Jump to content
Patrick Cooper

An affordable Super 16 camera?

Recommended Posts

Just wondering if it's possible to obtain a Super 16 camera for under $1000 on the used market in good, working condition? Hopefully, I'm not being unrealistic. Any recommendations for particular models? The Krasnogorsk 3 would probably be the cheapest camera to convert to Super 16 if need be. I used to have one myself. It was very reliable until one day, it stopped working. Though one thing I wouldn't be quite happy with a Super 16 K3 is that the viewfinder would still be 4:3. I would prefer to compose my shots accurately.

Features I would like are reflex viewfinder, some kind of remote release (equivalent to a cable release) and availability of adaptors to mount lenses from 35mm SLR still cameras (like Nikon F, Canon FD etc.) 

I guess I maybe asking for too much for under $1000.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I got lucky and picked up a Super 16 Factory converted Bolex Rex 4 with 10mm preset lens for $800 a few years ago when 16mm equipment tanked. I think today that $1500 being the minimum, but probably more. So probably a K3 is your only option, unless you find a crazy deal on another system!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the viewfinder optics tend to be the most challenging part of the S16 conversion. I personally switched to 35mm because of this but I'm currently drifting back to 16mm because of wanting to do more sound work instead of silent stuff I use the 35mm cameras for. 

Using stills lenses has the disadvantage of being very limited with focal lengths. Instead I would recommend finding a great vintage S16mm capable lens or two and deciding the camera based on the models where those lenses could fit. C-mount is the most versatile but it is a pretty annoying mount if wanting to do "more serious stuff" with focus pulls and heavier lenses. 

About the price point, I think you could get some kind of S16 capable camera with that money but if wanting a great quality camera AND great quality conversion, then maybe not. 

Lens mounts tend to be pretty easy to change and adapt as long as the mount diameter and ffd are suitable. The Krasnogorsk front part is pretty simple design and one could probably manufacture a new one pretty easily though I don't know if it makes any sense on such a low priced camera

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea I imagine converting a viewfinder to S16 would be extremely involved. Gosh, maybe I should look at 35mm instead - as long as I can get hold of short ends as film stock. I wouldn't need sound either. I have heard of budget 35mm cameras like the Konvas and Eyemo but wasn't sure if reflex viewing was possible. Maybe I should investigate the 35mm forum. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Patrick Cooper said:

Yea I imagine converting a viewfinder to S16 would be extremely involved. Gosh, maybe I should look at 35mm instead - as long as I can get hold of short ends as film stock. I wouldn't need sound either. I have heard of budget 35mm cameras like the Konvas and Eyemo but wasn't sure if reflex viewing was possible. Maybe I should investigate the 35mm forum. 

Konvas cameras have pretty OK reflex finders. I would recommend either the straigh-viewfinder side latch 1-KCP model which has rheostat motor, OR the orientable finder Konvas 1M with one of the crystal sync motors. I am recommending the models which have OCT18 lens mount because the lenses are more affordable and easier to service than the OCT19 mount ones and these camera models are also the most popular. Just take into account that eBay cameras may be old and been stored in some Russian seller's garage for 30 years (one of my Konvases had small rocks inside when I got it) so full CLA is necessary before you can use the camera. My youtube channel has great tutorial for loading the camera.

There is lots of slightly different versions of the Konvases, if you want to purchase one please ask first in the "Russian Gear" forum section and link the auctions so that we can check if the gear pieces seem to be compatible.

I should be able to modify the old Rheostat Konvas motor to crystal sync later this year if that kind of option interests you. I am shooting regularly with these cameras so developing this type of modification would be easy for me. There is a small disclaimer that the older straight viewfinder model has the possibility to attach a hand crank and a spring drive (the spring is so rare that I only see them sold every couple of years even when checking ebay daily for them) . This means that there is more gears in the camera body than in the later 1M model. More gears mean more noise. But the straight finder models are very affordable and easy to obtain so it could make sense to choose one of them. Probably your lenses will cost more than the camera body even when the lenses are cheap. I use 7.2v airsoft batteries for powering the camera, don't bother with old silver or lead batteries originally used with these cameras

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went through this about 12 years ago. Started with the K-3, then made it Super 16 and did every upgrade I could but honestly I was tired of missing shots because I was winding the thing.

