Jump to content

H16 REX , a few questions please


Recommended Posts

Hi , just through the week I was given a Bolex H16 camera , as there was a clear out of old kit going on at work and I was asked if there was anything I would like . I thought I was perhaps chancing my luck a bit when I asked my boss if I might have one of the two Bolexes I had oft admired in my 20 years there , and was mildly surprised when told just to take one . The one I could see had a large zoom lens fitted ; I know the other ( which was nowhere to be seen ) has two smaller primes on the turrets .

A bit of background about myself - after school , I did Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Uni , halfway through the course decided it wasn't for me and went from a part time job in a hifi shop to full time , audio being my main interest back then , although I also did still photography , first medium format with an old Rolleiflex T I picked up , then I bought my first SLR , a Pentax KM back in 1976 or so ( this will be relevant later ) . Besides still photography , I shot some Standard 8 cine film using my dad's Bolex S1 , and later got a Minolta Super 8 ( still have both of these cameras , as well as two Eumig P8 protectors and a Eumig Mark S 702 ( I think ) dual gauge sound projector . I also have an Elf NT-1 16mm projector , which I have used to telecine various films .

When the owner of the hifi shop died and the shop closed , I became a school audio visual technician , which I did for seven years , then I moved into the conference/presentation industry where I did sound , lighting , projection , set building - everything really for events large and small . With the advent of early home video kit , I had used VHS/SVHS/Video8/Hi-8/MiniDV/HDV kit , and at work cut my teeth with lo-band U-Matic and Sony Type V suites , as I'm sure many others did , working up through Hi-band , Beta , Digi Beta and currently working with XDCAM , and at work editing on Premiere and using FCP on my Macs at home . 

So , anyway , I was given this Bolex , on Tuesday this week . When I got home , I went on the net looking for a user manual to read up - I found the Bolex Collector website where , from the serial number stamped on the tripod bush I learned that I have an H16 REX from 1960 , my camera also has the REX fader and the Kern-Paillard Vario-Switar 1:2.5 18-86mm zoom lens . This lens has a metering unit attached which gives an auto aperture function , powered by an old PX-13 mercury battery . I removed the old corroded battery , and have ordered an equivalent 'air cell' which purports to be a suitable replacement - we shall see ( I have had past experience of replacing Mercury 1.35V cells with modern substitutes , both in my Omega f300 watch and in my Rollei 35S camera ) .

Besides downloading a manual , I found someone on eBay selling original , paper manuals , so I ordered one of these as well . I've spent a couple of evenings going through the downloaded manual and familiarising myself with the camera , once I get the battery , I'll try to get a short end from somewhere so that I can try the camera out - I see there are a few online vendors selling black and white stock on 100 ft reels , with processing included ( need to make sure it's reversal stock and not negative ! ) so one way or the other I hope to shoot something over the holidays and try the camera out .

The camera winds up and runs smoothly , the loop formers work fine and everything else seems to work as described in the manual .

A few questions , please .

Winding up - I'm a bit nervous of overwinding it - how many turns is it safe to wind the handle , to get , I believe around 30 seconds of shooting time ? Or does the handle go tight when fully would , I've only given it maybe six to ten cranks before chickening out , but I believe in being cautious with things I don;t yet fully understand .

 

The viewfinder , I have figured out the focus wheel near the rear of the finder to suit my eyesight , and the little shutter near the front . All online illustrations I've seen show an eyepiece at the rear of the finder , which presumably magnifies the image , and allows attachment of a rubber eyecup - I have neither the eyepiece or the rubber eyecup . I have seen plenty of eyecups for sale , but not the eyepiece , which presumably screws into the threaded hole at the back of the finder ?

Are there different viewfinders applicable to this model ? I have seen numerous different ones for sale on eBay , but mostly they are the side attaching ones for the non-reflex cameras , the one on the top of the camera does look as though it might detach somehow , but I haven't tried to remove it .

I mentioned earlier my starting out with Pentax in the mid seventies - well I worked my way up the range until I had both two MX cameras and two LX cameras , plus a good selection of SMC-M K-mount lenses . I used the two LX cameras professionally for two decades before dipping a toe into the digital world with a pair of *istD bodies ( which I since gave one each to my children ) and currently have a K-3 , K-01 and K-1 as well as a selection of lenses , modern and old . The modern lenses rely on the camera to control aperture , but the old manual ones don't , so I'm wondering if there are C mount to K mount adaptors out there which might let me use some of my Pentax lenses on the Bolex ?

Also , I need to read up on my theory , but for example f1.7 covering a 35mm frame won't be the same aperture when covering a 16mm frame , will it ? There must be some conversion involved since aperture is all about a ratio of light being admitted ....

I do still have my old Weston Master V light meter which I recall has cine functions , so should help me to meter using manual lenses , also have a modern Gossen spot meter . 

Last question , I note that just behind the lens mount there is a slider , which is a filter holder for gelatin filters . Could one insert a mask there to crop the image to 16:9 format ? I realise it won't be Super 16 ( I do have a friend who shoots Super 16 on his two Eclair cameras , and I need to get in touch for some tips - and maybe a short end ! ) but it might be useful to be able to crop to that ratio . Does anyone make a properly machined insert for this ? 

