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Bolex Yverdon closed?


Patricia Dauder
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Hi,

I’m trying to contact Bolex Factory in Yverdon to buy a Bolex SBM S16. I sent two emails and called twice and I got no answer. 
 

Does anybody living in or close to Switzerland know if they stopped working?

I know their website is under construction so I contacted them through the address they are providing, but it’s not working 

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Patricia Dauder

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Are you sure you want an SBM and a Super-16 conversion from Bolex International?

The SBM has an ugly bayonet that makes an adapter necessary for C-mount lenses. Bolex International conversions to S-16 are incomplete, even inaccurate. I have just met with such a camera.

I confess to be a 3-to-4-image aspect ratio aficionado and advocate. The first fifty years of cinema were three to four.

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19 minutes ago, Simon Wyss said:

Bolex International conversions to S-16 are incomplete, even inaccurate. I have just met with such a camera.

Could you please elaborate on this Simon? I have a Rex 4 factory converted example, just curious on your thoughts.

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Yes, I will. First of all the turret plate is the original, so lenses are still centered on the film middle line, not onto the new wider frame. Grebenstein in Germany used to shift the central turret post in order to take the lens mount threads 1,1 mm to the left, seen from behind the camera towards the scene. Another solution would be to swap the disc with a new one that has the ports more outwardly on the radius. That again is not simple because Paillard-Bolex (or whoever did that at the time) have cut the threads so that the entry is at the twelve o’clock position. Lenses whose index line is oriented to half past one (45 degrees downward) can be interchanged among the turret ports and retain the orientation.

Next, the aperture, machined out obviously, was left blank metal. They wouldn’t even grab a sharpie and blacken the inner rim. Ghost frames were the result, that’s the designation in my language by meaning, the client showed me some footage on his laptop computer he brought with him, scanned on an Arrilaser.

Thirdly the sprocket drums seemed to have the teeth shortened but I didn’t measure that out since the client took the camera with him swiftly after I had disclosed to him what loss he was facing. When I tried the camera last week I did what I always do, then under the eyes of the owner, I used it like anybody uses such a camera. Wound the spring, closed the loop formers (where I encountered the old only half-solved problem of an almost hold sometimes), cut the film diagonally in the built-in knife (to feel whether that’s still sharp), and let the film thread mechanism lace up. In the lower loop the film derailed, I had to let the release go. Without a doubt the film guides were not aligned.

Fourth, the very outermost maybe ten percent of the image width showed vignetting, depending on the focal length of the lenses used, to be seen clearly with the footage. When I peered onto the aperture from the front I realised that the reflex prism block cut into the Super-16 image. To remedy this the glass would have needed to be unglued from the bracket, shifted by only half to one millimeter, and cemented back in. One can work on the holder as well but from my experiences with the unit it’s better to leave its bores intact.

The camera was in an unusable state. The young man didn’t tell me what price he payed to acquire it (I wouldn’t ask) but he unveiled what he payed to Bolex International.

To sum it up, a correct conversion costs around about $ 2,000. One must also know that a new pressure plate becomes necessary with the H cameras because the original one is too narrow to press the film down on the half millimeter of rail that bears it on one side.

I have seen two H cameras with aperture plates filed for Ultra-16 and listened to the cant of the owner in my shop (six years ago now), that image steadiness was poor. I remember to have shown him that he not only jeopardised steadiness but caused a focus issue, too. A wreckage.

Edited by Simon Wyss
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Thanks for the time to reply Simon, I'm guessing mine is an older conversion, can't say first hand if quality control at Bolex had declined over the years, I have never dealt with them! I know for a fact that my current is offset as the locking current cap doesn't sit completely flush but still does its job. Also never had issues with the image I got. I'll look at my camera and see if I notice any of the other negative points you mentioned. I have an original Reflex I can compare for what its worth.

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I wasn’t aware of the state of Bolex International, thanks for the update Simon. I hope the new owner gets his act together, for parts access at least.

S16 conversions from them were very good in the past, I don’t know what they may have been doing in the last few years though. This is an interesting old post from Jaakko Kurhi (of JK Camera) talking about S16 conversions:

So Bolex International conversions were pretty well regarded by the best techs in the US back in 2007 at least, but they certainly became a very small operation in later years, so maybe the quality of their work declined.

