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I started working on a niche compact 16mmm camera using 100ft daylight spools (coax), and I decided to change the layout, so it can also take 200ft daylight spools.

They still can be bought new for around 30$, and I can also  manufacture my own for less than 100$.

Would a less expensive single body&mag design like the Ikonoskop be too limiting and should I opt for a separate mag design like the A Minima even if it drives up the cost by 3-4K?

Curious about your opinions.

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This is the big problem. It's compounded by people saying "yes we want XYZ" and when the time comes to buy it, nobody shows up with the cash because as you say below, nobody uses their cameras anyway,

I started working on a niche compact 16mmm camera using 100ft daylight spools (coax), and I decided to change the layout, so it can also take 200ft daylight spools. They still can be bought new f

Thank you for your thoughts Tyler. I agree with you on many points. To build an XTR style camera today would cost over 60K, as you cannot benefit from a larger scale manufacturing as Aaton did in its

are you referring to the Kiev 16U design in the thread title? 

if you ever need a crystal sync control for your camera, please let me know. I can custom design a crystal system for you if needed... lots of different options and possible user interfaces 🙂 

Separate magazines tend to be easier if the camera is silent enough for sync sound (shooting more rolls per day than if using it for MOS stuff) . Separate magazines would allow using cores when loading which might reduce noise considerably

Edited by aapo lettinen
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13 minutes ago, David Sekanina said:

with a small batch production of 20 units around 6-8K

What is the audience? I guess with a heavy lens, matte box etc. being able to load the magazine separately from the camera would be optimal. If it is mainly for run and gun use or for rigging in weird places, changing the daylight spools with the camera on your lap might be okay. As an owner of an Eclair ACL with both 400ft and 200ft magazines, I tend to prefer the way it works.

 

By the way, ACL 200ft mags also give the option of using 200ft loads on a core in addition to 200ft daylight spools, making it very useful with a bit longer short ends from 400ft loads. If you go with the separate magazines, might be useful to look in to having removable platters for core loads.

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14 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

are you referring to the Kiev 16U design in the thread title?

Yolklab naming convention, I think 🙂 David previously was designing a super-8 camera which was Y8

 

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10 minutes ago, Heikki Repo said:

Yolklab naming convention, I think 🙂 David previously was designing a super-8 camera which was Y8

 

Oh it's a successor for his previous 8mm design. He even mentions the plans for the 16mm version in that thread

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26 minutes ago, Heikki Repo said:

If you go with the separate magazines, might be useful to look in to having removable platters for core loads.

I was thinking the same, thanks for your thoughts.

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David, your work seems extremely exciting and I wish you the best of luck. My personal dream for making an ultra compact camera: making a modified XTR magazine. I want an XTR magazine to basically be chopped in half, and the spool repositioned and bands shortened. Basically, an XTR mag a little bigger than an A-Minima mag that can only take a 100' load. I think this body would be very, very close to the size of a Minima, while being much more versatile in that it has an orientable eyepiece and could use 400' mags if the shoot called for it. I am not sure when I would be able to make good on this promise, but if this is something you think you could custom make/modify for me, I would pay for two.

For me, 200' daylight spools begin to introduce additional annoyances that are Minima specific. They are not sold directly from Kodak, and so one needs to do some extra work to even get the film ready to shoot. Too much trouble for me. I'd rather have a couple of mags that are easy to load and just purchase factory sealed 100' loads.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Skalak said:

...an XTR mag a little bigger than an A-Minima mag that can only take a 100' load...

This is a curious idea maybe worth a one-off prototype - commercially not viable, but it made me smile imagining a baby-coax mag for an XTR for shooting in very tight places. Nice Andrew :)

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3 minutes ago, David Sekanina said:

This is a curious idea maybe worth a one-off prototype - commercially not viable, but it made me smile imagining a baby-coax mag for an XTR for shooting in very tight places. Nice Andrew 🙂

My interest is less in having a very small camera for regular shooting, but more so to make it viable to travel, putting the camera in a backpack, with an extremely small sync-quiet camera. I'd really love that one off prototype 🙂

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given that 200' rolls need to be respooled to be used, that might limit those mag's usage.

Would be super interesting if you had 100/200' mags, along with the ability to take XTR mags (no idea if thats out of the question).  none the less I'd be super interested in a new compact super16 camera as a customer regardless of what mag setup it uses. I know I'd be willing to pay something in the 10k range for a camera body, mags, and a spare parts kit for sure.

Is there a buyer list you're starting?

Are you planning an optical viewfinder or a low latency video viewfinder? 

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On 10/20/2020 at 10:43 AM, David Sekanina said:

Would a less expensive single body&mag design like the Ikonoskop be too limiting and should I opt for a separate mag design like the A Minima even if it drives up the cost by 3-4K?