I made it all the way up to an Arri SR3 that I still love for paid shoots like music videos but my favorite run-n-gun inexpensive camera is the Cannon Scoopic MS. Only takes 100' loads and has a fixed zoom lens but that lens it truly amazing. I've had colorists comment all the time about how sharp the lens is and they couldn't believe it was on that camera.

A Scoopic is the easiest camera every made for loading. It has built in autoexposure like Super 8 that actually is decent (I get exposure then lock it down usually). The batteries can be re-celled at a Batteries Plus+ usually. All these features lead to you actually using the camera more. I highly recommend it. 

You can get into Bolex's, Arri S's or other Russian cameras (I've had all of those and they can be great), but they all have pretty much the same quality image depending on the lens you use.  Bottom line is that a Scoopic is the easiest to use with a great lens and therefore you will use it more. It's also probably the most recently made of all 16mm options under $1000.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will, it's been ages since Ive used my K3 but I remember how tiring the winding got. That thing has a lot of resistance! 

Oh yea the Canon Scoopic is really tempting. Ive been looking at footage samples online shot with the Scoopic and the results look really beautiful. It does look like a very good lens indeed. Though obviously not a candidate for conversion to Super 16 as that lens would probably only cover regular 16mm (though I'm betting there's a fair chance that the long end of the zoom might cover S16.) Regardless, I wouldn't want to fool around with an S16 conversion with a camera like that.

After transfer, cropping the 16mm footage in post could be an option. I would like to end up with a 16:9 aspect ratio. However, Ive just thought of a dilemma. Ideally, I would want a 4k transfer but correct me if I'm wrong, cropping in this way would lead to losing a huge amount of resolution. At first, I thought it would merely involve cropping the top and bottom of the frame to get the 16:9 aspect ratio. I could live with that. However, if it's anything like the super 8 transfers that get done for me locally, there would be thick black bars on the left and right side of the image (pillars or whatever the terminology is.) And those black bars would contain pixels just like the main image area. In order to create a 16:9 aspect ratio, I would have to crop those black bars as well, resulting in a significant loss of real estate. I would like to end up with a 3840 x 2160 clip after cropping. Though would that really be possible from a 4k scan of regular 16mm footage? Scanning the footage at a higher resolution would probably help but I don't think there's any way that I could afford that. I'm sure a 4k scan would be insanely expensive as it is. Perhaps there's another way?

By the way, I'm sure that Arri SR3 must be a very nice machine. A number of years ago, I was an extra on an Australian television show Mcleods Daughters where they used an Arriflex 416. I was pretty close to it too with the scene they were shooting. . 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, with regards to cropping regular 16mm, would putting tape on the viewfinder be doable for composing or would it be better to apply tape to the ground glass?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Patrick Cooper said:

By the way, with regards to cropping regular 16mm, would putting tape on the viewfinder be doable for composing or would it be better to apply tape to the ground glass?

tape needs to be pretty close to the ground glass but you don't necessarily need to tape ON the ground glass if there is for example a frame over it which holds it in place... then you can apply the tape on the frame so that it stays just a mm or so from the GG but does not touch it (which would leave glue residue and marks to the glass). 

I use taping on all my own cameras to get approximate framelines on the finder. most of them have translucent tape so that it is possible to see the extra area, it is just dimmer and a bit blurred out

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am sure this has been said here, recently Super 16 has become very popular; there aren’t many decent Super 16 cameras out there which is probably why the Arri SR2’s SR3’s and 416’s have become quite pricey as have the Aaton Super 16 cameras. You might be able to get the older Eclair NPR or the ACL that have been converted to Super 16, or some Super 16 Bolex cameras, other than that there isn’t really an affordable Super 16 camera option. There are, however plenty of standard 16mm cameras from sophisticated ones to very basic ones that are very affordable, but with any standard 16mm camera you’ll have to crop the image and naturally that will mean some loss in image resolution, though with modern stocks it’s not really a problem.

Pav

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pavan, yes very good points. I did have a very affordable regular 16mm camera at one stage - the Russian made K3. With regards to transferring regular 16mm, I could have a go at putting together my own DIY scanner - incorporating my Panasonic G6 M4/3 camera to photograph each individual frame. My G6 captures 4608 x 3456 stills so that could be downsized to 3840 x 2160 quite nicely. However, I would be quite worried about transferring negative film with a home brew setup for fear of dust. The general consensus is that dust shows up more visibly on negative film than reversal.

