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Tony Dupre

Choosing a Camera

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Hey guys so I'm a short film on 16mm and the budget is around $8k.

My choices are:

  • Eclair NPR Ultra 16mm CM3 mount with two mags, an Angenieux 12-120mm T2.2 lens and matte box support brackets for $1,900
  • CP-16R Super 16mm PL mount with Angenieux 17.5-70mm T2.5 lens and two mags for $2,995
  • Arriflex SR2 Super 16mm PL mount with four mags, no lens, power supply and cables, case, eyepiece heater for $2,050

So what do you guys think? I've going over certain advantages and disadvantages of each camera. I'm trying to decide what would be best with my budget. I know the rigging will be a good chunk of money and I'm 100% sure which camera will cost the most to rig.

 

I know a PL mount can use an adapter to use Arri B lenses because I can't afford PL lenses unless I rent. I really want the SR2 but I was wondering what you guys think?

 

I will post images as well, thanks guys!

Edited by Tony Dupre

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So your budget for the entire film is $8k, including purchasing the camera? Can you just rent a camera package instead? Because you're gonna need to spend a big chunk of that cash on raw film stock, shipping, processing, scanning, hard drives. Not to mention crew, food, insurance, locations, lighting and grip rental, color grading, mastering, festivals, etc. Seems like that would be a better use of the available funds.

 

If you absolutely must buy a camera, then I would just get the cheapest package that is ready to shoot. The CP-16 and NPR are both quiet enough for sync sound, the main benefits you get with the SR are easier loading and a better viewfinder.

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So your budget for the entire film is $8k, including purchasing the camera? Can you just rent a camera package instead? Because you're gonna need to spend a big chunk of that cash on raw film stock, shipping, processing, scanning, hard drives. Not to mention crew, food, insurance, locations, lighting and grip rental, color grading, mastering, festivals, etc. Seems like that would be a better use of the available funds.

 

If you absolutely must buy a camera, then I would just get the cheapest package that is ready to shoot. The CP-16 and NPR are both quiet enough for sync sound, the main benefits you get with the SR are easier loading and a better viewfinder.

The budget has already been done. All of those things have been factored in. It is a silent short film with a small crew and one actor. We want to purchase instead of rent because I run a production company and I'm allocating equipment to be able to do side projects and then we can also do some smaller projects on the side.

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if you can afford PL lenses, then the SR2. otherwise I would choose the NPR and buy couple of c-mount lenses for it as well to use for low light scenes and for shots where the angenieux's image quality is not enough. CP16R is a good camera as far as I know but the lens mount is too rare for practical use. if it's not a full package with all the lenses you need I would advise against it.

 

if it's a silent film and not shooting in places where you could have flicker problems, then you can do with cheaper camera, for example Bolex. you mainly need the more expensive cameras for sync sound stuff and when you absolutely need 180° shutter and stable speed

Edited by aapo lettinen

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if you choose the SR you can do with 15mm LW rods (buy the Arri adapter for that) and use a cheaper dovetail for balancing, for example Lanparte or Camtreehunt stuff. if you'll use the dovetail heavily and with other cameras as well it could be better to use more sturdy stuff like Arri. I have one of those Camtreehunt RedOne dovetail/baseplate sets for my Cameflex and similar weight cameras and it is quite ok for the price

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Dang man, wish I was still living in Boston. Your film is exactly the kind of project I let people borrow equipment for. I'm actually sponsoring a film this month, same deal, super low budget.

 

Anyway... having been an Arriflex devotee for 20 years, I've finally learned why Aaton makes the best reasonably priced super 16 camera. The Arri 416 is arguably the best S16 camera made, but most of it's technology comes from Aaton.

 

The NPR is an unusual beast, it's a bit on the noisy side and it's not a hand holding camera at all. It has some cool features like an adjustable shutter angle and easily removable motor. However, those aren't very important in the grand scheme of things. I've only used an NPR once and didn't really care for it.