Hey David, 

As someone who talks/works film every day of my life, I have to say for the record, having discussed making new cameras for YEARS with both professional's and beginners, I don't think very many people are willing to pay for them. I just talked with two top union AC's last night as they were picking up my camera and actually discussed building a new 16mm camera to them and they kinda laughed and said nobody would use it because there isn't enough support and part of me agrees. 

I'm also an engineer, I've developed and designed many pieces of tech for the broadcast industry. I also know the XTR prod pretty intimately and have done nearly every service on it besides removing the movement. I've talked with a few other techs/engineers including Pierre and we've all come to the conclusion that a new camera could be made, but there would need to be some unique developments electronic wise and the optical viewfinder complexity would probably need to go away. So where Pierre is very receptive to working with someone using Aaton's patents, the camera would need a major re-design and re-tooling. 

My concern with the project, and for that matter any other "new" film camera projects, is how do you sell enough, to keep them serviced for the next 20+ years? You have to keep the cost down, but even if you DO keep the price down to $20k or so, how many people will invest? 20? That's simply not enough market penetration to be worth the risk for the purchasers. As a business model, it's a non-starter and that's why I kinda backed down from the prospect, simply because I've talked to so many people and the demand for such a camera is pretty virtual. Lots of talk, but not a lot of money. 

Now in terms of an Ikonoskop design, I don't see the benefit. You can buy them used online for peanuts (when you can find them) and they don't have much to offer that doesn't exist already. Just look at Logmar and the Super 8 camera they made. They only made 50 and they didn't sell all of them, some sat on the shelf at Pro 8 for a few years. The hobbyist super 8 market is way bigger than the hobbyist 16mm market believe it or not. This is why Kodak hired Logmar to make a new camera, because they saw the market. It's why the 16mm market is tricky... it's why nobody has entered it. 

So what do ya do? Honestly, if I had money, I'd make new components for cameras that already exist. New mag's, new electronics, better video taps, different battery solutions, maybe even adaptors to convert current cameras to digital viewfinders. There are so many possibilities and frankly, there is a MUCH bigger market share of people who own cameras already and need parts, than people who don't own cameras and need cameras. 

The biggest problem with film cameras is what happens in 20 years when all the current top techs are gone. When all the people who used them professionally, are retired. When the cameras are in the hands of young filmmakers wanting to create a unique image and there is no more support? To me, that is a much bigger problem to solve and it would be impossible to tell those people "hey buy my new camera instead", they simply don't have the money. They do have the money to buy a used super 8 camera or low-end 16mm camera on eBay for a few hundred bux because that is the biggest market. Some could even get spend upwards of 10k, but when you get much over that, the interest wines and people wind up using plugins to make their digital cameras look like film.  So you either compete in that Lowe end market, which is what Kodak tried to do with their super 8 camera and seemingly failed, OR you go a different direction and try to support what exists with accessories, parts and knowhow to provide owners of classic cameras with what they need to continue shooting. 

So where I agree with you a beautiful new XTR camera with modern electronics, 2k camera built-in which records to card with no ground glass, would be amazing. I simply don't feel the price could be low enough to make it marketable enough. If you got some ideas on how to do that, I'd love to talk with ya directly. 

 

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Thank you for your thoughts Tyler. I agree with you on many points. To build an XTR style camera today would cost over 60K, as you cannot benefit from a larger scale manufacturing as Aaton did in its day - a non starter.

Is there a market for a simpler A Minima style camera? I really don't know, and if there is, it won't be big. To find out, all I can do is spend  12-18 months designing one, machine two or three expensive prototypes and do a Kickstarter campaign.

The servicing in 20 years also concerns me. I would probably have to release the blueprints and assembly manuals after a few years, and after I've run out of spare parts, so broken parts could be re-machined if needed, as well as the KiCad files for the electronics.

The brushless DC motors from maxon should be available for the next 10-12 years, and are usually replaced by a new generation that is very similar in size after that (it just happened a few months ago with many of their current EC flat motors)

But again, I agree with you, there might not be a market for it. On the other hand, all I can lose is 18 months of work, and a pretty sum for the prototypes, while working on something I truly enjoy.

Edited by David Sekanina
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3 minutes ago, David Sekanina said:

The servicing in 20 years also concerns me. I would probably have to release the blueprints and assembly manuals of the parts after a few years, and after I've run out of spare parts, as well as the KiCad files for the electronics, so broken parts could be re-machined if needed.

