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I have a filmmaker friend who recently gave me his old Bolex H16 Reflex absolutely free over the holiday season. He has since graduated to a high-end digital setup, but said that the H16 Reflex properly cared for will give many years of service and can deliver great results for low-budget filmmakers.

 

I'm a student, so low-budget pretty accurately describes my operation. However I'd be willing to invest in a lens that would suit my needs. I do stop-motion animation (seeking a BFA in Animation), and would like to use film for my project.

 

The Bolex came with a pistol grip, a supplemental film magazine, cable release and a Vario Switar 18-86mm f. 25 OE lens.

 

I'm wondering: what kind of lenses / accessories would I need to make the H16 Reflex suitable for stop motion animation? The lens I'm currently looking at is a Kern Switar 10mm f 1.6.

 

Apologies for lack of knowledge, as I am an amateur. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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I would think the lens you have could work just as well. I guess how close a lens focuses is important? Diopters?? How fast a lens is, NOT important. It shouldn't be that hard at all to get enough light for a ƒ5.6.

 

 

10mm lens is an ideal focal length for 16mm shooting, especially if you put a 2x anamorphic element up front.

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I would cover the camera body with a black bag to ensure there are no light leaks while doing animation. For normal shooting it's not an issue, but with the slower procedures with animation, there's greater chance of light leak causing some fogging. I've shot animation with a 25mm prime lens, how close you get will depend on your art work.

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Thanks to both for the replies.

 

I'm animating clay models that are around mini dollhouse size, about 2 to 4 inches tall, as opposed to large scale models, so I will need a lens that can focus quite close (6" or less).

 

To Brian, I forgot to mention - the camera did come with a dark bag and several rolls of now expired film, so I'm going to do some tests just to make sure it runs well. It delivers precisely 28 seconds of continuous shooting on a full wind @ 24 fps, as the manual indicates, so I know the motor is in good condition.

 

The only flaw I have found is that the eyesight-adjustable viewfinder screw doesn't tighten, so the viewfinder moves out of position when you press your eye to it. I would imagine replacement screws must be available somehow.

Edited by Matthew Bellerose

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The older 10 mm Switar focuses down to about 6 1/2", although the shortest mark is 8". The newer preset 10mm goes much closer but unfortunately is very expensive these days. The Bolex Collector website has information on these lenses, and pictures of them.

 

A Google search will identify plenty of information about animation using a Bolex, including many good threads on this site. Andrew Alden's books on the Bolex and using them for animation are also very helpful:

http://bolex.co.uk/andrew/Bolex_Site/BolexBooks.html

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I just bought a new Switar 10mm preset model online for a little over $400. I've seen them over $1,000, so I think this was a good price relatively speaking.

 

Thanks for the info on the books, I'd like to get ahold of the animation book eventually, at the very least.

 

I also tested loading film and running film last night; I've kept a reel for practice. I've found conflicting information on whether it need be loaded in full darkness or subdued light. Video tutorials show it being loaded in light, the canister itself says to open only in total darkness. In any event, it ran fine once it got threaded through, although it definitely takes a steady hand.

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Subdued light is fine for a metal daylight spool. The flanges are tight enough to keep the light from penetrating more than a few turns of film, which of course you run off.

If unusually the film is on a plastic spool then it's total darkness because the flanges are flexible.

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The only flaw I have found is that the eyesight-adjustable viewfinder screw doesn't tighten, so the viewfinder moves out of position when you press your eye to it. I would imagine replacement screws must be available somehow.

 

check to see if the lock ring is backed off and tightened. That's something our students do all the time, just need some soft jawed pliers or wrap the lock ring with duct tape that's been folded over so it's sticky on all sides. Wrap that around the ring and turn it clockwise, should cure your problem.

Good Luck

Rich

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The only flaw I have found is that the eyesight-adjustable viewfinder screw doesn't tighten, so the viewfinder moves out of position when you press your eye to it. I would imagine replacement screws must be available somehow.

 

check to see if the lock ring is backed off and tightened. That's something our students do all the time, just need some soft jawed pliers or wrap the lock ring with duct tape that's been folded over so it's sticky on all sides. Wrap that around the ring and turn it clockwise, should cure your problem.

Good Luck

Rich

 

Thanks, I was able to get it to tighten down after following your instructions.

 

Since I'm using this camera for stop-motion animation - would it be possible to build a rig to give a live video preview through the viewfinder? I'm thinking of maybe somehow hooking up the eye from a webcam, but I feel like getting high enough resolution might be an issue.

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Lots of people simply push a(ny cheap digital) camera up to the eye piece and get reasonable images from that... It's a reasonable way to keep light from coming back though the finder and prism onto the film also. First step IMO would be pushing your phone camera up to it, see what happens :)

 

It's just for checking framing huh (?) if so, is resolution a major concern ? Unless you mean for focus, if so I'd do that optically i.e. focus the ground glass image on your eye...

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The phone camera against the viewfinder trick works, but it can't quite get close enough due to the design, so there is quite a bit of vignetting over the image. I think I am going to build a rig that attaches the eye from a webcam to a small clip that sits on the viewfinder and can be removed.

 

Resolution / quality is only kind of an issue because I use digital frame store, and preview animation digitally as I shoot it.

 

Another option would be removing the viewfinder tube and building an extension tube with another magnifying lens. This would be a setup that I would be using for awhile once built, and wouldn't have to take it down right away.

 

Maybe something with a lens like this: http://www.sciplus.com/p/LENS-ACH--14-DIA-28-FL_27034

Edited by Matthew Bellerose

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Frame grab from my new video assist setup using a CCTV camera with my Bolex H16.

videoassistpreview.png

 

(It's of a potted plant sitting in front of my refrigerator, for reference lol). Captured in iStopmotion via DV camcorder as passthrough device; modifications made: gamma +25%.

 

Sort of let down a bit with the quality, but then again it's video assist, and expecting it to be like the preview on a camcorder is unrealistic. As far as homemade video assists go, is this quality horrible? I just wanted a way I could basically capture animation preview, run through it and do basic frame / composition checking.

 

I am a bit worried about the feasibility of using this under low-light circumstances.

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