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Looking to Purchase a 16mm Camera


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I'm looking to get into shooting on film, just got fed up with how easy/valueless digital cinematography became for me. Sold all my digital cams and have about $6000 to play with. 

My main use for the camera will be shooting/directing my own narrative short films and (eventually) feature films. I'd like to shoot Super 16mm but I see it's probably a little out of my budget range if I want a full package. 

Given my needs, I'd love some camera recommendations and any tips/knowledge. I know I'm coming across a little naive (I did do 4 years of film school on 16mm and shoot 35mm stills passionately), but I'm pretty dedicated to taking my creative life in this direction and need a little help in finding out what I don't know/how to make it happen.

Also, if anybody has anything for sale or knows of good places to purchase from. eBay is chock full of cameras but I'm a bit weary of purchasing something like this blind without any warranty/guarantee. Visual Products seems quite legit (though pricey), but I can't find any customer feedback about them.

Thank you so much!

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I just picked up an Aaton LTR-7 and I highly recommend one. With your budget you could potentially get an LTR-54 or XTR... 
Great S16mm cameras and Aaton system works so well for single shooters. 

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Visual Products is a GEM !

The other major seller/repairer of equipment has always given me the cold shoulder even when looking to purchase expensive (to me) equipment, or inquire about repairs (I'd get the answer of, "send it in and we will bill you *hangs up phone*", or "Email us to purchase (emailed) no response.. --).. Maybe since I'm lower budget (3k or less annually for equipment/repairs), I don't get a priority there.  

Visual products has always given me their full attention, very honest, and do great work. I've had many repairs done by them, along with accessories purchased from them, and I'm always treated the way you would expect to be from someone who values your business. If you were planning on buying a camera from one of the major companies, I would pay the extra few dollars and get one from visual products hands down. 

But this is just my personal experience as a hobbiest and not a studio/production.  I think that either way you go, you will get a quality camera that has been serviced, and I've learned after my short 5 years in collecting/using 8/16mm gear, is that it pays to get something in great condition with known service history. When things haven't been serviced and maintained/ stored properly, you end up paying for more on repairs/servicing / loss of work due to down equipment, and just pay more than the camera would be worth after having an overhaul.  

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I can get a CP-16R, full package with lense and pro serviced for $7k. It's also converted to Super 16mm.

I'm really on the fence. It's not a "name" camera, but it is a full package. Would I be overpaying? 

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26 minutes ago, Jon Salimes said:

I can get a CP-16R, full package with lense and pro serviced for $7k. It's also converted to Super 16mm.

I'm really on the fence. It's not a "name" camera, but it is a full package. Would I be overpaying? 

Is it PL converted as well and has a video tap?  the price depends on the lenses included... if it has good primes then they are worth a lot. 

It is possible to modify the original CP16R electronics to multi-speed crystal sync where every speed is Crystal and not only the 24fps like in the original model. I am developing this type of modification for my own CP16R at the moment and I believe the AZ Spectrum could do a similar style modification as well. Just saying so that you know it is possible to repair a electronically non-working CP16R as well if you find one for cheap and there is no mechanical problems with it or the mechanical problems can be solved relatively easily... this could save you some money though the camera would probably still need the video tap and S16 modification etc.  I calculated that I should be able to make the new electronics for about 1K or a little less

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2 minutes ago, Jon Salimes said:

It is PL converted and has a video tap. Not sure about the specific lense yet, but my understanding is that it's a fairly basic zoom lense. 

the original unmodified basic packages seem to run at about 2K on eBay with the very basic 12-120 lens. So to me it sounds like it could maybe be about 6K camera package if the lens is pretty basic. There is not many price references though but modifying cameras is always expensive which raises the price and those mods cost a lot to make

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the CP16R is a good camera but both the Aaton LTR and Arri SR are way better than it by my opinion. A bit more expensive as well and you still probably want a PL modified one. Probably you could get the CP16R with S16 and video tap and lens at the same price than the Aaton or Arri without the tap and possibly without a lens

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do you mean this package? http://www.visualproducts.com/storeProductDetail02.asp?productID=2053&Cat=17&Cat2=30  

It seems to have everything needed for basic shooting. Though if choosing from their inventory I would choose this SR2 for various reasons,  especially viewfinder related ones  http://www.visualproducts.com/storeProductDetail02.asp?productID=1981&Cat=17&Cat2=30#bigPic . Don't know if it goes over the budget though. The get a affordable PL lens from elsewhere... maybe even a Soviet zoom lens adapted to PL mount if it just fits the camera. 

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1 hour ago, aapo lettinen said:

Yes it's a package pretty much exactly similar to that one. 

Yeah I originally contacted them about the SR2 but they no longer have it in inventory; much of what's on their site isn't what they actually have due to turnover I learned.

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1 hour ago, Jon Salimes said:

Yeah I originally contacted them about the SR2 but they no longer have it in inventory

hmm then the CP16R starts to sound pretty OK deal if one specifically wants to have the hd video tap and the S16 converted body with a PL mount. One can get Arri SR's for cheaper but when they are converted to S16 and PL mount and video tap added they cost much more.

The video tap on that CP16 compensates the slightly worse ergonomics and viewfinder limitations of the camera body. If you only need 24fps crystal speed then it should work pretty well for narrative work I think. Does not work on gimbal use but steadicam and sticks would be OK and it should not be too bad for handheld either I believe

Edited by aapo lettinen
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Hi!

That was a quick decision !

Good luck in your endeavors .

I have own and operated a wide range of 16mm Cameras.

Eclair ACL, Aaton LTR these are the best cameras suited for handheld operation.

Also had ARRI M16 and Bolex, SBM ,EL

The M is a workhorse; NFL used to use them; Not suited for narrative work; as they are noisy.

Bolex Cameras are good for Animation and shorts; but not feature filmmaking.

I've sold all of  them on eBay.

I only kept an ARRI  SR1, S16, PL Mount Package. which might end up selling as well.

In regards to CP 16; Only use one  a couple of times; What I remember about it; It felt 

like a brick on my shoulder; however it produced consistently sharp images; once  i figured out

the right film loading loop.

There is a Kinoptic; fully extendable viewfinder that will work on the CP16 as well as the ACL.

Its good to see that there are still some people interested in shooting on film

Nothing compares to celluloid.

Keep film Alive!

Horacio

 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Jon Salimes said:

I can get a CP-16R, full package with lense and pro serviced for $7k. It's also converted to Super 16mm.

I'm really on the fence. It's not a "name" camera, but it is a full package. Would I be overpaying? 

I have a fully serviced CP-16R that I'm selling with glass for $1800 right now if you have interest. It's a great beginner camera. Quiet enough and not horribly difficult to work with. The only caveat is that the batteries are toast, but you can get some from Du-All camera in NY. 

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A plus for Visual Products is that they still have a tech on staff that can service these cameras; something of a dying art. They may have slightly inflated prices on used gear but they are reliable and stand by what they sell.

Remember when purchasing that you'll have to regularly service the camera and need to develop a relationship with someone who can do it and get parts. In the U.S. it seems to be easier to get Arri SR parts than Aaton LTR parts which may be another consideration.

Last time I checked, Arri NY would still service SR2's and 3's although maybe not officially...there was a tech there single handedly trying to keep those cameras alive.

Another resource for techs is Panavision but they won't officially help you as they don't service cameras they don't own, but they have the knowledge and often parts and may take pity on you if you walk in with puppy dog eyes.

Edited by Will Montgomery
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