I’d be curious to hear Jean-Louis Seguin’s opinion, since he has personally converted dozens of Bolexes over the years and is by far the most experienced Bolex tech on this site. 

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On 7/1/2020 at 5:53 PM, Simon Wyss said:

Are you sure you want an SBM and a Super-16 conversion from Bolex International?

The SBM has an ugly bayonet that makes an adapter necessary for C-mount lenses. Bolex International conversions to S-16 are incomplete, even inaccurate. I have just met with such a camera.

I confess to be a 3-to-4-image aspect ratio aficionado and advocate. The first fifty years of cinema were three to four.

Sorry for replying this late...

Well, I need to film in S16 for a film project I'm working on, and having dismissed the possibility of renting an ARRI (I'm filming on my own, the ARRI equipment is too heavy for me and I have a small budget ), I started researching about Bolex and lenses. I've owned a Beaulieu R16 and filmed in regular 16 for years, but for this specific project I'd like to film in S16.

Having read several articles and different posts in this forum, I concluded that the SBM was the more convenient, (sturdier bayo mount for the zoom, more reliable than the electronic one, EL, with a brighter viewfinder). But the fact is that I realize they are hard to find. Since I live in Spain, I hoped that I could find one in Europe, and avoid high shipping costs from the US (where apparently there is a bigger market) and taxes in spanish customs. I'm also always a bit reluctant to buy on Ebay, because I don't have the technical knowledge to discern if a camera is in good shape or not. That is why I thought that Bolex Factory in Switzerland, was always a reliable option (although a pricey one). But now I realize it's not.

After having read your explanation , I'm considering other models like the REX 5, with the turret plate and prime lenses, converted to S16 (13x viewfinder). Hopefully I can find a camera soon...

Thank you again Simon. Your explanation has helped me quite a lot

 

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I have seen lots of people on the forum use Eclair cameras for that type of stuff. the ACL seems to be their favourite but the NPR could probably be used as well. There is other options as well. Do all your lenses cover S16 and are in C-mount ?  

eBay cameras always need some kind of CLA before any serious use. That should be calculated in the total costs when considering a camera purchase. 

the orientable finder is a huge advantage so I would try to find the Eclair just for that reason. though a converted one in good condition may cost quite a lot.

Sometimes one can get good deals on Russian cameras but they tend to need lots of CLA and small repairs before use. On the electric ones, the motor control electronics can be changed to modern better ones to make them reliable. Should be a little cheaper alternative than the Eclair though they don't have C-mount (lenses are pretty affordable though). They should be easier to S16 modify than Bolexes though don't know about the prices

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9 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

I have seen lots of people on the forum use Eclair cameras for that type of stuff. the ACL seems to be their favourite but the NPR could probably be used as well. There is other options as well. Do all your lenses cover S16 and are in C-mount ?  

eBay cameras always need some kind of CLA before any serious use. That should be calculated in the total costs when considering a camera purchase. 

the orientable finder is a huge advantage so I would try to find the Eclair just for that reason. though a converted one in good condition may cost quite a lot.

Sometimes one can get good deals on Russian cameras but they tend to need lots of CLA and small repairs before use. On the electric ones, the motor control electronics can be changed to modern better ones to make them reliable. Should be a little cheaper alternative than the Eclair though they don't have C-mount (lenses are pretty affordable though). They should be easier to S16 modify than Bolexes though don't know about the prices

Hi Aapo,

Thanks for the tip! I'm considering now buying an Eclair ACL.

The only lens I got is an Angenieux 12-120 f2.2, from my old Beaulieu R16. It does not cover S16, but it is c-mount. I don't think I could use it in the Eclair, when converted, but I'll try to find S16 lenses. That should not be such a problem I think

 

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On 7/1/2020 at 9:33 PM, Simon Wyss said:

Yes, I will. First of all the turret plate is the original, so lenses are still centered on the film middle line, not onto the new wider frame. Grebenstein in Germany used to shift the central turret post in order to take the lens mount threads 1,1 mm to the left, seen from behind the camera towards the scene. Another solution would be to swap the disc with a new one that has the ports more outwardly on the radius. That again is not simple because Paillard-Bolex (or whoever did that at the time) have cut the threads so that the entry is at the twelve o’clock position. Lenses whose index line is oriented to half past one (45 degrees downward) can be interchanged among the turret ports and retain the orientation.

