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Canon FD adapter ? Rex or all Bolex models.


Lewis Hart
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Looking out for a Bolex to get into 16mm, seen a few good deals but some without glass, im fine with using the Kern and normal glass, but they fetch still good money, so wanted to see if I could use some FD glass as I have a fair bit of it and its cheap / sharp.

I know there are adapters, some people said that you can use them with REX models and upwards? any truth to this, thought the image circle would be the same from the first model onwards mechanically they are the same. 

Thanks ahead 

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It sounds like you don't have a camera yet, correct? If so, your options are very open. In a nutshell, you can use an FD to C mount adapter on most C mount cameras, all turret Bolexes, and you should be able to hang whatever lens you like with the exception of mirror lockup lenses, like the 19mm. That said, those adapters along with the lenses themselves, are much larger than native C mount lenses, she adapter + lens can become a little heavy hanging off the front of the camera. You're going to be looking for a "normal" for the 16mm camera, so a lens with a focal length close to 25mm. You're also going to want this lens to be fast, which is going to limit you to the 24mm f/1.4 (which you probably don't already have) or the 24mm f/2 (which is easier to find.) Both of those lenses aren't cheap and the f/1.4 version is extraordinarily expensive these days. You could go with a slower lens but you're also going to be limited in how you shoot because focusing an f/2.8 lens through a reflex gets difficult once the sun goes down, if you don't have supplementary light. The real "cheap" FD mount lenses are 50mm and up, but for those focal lengths, you can get native C mount lenses for about the same cost.

You don't need to shoot Kern lenses, there are many fantastic optics out there in C mount. The only issue is if you are shooting a reflex Bolex and your C mount lens is shorter than 50mm, it needs to be one made for the reflex camera, due to the prism. You can stick a normal C mount on the reflex, you just can't get the sharpest image out of it at wide apertures. You can find lenses specifically made for Bolex reflex cameras made by Kern, SOM Berthiot, SOPELEM, Angenieux, Schneider, and maybe a few other marques. These are really for the focal lengths below 50mm (where you're hard pressed to find fast FD lenses which are affordable.)

After shooting a Bolex REX 4 for a year, I went back to my Bell and Howell Filmos, which I like better for a few reasons, one of which is the parallax viewfinder which is very bright and not affected by the shooting aperture of the lens. I found myself returning to the parallax Octameter when shooting towards or after dusk, so there was no benefit to the reflex viewing system for me, other than during the daytime. Granted, it's not TTL viewing, but I can also walk around with my camera with my Angenieux 25mm f/.95 hanging off the front and not have to be concerned with focus issues that would otherwise affect the reflex camera. I'm good at estimating distance, my shoes happen to be exactly 12" long, and I carry a measuring tape when I'm serious and using a tripod. 

All this is my personal opinion along with some issues I've experienced, though. 

Phil Forrest

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On 7/4/2021 at 3:33 PM, Lewis Hart said:

the image circle would be the same from the first model onwards mechanically they are the same.

They’re not. Without going into details I’d like to warn you before a, how shall I say, void attempt. Just know that it’s about an amateur camera which compact and practical lenses have been made for. You won’t get any better picture with lenses for stills photo cameras. Plus it needn’t be Kern or Angénieux. Wollensak made good and very good glass. What I want to bring across is that you film with better contrast and quite sharply through a clean and adjusted triplet than using a slightly foggy complicated system. To revive a triplet is a two-hour job for me. To service a Nikon lens with ten elements costs more.

Believe me, the longer you’re dealing with film motion-picture equipment, the stronger you’ll feel a certain emptiness in your wallet. Therefore I always suggest to keep things simple and straightforward as they were conceived initially. I mean, you can always acquire a 35-mm. camera, if you don’t mind about the money for showing off. Professionals have reasons for using a Panaflex or something. Get the suspense?

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3 hours ago, Simon Wyss said:

They’re not. Without going into details I’d like to warn you before a, how shall I say, void attempt. Just know that it’s about an amateur camera which compact and practical lenses have been made for. You won’t get any better picture with lenses for stills photo cameras. Plus it needn’t be Kern or Angénieux. Wollensak made good and very good glass. What I want to bring across is that you film with better contrast and quite sharply through a clean and adjusted triplet than using a slightly foggy complicated system. To revive a triplet is a two-hour job for me. To service a Nikon lens with ten elements costs more.

Believe me, the longer you’re dealing with film motion-picture equipment, the stronger you’ll feel a certain emptiness in your wallet. Therefore I always suggest to keep things simple and straightforward as they were conceived initially. I mean, you can always acquire a 35-mm. camera, if you don’t mind about the money for showing off. Professionals have reasons for using a Panaflex or something. Get the suspense?

Thanks very much for the detailed reply, after some looking into it, although possible its not advisable due to that spherical aberration I believe its called, anyway I found a lovely 16-100mm f1.9 Kern which ive grabbed for my rex looking forward to it, just trying to fashion up a rig for when it arrives 🙂

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Philip covered most of the points I would make. I would only add that with regards to the prism affecting the image, the main factor is the exit pupil depth rather than focal length. This is the image of the iris as seen through the rear element. If it seems to lie less than an inch behind the rear element then you will find the image has introduced spherical aberration at stops under about f/2.8. The deeper the iris appears to lie, the less the prism will affect it. Lenses over 50mm tend to have deep exit pupils, which is why they never made RX lenses in those focal lengths, but sometimes shorter focal lengths have deep exit pupils too.

The Kern zoom should serve you well, although it is rather large. Make sure to lock the turret off with the lower port plug as well as the top lock to prevent the turret from flexing. 

 

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