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EBM Bolex Review???

A.J. Hammer

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I have been offered to purchase a EBM Bolex camera that is already converted to Super 16mm. I have heard mixed reviews regarding bolex cameras.


-I need honest opinion of this camera


-Comparisons to other cameras


-What I should ask the seller to make sure I am getting what I paid for


-Also, what does a crystal do, what is it used for?


-And are the lenses interchangable?


-Basically is this a good deal?


Thanks for any and all help


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Hi A.J.


Boy, I have a love/hate relationship with that camera. We used one last year for a short we shot. Mechanically it is like a Swiss watch. Electronically it is like a 1968 MG. If you get one with good electronics, you will be fine. We unfortunately did not get one with good electronics and getting them fixed is a nightmare, and can be very expensive. There are all kinds of issues with the crystal sync as well. Sometimes the Tobin Crystal Sync works better than the one that Bolex makes and some people swear they do not. We had an intermittant shutter bounce problem with ours, and it was going to be a few thousand dollars to get it fixed, so we bailed on it.


If you get one that has no electronic problems, and no shutter bounce, and a Bolex or Tobin Crystal Sync that you can test with the camera and everything is fine, you should be in good shape.


Now alot of people will also tell you that the Bolex EBM can only be used as an MOS camera, no sync sound recording. And that is true to a point. But, if you really want to use the camera for sound recording, there is a guy in California that makes a very good barney for the camera and magazine for $200. After you record your sync sound, if you have a Macintosh computer, you can use a program made by the company Bias, called SoundSoap, and it does a fairly good job of removing the camera noise of a Bolex EBM.


The Switar lenses for the camera are very good. Do be aware that there is only one lens that Bolex sells that can be converted to Super 16 throughout it's whole zoom range. The newer 12-100mm lens, you can see it on the Bolex web site. The older Bolex lenses will only work in Super 16 above 26mm. The focal lengths below that will vingette. So the very common 16-100mm POE lens for the EBM can only be used from 26mm-100mm.


Also make sure the 400 ft magazines that you would be getting with the camera have been converted to Super 16. Otherwise you will be getting film scratching problems.


That's about it from what I remember using ours last summer. If you get a good one, you will be able to do some good things with it.


Good Luck,


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I'm thinking of buying a small lightweight super 16 Camera. It must run sync. Some High Speed sync. Have a good quality lens. And weigh around 5 Pounds. Am I dreaming?

The five pound mark is the tough one. You only have two options: an Aaton A-miima or an Eclair ACL-2 that's been converted to S-16. The a-minima can only run 200' loads and I can't recall it's top speed. The ACL can take 200' or 400', but if you want to stay that light you'll need to stick with the 200'. There are a few motors available and one of them can run up to 75fps. The camera can also be converted to take modern PL-mount lenses, which is standard on the a-minima. If these cameras don't cut it for you, you should look at the Photosonics cameras, but I don't think they'll fufill your requirements.

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I don't know the weight of the ACL--that may be the weight with a 400' mag. It's the Aaton a-minima that weighs only 2 kilos. While the ACL is quite small, having used both cameras I can fully believe that the Aaton is half the weight.


So what is the special application you have that has such stringent requirements?

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Eclair ACL-2 packages can be found for between $2000-$10,000 depending on the package, but I don't think you need to spend more than $6000 for a good basic package, including the S-16 conversion. Try Les Boscher in the UK, Visual Products in Ohio and Optical Electro House in LA.


Sometimes I think I should charge a finder's fee for this info. I think I typed the above sentence maybe 10 times in the last two weeks and twice in the last five minutes on this site.

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I am kicking around a really goofy application for a light 16mm camera. I just bought a "Clip and Go" camera stabilizing device for my PD 150. It's like a Steadicam where your arm is the arm. I expect to look like Popeye by March. In addition to shooting with my PD 150 I do considerable 16mm television and direct to video features. So I'm wondering if I can muscle a small 16mm camera and fake some Steadicam style footage to intercut with an SR. When I shoot 35mm and most of my 16mm I usually bring in a Steadicam operator and luckily have worked with some of the best. But... Maybe I can fake a shot or two on some of my smaller projects. News to follow.


I'm taking the "Clip and Go" to Iwa Jima next month and plan to put in through some tough tests.



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