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John_Burton

Affordable Sync Sound Camera

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I've got a budget of around $1,000 to get a 16mm camera that will allow me to shoot sync for a ten-minute, dialogue-heavy, all-indoors short film.

 

I've looked into dozens of brands, models, and soundproofing methods, and I'm afraid i've begun to go in circles.

 

Am I expecting too much at this budget level? Or is there a camera out there to suit my needs? Thanks!!

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For cheap and quiet sync sound cameras the discussion usually involves the Eclair ACL or NPR, the Arri 16BL and the CP-16R.

With a lens these tend to run from $750- $1300 or so..

I think any of these will do, it just takes patience to find a seller on eBay with a kit in good running condition.

They all have pros and cons.

You get a lot of bang for your buck with a CP-16R but your lens choice is kind of limited and if the electronics dry up its over.

With the Arri 16Bl you've got a blimped lens, possible headache.

The Eclair ACL with the later strong motors have a lot of fans and good lens choices. I've seen packages for $900 or so.

If you need super 16 then you'll have to be really lucky cause those seem to go around 1,300 or more.

I went through the same thing as you, I really wanted an Eclair but ended up getting a CP-16R instead because of what was out there when I had a budget.

Don't forget to check your local craigslist as well, it's less competition of buyers and you can really see the product. Sometimes the prices are better and no shipping costs.

So it's mostly patience, timing than pouncing on a great deal when it's there. Good Luck!

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$1000 for a full sync sound camera kit? What about lenses? Will you need accessories, rods, mattebox, head etc?

 

If you're very patient you might find a basic camera kit, cp16 or ACL, maybe even with an old zoom attached, but no guarantee it will all work properly or be quiet enough.

 

If it's a single project with a short shooting schedule your best bet is to contact rental houses and see what deals you can get for your budget. The gear will work, you'll get the best quality that 16mm can provide, and you can concentrate on filmmaking rather than wasting your energy cobbling together equipment and dealing with the potential headaches that might follow.

 

Alternatively, maybe you can hire a DP with their own camera, although that's assuming you also have a budget for that.

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Thanks so much everybody! Hugely helpful.

 

 

 

If it's a single project with a short shooting schedule your best bet is to contact rental houses and see what deals you can get for your budget. The gear will work, you'll get the best quality that 16mm can provide, and you can concentrate on filmmaking rather than wasting your energy cobbling together equipment and dealing with the potential headaches that might follow.

 

Unfortunately, I don't have any film rental houses within a fifteen-hour drive. Flyover state blues. Are there any online houses that do 16mm? I haven't been able to find anything, but I'm not totally sure where to look beyond a Google search.

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It's really not possible for $1k. As Dom said, you've gotta take into account how well the camera has been maintained and of course lenses. Most sync sound cameras are only quiet when they're well taken care of.

 

I like the rental idea because you can get something good and make sure whatever you shoot comes out. For all you know the "ebay special" camera doesn't work. You've really gotta spend between $3k - $5k to get a decent working quiet 16mm package; working/quiet body, decent lenses, decent support, etc.

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I would also rent the camera. and it's actually, I think, much easier to even drive the 15 hours to pick it up from the rental house than to try to buy a good kit for cheap which is both good quality AND quiet AND reliable. and the lenses cost quite much in all cases.

something like rented Arri SR (1, 2, 3) and set of Optars or mk1 zeiss lenses would work I think.

 

if you want to try the eBay cameras you need to either hire a camera tech or try to fix it by yourself. There's always something wrong with them, usually by improper (seller made) service or missing parts. I myself like to fix and tune and modify old cine cameras, especially Soviet ones, so it is not a problem for me but if you just want to shoot a short film it is not practical, not at all...

It's like wanting to just drive a good car but having only little cash, then purchasing a heavily used one from a stranger without knowing its history and what kind of service it has had.... then spending most of the time fixing it (instead of actually driving it...)

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I would also rent the camera. and it's actually, I think, much easier to even drive the 15 hours to pick it up from the rental house than to try to buy a good kit for cheap which is both good quality AND quiet AND reliable. and the lenses cost quite much in all cases.

something like rented Arri SR (1, 2, 3) and set of Optars or mk1 zeiss lenses would work I think.

 

if you want to try the eBay cameras you need to either hire a camera tech or try to fix it by yourself. There's always something wrong with them, usually by improper (seller made) service or missing parts. I myself like to fix and tune and modify old cine cameras, especially Soviet ones, so it is not a problem for me but if you just want to shoot a short film it is not practical, not at all...

It's like wanting to just drive a good car but having only little cash, then purchasing a heavily used one from a stranger without knowing its history and what kind of service it has had.... then spending most of the time fixing it (instead of actually driving it...)

 

Ok, sounds like my mistake is overeagerness. I think I'm gonna pursue the rental option. If I don't take this advice, I know I'll regret it when my camera craps out mid-shoot. Thanks to all!!

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