focus, is kind of important with film.

So either or, focus pulling with a film camera is tough. Easier to get focus on a mirror reflex camera, but still challenging on any film camera compared to digital.
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#17 Doug Palmer

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 12:27 PM

Regarding the initial question about 16mm cameras with split image focussing aids, I don't know if the early version Scoopic has it, the M and MS models don't, as mentioned already, and I can't think of any other 16mm camera that does. (It's rare to find one with a fixed lens.)

Some of the old Pan Cinor 16mm zooms had split image focussing aids, can't think of any other 16mm lenses that went that route.

 

The pan cinor zooms with the dogleg reflex viewfinder give a nice bright image and also have split image focusing. But on the minus side the focusing ring is somewhat slow to turn, at least it is on mine.  They cover ultra-16, not too sure about super-16.


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#18 Robert Lewis

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 03:32 PM

The thing to remember with moving subjects is that depth of field is your friend. At f8 and beyond you should have enough depth of field with S16 to cover most action that doesn't get too close to the lens.

For example a 25mm lens at f8 set to 10' will cover anything from about 6' to 25'.

 

 

Thanks Dom. I am just surprised that it has been said that Julian "has to focus at the correct stop- he's following a moving target.". This, of course is not so as I said earlier.

 

As you say, a 25mm lens lens at f8 set to 10' will cover anything from about 6' to 25'. However, actually Julian said earlier that he is using a 16mm lens and so that lens set to f8 and 10ft will cover anything from about 4' to infinity, and it gets better. At f11, it will cover anything from about 3' 5" to infinity, and at f16 it will cover anything from about 2' 7" to infinity.

 

So the upshot is that Julian not only doesn't have to focus more than once (provided he bears in mind the that the depth of field commences at 10ft in these examples), as long as he knows the depth of field which is yielded by whatever f number he has to use in order that he may use 50ASA film. If he uses faster stock, his depth of field increases and the iris setting might also, but so does the area within which his daughter can roam and still be in focus.

 

There is, of course nothing to stop him focusing through the viewfinder by opening up the iris of the lens and then closing down before shooting, as previously advised, in the knowlege that having done so, as long as he is aware of the depth of field applicable to the iris setting and the focal distance he chooses, everything with the depth of field will be in focus.


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