The brushless DC motors from maxon should be available for the next 10-12 years, and are usually replaced by a new generation that is very similar in size after that (it just happened a few months ago with many of their current DC flat motors)

one way to make servicing easier in very long timescale is to make the mechanical motor connection in a way which enables fitting many different types of motors relatively easily. So if one needs to make new electronics for the camera after 30 years of service and none of the original components are available, one can just design new control electronics and fit the closest matching motor which is available at that moment. It can be easier to just design completely new electronics than to try to keep the old ones emulating lots of ancient components which haven't been available in years. (this is what I'm doing with my crystal modification projects on many different camera models: there is no use for the old electronics if one does not have complete original replacement boards available. No use to try to repair the old faulty ones, it is easier to make a new better working one. The original motor itself one can keep if it still works reliably 🙂 )

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I think all that is needed is a simple camera, with precision mechanics rather than electronics, most older 16mm cameras are mainly mechanical and can be worked on and made to work as new because they have little or no electrical circuitry, understanding and servicing mechanics is much easier than dealing with bespoke electronics. An ideal camera is modular where the battery, motor and magazines are external and can be easily swapped, to start off with a simple motor with a single speed is all that’s needed, for the magazines to start off there could be one for 100ft, I am not sure about 200ft as no one supplies film in 200ft cores or spools, I find when I use my Éclair ACL I was always using 100ft spools in the 200ft magazine until I made a smaller 100ft magazine. I think the Éclair ACL is a good example of a modular camera, I know many don’t like it’s odd reflex system, but I do know some people have removed the original ‘Pendulum’ reflex system and have replaced with it with a fixed pellicle mirror. I know from personal experience that almost all Ikonoskop 16mm cameras that have a reflex viewfinder modification have a pellicle mirror for their reflex system.

Pav

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5 minutes ago, Pavan Deep said:

I think all that is needed is a simple camera, with precision mechanics rather than electronics, most older 16mm cameras are mainly mechanical and can be worked on and made to work as new because they have little or no electrical circuitry, understanding and servicing mechanics is much easier than dealing with bespoke electronics. An ideal camera is modular where the battery, motor and magazines are external and can be easily swapped, to start off with a simple motor with a single speed is all that’s needed, for the magazines to start off there could be one for 100ft, I am not sure about 200ft as no one supplies film in 200ft cores or spools, I find when I use my Éclair ACL I was always using 100ft spools in the 200ft magazine until I made a smaller 100ft magazine. I think the Éclair ACL is a good example of a modular camera, I know many don’t like it’s odd reflex system, but I do know some people have removed the original ‘Pendulum’ reflex system and have replaced with it with a fixed pellicle mirror. I know from personal experience that almost all Ikonoskop 16mm cameras that have a reflex viewfinder modification have a pellicle mirror for their reflex system.

Pav

This type of electrical systems tend to be both easier to manufacture AND cheaper to make compared to precision mechanical parts. This is because almost everything electrical is standardised and manufactured in huge quantities for very cheap price per unit so you can purchase suitable high quality parts very easily. The quality of the components can be kept high because they are manufactured in batches of several millions at a time. Mechanical parts, on the other hand, have to be precision machined one at a time and it is much more challenging to lower the price of them because they are custom parts made in batches of from 2 to 100 at a time and there can be extensive amounts of manual labour involved in the manufacturing process which will sky rocket the price per unit. 

So electronics can be relatively complicated, yes, but everything in them is standardised so you can generally order everything you need from the nearest component supplier. Designing your own circuit board is pretty easy with basic programs like KiCAD. The most work is testing the system and to write and test the custom software needed for speed control and the user interface. But that mostly costs your time and when the software is ready you can just copy it a million times if needed :)

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On 10/22/2020 at 12:50 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

Hey David, 

As someone who talks/works film every day of my life, I have to say for the record, having discussed making new cameras for YEARS with both professional's and beginners, I don't think very many people are willing to pay for them. I just talked with two top union AC's last night as they were picking up my camera and actually discussed building a new 16mm camera to them and they kinda laughed and said nobody would use it because there isn't enough support and part of me agrees.

Tyler,

may I ask why are you so actively discouraging people on the Facebook 16mm filmmakers group regarding this camera? You have there referred to this camera as non-reflex and non-sync. As far as I know, David hasn't stated anything on these features in this thread yet. On the other hand, the Y8 project was definitely a reflex camera, so I really wonder what makes you state such facts on Facebook? David referring to this camera possibly as "beefed up" Ikonoskop? But more often than that, David has written of a "simpler A-Minima". Do you have something to lose if people become interested in buying a camera from David?

I see all the time that Eclair ACLs are sold as soon as they appear on Ebay (not counting those two definitely over priced ones) and they are all either nearly 50 years old or 50 years old, broken and not super16. Buy one and start by sending it in for repairs and modifications. Hope that by the time you get to shoot something with it, it's still working.

I believe there is demand for a couple of new super16 reflex cameras. Those interested in buying them might not live next to a rentals company or might just want to own one. Also: if there are several middle class (possibly near-retirement) people who have the money to spend on a 100K sports car in Finland (very short summer and relatively high taxes due to progressive tax), I'm pretty convinced there are 10-20 people globally who have the funds and the will to pay 6-8K...