Next, the aperture, machined out obviously, was left blank metal. They wouldn’t even grab a sharpie and blacken the inner rim. Ghost frames were the result, that’s the designation in my language by meaning, the client showed me some footage on his laptop computer he brought with him, scanned on an Arrilaser.

Thirdly the sprocket drums seemed to have the teeth shortened but I didn’t measure that out since the client took the camera with him swiftly after I had disclosed to him what loss he was facing. When I tried the camera last week I did what I always do, then under the eyes of the owner, I used it like anybody uses such a camera. Wound the spring, closed the loop formers (where I encountered the old only half-solved problem of an almost hold sometimes), cut the film diagonally in the built-in knife (to feel whether that’s still sharp), and let the film thread mechanism lace up. In the lower loop the film derailed, I had to let the release go. Without a doubt the film guides were not aligned.

Fourth, the very outermost maybe ten percent of the image width showed vignetting, depending on the focal length of the lenses used, to be seen clearly with the footage. When I peered onto the aperture from the front I realised that the reflex prism block cut into the Super-16 image. To remedy this the glass would have needed to be unglued from the bracket, shifted by only half to one millimeter, and cemented back in. One can work on the holder as well but from my experiences with the unit it’s better to leave its bores intact.

The camera was in an unusable state. The young man didn’t tell me what price he payed to acquire it (I wouldn’t ask) but he unveiled what he payed to Bolex International.

To sum it up, a correct conversion costs around about $ 2,000. One must also know that a new pressure plate becomes necessary with the H cameras because the original one is too narrow to press the film down on the half millimeter of rail that bears it on one side.

I have seen two H cameras with aperture plates filed for Ultra-16 and listened to the cant of the owner in my shop (six years ago now), that image steadiness was poor. I remember to have shown him that he not only jeopardised steadiness but caused a focus issue, too. A wreckage.

 

Another theory coming from an internet expert. I would not trust this person entirely as he is trying to promote his own camera repair work. You speak about a "correct conversion", who is offering this service? 

On 6/30/2020 at 6:43 PM, Simon Wyss said:

Your camera should of course react to changing speed settings. Aapo Lettinen, member here, can help you best. I do only mechanical and optical work (and no Super-8).

Some years ago this same person was inventing some stories about the beginning of the H16 camera. When I asked him to justify his assumption, he stopped answering e-mails.

The person who replaced Otello Diotallevi and is now working for Bolex International is in my opinion very competent as he learned the craft from the former Paillard Bolex employee who developed the super 16 conversion for the H16. He lives and breathes for Bolex.

At the beginning Bolex International started by subcontracting the super 16 conversion. They were not happy and started to do their own. Maybe "the wreckage" you have seen six years ago comes from there (not far fom Basel).

"I have seen two H cameras with aperture plates filed for Ultra-16". I have never heard of any Ultra-16 camera coming from Bolex International, when did they offer such conversion?

On 6/30/2020 at 6:43 PM, Simon Wyss said:

Bolex International aren’t busy but abandonded. Marc Ueter has left the company. Otello Diotallevi retired in 2018 and continued to work a little until past May. The new owner, Hugo Diaz, isn’t responding to E-Mails because he is alone. He has no idea of what he bought with the share package on August 28th, 2019. The website is nil. Now he’s taking summer holidays, it is said that he will answer question in September.

Your camera should of course react to changing speed settings. Aapo Lettinen, member here, can help you best. I do only mechanical and optical work (and no Super-8).

Hopefully for us filmmaker the new owner will not be as incompetent as the previous one.

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On 7/2/2020 at 10:51 PM, Patricia Dauder said:

Sorry for replying this late...

Well, I need to film in S16 for a film project I'm working on, and having dismissed the possibility of renting an ARRI (I'm filming on my own, the ARRI equipment is too heavy for me and I have a small budget ), I started researching about Bolex and lenses. I've owned a Beaulieu R16 and filmed in regular 16 for years, but for this specific project I'd like to film in S16.

