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Bolex Rex-1 still worth it?


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#1 Mendes Nabil

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 03:10 PM

Hello all! How are you?

 

I'm about to buy a 16mm camera and i've found an interesting deal, a Bolex Rex-1 with a Sam Berthiot 17-85 f2, is the Bolex Rex-1 a good camera?

 

I know that the viewfinder is pretty small compared to others Rex models (6x while the Rex-5 is 13x), i will shoot a lot of night scenes, is this 6x viewfinder a huge problem or can we deal with it?

 

Also, is the Sam Berthiot 17-85 f2 a nice lens to begin with? Can we shoot quality images in night situations?

 

Thanks in advance for your replies!


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 03:20 PM

There really isn't anything "wrong" with the REX 1 cameras. I use to shoot with one, it wasn't difficult to use or something. Obviously you've gotta be careful it doesn't have double sprockets, that's why people sell things cheap sometimes.

The 17-85 I have no experience with particularly, but 17mm on the wide side, isn't very wide for 16mm. F2 is also fine, it's hard to find an in expensive zoom faster then that. My Zeiss 12-120 is F2.4 for instance.

The viewfinder is upgradable, so if you really want more magnification, you can buy a different one. I wouldn't really take that into consideration when buying a camera, I don't think it's a "problem".

Finally, Bolexes are like swiss watches, they're very complex inside, with dozens of little gears, which means there is more to go wrong. They're pretty reliable for their age, but the REX 1 is pretty old now. So you MAY wind up with "age" related issues with the camera like light leaks. Far better to invest in a final generation camera in my opinion. I bough my 1980's vintage EBM for $400 bux with a decent zoom lens (forgot the numbers off the top of my head) and I spent $100 bux buying a new battery. That's not a lot of money for a more modern, working camera. Remember, film and processing are the most expensive part. If you wind up having problems with a 50 year old camera, that's an expense you could have avoided by simply buying a newer one.
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#3 Mendes Nabil

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 03:46 PM

Thank you Tyler, really wise words.. I'm not familiar with 16mm at all, so what means the fact that this camera doesn't have double sprockets and what does that imply?

 

400$ for a 1980's EBM, you had a really really good deal!

 

250euros for a Rex1 + Berthiot 17-85, do you think it's a fair price?


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#4 Giray Izcan

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 04:20 PM

I would look into sync sound cameras if I were you as you could shoot mos and/or shoot dialogue as well.
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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 05:43 PM

Thank you Tyler, really wise words.. I'm not familiar with 16mm at all, so what means the fact that this camera doesn't have double sprockets and what does that imply?


Originally 16mm film had perforation holes on both sides, like 35mm. As sound became more standard, the 16mm format turned into single perforation, one side now used for the soundtrack. Since the 60's, almost every 16mm camera has been single perforation, but before the 60's, many cameras were still had double sprockets.

Why is this important? Well, modern film is single sprocket. Since double sprocket cameras are so old, Kodak doesn't feel it necessary to package their modern films for those cameras. You can still get double perf stock, but it's limited to black and white.

I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure the H16 Rex 1's were double sprocket for double perf film originally. I see them all the time on ebay for around the price you're discussing. Generally owners who know their cameras, will mention double or single sprocket in the advert somewhere.

400$ for a 1980's EBM, you had a really really good deal!


Twas a great deal and I've shot quite a bit with it since purchase. I do see them go for $600 on ebay, but condition unseen. At least mine I could test because I bought it from a camera show vendor.
 

250euros for a Rex1 + Berthiot 17-85, do you think it's a fair price?


Yes!

However, as you're new to this whole thing, Giray's comment is very important. These cameras make quite a racket and are not capable of syncing to audio. So you would use this kind of camera for silent films, rather then sync sound productions.
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#6 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 07:43 PM

As I seem to keep repeating when Tyler brings this up, double-perf Bolexes were phased out in 1952, several years before the reflex models hit the market, so no reflex Bolexes are double-perf. If in doubt, anything past serial no 76471 is single-perf. It's not a big deal to have double-perf sprockets replaced with single-perf ones anyway.

 

The Pan Cinor zoom is very old, a 50s design quite early in zoom evolution, so expect some softness and low contrast. Also beware of fungus, Som Berthiot zooms seem to be particularly susceptible to fungus. It's f2 but probably closer to T3, maybe slower if it has its own viewfinder. Prime lenses like the Switars will be faster and better quality, but more expensive.

 

For night shooting, you'll very likely find the small, dim viewfinder a bit annoying, if you can pick up a flat-base H16 with better viewfinder it would be worth it.

 

If the camera and zoom are in good condition and nothing is missing from the kit 250 Euros isn't bad, but these days the camera bodies often go for peanuts while the lenses are what add value. Som Berthiot zooms tend to go for not much at all, a 17-85 Pan Cinor might only be worth 50 Euros or less. If you have patience and wait for the right auction, you might pick up a reflex Bolex with some Kern primes for 250 Euros, though maybe not a flat base model.


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 10:20 PM

Thanks for the correction Dom, I will remember this time around...
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#8 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 11:11 PM

I had an Rx-1 for years, still have it, with a later viewfinder, a largish image. I loved it. Recently I bought an Rx-1 in great nick from forum fellow Marco. It had the original finder with the small image. It didn't feel brighter for being smaller. Can't say I liked it, and I planned to somehow swap over the VFs.

In spite of what has been said in this thread, I think ones eye can normalise quite easily to a darker finder, if one is in good health, with good eyes. And this thing about the image being darker while the camera is running...operaters have been pulling focus with the camera running since forever.

The eye adapts to the brightnes reasonably quickly. But the mind can struggle, being not quite able to see what's there. This last thing being a good natured, humorous poke at the limitations evident in this thread...
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