 

The CP16 is a workhorse, but it's an old dog. They're a "threading" camera, so you put the magazine on top and then thread it. As a consequence, there are a lot more potential issues that could cause the film to scratch or get dirty. Every single thing I've shot with a CP16 has come out dirty as all get out. Also, you loose quite a bit of film every time you load and if you dare only check the gate from the front of the camera, you may find yourself having a pressure plate issue like I had once. I shot a whole day with a huge scratch on the back of the film, ruining the entire show. Then you add the special lens mount, the horrible viewfinder and battery belt system, it's just wonky.

 

The SRII is a great camera, it really is. The best thing about it is the simplicity! Plus the older models use Arri B mount, which means lenses are a lot cheaper then PL mount like the big cameras. The SR series of cameras also has a pretty decent viewfinder, very nice magazines, they shoulder very nicely and have good on-board batteries that are available still today. The only down side to the SR's is that the gates registration system does almost all the work. This can lead to registration issues, not that I've personally seen in the years I've shot with them, but evidently it does happen with worn cameras. Evidently the gate simply wears to the point of no return and used SR's can be worth nothing due to that issue. I've heard of many people replacing complete gates due to that issue. Again, I haven't physically seen it, but I've been scared by it.

 

So why Aaton? Well, I love the magazine design, which feeds the film on it's own, without putting stress on the pulldown claw. It uses a spring loaded gate as well, which keeps the film in the path properly. It's the quietest S16 camera I've ever used. I just shot something with it a few days ago indoors in a silent room and nobody knew the camera was running but the operator, that's pretty impressive. Aaton also has interchangeable lens mounts and NO interference from the viewfinder. So you can put on a PL mount and use 35mm PL glass if you want. The stock Aaton mount can be adapted to Arri B and Nikon without much effort. Plus, did I mention it's awesome for hand holding? It's the best at hand holding, it fits right on your shoulder perfectly and really works great. Aaton also was smart with their video tap, they put it in the handle instead of off to the side, so it can't catch on anything if running around. The later XTR's didn't do that, which is really annoying and part of the reason I haven't bought one yet for my school.

 

If you really want to be cheap (since it's a non-sound movie), I'd buy a Bolex EBM S16 with 400ft magazine. You can find them on ebay any day of the week and they work great. I love my EBM, it just flat out works and again, can be adapted to work with PL, Canon or Nikon glass, if you can find the adaptor. It's a small camera as well, making it really easy to carry around and get some great shots with. I have the OEM battery system as well, which works great. The stock C mount lens system is pretty decent as well, lots of good cheap glass. Not all of it covers S16 however, but you can find stuff if you look around.

 

Honestly, any of these cameras would do you justice. I'd be MORE then happy to ship you my EBM, but its not S16, I have it for people who plan on shooting standard 16, which there are quite a bit of these days.

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They are all great cameras; for lenses the most versatile off them is the NPR, but the NPR is old, the CP-16 is a good camera not to heavy and ideal for sound work, I’d go for it especially if it’s Super 16, the viewfinder’s pretty good too in fact the NPR and the CP-16 have similar viewfinders. Like many have already said; perhaps renting is a better and cheaper option. If renting I’d go for an Aaton or Arri. Most Bolex H16s are non sync and standard 16mm and have clockwork motors, but a Super 16 Bolex EBM is a very good camera, it’s lenses are smaller and cheaper too. If you are not bothered by standard 16mm you could go for a Canon Scoopic, it has a great lens, it’s small and pretty cheap.

 

Pav

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SR2. More modern, Super 16, and those NFL Films kits were very well maintained. You can grow with the SR2. Not that the other ones are bad. I would stay away from the CP16. Love that camera but a bit impractical by todays standards and equipment available.

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okay the CP16 is $1000 more expensive than the others which I think puts it out of the running. It is unusual to see a Super16 P16.

The big advantage of the CP16 is the possibility to use 1000ft mags but then the film to go into a 1000ft mag isn't that common in 16mm.

 

If you can save the $1000 from the CP16 then you could put it towards stuff for the SR2 such as a lens or something.

