Jump to content

Ultra 16mm?


Frank Poole
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey peoples,

I have a Bolex H16, and i'm contemplating converting it to Super or Ultra 16. I adore 4:3 and may just leave it as is, but the ability to get more out of the film is very attractive. Super 16 is taller but just a tad less wide than Ultra. Some say Ultra is the most versatile because you can get the widest image and crop if you're so inclined, but it's not as tall, so I think the same could be said of Super, essentially. I have full frame lenses with an adapter that I would be using so vignetting won't be a problem

Any opinions on the matter? Thank you!

picture-11.png

Super-16mm-vs.-Standard-16mm-vs.-Ultra-16mm-Aspect-Ratio-Frame-Size-Film-Guide-1024x307.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

Super 16 uses more of the negative, all the way to where the left sprocket holes are on the Standard format are. It is a wider gate. Wider than "Ultra 16" which is merely a top and bottom crop of the Standard 16 gate.. The 1.66 refers to the aspect ratio of the entire image.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also worth remembering that the Bolex pulldown claw drags back across the perfs before engaging the next one, and Ultra 16 extends into that perf area. Combined with the sprocket rollers which need to make contact with that perf area as well, you're almost guaranteed to get scratching/scuffing/bruising inside the image area. 

I reckon either invest in a properly converted S16 camera, or stick with Standard 16 and crop to whatever final aspect ratio you want. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One or two points in favour of Ultra...   It's easier to convert the camera as you don't need to re-position the lens. And as the 4:3 image is still being exposed you can go back to R16 if desired. It's also easier to get a really wide format such as 2.2:1  (70mm memories 😃

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I agree with Dom it does have risks of scratching,  if carefully modified the Bolex, at least the two I have done, can give perfect images. It's important to remove a lot of metal from the sprockets. Take a look at my blog, see site below.  On one camera I'm nearly out at 2.2:1 with a 13.3mm width. That's wider than is possible with super-16. So I reckon if a wide ratio is desired, U16 might be the answer.  There is absolutely no micro scratching with the footage I have taken, and no inferior registration or lack of flatness in the gate. However, I should point out I have only used reversal film, which is possibly less scratch-prone than negative.  And I take great care to thoroughly clean the gate etc before loading.

Obviously the projector, if used, must be similarly modified with care. I use a Bolex which I found was ideal. Again, no scratching. It did though take quite a time to modify. I'm not sure what the position is about scanning services for U16. And I should warn about the problem of code numbers getting into the image when you go really wide...

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Frank Poole said:

@Doug Palmer thanks Doug!! Could you share a link for those examples? Would love to see.

Sorry nothing right now. The projector by the way is 1.85:1 which is the usual ratio of U16.  It was more tricky to modify than the camera. I presume scanning services would also offer this ratio ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a couple amateurish Ultra-16 examples from myself, shot with a cheap Revere springwind camera with a widened gate. The first example is cropped and heavily stabilized:

The example below is uncropped. Unfortunately when machining out the gate, a tiny burr was created and it's scratching off a bit of emulsion, which is building up in the gate. You can see edgecode between the perfs on screen left. 

 

Edited by Webster C
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...
On 11/27/2020 at 12:43 AM, Doug Palmer said:

One or two points in favour of Ultra...   It's easier to convert the camera as you don't need to re-position the lens. And as the 4:3 image is still being exposed you can go back to R16 if desired. It's also easier to get a really wide format such as 2.2:1  (70mm memories 😃

I don't think I've heard of Ultra 16 before. It seems more practical than S16, mainly if you want a wider aspect ratio. In fact, even if you wanted 16:9, you could argue for U16, as you get a small amount of reframing room on the sides if you need it.

