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Hello all,

 

As a little kid, I used to always shoot and develop my own movies on Super-8mm cameras.

 

In the past few years, however, I've moved toward the digital age using Panasonics and DSLRs. I want to go back to using film, however I want to get higher quality than Super 8 - is 16mm a good choice for a young filmmaker? And if so, what cameras are best? My price range is anywhere below $1000 (or a little above).

 

 

Thanks!

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I sold my Beaulieu R16, which I'd spent a LOT of money buying extra accessories, magazines, 200ft spools, Ultra 16 gate to get a Super 16mm NPR. So quiet, 400ft capacity, crystal speeds! However, I wish I still had a small, run-and-gun sort of camera, so I've started looking at reflex Bolex 16mm cameras. Depending on your needs, of course, I think a reflex Bolex H16 would be the way to go. It's GREAT that you want to shoot film! Long live film!

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Lonny brings up an interesting point, are you looking for a run- and-gun camera similar to Super8? Or where you looking for like a heavy duty production camera?

 

One of the advantages of using film, is that all the cameras shoot the same stuff- it's just what luxuries or bells and whistles you want to have with it. There are a lot of good handheld (Or as Lonny put it, Run-and-gun) cameras such as the K-3, Canon Scoopic, Bolex and the R16 Beaulieu. They take 100ft of film (pretty much the equivalent to the 50ft of super8), although some can be adapted to take up more film (Such as Lonnys R16)

 

My first camera was the cheapest I could find- a Bell and Howell Filmo. Now my portable camera is Beaulieu R16 too (Mine is an old spring wound model). Awesome camera. Many of these cameras are also driven by a spring wound motors, which makes them always ready to go without batteries.

 

I agree with Lonny that a Bolex wouldn't be a bad place to start, Bolex's where like the DSLRs of the day, making filmmaking affordable with a camera that had all the bells and whistles (single frame, rewind, etc). I recommend doing some Google search's and compare them with other cameras you'll see on this topic.

 

It's probably worth mentioned that one of the options you could be looking for in a camera, is if the camera is regular 16mm, Super 16mm or Ultra 16mm. They all take the same film, but the gate is bigger on Super 16mm and Ultra 16mm, so naturally you can get a higher quality image. Naturally the price reflects this, many of the cameras I've mentioned come with those gates.

 

Unless you're looking for something bigger (Something that takes 400 feet of film) and can be used to sync sound too?

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Yup...a Bolex is what's in your price range. Not my favorite 16mm camera, but many other people love them. I prefer Arriflex technology and I own an Arriflex 16 S/B. I bought the camera package from Visual Products for $4000. It included the following:

 

-Arriflex camera body

-Matte box with 2 filter trays

-Batter belt

-Zeiss planar lens kit: 16mm, 32mm, 50mm

 

Got it in great shape and it's still going strong. Nowadays you could probably get the camera body on ebay for under a grand and send out to get serviced. But then you would have everything else to purchase.

 

But I would look at ebay. There are a lot of decent film items up for sale.

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I'm one of those Bolex geeks, and I like what the camera offers as far as flexibility with animation, portability, etc.- but what kind of shooting do you want to do? Are you set on Super 16 conversion? Some cameras are unable to be converted, or only at considerable expense. If you're happy with 4:3 aspect ratio and don't care about single frame or backwind features then a Scoopic or older Arri, etc. would probably be perfect. Costs rise considerably once you start grabbing lenses, filters, magazines, etc...

 

I have a Tobin time lapse motor along with a crystal synch ESM motor, pre-set Switars, a POE 16-100mm zoom and lots of filters and crap- it's tons of fun but it adds up fast!

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If you're coming from Super 8 I highly recommend looking at a Scoopic MS. They are fairly modern cameras often used for shooting high school football games in the U.S. They are the easiest 16mm cameras EVER to load, have a great (although fixed) zoom lens, batteries that can be easily re-celled and have a good autoexposure system that is extremely convenient. You're not going to shoot a feature with it but is just perfect for run-n-gun type shooting like for weddings and family events.

 

I think I was in a similar place you are now but about 8 years ago. I went through about 5 or 6 16mm cameras until I landed on the Scoopic MS for most things run-n-gun and an Arri SR2 when quality is most important and I have time to set up a shot.

 

Here are three decent entry level cameras...the Kodak K-100, Russian Krasnogorsk K3, Scoopic MS.

 

16mm_cameras.jpg

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One thing to note is that whether it's Super 8 or 16mm, today they are using the same emulsions that are a lot more advanced than when you were a kid. Same goes for scanning technology. 16mm camera bodies are pretty cheap but the price of lenses has gone through the roof lately.