Alternatively, I could shoot on reversal film though I really like the wide exposure latitude and 'safety net'  that negative film provides. On the other hand, reversal film tends to give a contrasty retro look so that could be cool in it's own way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/14/2020 at 3:53 AM, Patrick Cooper said:

Though obviously not a candidate for conversion to Super 16 as that lens would probably only cover regular 16mm (though I'm betting there's a fair chance that the long end of the zoom might cover S16.)

It has been done...at least once...but it is completely impractical & time consuming. Mainly about shifting the lens over to center it. The last & only one I know of that Visual Products did was something around $4000. Ultra 16 is super easy on that camera although just shooting 50D and cropping regular 16 to 16:9 will work just fine. You get a little extra grain but that's kinda what you want with 16mm, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Will Montgomery said:

 just shooting 50D and cropping regular 16 to 16:9 will work just fine. You get a little extra grain but that's kinda what you want with 16mm, right?

Good point. It does give the format it's own kind of character, setting it apart from say 35mm.

Interestingly, when I used to watch the Australian television series McLeods Daughters (which was shot on S16) I was always impressed how clean the footage looked. Even indoor shots in which they likely used fast film always looked super clean like the exterior shots. Whereas Law & Order (shot on 35mm) looked slightly grainy to me. Perhaps they used very fast film on the L & O TV show for a gritty look? I guess that Kodak Vision 800T neg film would have been in existence around then. 

Edited by Patrick Cooper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

YES! it is absolutely possible to get a super16 Bolex camera is good running condition. From Doctor Bolex! ... a fully converted H16 REX or REX1 with masks and viewfinder converted too. You can add upgrades such as 10X or 13X optics and those get expensive. The 6X viewfinder has been modified optics that make the image appear larger. we'll also convert your came. Visit the website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Patrick Cooper said:

Good point. It does give the format it's own kind of character, setting it apart from say 35mm.

Interestingly, when I used to watch the Australian television series McLeods Daughters (which was shot on S16) I was always impressed how clean the footage looked. Even indoor shots in which they likely used fast film always looked super clean like the exterior shots. Whereas Law & Order (shot on 35mm) looked slightly grainy to me. Perhaps they used very fast film on the L & O TV show for a gritty look? I guess that Kodak Vision 800T neg film would have been in existence around then. 

When 16mm was used in TV productions (mostly outside the U.S.) they really new how to shoot it and minimized the grain because that was what they wanted. The Walking Dead is of course still shot on S16 and they definitely keep the grain down but it still has that look. These days 16mm is great for letting that film freak flag fly. Definitely will separate your work from the pack.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/14/2020 at 1:53 AM, Patrick Cooper said:

After transfer, cropping the 16mm footage in post could be an option. I would like to end up with a 16:9 aspect ratio. However, Ive just thought of a dilemma. Ideally, I would want a 4k transfer but correct me if I'm wrong, cropping in this way would lead to losing a huge amount of resolution.

4k super 16 is rare, there are very few scanners that can do it AND most people charge an arm and a leg for it ($.60/ft or more is quite common). The cost to scan 4k will grossly outweigh the inexpensive camera you're expecting to buy. For film cameras, it's far better to suck it up and buy "the right camera" rather than trying to cheap out. 

On 3/10/2020 at 9:16 AM, Patrick Cooper said:

Just wondering if it's possible to obtain a Super 16 camera for under $1000 on the used market in good, working condition? Hopefully, I'm not being unrealistic.

For home movies or for actual production? The only Super 16 cameras under $1000 are the Russian ones these days and none of them are very good.


You can get a Super 16 K3 for not much money at all, but they're real toys sadly. I haven't had any luck getting one to run an entire roll of film without registration issues. Mechanically they're super cool, but they have some major issues that keep them from being good. So if you want home movie looking footage, the K3 does great and the stock lens ain't half bad. I've shot quite a bit of home movie stuff with mine and been pretty happy with it for that application.

The Bolex is way better of course, the image is super stable and crisper because the film is properly held in the gate. Getting a Super 16 Bolex under $1k is impossible however. Also, the complaints you have about the K3 and winding it, are pretty much the same with the bolex. They're annoying to wind (easier for sure) and the electronic Bolex's with glass are approaching the $1k mark in standard 16. I love my Bolex, but it's useless in 50% of production due to the non-orientable viewfinder, how much sound it makes, the dark viewfinder and messy lens/adaptor support. 

