Archive for July 2013

Getting Your 16mm film into Your Computer   2 comments


I have been asked to further expand on my telecine setup, but I have put it off until now because it’s a bit messy.   Again I will confess, I am a cheapskate and I wanted to edit my 16mm in my computer without spending $.15 a foot or more.  My little 3 minute Child’s Summer short used about 20 100′ rolls so just that project would total $300 for commercial telecine services.  I toyed with the idea of creating my own rig to hold the film and move it one frames at a time, but after one test rig I gave up and decided to retrofit an existing projector.  A friend had lent me an old Eiki ST/M and that seemed the best candidate.

Projector Alterations:

  • Advance film one frame at a time.
  • Sense the proper time to trigger capture.
  • New light source that won’t burn the film.


I bolted a heavy stepper motor on the projector where it would align with the pulley on the shutter and found a belt that would stretch tight.   I also bolted on a micro switch that would interact with the outer edge of the shutter, this senses the proper time to capture the frame.


I also remove the bulb and place an LED light into the spot along with an opaque plexiglass panel to create a flat white light source.


Capture device critera:

  • Cheap
  • Able to take 100,000 images or more without dying
  • Ability to capture at least 1280×720 raw images after cropping
  • Manual exposure
  • Remote Shutter release

I would have like to use a DSLR camera for the capture but they fail the first two critera on the list.   The problem of shutter life was really the clincher, any used DSLR cheap enough for this project would already be too close to shutter death.


I am currently using a used Canon G5 camera and it has worked well for over 120,000 frames so far.  The G5 has one major flaw for this project and that was no remote shutter release.  Aaarrrrg.   It would have made it so easy.   Anyway I had to create a simple jig to hold the camera and a stepper motor with padded lever to depress the button.  I guess when the button wears out I will either find a new camera or dig into this one and try to wire around it.



To run the various steppers I have a couple of inexpensive stepper motor controllers and I programmed a simple microcontroller to sense the switch and tell the stepper motor controllers when to run.  I also added a simple switch to tell the brain when to stop loading the film and to start capturing images.    After the controller captures 4000 images or about 100′ of film it shuts down.  The whole thing is powered by an ancient recycled computer power supply.

I have some ideas for future additions, but I really don’t know if I will ever get around to it.   How about a puff of air to clear the dust just before capture.  I could enclose the whole thing and make it look professional.   I could enhance the interface to capture an adjustable number of frames.  A newer camera would probably give me more pixels and recover faster when taking a picture.  This could not go too much faster before outrunning the camera.

Here is a quick video so you can see it working.


Posted July 16, 2013 by 16mmadventures in Digitizing

DIY Daylight Developing Tanks   3 comments

When it comes to cheaply using 16mm film I think the two hard parts are developing and telecine.   Hand processing is difficult without a decent daylight  tank.  Here are some of the tanks that I have used in the past and what I currently use.

darktank1I am lucky to have inherited a good bit of old photography stuff.  Both of these tanks were used by my grandfather many years ago.  The square tank is a 4×5 cut film tank that will work for processing super 8 or you can stuff maybe 1/3rd of a roll of 16mm in there, but it won’t turn out very well.


darktank2Once I really started working with 16mm I really needed a bigger tank and I pick up one of these on ebay.  It’s a Jobo 2800 system tank that is made for paper developing.  It worked alright until the top lip on the tank started to deform.  I replace the drum, but I still don’t like how delicate the tank is, so I started to think about making my own.




So I headed off to the lumber yard and started to stalk the plumbing section.   I bought a piece of 6″ pvc pipe and various fittings.



The tank turns out to be light tight and pours just about as fast as the Jobo tank.  The top seemed just a little too complicated.  So I kept going.



This is where I would recommend people start if they want to make an easy and inexpensive tank.  The top is much easier than my previous version and work almost as well.  The only issue I have had is that sometimes an end of the film wants to pour out with the liquids.  A quick inversion while pouring will remedy the situation.   It is made from 1 foot of 6″ pvc with two caps and 4 – 1″ schedule 40 street elbows.  I drilled a single hole in the top cap to fit the outer diameter of the elbow and glued it all together.



The 6″pvc tank body does need to be sanded down a bit so the lid does not stick on too tight.  Also you might noticed that I didn’t bother to paint the body, I found the plastic thick enough to block light (ymmv).   The 6″ pipe sections are about 10″ to a 12″ long making the tank just the right size for a 100′ roll of film with a little wiggle room.  I have used the tanks many times and they have proven quite easy to use, cheap and durable.


Others Expirementing   Leave a comment

Recently Jason in South Wales was asking for advice about developing KODAK WL Surveillance Film 2210.

Here is what he has tried:

I have made a few tests with Ilfosol3 I have attached a small screen shot of a scan. I loaded 6ft into a small spiral inversion tank, 2.5ml of Ilfosol3 and 160mm of water, 20 degrees, pre soak around 2minutes, 6mins developing, fix 5 minutes or so, wash 30 mins. but the problem was that only 1ft out of the 6ft developed the rest of the negative was very faint and couldn’t be scanned.

jase-16mm example1Well, it looks like he is off to a good start at least with the one foot that came out.   I am guessing the stuff that came out too faint was just not fully submerged in developer.   I am waiting to hear how it turns out.

Posted July 14, 2013 by 16mmadventures in Film, Film Test, Processing