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Cheep 16mm for sound syncing

Devin Walter

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This forum is abound with requests for cheep 16mm cameras. Very few however broach the subject of sound. I'm looking for a camera with sound sync and a reflex view finder. I have four 100' roles in my freezer so it would be beneficial to be able to use them as apposed to a camera that only shoots 400' roles.


I've shot two short films using the Canon Scoopic. Both projects where dialogue free. From what I've been told there's no good way to sync sound to them. In fact, I was told if you tried the sound would become desynced. is this true?


I'm looking for a camera under $500 that has sound sync and a reflex view finder.


I'm currently looking at a Bolex M5 with a reflex zoom lens but it's a bit more than i'd like to spend.

Edited by Devin Walter
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Modern sound on film is a double system; a crystal locked camera and audio recorder.


Mostly all modern reflex 400ft load cameras are crystal; Arri; BL, SR, 416, Aaton; LTR, XTR, Xterra, Eclair; ACL, NPR, Cinema Products; CP16, Gismo, etc.


Mostly all reflex 100ft load, daylight spool only cameras are NOT crystal; Arri S/M, Bolex; H16, EL, EBM, Canon Scoopic, etc.


Plus, those non-crystal cameras are very loud, so your sound recording will have a great deal of camera noise.


The Bolex H16 (which is the base model for the M5 revision you're talking about) is a wind up camera, so no crystal and lots of noise. Bolex did make a motor drive for it, but even the motor isn't crystal. I have an EBM, which is a real electric Bolex and it too requires a special sync box to get crystal sync, plus it's pretty loud.


Having spent quite a bit of money on a 16mm kit for sync sound, I can say without a doubt, $500 is not possible. You can probably get an Eclair NPR for around $1000 as a full package ready to go and it's plenty quiet enough. I'm pretty sure you can use daylight spools with the NPR and ACL cameras, like the Arri SR.


Of course, those $1000 ebay cameras can be real problematic. So it's one more thing to think about because most of them haven't been used or maintained in a while, so you could be buying something that won't be good. There is a huge risk with inexpensive cameras, especially crystal cameras, good ones hold value very well.


Anyway, gotta forget about the Bolex and Canon, they're not going to work.


Hope that helps.

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I got a nice running CP-16R for $375

(still needs a lens!)
you'd need to have a little luck, watch eBay like a hawk
then hopefully you'd get something good (eclair, arri bl, cp16r)
you'd need at least a zoom h1 to record, then sync w/ a clapper
you might squeak by for around $700 but that's rock bottom
and hopefully no complications
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I have a beautiful Beaulieu R16 kit for sale. Camera has been fully serviced and many new parts fitted by Beaulieu guru in Sweden and it runs better than new, very very quite... It has a Schneider zoom lens, new battery and new charger. It's not a cristal camera but if you don't shot very long dialogue it will stay in sync with your digital recorder or if you want, you can use pilotone and a tape recorder like Uher etc.. It's a great kit but I have too many cameras and it need to go. PM if you are interested, you can see my advert here in the for sale section.


Good luck.




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Here's the thing, with wind-up 16mm camera you're only talking about 30 seconds at a time. With that you won't have a problem syncing sound manually. Just have someone clap their hands or look for anything that will allow you to sync those 30 seconds.


I have a Canon Scoopic with crystal sync and one without. I can tell very little difference between the two whenever I'm syncing audio. It's trial and error, hit and miss, but certainly doable. Throw up a clapper and you're golden.


Problems tend to come up with something like a long interview, but even then all you need to do is slice up the audio a little and shift as needed. Someone with a Zoom and a pole mic would be great or use hidden lav mics recording onto an iPhone.


Unless you're shooting a multi-cam concert on Super 16 (Peter Gabriel in Paris comes to mind) I wouldn't try to use timecode...that can be a technical nightmare without an experienced crew.


There's "the right way" to do it, then there's the practical way. If it's just you with a Scoopic, use a slate/clapper and say which take it is for your editing sanity then you'll just be nudging the audio a little as needed to stay in sync. You can spend a few hours syncing up all the audio then write that file out again to use for actual editing. It slows you down a little but it's worth it.

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