 

Is that a Canon FD mount on the NPR? FD mount lenses are both nice and cheap although some people say they are a bit soft.

(not sure I agree but I suspect it depends what you use them for.)

 

If you rented lenses for the SR2 then you could maybe get a set of Cooke S4i mini lenses to rent cheap or even zeiss super speeds or something.

Very nice lenses.

 

There are sometimes cheaper options out there in the way of PL mount lenses second hand but you have to grab the right moment.

 

I'm also wondering if something like a cheap zeiss zoom in arri standard with an adapter to PL might work.

You would need to run tests first but in theory that would probably be a bit better than an old unserviced Angenieux zoom.

 

Freya

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Some other things I note from the pictures. SR2 has 4 mags and power! The 4 mags is especially nice. I assume they are all 400ft?!

 

The NPR looks like it was serviced by Bernie at Super16 inc at some point in time which is good news depending on how long ago it was.

The adapter for the rods is good, thought it was going to be the standard NPR matte box interface.

How many mags do you get and is there anything else with it?

 

How much do you need to use a matte box? How about screw on filters or a screw on hood instead.

What do you feel you need to add to the SR2?

 

Just noticed, major minus points against the NPR for Ultra 16.

Maybe that's a bit harsh but Super16 is the main standard so that's another point for the SR2 although I guess when I think about it that also means you need lenses that cover Super16 as well.

 

Freya

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Furthermore, as an owner (and potential seller) of a CP-16r, You'll need some kind of original bridge/base plate or a large cheeseboard to mount any kind of rod system. The lens and camera mount do not line up.

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I have a hard front PL mount without a turret on my NPR and a barney as well. It was maintained by Visual Products and the gg was etched for 1:85 and 2:35 before I used it to shoot a feature in August. The registration was dead on. It was pretty quite like an SR2, but not as silent as an XTR Prod or an SR3.

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There's also an Aaton LTR Super 16mm Aaton mount with two mags, batteries, extended and normal eyepiece, Sony 999 video tap, and matte box mount for $3,400. What do you guys think?

aaton_1%20large.png

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The budget has already been done. All of those things have been factored in. It is a silent short film with a small crew and one actor. We want to purchase instead of rent because I run a production company and I'm allocating equipment to be able to do side projects and then we can also do some smaller projects on the side.

Well that's quite a bit different then. What is your budget for PL or Aaton mount lenses? Do you already own some glass that can be adapted?

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Xtr prod for sure.

 

 

It's an LTR tho isn't it? It's also $1400 more than the SR2, or are you talking about another camera?

I'd be more leaning towards the SR2 but I don't have much knowledge and experience of the Aatons.

The SR2 is nice and with the saving of $1400 you should be able to rent lenses or possibly even buy a nice lens.

SR2 is still in the lead for me although that aaton does look nice.

 

Freya

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LTR you're right. I thought I read it as XTR. LTR would be quitter for sure, so still Aaton would be my choice - if it has a PL mount, otherwise SR2 for sure.

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I have an LTR in Aaton mount.

 

It's a great camera I think I have out about 500 400' rolls through it and Aaton mount is very adaptable with Aaton to Nikon adapters and Aaton to B-Adapters.

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That is an Aaton XTR, though I think it's an original one not a PROD.

 

I think the price is too high. I've seen PL mount Prod's go for $2500 on ebay in similar configuration.

 

The standard XTR was Aaton mount, but most of the Prod's were PL mount. I'd ask the seller if it's PL. If it is, make him an offer and see if they bite. If it's Aaton mount, don't waste your time. It's nearly identical to the LTR which is about 1/3 the price. People will argue the magnetic drive system on the XTR is quieter, but from my experience the mechanical drive isn't what makes the noise anyway.

 

Ohh I have the same video tap, it works good, but it's cumbersome.

 

Man they're all over ebay now!

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Aaton-XTR-Prod-Super-16mm-camera-package-/231833540161?hash=item35fa5b1641:g:a04AAOSwFMZWsMUB

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