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Andrew Collar

Bolex H16 Questions

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Hey, guys. I've got a Bolex H16 with the turret lens rotator. I've ascertained that the taking aperture on this camera is the lower of the two *the shutter with the slot for a filter). My question is, why am I only able to view my picture when my lens is positioned at the top shutter? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

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It's a non-reflex Bolex - you rotate the turret to move the taking lens up to the top position to focus through it with the eye-level viewfinder, then swing it down to the middle position for filming, while using the door viewfinder (which doesn't look through the lens) for framing.


The later Bolexes were reflex, using a prism to divert light to the viewfinder, but you must have an earlier one.


There are websites like Bolex Collector that show you the different models:


or even better get Andrew Alden's "Bolex Bible".

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As Dom says, it's a rackover (rackup?) device for critical focus, and should not be used for composition.


Compose through the attached viewfinder, but be sure to adjust the parallax offset on the viewfinder.


These are fantastic cameras once you become used to operating them; it just takes a while to get in the proper mindset and develop a routine.


Somewhere I have a "how to use a bolex" handout that Ohio State University used in their Department of Photography and Cinema studies that is very helpful. I will try to find it this weekend and get it posted.

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Composition is quite accurate for static shots. I have encountered cameras with too big (yes) and too small apertures in front of the focus prism, though. Luckily these things can be measured and adjusted by technicians. Also the flange focal distances of both apertures, the taking one and the one for critical framing and focusing, can be made equal rather easitly.

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