My advice (like my advice on your 35mm questions) is to raise more money. It took me years to afford my first 16mm camera and even more years to buy a 35mm camera. It's a long process, but if you have a good camera and decent professional package, you could actually get work from it. Sure I get it, the prices are high today, but that will go down eventually. This economic downturn we're headed for I think will push cameras onto the market as many people will not have the money to shoot film anymore. Here is hoping I'm wrong, but we may have maxed out on prices. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Patrick Cooper said:

Interestingly, when I used to watch the Australian television series McLeods Daughters (which was shot on S16) I was always impressed how clean the footage looked. Even indoor shots in which they likely used fast film always looked super clean like the exterior shots. Whereas Law & Order (shot on 35mm) looked slightly grainy to me. Perhaps they used very fast film on the L & O TV show for a gritty look? I guess that Kodak Vision 800T neg film would have been in existence around then.

There are so many things that play into how clean your footage is. Stock sensitivity, how old the stock is, how fast you process it after shooting, how clean the film is, what kind of transfer machine you're using (scanner, telecine, datacine) how calibrated the transfer machine is, are the transfers going to tape or are they disc only. I've been transferring on dozens of machines for years and honestly, every machine has it's own characteristics based on the operator mostly.

It's SUPER hard to get a perfect transfer, usually they have some issues. I'm lucky to have friends with different machines, so I can pick and choose what machines we use for what projects and I've had much luck getting decent results. I find the newer machines to be really nice, but they're extremely expensive to own and operate. The hybrid machines where people take old mechanics and put new electronics in them are generally what the budget-houses are using these days and they're ok I guess. The best results I've gotten are from the later generation Arri and Spirit. Both machines have impressed me tremendously and don't have the FPN (fixed pattern noise) or highlight clipping issues you see on some of the other machines. 

This is one of the scans we did and I edited/colored. Shot on Super 16 7207 250D, using HMI's in the dark/night scenes. 
 

 

Edited by Tyler Purcell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

For home movies or for actual production?
 

I have an idea for a shoot in mind but there wouldn't be any crew involved (other than myself.) Well perhaps there might be an additional person holding up a reflector unless I can rig something up to hold the reflector up in an elevated position. Basically, the shoot will involve a female model and will be reminiscent of a shampoo commercial. Lots of closeups / beauty shots and hair flipping. I have some specific shots planned and I will think up some other ideas too though it will be non-narrative with no dialogue.

And later down the track, I may have some ideas for other shoots as well. They may be different or they may be similar. 

And I could use the camera for home movies as well and other projects. I do plan on getting into wedding videos. I did incorporate super 8  film into two wedding videos that I shot for family members (the family members actually requested the super 8.) With regards to shooting wedding videos for clients, I had planned to shoot 100% on digital. Though you never know, I could mix some 16mm in there (that's a possibility.)

10 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:


You can get a Super 16 K3 for not much money at all, but they're real toys sadly. I haven't had any luck getting one to run an entire roll of film without registration issues. Mechanically they're super cool, but they have some major issues that keep them from being good.

There is a lot of talk on online forums about peoples experiences with the K3. And they range from good to bad (a real mix.) I had absolutely 0 registration issues with my K3. No jumping, weaving or scratches or anything like that like some people were mentioning on the forums. My footage was very stable. And with regards to one particular film stock, certainly an improvement over super 8. A few times, I had shot Ektachrome 7240 (commonly referred to as "video news film") on super 8. A number of people (including myself) found that there was a slight softness when shooting 7240 in super 8 (Kodachrome 40 looked noticeably sharper by comparison.) Someone reckoned that due to the thinness of this film and the lack of a pressure plate in super 8, there was probably some film breathing going on. Well that issue was non existant when I shot a roll of 7240 in my K3 (using it in the Australian snow fields in winter and a little bit of wildlife.) I got noticeably sharper / crisper footage. It was a big improvement over shooting the same stock in super 8. I would say that the K3's pressure plate did a very good job indeed.

Granted, Ive never shot with a Bolex H16 but I know they are workhorses and have been used by countless numbers of filmmakers for decades. Yea I wouldn't be surprised if they offer an even higher level of picture stability than a good working K3. And they are more versatile as well. 