Having read several articles and different posts in this forum, I concluded that the SBM was the more convenient, (sturdier bayo mount for the zoom, more reliable than the electronic one, EL, with a brighter viewfinder). But the fact is that I realize they are hard to find. Since I live in Spain, I hoped that I could find one in Europe, and avoid high shipping costs from the US (where apparently there is a bigger market) and taxes in spanish customs. I'm also always a bit reluctant to buy on Ebay, because I don't have the technical knowledge to discern if a camera is in good shape or not. That is why I thought that Bolex Factory in Switzerland, was always a reliable option (although a pricey one). But now I realize it's not.

After having read your explanation , I'm considering other models like the REX 5, with the turret plate and prime lenses, converted to S16 (13x viewfinder). Hopefully I can find a camera soon...

Thank you again Simon. Your explanation has helped me quite a lot

 

I sold a Bolex (rex5) super 16 to this French cinematographer in Spain. I don't remember if he was in Barcelona or Madrid. If you don't find one to buy, maybe he will let you rent his camera.

https://www.instagram.com/lagoonoperators/

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The Ultra-16 jobs were not done by Bolex International, I didn’t say so. That was an individual from Austria. Alexandre, I am really stuck with BI not corresponding. What should I tell my clients?

Could you pass over the name of Mr. Diotallevi’s successor? Can be by PM

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3 hours ago, alexandre favre said:

I sold a Bolex (rex5) super 16 to this French cinematographer in Spain. I don't remember if he was in Barcelona or Madrid. If you don't find one to buy, maybe he will let you rent his camera.

https://www.instagram.com/lagoonoperators/

Thanks for the contact Alexandre. Is always good to know there is someone with a S16. I'm from Barcelona. Will check their instagram .

Cheers

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16 hours ago, Simon Wyss said:

The Ultra-16 jobs were not done by Bolex International, I didn’t say so. That was an individual from Austria. Alexandre, I am really stuck with BI not corresponding. What should I tell my clients?

Could you pass over the name of Mr. Diotallevi’s successor? Can be by PM

Simon, criticizing your only provider of spare parts on a public forum is questionable. Maybe you will have more luck with Chambless, he is selling spare parts. 

If your clients cannot reach Bolex International, I would suggest them to contact a Bolexpert, Jean-Louis Seguin, Cinethinker, Duall, Lee Boscher, etc 

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16 hours ago, alexandre favre said:

Another theory coming from an internet expert. I would not trust this person entirely as he is trying to promote his own camera repair work. You speak about a "correct conversion", who is offering this service? 

On 6/30/2020 at 7:43 PM, Simon Wyss said:

Your camera should of course react to changing speed settings. Aapo Lettinen, member here, can help you best. I do only mechanical and optical work (and no Super-8).

Some years ago this same person was inventing some stories about the beginning of the H16 camera. When I asked him to justify his assumption, he stopped answering e-mails.

Well, on the other thread I proposed that I could at least look at the camera and try to figure out what is wrong with it IF no one else is willing to try to repair it or if there is no one else working on them anymore. By my opinion, it is better to AT LEAST TRY to repair something than just easily abandon it as "unrepairable" and throw it away or let it sit on the shelf for years. I have heard that there is lots of "unrepairable" Cinema Products cameras out there as well because people are not even trying to get them to work. I would like to try to build new crystal sync electronics to them if I had one here so that the old cameras could be revived and returned back to service. Don't know what is wrong with that... at least it is better option than let them sit on the shelf for decades or make lamp shades out of them like someone did to a poor Bolex and some movie projectors 😭

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Am right now sitting on a Beaulieu MR 8 that was sent to me by somebody desperate in Germany. The camera was in Vienna with a camera service person who returned it to the owner with the remark “Federwerk defekt” (spring drive defunct). When I was removing the film guide sheets ten minutes ago the mechanism went click at which moment I knew that it was working. I could let the spring run down to the halt. The guidance was screwed on so unintelligently that the shutter arm was jammed.

