Frequently Asked Questions about this site

Filming the Nottingham Marathon with my Super 16mm BolexWho Designed this web site?

Hello My names Gareth North a film obsessive, film junkie, time lapse tinkerer & Kodak film addict from Nottingham, England.

Why design a Website about Bolex?

The main reason for designing the site was the great deal of appreciation and affection for the cameras pedigree and history from various people including those in the industry who had started out using them and still fondly remember there experiences. Yet when I started out using H16's in the mid 1990's there was no central point of information on the web and everything i read seemed to have originated no later than 1970 or earlier. With the cameras still being discovered, loved and utilized every year by a variety of new users coming to them wanting to use them on there projects it seemed like there was a natural need for a more modern take on them and there practical uses.

I also found the lack of information available coupled with the small incremental feature changes each model has gone through lead me to be very confused initially. It's long history causes you to wonder if the information you are reading from instruction manuals, guides and leaflets etc is appropriate for what you want to achieve on your model now.

Has this website really been going since 1998?

Original Bolex H16 Website HomepageThis site was originally called bolexequipment.com and it made its first appearance on the web in around 1998-99 where it stayed for around 6-7 years and grew organically to cover as much as i could find the time to write about back then.

It was my intention originally that the site would cover every piece of equipment Bolex ever produced but this was always going to be a monumental undertaking to achieve and so it proved true. In the end I wrote about what i knew at the time which was the 16mm cameras and accessories i had used with the intention of always meaning to get round to the projectors and 8mm equipment.

For a few years in the mid naugties i let the site lapse and it went off the web for a few years while i pursued other things but i was still enjoying filming whenever i had chance. In about 2012 with renewed enthusiasm for my long term passion i though it was a good enough time to take my original content and repurpose it around a more up to date design as web standards had finally matured and moved away from the peculiarities of IE6.

Bolex Paillard Name PlateThe site returned to the web in 2012 with a changed name, now being called bolexh16user.net the name change reflecting the true interest of its owner (me) that being purely "H16 cameras".

This made perfect sense as having a surf online in the intervening years while the site was away a website had sprung up called bolexcollector which kind of covered the areas i wasn't much interested in writing about like projectors, 8mm equipment and the early history of the brand.

As its name suggests bolexcollector is more interested in collecting these marvellous cameras rather than shooting any film with them. So with the re focus and narrowing of the sites scope to H16 cameras and there practical use i could concentrate on something more manageable and interesting.If you'd like to have a look at what the original website used to look like click Here.

The Perfect Marriage a Bolex H16 & Kodak film Forever

When did you buy your first H16 Camera?

Apart from a few books from Andrew Alden about them there really was next to nothing out there on the web back then about the brand at all and i really didn't know quiet what i was getting into when i decided to plump for buying a Super 16mm SBM from a camera shop called Lees Cameras of Hoborn (Now Defunct).

It was quiet an alien experience holding my first proper cine camera but I had to take the plunge and buy a camera as there was only so much i was going to learn from old instructions manuals and books.

What were your first experiences of shooting?

In a word disappointing and frustrating. I purchased a number of rolls of Kodachrome as at this point in the mid 90's the cheapest option to see what I'd shot was to just project the film. The only other alternative was get a telecine to SD tape. Because Kodachrome is reversal film which requires pin point correct exposure and i had a useless light meter and was unsure of exposure compensations a lot of the shots were over exposed or under exposed with very few accurately exposed and i had no Super 16mm projector so never truly saw what i had shot.

Which Bolex camera do you own?

I own a Bolex factory converted Super 16 SBM, i consider this personally to be there best camera. It still has the classic lines and leather of the original Rex series but you have the ability to mount Bayonet mount lenses to it and original C mount lenses to it using a converter. There are also lens converters to convert the Bolex Bayonet mount to every other lens mount going. It has the later 1:1 shaft and can be used with all the different motors and accessories available.

The sheer scalability of the camera's is one of the great features of them i.e. one day you can go to town and put a 400ft mag, motor and zoom lens on it but the next par down to just camera, tiny prime lens and just wind it up. That's the beauty of them.

The Arc De Triomphe on Super 16mmWhy don't you just shoot digital and not film?

It may sound ironic but newly improved digital technology has kickstarted and lead to my renewed enthusiasm and appreciation of the medium of film. Continued improvements in for example hard drive sizes & processing power and the ever decreasing component costs has ultimately led to better and more affordable rates at post production houses and ultimately the ability to scan negative film direct to hard drive.

When i began my film shooting the ability to shoot Super 16mm negative film and have it scanned to hard drive at reasonable cost is something i would of loved but was unavailable to me back then.

To actually answer the question yes there are those that don't get it and continue to say film should go because every part of the film chain from editing, sound, distribution and exhibition has gone digital so it makes sense to put a digital sensor up front at the image capture stage in that pretty much now all digital chain. I'd disagree you can very much appreciate those unique film images via digital technology later down the chain so long as the film image hasn't been cannibalised going through it.

On Location with full kit bagThere's obvious reasons in lots of circumstances and situations to shoot digital over film and lots of people will.

I personally don't use a film camera to take pictures of stuff i want to sell on ebay for instance when i can easily take them with my digital camera.

But when shooting something worthwhile, memorable or that you've put blood sweat and tears into it should continue to be a choice.

Have you shot film using it?

I'm always shooting film with it. Recording family holidays and days out but have been pursuing a personal long term project as well.

What are the rarest things Bolex have ever made?

Based only on my own observations of looking at every item on ebay with he word Bolex in it for 15 years here's the rarest things I've seen or in most cases not seen:-

1) PTL Lens converted to Super 16mm with Aspheron (never been on ebay so far).Back
2) Underwater Housing for EL Camera with 400ft Magazine (Does it exist?).
3) Promotional see through camera on stand.