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Shutter speed and frame rates


Henrik Efskin
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Hi everyone!

 

Finally signed up after lurking around here for some time. Love the community, and the site is such a great resource; and right now I'm in need of some help. I've been shooting a lot of 135 and 120 film for several years now and I've been wanting to get into motion picture film as well after shooting a lot of digital video. I want to start with 16mm and I've been looking at some cameras to get me started. The problem is that with most of the cameras I'm interested in, the shutter speed is seemingly locked to specific frame rates. I assume this is how most of the lower-end cameras are set up, but are there any good reasons for this except to make the cameras easier to operate, and perhaps to encourage investing in more expensive gear? Are there cameras in the same price range (Bolex, K3, Beaulieu etc) that allow the user to set the shutter speed manually? And lastly, except for the Beaulieu R16, most of the cameras I've looked at don't have an option to shoot 25fps; are there other ones out there that do?

Edited by Henrik Efskin
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These are mechanical beasts. The shutter is a revolving disc, so the option to alter shutter angle requires considerable amounts of extra engineering. A lot of 16mm cameras were intended for news which would generally be shot in a straightforward manner without tricks like altering shutter angle. That's all it is. It isn't usual to alter shutter angle in any motion picture shot unless you're specifically after that sort of juddery, strobish effect that short exposures create in moving images.

 

As to the 25-frame issue, I'm certainly no expert on ancient 16mm cameras, but in some cases you can replace parts to alter the rate, either gears and chains internally or the entire motor module. I'm not sure.

 

P

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The Cine Kodak Special has a shutter opening adjustment that is relatively easy to use and is intended for variable light conditions as well as fades and dissolves. These are great dinosaurs of cameras though and it is probably more common to use a ND filter n a more user friendly camera.

Variable shutters are very common on super-8 cameras and since these cameras have built-in exposure controls - it is a very easy feature to use and there is little or no perceptible flicker.

Steve

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Thanks for the replies :) I'm not really after the staccato, strobish look or for altering the speed to compensate for variable light conditions (although it would be nice to have the ability), but rather to be able shoot with the standard of 1/48 at 24fps or 1/50 at 25. Both the K3 and the Bolex H16 are locked to a speed of about 1/60th of a second when doing 24fps, which really isn't that big of a deal, but I kind of feel that it's not that favorable either. The difference is minute, but I would love to have full control over the exposure and motion blur.

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I'm not really after the staccato, strobish look or for altering the speed to compensate for variable light conditions (although it would be nice to have the ability), but rather to be able shoot with the standard of 1/48 at 24fps or 1/50 at 25. Both the K3 and the Bolex H16 are locked to a speed of about 1/60th of a second when doing 24fps, which really isn't that big of a deal, but I kind of feel that it's not that favorable either. The difference is minute, but I would love to have full control over the exposure and motion blur.

 

The difference is VERY small, and to extend the shutter open time by that much, the designer would have to make the Pull down time (the film has to move with the shutter closed) even shorter. Posible but more costly to pull off.

 

25 FPS was mainly used for European TV shots. The K3 and the BOLEX are mechanically governed Wind up cameras, so the exact frame rate is "close" to 24. A camera tech can probably adjust them to 25. My own camera is a filmo, and the speed dial is continuously adjustable so You could probably mark the spot that you get 25. I am not sure of there is a detent on the other two.

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It isn't usual to alter shutter angle in any motion picture shot unless you're specifically after that sort of juddery, strobish effect that short exposures create in moving images.

 

Variable shutters can also create in-camera fades and dissolves, be set to angles such as 172.8 or 144 to deal with 50 Hz flicker or filming NTSC monitors, and come in very handy for ramping when you don't want to change the depth of field with an iris pull (often done with a 435 but also possible to do with with a Bolex and several hands B) ). With slow motion a reduced shutter angle can give more clarity without necessarily introducing strobing.

 

Thanks for the replies :) I'm not really after the staccato, strobish look or for altering the speed to compensate for variable light conditions (although it would be nice to have the ability), but rather to be able shoot with the standard of 1/48 at 24fps or 1/50 at 25. Both the K3 and the Bolex H16 are locked to a speed of about 1/60th of a second when doing 24fps, which really isn't that big of a deal, but I kind of feel that it's not that favorable either. The difference is minute, but I would love to have full control over the exposure and motion blur.