This will be something of a learning curve for me , but I hope to make use of the camera , initially just as a hobby , but perhaps I'll get further into film as I go on .

Sorry for all the questions , but this is all new to me - I'm not here to find answers and disappear next week or next month = when I take things up I generally stick with them .

 

Kind regards 

Derek 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I came to 16mm from a career as a still photojournalist, so I get where you're coming form with regard to photography techniques. Regarding aperture, f/5.6 is still f/5.6 etc., no matter what format you shoot. The thing that changes it is the reflex prism of the REX camera. You'll have to compensate by reducing your ISO on your meter. 

For that Kern zoom lens, find a C.R.I.S. adapter so you can use silver oxide batteries that have a longer life than the horribly expensive Wein cells. If you want, you can build one yourself with a diode to reduce the voltage to the proper level. 

You can use your K mount lenses on the Bolex, but you're going to want to have a turret lock when you use it. The camera may already have one as it has that big zoom on it. It looks like a C mount cap with a red circle on it and a knob on the back that locates the turret snugly into the body, preventing the weight of heavier lenses from dragging the turret down. You can find a number of K mount or M42 mount to C mount adapters out there but the very best I've ever seen are the old Novoflex ones. Maybe even new Novoflex ones for that matter. I have one for a Nikon F mount to Leica M and it is fantastic. No messing around with registration distance and lens collimation to ensure focus. It is just precise. There is probably a K to C mount adapter made by Asahi or Honeywell. I've seen a Bolex brand M42 to C mount adapter, I think I have one as a matter of fact somewhere... Probably to use old Contax/Praktica SLR lenses. 

You won't want to use a mask in the filter holder for cropping since it is too far away from the film plane and will probably leave quite diffuse edges. 

Surely others here with more experience than I have will chime in. 

Phil Forrest

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Phil , that’s very helpful .

Yes my camera does have the turret lock .

The Wein cell was only about £5 from eBay , so if the lifespan is reasonable I can live with that , I did see adaptors to use LR44 cells , so that’s an option too .

Ive been watching eBay for a K mount adaptor but no luck so far .

Link to post
Share on other sites

The f-stop doesn't change between 35 and 16- you're changing neither the focal length nor the size of the aperture, so the ratio stays the same. All that changes is the field of view. A 50 will be quite long on 16mm- the standard is about 25.

And yes, if you can't stop down and lock the aperture on the lens itself, you will need an adapter that lets you do it. You will be shooting at your working aperture so you will have to get used to a dark viewfinder.

If you put up some photographs here, it may help with some of the questions about eyepieces, finders and such.

Edited by Mark Dunn
Link to post
Share on other sites

A further development.

Yesterday I got a phone call from my boss saying he’d found the other Bolex and did I want it as well ...

Picked it up last night and this one is a REX 4 with pistol grip , two primes ( a 16mm Switar and a 25mm Pizar . The REX 4 seems to have a slightly larger reflex finder ( the box section is a bit larger ) and has the all important eyepiece although no  rubber eyecup , but these are readily available ; it also has a non reflex finder on the side . This camera is , if anything , in even better condition than the other one , with the leather cloth just that bit fresher looking , but nothing to complain about on either .
 

Having looked up the serial no against the Bolex collector site , this camera dates from 1966 , as opposed to the other one being a 1960 model .

I swapped the zoom lens , pistol grip and Rex-o-fader over to the REX 4 , and put the two primes plus the side finder onto the REX .

There was even a full 100’ roll of exposed , double perf film still in the REX 4 . It must have been there minimum 20 years and possibly closer to 50 so I see little point trying to process it ; I think I’ll just use it as a test film to check that both cameras load , form loops and run smoothly with film loaded . 

On the REX4 , the loop formers click in nicely enough , but on pressing the release button they were a little slower to jump back out ; repeated operations speeded this up so perhaps it will improve with use ; or perhaps on the REX , which I suspect has seen more use , things are just a bit more worn and looser . 


So , altogether a good find and I now feel I have a camera almost ready to go . I will just need to wait for my finances to recover from the festive season before I can afford to buy some film .

The Wein cell for the ‘electric eye’ in the Kern zoom lens arrived yesterday too , but I haven’t fitted it yet .

Some photos , as requested

 

751C7F05-7CBD-4E1B-88E3-8988CF24AB6F.jpeg

4E5593FB-1807-4ABF-8167-D80ABA039672.jpeg

1D80C477-A283-4467-95D3-08E4813C93DB.jpeg

91D57859-7CD9-4F13-8490-7D525E0AE5FB.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Above , the first pic is the REX4 , complete with eyepiece and the grip , lens and fader swapped over ; the lower pics are the REX with the two primes and the side finder fitted .

Below are some pics of the REX as was when I got it a few days ago , and one with my dad’s old 8mm S1 which I last used around 1970 .

