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Hey peoples,

I have a Bolex H16, and i'm contemplating converting it to Super or Ultra 16. I adore 4:3 and may just leave it as is, but the ability to get more out of the film is very attractive. Super 16 is taller but just a tad less wide than Ultra. Some say Ultra is the most versatile because you can get the widest image and crop if you're so inclined, but it's not as tall, so I think the same could be said of Super, essentially. I have full frame lenses with an adapter that I would be using so vignetting won't be a problem

Any opinions on the matter? Thank you!

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Super-16mm-vs.-Standard-16mm-vs.-Ultra-16mm-Aspect-Ratio-Frame-Size-Film-Guide-1024x307.jpg

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Super 16 uses more of the negative, all the way to where the left sprocket holes are on the Standard format are. It is a wider gate. Wider than "Ultra 16" which is merely a top and bottom crop of the Standard 16 gate.. The 1.66 refers to the aspect ratio of the entire image.

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Also worth remembering that the Bolex pulldown claw drags back across the perfs before engaging the next one, and Ultra 16 extends into that perf area. Combined with the sprocket rollers which need to make contact with that perf area as well, you're almost guaranteed to get scratching/scuffing/bruising inside the image area. 

I reckon either invest in a properly converted S16 camera, or stick with Standard 16 and crop to whatever final aspect ratio you want. 

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One or two points in favour of Ultra...   It's easier to convert the camera as you don't need to re-position the lens. And as the 4:3 image is still being exposed you can go back to R16 if desired. It's also easier to get a really wide format such as 2.2:1  (70mm memories 😃

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While I agree with Dom it does have risks of scratching,  if carefully modified the Bolex, at least the two I have done, can give perfect images. It's important to remove a lot of metal from the sprockets. Take a look at my blog, see site below.  On one camera I'm nearly out at 2.2:1 with a 13.3mm width. That's wider than is possible with super-16. So I reckon if a wide ratio is desired, U16 might be the answer.  There is absolutely no micro scratching with the footage I have taken, and no inferior registration or lack of flatness in the gate. However, I should point out I have only used reversal film, which is possibly less scratch-prone than negative.  And I take great care to thoroughly clean the gate etc before loading.

Obviously the projector, if used, must be similarly modified with care. I use a Bolex which I found was ideal. Again, no scratching. It did though take quite a time to modify. I'm not sure what the position is about scanning services for U16. And I should warn about the problem of code numbers getting into the image when you go really wide...

 

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9 hours ago, Frank Poole said:

@Doug Palmer thanks Doug!! Could you share a link for those examples? Would love to see.

Sorry nothing right now. The projector by the way is 1.85:1 which is the usual ratio of U16.  It was more tricky to modify than the camera. I presume scanning services would also offer this ratio ?

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Here's a couple amateurish Ultra-16 examples from myself, shot with a cheap Revere springwind camera with a widened gate. The first example is cropped and heavily stabilized:

The example below is uncropped. Unfortunately when machining out the gate, a tiny burr was created and it's scratching off a bit of emulsion, which is building up in the gate. You can see edgecode between the perfs on screen left. 

 

Edited by Webster C
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...
On 11/27/2020 at 12:43 AM, Doug Palmer said:

One or two points in favour of Ultra...   It's easier to convert the camera as you don't need to re-position the lens. And as the 4:3 image is still being exposed you can go back to R16 if desired. It's also easier to get a really wide format such as 2.2:1  (70mm memories 😃

I don't think I've heard of Ultra 16 before. It seems more practical than S16, mainly if you want a wider aspect ratio. In fact, even if you wanted 16:9, you could argue for U16, as you get a small amount of reframing room on the sides if you need it.

Interesting point about Kodaks' hypothetical Super 8 camera: it has an extended gate, which uses the area of the film previously reserved for the magnetic strip.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The BOLEX is a wonderful camera in any of its incarnations.   Ultra 16 seems very practical, but there are downsides to it....namely lack of sufficient laboratory support, and along the one side are the edge code numbers for editing.    Personally, I would leave the camera as is, and consider shooting anamorphically.   There are now 1.33x anamorphic lenses what will give you that aspect ratio usable in the 16:9 to 1.85:1 ratios........or you could use any of the more standard 1.5x, 1.75x and 2x anamorphic lenses.  There are plenty of 2x affordable lenses on eBay these days coming out of Russia and the Ukraine.  I have been using the KOWA 16-H [8-Z outside of north America] since 1981 and once you get used to filming in Widescreen using anamorphic lenses, it becomes second nature.  The cost of a true professional camera modification to your BOLEX would be more than you could pick up a good used anamorphic lens and adapter or bracket to use on your camera.  Once you modify the camera, and if you're unhappy with it....it will be costly to return it to factory condition again.  Even Super-16 requires modification of the Turret plate to re-center the lenses on the new film frame size.  Although this isn't needed for Ultra-16, there is the issue of grinding down and mirror polishing the film sprockets, although those doing this DIY usually just leave them alone.  If you really want to try this format, I suggest just getting an older cheap BOLEX or other camera to experiment with.  All the other issues regarding film transfer, possible scratching from the film pull down pawl etc have already been mentioned. 

   In Anamorphic filming, you utilize the entire film frame, yet still obtain a Widescreen image.  In film transfer, the image can be digitally stretched back to whatever format you filmed it in.   Or via using an anamorphic lens in a DIY film transfer setup to render the image in Widescreen digitally.  The original main anamorphic lenses as well as the new 1.33x lenses will yield the following effective aspect ratios:

1.5x lens........2:1 aspect ratio

1.75x lens......2.25:1 aspect ratio

2x  lens..........2.66:1 aspect ratio (aka full CinemaScope)

1.33x lens......1.85:1 aspect ratio (useable for both 16:9 and 1:85, thus fine for 2k......for 4k equivalent etc....I would consider another lens unless you don't mind either cropping the image or letter boxing the film)

 

Lastly, if you desire to have a projection print, the advantage with anamorphic lens use is that you still can print in an optical sound track....or add a magnetic one if that is doable.

Hope this puts some other useful ideas in mind for you. Good luck!

Edited by Martin Baumgarten
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