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If you're coming from Super 8 I highly recommend looking at a Scoopic MS. They are fairly modern cameras often used for shooting high school football games in the U.S. They are the easiest 16mm cameras EVER to load, have a great (although fixed) zoom lens, batteries that can be easily re-celled and have a good autoexposure system that is extremely convenient. You're not going to shoot a feature with it but is just perfect for run-n-gun type shooting like for weddings and family events.

 

The Scoopic is good for exactly that and you basically don't have to think. You don't even have to meter if you want to trust the internal meter (which I wouldn't.) The entire camera system is decent, but way too automated if you're looking to really get your hands dirty with the format.

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The Scoopic is good for exactly that and you basically don't have to think. You don't even have to meter if you want to trust the internal meter (which I wouldn't.) The entire camera system is decent, but way too automated if you're looking to really get your hands dirty with the format.

I've actually had multiple colorists ask me what lens/camera combination I was using with the Scoopic because the footage was so sharp and exposure was spot on. It's not like most Super 8 exposure systems that breathe like crazy; it's remarkably good at exposing for what I'm focusing on. I do however set it and usually turn off the auto-exposure once set.

 

From what John is saying about putting toes into 16mm from Super 8 and video, Scoopic would be a great step to get 16mm quality with Super 8 ease of use.

 

If you want a camera that is rock steady and ready to shoot a feature go with an Arri SR (1, 2 or 3). Good luck carrying that around like a Super 8 camera or any video camera if you need that portability however.

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We have several regular clients who shoot on Scoopics, and the image quality is always very nice - sharp as a tack and quite steady.

 

I personally love my ACLII, but it's probably out of the OP's price range, once you factor in lenses and additional mags. If you're shooting anything long form, or where reloading the film is an issue, it's hard to beat a camera that takes preloaded mags. It takes about 10 seconds to swap out mags on the ACL. The trade off is that it's a bit on the heavy side, but it is built like a tank!

 

-perry

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I've actually had multiple colorists ask me what lens/camera combination I was using with the Scoopic because the footage was so sharp and exposure was spot on. It's not like most Super 8 exposure systems that breathe like crazy; it's remarkably good at exposing for what I'm focusing on. I do however set it and usually turn off the auto-exposure once set.

 

From what John is saying about putting toes into 16mm from Super 8 and video, Scoopic would be a great step to get 16mm quality with Super 8 ease of use.

 

If you want a camera that is rock steady and ready to shoot a feature go with an Arri SR (1, 2 or 3). Good luck carrying that around like a Super 8 camera or any video camera if you need that portability however.

 

I fully appreciate the benefits of the Scoopic. I used it in college and it's a decent entry-level 16mm camera.

 

But based on your budget/portability needs/quality, I would split the difference between the Scoopic & Arri SR and go with a Bolex, John.

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First of all, thank you all for so many replies within one day!

 

But to answer some questions, I'm looking for something in-between run-n-gun and heavy duty. I don't want to shoot weddings and home videos so much as I want to make short films with a camera. I have a good cameraman that can handle heavy equipment, so weight isn't a matter, neither is windup or in-sync sound.

 

I've done a ton of research in one day, and I'm considering between a Bolex H16 and a Krasnogorsk K-3. I love the quality of both, especially in B&W film (I'm moving toward making dark films, such as film noir, etc, so I want a low-light feel).

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That's kind of camera independent. I would personally look into a good Eclair ACL or NPR package as it can grow with you a bit (go S16mm, change to PL mount etc etc). It's a buyer's market for cameras at the moment-- though lenses are another issue. Staying R16 on something with a C Mont (NPR) you can get some pretty good pretty cheap glass on a still pretty serviceable body which will open you up to 400' loads and some accessories which could carry over to something like an SR or LTR/XTR in time if you wanted to go that way.

I think one would find a K3 and a Bolex limiting in the long term, especially if you ever plan on shooting those new-fangled "talkies"

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I've done a ton of research in one day, and I'm considering between a Bolex H16 and a Krasnogorsk K-3.

I've never owned a Bolex but I think you'd find the construction of the Bolex to be far superior.

 

A possible advantage on the K3 would be the M42 lens mount which has some great inexpensive glass available from Pentax. Maybe the form factor is a little easier to shoot with on the K3 and it is reflex so that helps when focusing.

 

Even with all that the Bolex would be a better made camera for sure.

 

Can you get a reflex H16? If so I'd go with that.

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I've never owned a Bolex but I think you'd find the construction of the Bolex to be far superior.

 

Agreed. I've never used a K3 but I've used the Bolex. I think it will fit your needs, provided you are okay with an MOS camera as Adrian pointed out. I was looking at the Rex-5 before I bought my Arri S. They should be within your price range, now.

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Of the two I'd go Bolex over K3, generally, though a properly working one of either is.. well.. properly working. Bolex has a special place in my heartof course, and there are times I'd've killed to have had one with me.