I’m not totally clueless with film movie cameras. In H cameras I have found spring washers with burrs put into the mechanism the wrong way round originally, by Paillard in the sixties. A trained mechanic knows that spring washers mustn’t have the slightest burr. Also the orientation makes a difference between the spring barrel revolving smoothly or uneasily. That is the reason why I disassemble every H completely, if an overhaul has been agreed. It can help to swap the spool spindles, too, because their fit is narrow. And so on on so forth.

I think Jaakko Kurhi does correct Super-16 conversions, Jean-Louis Seguin, and Bernie O’Doherty. I don’t know everybody.

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Simon, it is admirable that you are trying to repair cameras and keeping this medium alive. On the contrary, spreading misinformation to promote your activity is dishonest.  

To clarify what you wrote previously, can you upload pictures of to the badly converted super 16 camera with the contact of the person who bought it? Or was the conversion also made by an individual in Austria?

"Yes, I will. First of all the turret plate is the original, so lenses are still centered on the film middle line, not onto the new wider frame. Grebenstein in Germany used to shift the central turret post in order to take the lens mount threads 1,1 mm to the left," 

It has to be shifted 1.2mm for the SBM. If you want to teach people, be precise. Just for your information, It is done for every single conversion at Bolex International.

"Next, the aperture, machined out obviously, was left blank metal. They wouldn’t even grab a sharpie and blacken the inner rim. Ghost frames were the result, that’s the designation in my language by meaning, the client showed me some footage on his laptop computer he brought with him, scanned on an Arrilaser."

Can you please show us a photogram from the Arrilaser? From my experience "ghost frames" come from the bad synchronisation of the shutter and claw mechanism. I have filmed kilometers of film with super 16 Bolex the last 10 years and never noticied a single reflection coming from the inner rim.

"Thirdly the sprocket drums seemed to have the teeth shortened but I didn’t measure that out since the client took the camera with him swiftly after I had disclosed to him what loss he was facing. When I tried the camera last week I did what I always do, then under the eyes of the owner, I used it like anybody uses such a camera. Wound the spring, closed the loop formers (where I encountered the old only half-solved problem of an almost hold sometimes), cut the film diagonally in the built-in knife (to feel whether that’s still sharp), and let the film thread mechanism lace up. In the lower loop the film derailed, I had to let the release go. Without a doubt the film guides were not aligned."

Are you trying to say they do not test the camera with film?

"Fourth, the very outermost maybe ten percent of the image width showed vignetting, depending on the focal length of the lenses used, to be seen clearly with the footage. When I peered onto the aperture from the front I realised that the reflex prism block cut into the Super-16 image. To remedy this the glass would have needed to be unglued from the bracket, shifted by only half to one millimeter, and cemented back in. One can work on the holder as well but from my experiences with the unit it’s better to leave its bores intact."

I strongly doubt such camera would go out of the workshop in Yverdon. Please show picture.

"I’m not totally clueless with film movie cameras. In H cameras I have found spring washers with burrs put into the mechanism the wrong way round originally, by Paillard in the sixties. A trained mechanic knows that spring washers mustn’t have the slightest burr. Also the orientation makes a difference between the spring barrel revolving smoothly or uneasily. That is the reason why I disassemble every H completely, if an overhaul has been agreed. It can help to swap the spool spindles, too, because their fit is narrow. And so on on so forth."

I have met nearly fifty employees of the Paillard Bolex company. With all the quality control they had, what you say is near impossible. The camera was probably disassembled by an amateur later. It is easy to confirm by the look of the screws.

Edited by alexandre favre
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7 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

Well, on the other thread I proposed that I could at least look at the camera and try to figure out what is wrong with it IF no one else is willing to try to repair it or if there is no one else working on them anymore. By my opinion, it is better to AT LEAST TRY to repair something than just easily abandon it as "unrepairable" and throw it away or let it sit on the shelf for years. I have heard that there is lots of "unrepairable" Cinema Products cameras out there as well because people are not even trying to get them to work. I would like to try to build new crystal sync electronics to them if I had one here so that the old cameras could be revived and returned back to service. Don't know what is wrong with that... at least it is better option than let them sit on the shelf for decades or make lamp shades out of them like someone did to a poor Bolex and some movie projectors 😭

I was answering Simon Wyss, my apologies if I wasn't clear. 