Edited by Heikki Repo
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I don't mind Tyler's skepticism - I have a healthy dose myself. It is a very tiny market after all.

As for creating new parts for existing cameras - I could not manufacture an XTR mag for under 3-4K (all cnc machined, as die casting the housing is out of the question) in just manufacturing cost - people wouldn't pay for it.

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I don't understand why existing technologies like LCD shutters, small stepper motors, film perforation sensors and video viewfinders emulating the taking lens's focal length and f-stop have not been used to produce quiet, lightweight and relatively cheap 16mm and even 35mm cameras whose size would approach (not equal but get close to) the size of co-axial film cores.

Not an engineer, but doesn't seem that hard.

 

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Interesting thought experiment at least.

I don't think an LCD shutter would have sufficient density; the "black" mode wouldn't be black enough and you'd see vertical streaking on highlights. You need a piece of metal in the way.

I wrote another couple of paragraphs on ways around it, but deleted them because frankly it's all far more work than just building a digital camera. I know that's not the point, but really: a beyond-4K digital sensor probably has more than enough sensitivity, dynamic range and excess resolution to create an extremely convincing imitation of 16mm if that was your goal. I hate to stomp on people's dreams but good grief, people, the bird has flown the nest on this one.

It might be nice if sensor manufacturers gave us better colour filters.

P

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18 hours ago, charles pappas said:

I don't understand why existing technologies like LCD shutters, small stepper motors, film perforation sensors and video viewfinders emulating the taking lens's focal length and f-stop have not been used to produce quiet, lightweight and relatively cheap 16mm and even 35mm cameras whose size would approach (not equal but get close to) the size of co-axial film cores.

Not an engineer, but doesn't seem that hard.

 

Stepper motors are practically unusable for motion picture cameras because of the noise and resonance they make. The needed rpm is also quite high which is not ideal for steppers. So one uses phase locked brushless or brushed motors (brushless preferred for new cameras).

It is actually the easiest and most reliable way to use the traditional mechanical connection between the movement and the other film transport mechanism like the sprockets etc. And the mechanical movement is just the best working and most reliable way to move the film precisely at intervals. A electronic system would still need to stop the moving film for every single exposure and would be way more complicated and difficult to manufacture with more moving parts.

The shutter - movement link is one of the few which does not need to be mechanical. One can use a motorised spinning mirror shutter which is just phase locked to the mechanical movement like the Arricam design uses. In some cases this type of electronically spinned shutter is beneficial. But everything other than the shutter link and the takeup would still need to be mechanically linked to be as precise as possible, reliable in use and simple enough to manufacture

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Dear David,

Sounds amazing. If you need someone to test your prototype at one point please get in touch! I know several people here in Denmark, including myself, who'd like a camera like that.

All the best,
Marcel

Edited by Marcel Zyskind
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I appreciate the replies and know my post  sounded like I thought it would be easier than it is, and I realize that perhaps my ideas are not even possible or feasible.

Appo Lettinen: I envisioned removing as many mechanical components in the film drive system as possible, for cost and size reasons.  Also for cost and size reasons the LCD shutter.

Phil Rhodes: I don't know anything about LCD shutters except that they exist and seemed to be at least feasible for what I envision. 

Let me say a bit more.

I envision a drive mechanism incorporating a motor inside the cores of coaxial film reels which uses the indents of the cores to advance the film the distance between the film perforations. Whether this would be a stepper motor or some other I don't know - perhaps it could a constantly running motor with an circular on-off electromagnet turning the cores or some kind of pop-out ratchet turning the cores. 

The way I see it, there would be no film loops; instead the opposite.  The mechanism would rely on the film tautness to help with registration. In theory at least, if the factory tolerances of the plastic film cores and the distance between the film perforations  are good enough, then no electronic feed back loop, based on perforation sensors, would be required to control the motor. If that could be done, I would call that a "dumb," motor. (I know shrinkage of the film over time or expansion-contraction of the film due to temperature would have some effect, just don't know how much.)

I think the biggest issue  is ensuring no "play," in the film as there are no loops, so very constricting  guides in the film path would be needed, perhaps even a kind of four-sided tunnel to run the film through. In the worst case  of my "vision," if film "play," cannot be mitigated enough, a retractable pressure-plate, synced with the motor, would needed.  Adding to the cost and complexity for sure, but not less feasible than anything else here (I think).

The shutter would be directly in front of the feed-side of the two film reels, to help in mitigating film play, all the twisting of the film to get it onto the take-up core would be after the shutter.

Anyway, these are my ideas for a camera, ideas that seem to me to be doable and relatively cost-effective, but I would love for them to be debunked so I can forget about it. Conversely, if someone develops and sells this camera and makes any money, throw a bit into my hat please. 

 

 

 

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