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Purchasing a 35mm camera

Valter Jaakkola

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I'm considering about buying my own 35mm film camera. Pardon if this is a common topic on this forum, but I'd like to get some advice from people wiser than me.
The rational reason for owning a 35mm camera would be the duration of the film projects. Because we're not at a professional level and everyone has another job or goes to school, the filming schedule is rather irregular and long. I figured that a rent of 2 months would buy me half of my own camera and anyway at least I would like to make more projects than just one. The lenses would be rental however because they are very expensive and one usually needs more than just one focal length or model.

The cameras I'm considering are the following:
Moviecam Compact
Moviecam SL
Arricam ST

The Moviecams are about 5000$ and the Arricam ST is 12000£ (a rental house is the seller). Do these sound like fair prices? Is Visual Products a reliable seller (seller of the Moviecams)?

To the main point:
What I'm looking for is a reliable basic sync sound 35mm camera which is not too heavy for shoulder operation. I would be expecting a couple ten years (or more) of service life. The Arricam would probably be the best choice, as Arri still services them and accessories like mags can be rented from the local rental house for it but the price of the camera is rather high for me. So are the Moviecams a good option? I know that the Moviecams and Arricams both have practically the same movements, but I heard that the electronics of the Moviecams are inferior. However what is unclear to me is that are the electronics of the Moviecams just less sophisticated or really of inferior design or build quality? Also I believe getting a Moviecam serviced can prove to be difficult.

Out of the Moviecams the SL would probably be the better choice as it's a bit newer and smaller. But I heard that the body wouldn't be so rigid and thus prone to light leaks. Is this true? Also, is the extra noise (compared to a Compact or ST) a problem when dialogue is recorded while filming?


Sorry for the bit lengthy text, but I would appreciate any advice (but please don't try to sell me digital - it's just not the same). Thank you very much for any help and information.


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do you have all the accessories needed for filming, other than the camera body and lenses? (tripod with decent fluid head, normal and wireless follow focus, matte box, filters, monitors, camera cart, etc...)

if you will rent more stuff than just the lenses you will probably get a VERY good rental deal for the camera body, maybe get it even free of charge

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Hi Valter,


Visual Products is great for purchasing cameras through. At times they will list some nice Moviecams that have been refurbished and with a 6 month parts/labor warranty. I've seen a few of their cameras go pretty cheap on eBay as they list a lot of their film cameras with no reserve. I'm pretty lucky as I live about 30 minutes away from them. Have you ever thought about the Arri 535 or the older Arri 35 BL 3 or 4? I was able to find a BL 3 for around $3K and it came with a compliment of mags, base plate/rods, etc., however, no glass.

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Thank you very much for the helpful responses! As a beginning filmmaker any advice is appreciated! I shall discuss with the rental house about the prices for longer rents to see what they can offer. The only thing that keeps me away from the 535s and the BLs are their weight and the BL's age. Altough the BLs have stood up well against the time, there is no guarantee they will do the same for another lifetime. About the noise, how much of a problem an increased noise level (25dB compared to <20dB) is in practice? Is it of any help if the camera is covered with a thick carpet for instance?


I don't know about you Simon, but to me handheld isn't about aggressive shaking and blurry images as opposed to what it is in various action movies. The effect I'm looking for is sort of a slow rocking and not shake which the weight of a cine camera will help to reduce to a minimum. And altough I didn't mention anything about a tripod doesn't mean I wouldn't be using such. I just don't want to rule out the possibility of handheld by choosing a very heavy camera. Besides a lighter camera is easier for a small crew to handle anyway.




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I've done BL4 hand held more times than I'd like to recall-- though I also haven't heard of the 535 scratch. Of the two; however, I'd go 535, I believe it weighs a bit less.


Konva2M is an interesting camera, which can eat fuses like tic-tacks and quickly cause balding when trying to load the thing.

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the Konvas fuses are cheap if you don't have to buy the original ones, I picked some affordable Russian military fuses from eBay very cheaply although they are not exactly the same model but at least same amps.


Konvas can indeed be quite difficult at first and the cam and mags need to be in perfect condition in which they never are when you by them from eBay. that means, you have to either be able to service them by yourself or send them to a technician, for example Olex, for servicing.

For sound work I would recommend almost any other camera. Konvases are VERY loud cams and the mags, especially the 120m ones, may also make screeching sound when filming if they are not in perfect condition.

Of course, if you build a blimp for them, something like Arri 2c style, then you could shoot quite good sync sound although the steadiness is nowhere near the movie cams

Edited by aapo lettinen
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loading a Konvas is not difficult when you get used to it. you just have to be very precise when adjusting the loops (1 perf accuracy is enough :lol: ) and have to test the exact loading position for your camera movement. For my cameras the loading position is quite good when you can see the mirror shutter corner touching the upper corner of the gate when looking from the back of the camera. If the magazine does not attach it means that your magazine drive gear on the camera side is in wrong position, then you have to rotate the inching knob 1 revolution and try again

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I think one could blimp a Konvas quite efficiently but its shape is a little difficult in this regard and the lenses are physically quite small. I'm planning on building a blimp out of a cube shaped Pelican case someday later, will see how it goes :P

will look like very weird at least, I think it will work at least with my Pentacon Six adapter and old Jena lenses which have larger barrel than oct18 Lomos :lol:

Nowadays you could maybe attach a remote focus INSIDE the blimp so you don't have to build focus mechanics to the blimp :)

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We Barnied a 2M once-- it worked-- kinda-- if you were on lavs with the talent and back as far as you could get, in a non "live" room. All said, if you want sync, buy sync, don't muck about with blimps and the like-- not with prices as rock bottom as they are for film systems.

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