 

I'm not quite sure what you're asking, you want a 16mm camera with a variable shutter that opens to at least 180 degrees (1/48 at 24fps)?

 

The afore-mentioned Cine Kodak Special opens to 170 degrees, which is close, otherwise the Pathe Webo is 180 degrees fully open. Both cheapish old wind-ups with variable sector shutters.

 

Some rarer or more expensive candidates would be a Mitchell 16, Maurer 16 (both of which I believe open to 235 degrees!), Kinor-16 1M, Eclair NPR or Cameflex, Aaton XTR prod or Xtera, Arri SR3 or 416.

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This is really helpful guys, thanks! Basically what I'm after is a camera with a 180 degree shutter. Whether it's fixed or not doesn't really matter, although having the ability to choose different speeds would be nice but it's not that important. I'm mainly after the 180 degree shutter because of the look, but flickering is also a concern. 24fps at 1/60 in PAL territory would introduce flickering, no? I'm really liking what I'm seeing with the Kinor. A Bolex would also be awesome, so would a Cine Kodak Special. Then again so would a Krasnogorsk if the speed dial is stepless. They don't upset my wallet too much either which is a plus B)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Alright, it has come down to either a Bolex or a K-3. What I am pondering over now is whether I should go for the C or M42 mount. What do you guys think is the best route to take? C and 16mm lenses with the Bolex, or M42 and 35mm lenses on the K-3? I want to build up a solid line of lenses for this format, and C lenses are geared more towards mp shooting than still. At the same time it's always nice to be able to cross over with other formats, and I like the thought of using M42 lenses with SLRs as well. Also, I assume going with M42 on the K-3 will yield sharper results seeing as I'm using the center of a bigger image circle, but then again every lens would essentially turn into a telephoto lens. Perhaps I'm over thinking this and should just get a Bolex and one of these? http://tinyurl.com/cjd8ynd :lol:

Edited by Henrik Efskin
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Lenses built with larger sensing devices/ film formats in mind tend to have lesser refinement specifications than smaller format lenses. Keep in mind this is a absolute observation, which is why it matters when you're talking about using lenses across formats. If you look at refinement it relative to format size then it is kept mostly the same (by design).

 

Of course there will always be lenses that fall off this relationship between format size and absolute resolving power that anyone can bring to the thread - but you will note that they follow another (not so fortunate) trend of cost vs. resolving power.

 

Heck theres even a trend of trend itself blink.gif - the best lenses for Bolex are the Kern macro-switars which have been adopted by smaller format digital photographers, the prices have easily tripled over the last 5 years.

 

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I wouldn't get too caught up in the technical aspects, or get lost planning your arsenal of optics, just get something reliable and start shooting. Polanski shot Rosemary's Baby with pretty much one prime lens..

 

Either of your camera choices will give great images if they're in good nick and set up correctly. The important thing IMHO is to buy from a reputable seller and/or have the camera and lenses checked over by a tech so you can then forget about equipment issues and just focus on what you're making.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is really helpful guys, thanks! Basically what I'm after is a camera with a 180 degree shutter. Whether it's fixed or not doesn't really matter, although having the ability to choose different speeds would be nice but it's not that important. I'm mainly after the 180 degree shutter because of the look, but flickering is also a concern. 24fps at 1/60 in PAL territory would introduce flickering, no? I'm really liking what I'm seeing with the Kinor. A Bolex would also be awesome, so would a Cine Kodak Special. Then again so would a Krasnogorsk if the speed dial is stepless. They don't upset my wallet too much either which is a plus B)

 

Because it's a European camera, the Eclair ACL usually has a 25fps frame rate option on the motor (in fact I've never seen one without that option). Plus the shutter angle for that camera is around 175 (close enough to 180 to make no difference). Note, some super 16 conversions change it down to 144 degrees.

 

They're not as cheap as the K3's etc, but still way cheaper than an Arri or Aaaton. Also, depends what kind of package you buy really. I picked mine up for 500GBP and sold several spare mags that came with it for 400GBP, making the whole thing cheaper than a K-3 :)

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