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Bolex Super 16 Camera Lenses

Scott Pickering

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I just picked up a Super 16 reflex Bolex H16. It was modified to Super 16 many years ago. What I'm wondering if any of the lenses that came with the camera, if they are suitable for Super 16? The seller wasn't sure, since he rarely used the camera and it was 20 years ago. So here is a list of the lenses, and I just need to know if it would support Super 16?


Taylor Hobson Telekinic 2" f2

Kern Vario- Switar 17-85mm f3.5

Kern Macro- Switar 75mm f1.9

Kern Switar 10mm f1.6

Canon Zoom TV Lens 17-102mm f2.0


I don't know if any of these lenses are suitable, and if not, I can just sell them for a more appropriate lens. Any of these lenses any good?

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Kern Macro- Switar 75mm f1.9 - certianly

Kern Switar 10mm f1.6 - reports are mixed, pretty sure the preset version will cover, but the optics aren't great in the corners, esp, wide open - as for the standard ...

Can't see why the Taylor Hobson wont

Zooms - have you looked through the finder ??

Edited by Chris Millar
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Never yet looked through the viewfinder on any lens. I just picked up the camera this afternoon. Yet to really play with it. What exactly is a 2" Telekinic lens anyway? It doesn't have a mm for focal length. The Canon zoom I think would work, as it says its a tv lens and I would think a tv camera would have a wider frame sensor inside. Its quite a large lens too. I was told this camera was used by a nature cinematographer. Who- I have no clue. And I really can't tell if this camera is indeed Super 16, as I can't tell from the opening on the lens port. The shutter keeps the film section closed up, so seeing if its Super 16 isn't easy.

Edited by Scott Pickering
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Lenses in the UK and US were sometimes marked in inches rather than mm, a 2" lens is basically a 50mm.


Like Chris said, the 75mm and 2" should cover S16, the 10mm may exhibit corner darkening. The Vario-Switar won't cover at the wide end, the Canon TV zoom might be OK if it was made for 1" tube cameras. TV lenses were often lower quality optics than cine lenses.


You can examine the camera gate by removing the pressure plate, a S16 gate will have the opening extend closer to the edge on the non-claw side.

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I can tell you my switar 10mm does cover super16 quite well but is very soft at wide open period, worse at the edges. All the Switars I have a nice and sharp with minimal aberration at f4 and smaller. But wide open in all of those lenses is quite soft, especially at the edges.


I have a 10mm, 25mm and 50mm Switars, each a bit sharper than the other in that order but all quite satisfactory for super16 work. Especially outdoors in natural light where you'd rarely ever by snide f8

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Ok thanks guys. I only paid $600 Canadian for the package, so I think I got a good deal on it all. Prices on Ebay are way too high and many don't even come with lenses.


I have another question about the camera. The lens turret doesn't seem to rotate to the other positions. Could it be it has been locked in place because of the Super 16 mod?


Oh and to take the pressure plate off- you just unscrew the lower screw holding it in there?

Edited by Scott Pickering
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Center. Not sender.


I think this one is set up the way I was saying:




You just loosen that center screw and it allows you to slide it back and forth to regular vs super16 centering.

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So I inspected the gate on the camera and it looks like I have a regular 16mm camera. Either the seller mislead me, or he didn't know himself what he had. Im going to have to talk to him about it. What I see is the metal guide on the left doesn't seem to be machined for the wider gate, and the gate itself looks too square for Super 16. I'm posting two pictures for you guys to confirm. All I know is its going to cost a bundle now just to convert his camera. I might just sell it and get a better Bolex in the end, and keep some of the lenses. But before I do anything, can you guys confirm my suspicion this is indeed a regular 16 camera?

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Well if the gate shows no widening, it isn't super 16.


On a plus, your lenses will cover :)


But yeah I'd be researching the cost of a conversion, then asking for that refund, or a simple return as the conversion cost is likely more than the purchase.


It's a pity, makes you wonder about the seller - but best just assume they were genuinely mistaken.

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