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magazine camera aperture modification

Bill Munns

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I have been reading about (and seen examples of) a sort of DIY "Ultra 16mm" using a 50' magazine camera and modifying the camera's aperture so the full width of the magazine aperture can capture image content and produce a wider image (I believe it's about 0.450" instead of the usual 0.040" we see in standard 16mm.


I want to produce that effect and am trying to determine what types of cameras can be easily modified to accomplish this.


Right now, the Bell & Howell 200 looks like the best prospect, because it has an oversized aperture and a little tab apparently soldiered on that (to produce the camera ID shape) just needs to be carefully ground off, and could be done without removing the aperture plate from the camera. I have two such cameras now, and do intend to try it on one to see how easy it is and if it gives the desired results.


I also have a Kodak Cine, a Kodak Cine Royal, two Keystones (a single lens version and a two lens "clockwork" version) but none of those look like I could easily modify the aperture plate without taking the plate out of the camera, and I don't yet know how complicated that would be (especially to put it back and expect the camera to work as well).


The question is, has anyone here done a Ultra 16mm modification on a magazine camera, (or seens a camera so modified) and if so, what type camera was it. If you've done it, how easy was the procedure.





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Hi Bill,


have you actually used the camera yet? Reloading the long-discontinued 50' magazines is a pain, and you need to use double-perf stock because the drive sprocket inside has its teeth on the opposite side to the claw. I think there might be a few sellers who supply re-loaded magazines, but you pay a lot extra and 50 feet won't even give you a minute and a half at 24 fps. I love using old gear, but cartridge magazine cameras for me are just one headache too many. Not that I want to dissuade you.. :)


The one advantage to widening the aperture on magazine cameras I guess is that you don't need to worry about leaving burrs on the gate that will scratch the film, since the 'gate' is effectively inside the magazine, and as you've noticed the magazine opening is already wider, at about 11.5mm or 0.45" wide (though offset towards the claw edge). But I'd be surprised if the expanded image area didn't get some scratching during transport within the magazine from rollers and guides. The image would extend into the perfs, so you'd have to crop the full height and extract from between them.


I have an old G.B. Bell & Howell "Autoload" 16mm camera which is similar to the 200 and also has an oversized camera aperture, with a protruding tab at the claw side. If you do try to remove the tab in situ be careful not to allow metal filings to fall into the camera, there's no quicker way to render a clockwork mechanism totally useless. I pulled mine apart without too much trouble. The flange depth is controlled by a stop pin that protrudes through the aperture plate to contact a brass knuckle on the magazine, so removing the aperture plate shouldn't affect the flange depth, but the camera does need to be pretty well disassembled to remove it.

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Thanks for the reply.


My research shows Alan Gordon in Hollywood does load magazines, and I expect to buy from them, but worst case senario, I'll just learn to load them myself (spent a few years with hands in a black bag,loading Arriflex 35 magazines, so I can load myself if necessary).


On the Bell & Howell, when I grind the tab, I will be hooking a shop vacuum nozzle to the camera interior to aggressively suck up the metal particles that grind away to remove the camera ID tab. So I think I'm OK there.


On the Keystone, I'll first get a junker and try to remove the aperture plate and grind it and then put it back, before I try it on a working model.


I haven't run film through any of them yet, but expect to get into that soon.


Right now, I'm simply hoping to hear from others about what type camera they have seen successfully modified to allow the full magazine aperture shape to expose film.



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Whilst I haven't performed the modification you describe, I do occasionally reload the magazine for my Cine-Kodak (early '36 model).


Preloaded magazines are unobtainable here in the UK, and 2R film fairly scarce. Spooling it off of 100' loads and onto cores can be a tedious process, and if you go down this route I recommend you make yourself a 50'radius marker. I use pieces of card so I can measure by touch how far I have to go.


These magazines feature an ingenious 180 degree loop that passes the film through the same set of sprockets twice. You can find an excellent tutorial on how to load these things





Edited by Robert Broughton
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Thank you. I was given a magazine loading tutorial by another forum member awhile ago, but haven't tried it yet. But as I'm in So. Cal and Alan Gordon Ent. reportedly does load them, I may be okay. If they don't any more, then I'll set up a nice spacious black box with arm sleaves and rewinds and such so I can practice with blank leader and the door open, until I get the procedure down, and then do it door closed and by touch and memory.


I'm still a few weeks from that phase of my work, so I'm keeping all options open at present. If I do load my own, I figured I'd buy some old Kodachrome loaded magazines (never been used) and open them to study the threading loop, plus have some spare 50' reels, and see how full those reels are from the factory. Then I'd rewind to a spool to approximate the reel fullness.


All theory now, but will be put to hands on soon.



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