 

82B85319-05E1-4CEC-AA41-B67BAD4F1308.jpeg

B62AB1E5-E6A6-4E98-A889-643B0C3A7C88.jpeg

46B0B5E8-849A-41AE-B419-162CD4531583.jpeg

81C16172-A8CC-4BEF-920B-89415A04CF6B.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

The f-stop doesn't change between 35 and 16- you're changing neither the focal length nor the size of the aperture, so the ratio stays the same. All that changes is the field of view. A 50 will be quite long on 16mm- the standard is about 25.

And yes, if you can't stop down and lock the aperture on the lens itself, you will need an adapter that lets you do it. You will be shooting at your working aperture so you will have to get used to a dark viewfinder.

If you put up some photographs here, it may help with some of the questions about eyepieces, finders and such.

The two primes I now have are now 16mm and 25mm . As for my K mount lenses , they range from a 15mm fish eye , shortest ‘normal’ prime being 20mm , although I do have a ( non fisheye ) 15-30mm zoom , and up to max 400mm which would be very long on 16mm .

I have a video lens which comes out to 6.5mm at the wide end .

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice score. A good condition REX 4 with lenses is worth several thousand dollars in today's market. The flat base models are by far the most desirable. If things like the loop former return or the take-up spindle or the run release are sluggish, then the lubricants have dried out and the camera could do with a service.

Regarding your concerns about winding up the spring motor, there is limit gearing inside that prevents over-winding of the spring, so you can wind it up until it feels like it hits a stop. Just don't force it past that point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Dom , yes I’ve seen some of the prices on eBay , although my interest wasn’t so much for monetary value as , initially , just to have the camera as a keepsake and maybe a display item in my living room . I used to have a number of older cameras on display in my living room until my then partner objected ; since we are no longer together I can please myself about such things . 
 

If I feel I’m going to start using the camera regularly then I’ll look into either getting it serviced , or to see how I feel about doing it myself : I have in the past , serviced video kit ranging from U-Matic down to Mini-DV and things like Kodak S-AV projectors , when my employer had about 100 in the hire stock . 

As long as I can obtain a service manual then I would feel reasonably comfortable at exploring it .

If it is just going to be an ornament to sit on the shelf I wouldn’t bother , but I think I might actually use the REX 4 and just leave the other one sitting .

The take up spindle and run release both seem fine . I’m going to load that reel of film that was in the camera and observe how it runs through . The camera seems to run very smoothly without film going through it . Both cameras do .

 

Thanks again for the advice .

Link to post
Share on other sites

Watch out running that old film. I've found that old Kodachrome emulsions like to flake inside cameras, leaving the gate to be cleaned judiciously, and leaving the film chamber dusted with tiny emulsion flakes, like a bad form of glitter that has the ability to turn to concrete. The REX 4 should definitely be sent out for service then used. Awesome cameras, nice lenses. All good users.

Phil Forrest

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Philip Forrest said:

Watch out running that old film. I've found that old Kodachrome emulsions like to flake inside cameras, leaving the gate to be cleaned judiciously, and leaving the film chamber dusted with tiny emulsion flakes, like a bad form of glitter that has the ability to turn to concrete. The REX 4 should definitely be sent out for service then used. Awesome cameras, nice lenses. All good users.

Phil Forrest

Thanks Phil , alas too late as I’d already tried it !

However , I did have to get round the issue of the film being on the spool the wrong way round , so I used my projector to wind it back onto the other spool , whilst pinching it with a piece of cloth as it rewound , nothing came off there , and I’ve just removed the pressure plate and checked the gate , all clean , and nothing obvious inside the camera .

I only ran it through once , but it was enough to tell that the loops form correctly and stay formed over the length of the film .

Im not going to run the camera excessively for now ; up to now I’ve ran it in short bursts without film , and the one time with the old film , just to test and familiarise myself with it . 
 

The next thing will be to purchase a roll of new film and run it through to test the camera , and get it processed .

If all is well and I know there are no major issues , I’ll look into the cost of a routine service and get that done before any further use .
 

Alternatively, I’ve seen DIY servicing guides both on here and elsewhere on the web , and I will do my homework before considering whether or not to have a go myself .

I might have a go with my dads old 8mm S1 first , then if that goes ok , the REX before touching the REX 4 .

I have in the past serviced projectors , tape recorders , vcrs , camcorders and numerous other devices ( including everything mechanical on my cars ) so , as long as I have the proper service manual it doesn’t scare me .

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Todd Pinder said:

Sell the original Reflex and zoom lens, use that money to CLA the Rex 4 and two prime lenses. Then look for a 75mm or three inch telephoto lens to finish out your primes. Lenses over 50mm do not have to be RX designated to work wide open.

Todd , while that sounds a good idea , it is frowned on at work to sell items given away and keep the money ( or use for another purpose ) it is normally expected that if you dispose of something you give any proceeds to one of the charities supported in the workplace .

Apart from that I quite fancy keeping both cameras and all the lenses .

I’m more inclined to buy a K-Mount adaptor so that I can use my Pentax lenses on the camera , which include primes at 50 , 55 , 70 , 77 , 100 , 120 , 135 and others both shorter and longer .

I will keep updating here with my progress with the cameras .

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.

×
×
  • Create New...