By the way, I don't have much of an issue with winding on a spring-driven camera. It adds to the charm of operating such a camera. And great not having to worry about batteries or charging. It's just that the K3's own winder has a lot of resistance and got tiring to use after a while. 

For shooting 16mm home movies, I wouldn't mind playing around with a Bell & Howell turret style camera. I reckon they'd be fun to use. No reflex viewfinder but that adds to the challenge.

Edited by Patrick Cooper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice work on the Chicken Woman! I admit nothing had me prepared for that opening shot (some people may even be slightly traumatised if they saw such a scene in real life.) I liked the closeups of her bloody face with the feathers floating by. Very clean looking Super 16 footage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Patrick Cooper said:

There is a lot of talk on online forums about peoples experiences with the K3. And they range from good to bad (a real mix.) I had absolutely 0 registration issues with my K3. No jumping, weaving or scratches or anything like that like some people were mentioning on the forums. My footage was very stable.

It's actually impossible for the K3 to create proper registration because it's missing the spring that holds the film laterally in the gate. So the film has nothing to prevent it from wobbling side to side. Nearly all other cameras have this, but the K3 was never designed to have it, so the only thing keeping the film held laterally is the gate itself, which the moment it starts to wear, even a tiny bit, will cause registration issues. 

If you're scanning the film from your K3, what's most likely happening is that the scanner used is using the frame edge as registration detection. This is a common feature of modern scanners and it does work pretty good to mask issues. If your registration is rock solid on the scan, that's probably why. 

Here is a sample of vertical registration issues on a K3. The missing lateral springs would help this. On the K3, without them, the pressure plate can't really put enough friction on the film without damaging it. Thus, you have an unstable image. 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zhye4i834chkykz/Beach 16mm.mov?dl=0

Edited by Tyler Purcell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:


Here is a sample of vertical registration issues on a K3. The missing lateral springs would help this. On the K3, without them, the pressure plate can't really put enough friction on the film without damaging it. Thus, you have an unstable image. 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zhye4i834chkykz/Beach 16mm.mov?dl=0

I do see the vertical movement here. It wasn't really noticeable for me when looking at the main image area - probably because the footage was hand held. Though looking at the top frame line, I can see the vertical movement.

As for my K3 footage, it's been years since Ive watched it. So I'm only going on my memory. Though none of it was transferred. I watched it all projected. I mostly used a tripod and occasionally a monopod but I don't recall seeing vertical movement when projecting it. I would have no idea whee the reels are currently - somewhere in storage I suppose. I haven't seen any of it since the move.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Patrick Cooper said:

As for my K3 footage, it's been years since Ive watched it. So I'm only going on my memory. Though none of it was transferred. I watched it all projected.

Oh got ya, I mean projector registration isn't good either. Generally I go for an image that's as stable as a digital file. The K3 can't do that, but many other camera's can, if the transfer is pin registered and/or corrected properly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The K3 can make decent images, especially with a Pentax Super Takumar M43 lens, but the real issue for me was always the constant winding. (I only rarely noticed the registration issues.) If you just want to try 16mm out then go for it because the camera is so cheap, but keep in mind by the time you buy 1 roll of 100' 16mm film, process it and transfer it, that will cost more than the camera itself...so the camera cost shouldn't be the issue here and therefore I'd suggest spending $500-$600 for a Canon Scoopic MN or MS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Will Montgomery said:

If you just want to try 16mm out then go for it because the camera is so cheap

Just to clarify, I have already tried out 16mm - in the 2000s. The K3 was my first 16mm camera back then. I ran a few films through it (mix of b & w, colour reversal and colour neg.) It was very reliable for a number of years until it died. I am now considering getting back into 16mm. So now I'm thinking about getting a second 16mm camera. And this time around, it probably won't be a K3. Yea the Canon Scoopic is tempting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Serious Gear



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    Tai Audio



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Visual Products



    Paralinx LLC



    Wooden Camera



    Abel Cine



    CineLab



    Broadcast Solutions Inc



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    Metropolis Post



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    FJS International



    Ritter Battery



    The Original Slider



    Glidecam



    G-Force Grips



    Just Cinema Gear


    Cinematography Books and Gear
×
×
  • Create New...