Interesting point about Kodaks' hypothetical Super 8 camera: it has an extended gate, which uses the area of the film previously reserved for the magnetic strip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The BOLEX is a wonderful camera in any of its incarnations.   Ultra 16 seems very practical, but there are downsides to it....namely lack of sufficient laboratory support, and along the one side are the edge code numbers for editing.    Personally, I would leave the camera as is, and consider shooting anamorphically.   There are now 1.33x anamorphic lenses what will give you that aspect ratio usable in the 16:9 to 1.85:1 ratios........or you could use any of the more standard 1.5x, 1.75x and 2x anamorphic lenses.  There are plenty of 2x affordable lenses on eBay these days coming out of Russia and the Ukraine.  I have been using the KOWA 16-H [8-Z outside of north America] since 1981 and once you get used to filming in Widescreen using anamorphic lenses, it becomes second nature.  The cost of a true professional camera modification to your BOLEX would be more than you could pick up a good used anamorphic lens and adapter or bracket to use on your camera.  Once you modify the camera, and if you're unhappy with it....it will be costly to return it to factory condition again.  Even Super-16 requires modification of the Turret plate to re-center the lenses on the new film frame size.  Although this isn't needed for Ultra-16, there is the issue of grinding down and mirror polishing the film sprockets, although those doing this DIY usually just leave them alone.  If you really want to try this format, I suggest just getting an older cheap BOLEX or other camera to experiment with.  All the other issues regarding film transfer, possible scratching from the film pull down pawl etc have already been mentioned. 

   In Anamorphic filming, you utilize the entire film frame, yet still obtain a Widescreen image.  In film transfer, the image can be digitally stretched back to whatever format you filmed it in.   Or via using an anamorphic lens in a DIY film transfer setup to render the image in Widescreen digitally.  The original main anamorphic lenses as well as the new 1.33x lenses will yield the following effective aspect ratios:

1.5x lens........2:1 aspect ratio

1.75x lens......2.25:1 aspect ratio

2x  lens..........2.66:1 aspect ratio (aka full CinemaScope)

1.33x lens......1.85:1 aspect ratio (useable for both 16:9 and 1:85, thus fine for 2k......for 4k equivalent etc....I would consider another lens unless you don't mind either cropping the image or letter boxing the film)

 

Lastly, if you desire to have a projection print, the advantage with anamorphic lens use is that you still can print in an optical sound track....or add a magnetic one if that is doable.

Hope this puts some other useful ideas in mind for you. Good luck!

Edited by Martin Baumgarten
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Very good points, Martin,  in favour of anamorphic.... avoiding any mods to the camera itself.  However, maybe one should remember that add-on attachments like the Kowa can sometimes be a bit tricky to focus especially for closeups.  You can of course add a diopter lens on to the front, and this corrects for both lenses, if introducing some softness.  A S16 or U16 mod avoids this and you can use macro lenses and so on.

Ultra-16 can go out further than 1.85:1 ratio, over 2:1,  if you can find a film stock that doesn't have intrusive edge markings. eg Wittnerchrome worked perfectly. Attempts to use the wasted emulsion between the perfs of 16mm film have happened for many years. 1954 is the first example I could find:

https://filmisfine.com/blog/can-16mm-become-wider/

Since then Variscope and Varispect are two non-standard ways of tackling the problem. I'm not sure though if scanners will cover the wider area.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
  • Sustaining Member

Went for a walk through Camden with a 1952 Bolex H16 and a Switar f1:1.4 25mm, loaded with 100ft Kodak Vision 3 250D. Random shots to test the camera. The footage was scanned at 4k and needed a lot of stabilizing in Resolve. I cropped the 4:3 image to 1:1.85. and it holds up quite well.The Switar is a great little lens although a little soft wide open. The fact that the camera isn’t very steady is a bit of a bummer and I wonder if a service can improve that? Or is it the luck of the draw with those old Bolex cameras? Still, not bad for a seventy year old thing you can wind up and carry around with you.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks great Uli!

A Bolex can definitely be made to be very stable, if you send it to an experienced technician to service. The unstabilized footage will tell us what might need addressing - whether the unsteadiness was more lateral (side rail spring) or vertical (claw, pressure plate). 

So a non-reflex H16 with matching non-reflex Switar (AR on the front not RX)? 

What stops were you shooting at?


 

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
5 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

Looks great Uli!

A Bolex can definitely be made to be very stable, if you send it to an experienced technician to service. The unstabilized footage will tell us what might need addressing - whether the unsteadiness was more lateral (side rail spring) or vertical (claw, pressure plate). 

So a non-reflex H16 with matching non-reflex Switar (AR on the front not RX)? 

What stops were you shooting at?