Hopefully we all agree that the Bolex lamp shades should be forbidden by the internet police.

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I can be exact. ISO 5768 specifies 9,15 mm for the distance from film reference edge to center of intended image. ISO 69 has 15,95 mm for the raw film width. The difference from the film center line is 9,15 mm – (15,95 mm ÷ 2) = 1,175 mm.

Most professional cameras guide the film by spring action against a fixed rail on the RH side as seen from behind the film towards the scene. With respect to all tolerances we have the film center line a little to the right which leads me to round the figure down, therefore 1,150 mm instead of 1,200. Rounding down with TAC base film in mind that shrinks rather than it widens. Basically, a difference of 0,1 mm between 1,1 mm and 1,2 is not dramatic because there is enough margin within the frame on 35 mm stock, in the case blow-ups are made.

The camera I have found that washer in is my own. I bought it as H-16 M, no. 228,565. I had Bolex International add the magazine saddle and mount a standard turret instead of the single-port front. That was in 1984. Ever since then the mechanism had run with a slow miaowing until I revised it myself in 2013. The black mastix seal was bone-dry. The image of an H main spring on a wooden bench with Wikipedia is from that time when I started to open barrels and remove springs.

If you think that I make things up, sorry then.

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11 minutes ago, Simon Wyss said:

I can be exact. ISO 5768 specifies 9,15 mm for the distance from film reference edge to center of intended image. ISO 69 has 15,95 mm for the raw film width. The difference from the film center line is 9,15 mm – (15,95 mm ÷ 2) = 1,175 mm.

Most professional cameras guide the film by spring action against a fixed rail on the RH side as seen from behind the film towards the scene. With respect to all tolerances we have the film center line a little to the right which leads me to round the figure down, therefore 1,150 mm instead of 1,200. Rounding down with TAC base film in mind that shrinks rather than it widens. Basically, a difference of 0,1 mm between 1,1 mm and 1,2 is not dramatic because there is enough margin within the frame on 35 mm stock, in the case blow-ups are made.

The camera I have found that washer in is my own. I bought it as H-16 M, no. 228,565. I had Bolex International add the magazine saddle and mount a standard turret instead of the single-port front. That was in 1984. Ever since then the mechanism had run with a slow miaowing until I revised it myself in 2013. The black mastix seal was bone-dry. The image of an H main spring on a wooden bench with Wikipedia is from that time when I started to open barrels and remove springs.

If you think that I make things up, sorry then.

At least you are reading the good documentation.

Could you please answer my question and not elucubrate on other topics? We both know that Bolex International has nothing to do with Paillard. 

Can you show the pictures of the "Wreckage". Photograms of the "ghost images", etc.  Otherwise I will conclude you made up another story.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the camera.

With ghost frame I mean a band of stray light exposed within each frame, reflected from the metal aperture rim.

I don’t make anything up. Before we argue further I’d like to contact the young man to ask him whether he’d give testimony. I have no reason to not believe him.

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On 7/1/2020 at 3:21 PM, Simon Wyss said:

 

Bolex International is running as it was over the last decade with extended focus on customer-service.

Today after-sales organization is in place to serve better our customers directly, meaning, not anymore through not authorized dealer or agent.

Special focus on repair is made, by qualified Bolex technician with original Bolex Certified spare part.

In order, to protect our employees’ health against unpredictable Covid-19, we significantly reduce our activities.

Bolex International has appointed Hugo Diaz as administrator only, ownership of the company is not public information.

Bolex International reserves the right at any time to attack any disinformation campaign against the brand mark.

The official list of retailer will be formaly publish in the official website.

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On 7/9/2020 at 8:10 PM, Simon Wyss said:

I didn’t take any pictures of the camera.

With ghost frame I mean a band of stray light exposed within each frame, reflected from the metal aperture rim.

I don’t make anything up. Before we argue further I’d like to contact the young man to ask him whether he’d give testimony. I have no reason to not believe him.

Simon Wyss made up another story, we wil never see pictures from him, he is too busy spreading his hate on german forum. 

 

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