View Full Version : 16mm for dummies

02-07-2008, 05:07 AM
Hey everyone,

I just joined this forum and was wondering if you might be able to help me out. I am traveling to the Spa 24 Hours, a world famous endurance race at the end of July with a team.


I am new to filmmaking (I've only edited digital film clips) and have been looking at a Bolex 16mm camera.

I have a few questions about 16mm cameras:

1. Are there any good places in Europe to rent a camera for a certain period of time? (Since I might only use it for a single event)
2. Once filmed what is the steps needed to process the film into the digital spectrum?
3. What would the general cost be of film and accessories? (how much film is on one reel?)

If anyone knows anything about this and can help, then I would be extremely grateful.


Jason Adams
02-07-2008, 06:42 AM
If you are new to film making...Renting a film camera with no experience is not a great way to start shooting 16mm Film. All the Film Mediums require a very specific skill set. If you really want to learn 16mm or film acquisition then try to get on a gig as a second AC, learn to load the mag, and check the gate and use a light meter. Film is not as simple as rent camera point at action.

Also for my money, you could not pay me to shoot 16mm again. HD is cheaper ,easier, and for my eye looks better when properly executed.

Just a few thoughts...Good luck on your quest

02-07-2008, 08:59 AM
Okay, a few things.

The bolex has what is called a wild motor. Basically you are shooting at a ballpark of 24FPS for around 30seconds. Syncing sound is nearly impossible.

Also, you are going to be using a 100foot daylight spool role. The bolex is pretty easy to load. But, you are only going to be able to shoot for about two and a half minutes on a spool.

The cost of film ranges, if you are shooting colour or black and white. Basically for my latest shoot we are shooting 16mm colour, using the new vision 3. For 400 feet it is costing us 143 dollars (US) and change.

Also, you need to understand metering. Since you need to manually adjust your aperture. And you can't eyeball that really. You need a light meter. Else you will terribly over or under expose stuff, and it will be a waste.

Then, after shooting, you need to box your spool and send it out for processing. 6 - 16 cents per foot, then it has to be cleaned, then telecined. Which is between 75 to 150 dollars an hour depending on the quality of the transfer.

Basically you will be spending a ton of money on this thing, and for not knowing what you are doing, you are bound to mess it up.

Any other questions, I can answer it. I've used the Bolex. And now working with an Aanton LRT with a 400 foot core load.

03-03-2008, 11:14 AM
I would buy yourself a nice but inexpensive Super-8 camera, and couple of carts of 64T from Kodak, or Fuji Velvia 50D from Spectra and have at it.

Super 8 is a fun and easy introduction to film without spending thousands of dollars to experiement. Super-8 film comes in easy to use carts so you don't have to learn how to load the film (an art onto itself in most 16mm cameras).

Head on over to Ebay to find a Super-8 camera. There are hundreds to be found.

If you really are set on 16mm, then get yourself a Russian Krasnogorsk-3 (K3). You can get one usually for under a hundred bucks (don't spend more than that).

Buy some 100ft rolls from Fuji or Kodak then practice, practice and practice loading it.

The K3 does produce some nice, professional images, but don't even try to do sound with it, unless you are going to underlay generic racecar sound.

03-03-2008, 11:45 AM
Don't worry about buying or renting. I'll give you my K-3 if you can get me into the race.


04-04-2008, 06:59 AM
Why are you shooting in film and not HD? Depending on how many hours of footage you're planning to shoot film will end up costing you more than buying a prosumer HD camera. Just remember that you have to buy the film, pay it to get it processed, and transfer to video. With film you have no idea if your shot are really exposing properly.

04-04-2008, 03:10 PM
With your experiance I'd shoot a combination of Film and High Def.

Grab a Bolex or Krasnogorsk K-3 etc on ebay and buy a couple of daylight spools and shoot MOS for b roll. You've got a nice setting to test the film waters. YOu can find 100ft spools from $5-25 on ebay.

Shooting film isn't hard but things can go wrong.. just like in the digital world. Use the film parts as a film look... project the film and opticly transfer it yourself.


I did this experement as a test of 8yr old film... total cost was about $100 usd. For film and processing.

Obviously I was going for an old "found" footage look but it's film and it's cheep.

Just an idea.