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questions re: H-16 SUPREME 16mm Camera

Greg Anderson

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Hello all, I recently inherited a Paillard Bolex Camera. From this awesome website and various links to other resources, I've determined this to be an H-16 Supreme from 1954, based on the serial no.

It has 3 lenses: Kern-Paillard YVAR 1:2.8 75mm AR, Kern-Paillard PIZAR 1:1.9 26mm AR, and Kern-Paillard SWITAR 1:1.8 16mm AR

(I would liken to learn what exactly those letters mean)

All lenses have screw on metal covers and what looks like original leather cases, and all in very good condition.

It also has what seems to be an accessory shoe, mounted to the camera base, and provides a 3/8" and 1/4" threaded opening.

It all was protected in an original leather carrying case with Bollex-Paillard embossed on it.

Inside I found more lens covers, a small box  with 5 filters inside, (there is one in the camera), and two packs of "Wratten Gelatin Filter", one is 85BN6, one is 85B.

There is also a Kodak filter in a metal tin - No. 7A - but I don't think it has anything to do with the Bolex as it's made in the USA

I don't know enough about this to even attempt to try it other than winding the spring and pushing the button- which was actually pretty cool!

Can you direct me to resources where I can learn more about this?

If I were to sell it, should I have it professionally serviced / cleaned ?

Thanks in advance for your patience and help!



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AR refers that the lenses are coated 'Anti Reflective' I'm pretty sure. As for selling I feel it would be best to sell as is (just make sure it winds and shoots) at auction for 99 cents and let buyers decide the price. You'll get a nice price for a complete kit with those lenses!

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The Bolex Collector website is a great resource for identifying the model and features of your camera. 

I assume you just want information in order to sell it, rather than use it yourself? Big difference.

Some important aspects changed around 1954. If your camera serial number is below 100401 then it has the older pulldown mechanism and a 190 degree shutter. After that serial number a new pulldown design was introduced, making the camera steadier, and the shutter angle was reduced to 144 degrees. The different shutter angle means the exposure time is different. So the earlier cameras have an exposure time of 1/30 sec when filming at 16 fps, while the later ones are 1/40 sec. For 24fps the times are 1/45 sec for earlier cameras or 1/60 sec for later ones. Your camera will take single perf film, unlike models from around 1952 and before.

Your camera is a non-reflex model, which is quite important. It reduces the value considerably, since most people looking for a Bolex want a reflex model. Reflex models have a prism behind the middle port taking lens that diverts light to the viewfinder, allowing you to see through the lens as you film.  A non-reflex model like yours can't do this. You need to rely on the lens focus distance marks or swivel the turret so the lens is in the top position, where the critical focus viewfinder at top can look through it for focus adjustment. Then you have to swivel the lens back down to the middle position for filming.

The lenses you have are normal C mount lenses for 16mm format. There are specially formulated versions of those Kern lenses (and others) labelled RX which are designed to work best with a reflex Bolex. Non-reflex Kern lenses like yours are labelled AR (which just stands for Anti-Reflective, referring to the coatings).

Below is a manual for non-reflex 8mm and 16mm H series Bolexes, dating to around the early 50s.  It describes the earlier 190 degree version with the earlier pulldown design, but shares many of the same features as the 144 degree model. Most online manuals are for reflex Bolexes which are quite different.


The most valuable part of your inheritance are the lenses, the camera itself is not worth much unfortunately. However if you choose to learn how to use it you might find it personally quite valuable, it may even pen up a whole world of discovery!

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Thanks so much for the great information!

After reading through this and other forums, I realized that there is so much to learn and practice, that I don't have the time available to devote to this craft to become even remotely good at it. I'm still trying to master basic still photography!

I will probably have this on E-bay or marketplace in a few weeks, and try to keep my hobbies down to six or seven.

(Eight, if you count golf as a hobby)

I did learn that this camera was owned and used by a local television station, that my father-in-law freelanced for. He provided stills of the Green Bay Packers, including Bart Starr!

Thanks again for your help!

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