 

That’s good to know, thanks Dom! The unsteadiness is more extreme vertically but also to a lesser amount horizontally. The lens is AR and I shot mostly at around f8 and those are very crisp images. The heavy sunlit shots are at f22 and they look a little hazy. There are a couple of shots with cars under a bridge and they are at f1.4 and f4 and are a little soft. It was a late afternoon and the weather temperamental. I wasn’t metering but guessing and surprised at some of the shots being darker as expected. 
I will try a 1960 reflex Bolex with RX lens this weekend. Should I compensate for the reflex finder when exposing?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Haven't been to Camden for many years... looks great, and seeing all the cyclists. If you say unsteady, which I can't see btw being handheld,    maybe it's a small adjustment needed to the pressure-plate tension. Nice exposure, UK afternoons getting shorter now...🙂

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
2 minutes ago, Doug Palmer said:

Haven't been to Camden for many years... looks great, and seeing all the cyclists. If you say unsteady, which I can't see btw being handheld,    maybe it's a small adjustment needed to the pressure-plate tension. Nice exposure, UK afternoons getting shorter now...🙂

Hi Doug, the footage before stabilisation is extremely jittery and jumpy. Maybe I'll post a "Before" version when I get a minute.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

The middle of the traffic lights stays coloured! It doesn't go white! Even the green one!

Why can't we have that from digital cameras. Oh, wait, I know why - because they want to put really feeble RGB filters on them so they can claim higher sensitivity. Sigh.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/7/2021 at 9:57 AM, Uli Meyer said:

Hi Doug, the footage before stabilisation is extremely jittery and jumpy. Maybe I'll post a "Before" version when I get a minute.

 

I hadn't read it properly... the Resolve stabilisation. Would be interesting yes to see how it looked before.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/8/2021 at 1:57 AM, Phil Rhodes said:

The middle of the traffic lights stays coloured! It doesn't go white! Even the green one!

Why can't we have that from digital cameras. Oh, wait, I know why - because they want to put really feeble RGB filters on them so they can claim higher sensitivity. Sigh.

I am no engineer. But I suspect that this is not the case. Thicker Bayer filters would not change highlight response. It would be like putting an ND over the lens. Sensors are just bad at certain things and for now there's nothing we can do about it.

But it is a serious problem, and it's very distracting. ARRI cameras **(obscenity removed)** it up, Red cameras **(obscenity removed)** it up, Leica cameras **(obscenity removed)** it up. I have an idea of how to fix it but I am waiting until I have some spare cash to test that idea. On the sensor level, you could hypothetically have one in every four photo sites covered with a 2 stop ND instead of a G value. It might not work on a CMOS sensor but it might work on a CCD sensor. Except, oh wait, they don't make CCD sensors anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
1 hour ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I am no engineer. But I suspect that this is not the case. Thicker Bayer filters would not change highlight response. It would be like putting an ND over the lens.

To be clear, what I'm talking about here is more saturated filters, not just darker. The filters on most modern single-sensor cameras are rather desaturated; the red isn't that red, the green not that green, etc. This is done to improve sensitivity, sure, and more saturated filters would reduce sensitivity, but... that's part of why an Alexa isn't that sensitive. It would, I suspect, also reduce the degree to which the middle of bright light sources go white.

I don't know any reason why a CCD would be different, other than that most cameras we've seen that have CCDs also have three-chip blocks... which have saturated filters.

Notice in the photo below, the Bayer sensor on my Canon DSLR misreports the blue output as purple!

rgb2.thumb.jpg.1d238bfc2c8ec50a2ce2be5cb14a65d3.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scientific proof that some digital cameras have a long way to go. 😉

Okay, so now I know what you mean. Could this be the principle behind Phase One's TriChromatic sensor? I know a little about it - Phase One, with Sony, made a Bayer array with even colour density, without compromising high ISO performance too much.

Alexa may have more saturated filters but it still can't handle light sources, despite what people say about its highlight performance, which is supposed to be more than film (LOL). It's not alone, so I'm not picking on it. Just saying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

Forum Sponsors

Film Gears

Serious Gear

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

VidGear.com - Broadcast Video Warehouse

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International

CineLab

Wooden Camera

Cinematography Books and Gear



×
×
  • Create New...