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SRII camera tech

Matthew Kane

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I'm shooting a short film with a friend this weekend, and we'll be shooting regular 16 on an Arri SRII (it's the last hurrah before her school sells off all their 16mm gear).


There's no time or money to shoot/develop/transfer real lens tests, but I want to be sure that we can pull focus off the lens marks accurately.


I'm renting the much lauded Cooke 9-50 zoom from a local rental house, and right now I'm thinking I will go in with our camera body, shoot a few feet off a test chart at various distances, and do a slop develop with some D-76.


Then I'll set it out on a light table and check focus with a jeweler's loupe.


Now, what I'm wondering is--will this actually tell me that the lens and body are all up to spec, or will I just be fooling myself? I was happy enough with this method for picking negatives when I was shooting 35mm stills, but I've never used it for anything that required a high degree of accuracy.


Maybe there are other test methods out there that don't require going through the lab? We'll be going to at least a 1080p transfer, and since we're already cropping out of R16 and shooting on a zoom, I don't want to take any chances, even though the lens and body are both recently serviced and well cared for.

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The rental house should be able to check your camera's flange focal depth and ground glass focus (and their lens) to make sure everything is within spec. Takes about 15 minutes on a bench collimator.


At the rental house I work for I usually do that for free for students renting our lenses who bring in a film school camera body.

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I've done something like what you originally described when I used to service 16mm motion picture cameras. After everything was CLA'd and FFD checked, and ground glass checked, I would shoot at 6fps, wide open, a focus chart. About five or six feet of black & white film (the old Kodak Plus X) then process it in a Patterson tank with Rodinal, and scan it with a film scanner or inspect it on a light table with a very powerful loupe. That process works well.




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  • 5 months later...

Sorry to necropost, but if anyone is looking, I wanted to say thanks for the advice. We got into preproduction and the niceties of replying on the forum went out the window.


Just went in to grade the film--despite using some older short ends, we were really pleased with how it came out.

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