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Bolex are heavy duty, dependable, easy to learn and quick cheap and easy to obtain. However, if you hope for Super16 i'd go Eclair or Arri as Bolex gets crazy expensive and difficult to covert to Super16. If you are happy with regular 16, bolex all the way.

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I also like Bolexes a lot. Krasnogorsks have much brighter viewfinder image but I have used my Bolex over 12 years and it has missed a frame only ONCE.

If shooting in cold I usually use A-winded spools to bypass the feed side friction which is not working reliably in my camera if ambient temperature is low (could use a little maintenance but there is nothing else wrong with the camera and a-wind does not create any scratches to the film so not a problem at all I think :) )

 

Krasnogorsks are easier to repair, though, and the lenses are quite good but those bodies are not as versatile as C-mount cameras where you can use almost every lens ever invented if you have corresponding adapters.

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Bolex's are, by far, one of the cheapest and easiest camers to convert to S16. I have a S16 Rex5 and I'd love to add an SBM to the mix. Clean SBM's have become VERY difficult to obtain because they're the most rugged lens mount + the easiest to convert. Owners are definitely hanging on to these models.

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Bolex's are, by far, one of the cheapest and easiest camers to convert to S16. I have a S16 Rex5 and I'd love to add an SBM to the mix. Clean SBM's have become VERY difficult to obtain because they're the most rugged lens mount + the easiest to convert. Owners are definitely hanging on to these models.

Actually, the K3's are by far the cheapest and easiest to convert. Just widen the gate with a file and (optional) purchase a re-centered mount of eBay. Cost me less than $100 when I did it 6 years ago.

 

Not saying I'd rather have a K3, but I will say it's easy to convert.

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Awesome cameras Will!,

 

I USED to have a Scoopic MS, sold it..poor decision. The Scoopic is outstanding! I love Krasnogorsk 3's they are rugged and have an outstanding zoom lens, all you need to get is a Peleng and you have a wide angle.

 

Another camera I would look into is the BELL AND HOWELL 240. There are several models of this camera, I think the one to get is the one without the Electric Eye or the two turret one. I believe the electric eye one requires a now defunct battery type. I am not sure the Electric Eye version will work without a battery hence why I am not championing it. However the versions w/o the Electric Eye, produce some amazing rock steady pictures! I would like to get one. It takes C mount lenses so you also have a galaxy of lens choices.

 

P.S In Regards to the Peleng 8mm: Has anyone ever modded the rear filters, to create a more dynamic range of filters? like buying a set of 3 and removing the stock filters to "put in" the filter of your choice..I guess the "put in" pat would be the hard part. I am surprised that Raf hasn't made other rear types of rear filters for this outstanding lens.

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g'day,

 

I have only had my K-3 for a few months now, not shot much, but I have gotten film back that came out pretty nice. I used to shoot super8 and after awhile wanted to try 16mm. I did an enormous amount of research and settled on the K-3 for a few reasons.

(Bearing in mind I am happy with standard frame size.)

The cameras are the cheapest on fleabay.

The cameras are very rugged.

The modern K-3 takes M42 lens, very common, can be great quality, very affordable.

The camera is easy to load, despite the doomsday people.

The camera can run double or single perf film, in case you want to buy film really cheap.

No expensive re-celling off batteries needed.

Very easy to repair.

 

I would have loved an Arriflex, but servicing costs are high, the aluminium turret can wear destroying your focal distance, and asessories are mad money! Canon scoopic would be nice, but they are getting expensive, Bolex look very nice, high quality, but mad money with a dark view finder!

The K-3 suits me, cheap to buy, nothing to maintain, no service needed, will run when dropped or thrown.

 

My kind of camera....

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g'day,

 

I have only had my K-3 for a few months now, not shot much, but I have gotten film back that came out pretty nice. I used to shoot super8 and after awhile wanted to try 16mm. I did an enormous amount of research and settled on the K-3 for a few reasons.

(Bearing in mind I am happy with standard frame size.)

The cameras are the cheapest on fleabay.

The cameras are very rugged.

The modern K-3 takes M42 lens, very common, can be great quality, very affordable.

The camera is easy to load, despite the doomsday people.

The camera can run double or single perf film, in case you want to buy film really cheap.

No expensive re-celling off batteries needed.

Very easy to repair.

 

I would have loved an Arriflex, but servicing costs are high, the aluminium turret can wear destroying your focal distance, and asessories are mad money! Canon scoopic would be nice, but they are getting expensive, Bolex look very nice, high quality, but mad money with a dark view finder!

The K-3 suits me, cheap to buy, nothing to maintain, no service needed, will run when dropped or thrown.

 

My kind of camera....

 

Same here! My only 16 mm camera is a K-3 and I'm quite happy with it. I cannot afford an Arri now and this one is enough for my shots.

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