Filmo 70 Video on Youtube   Leave a comment

Here is the companion video to go with the Bell and Howell Filmo 70 camera review.

Posted January 18, 2013 by 16mmadventures in Cameras

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Hand Processing Movie Film   2 comments

I love the idea of hand processing and I like the look.    In an upcoming post I will describe my hand process method in detail.   Here are some links I used to get started.

Some of these links were so old that they were dead but fortunately archive.or to the rescue!


Posted January 11, 2013 by 16mmadventures in Processing

A Quick Summary of My Process – Start to Finish   1 comment

Here is a quick and dirty rundown of my process.

Film:  I have used several different kinds of 16mm film but mostly I use a color intermediate film Eastman 7243 that was not intended to be shot in a camera but used to make duplicates of negatives.   This film I rate at asa 12 or asa 6 depending on the situation.  This film allows me to use a relatively open aperture on my camera and shoot in bright sunlight.  It is low contrast and has a very fine grain.  But the real reason I use it … It is really cheap.

Camera:  My current go to a Bolex H16 reflex camera.  It is reliable and easy to use.  The reflex aspect is very nice, I like having my subject in focus.  I also use the Filmo 70a for fun or in situations where I don’t want to risk damaging the Bolex.

Camera Settings:  I almost never use a light meter.  I use the sunny 16 rule and adjust to my situation.  Let see –  it is sunny and the film is 6 Asa and my shutter speed is twice the reciprocal of my frame rate, so 1/48th of a second – hmmm 6 – 12 – 24 – 48 so I should open up 3 or 4 stops from f/16.  It is a lot quicker if I just call it the sunny f/5.6 rule.  Of course if I can’t open up enough I can always slow the frame rate down and get an extra stop or two.  Anyway this works and once you get used to it, it is pretty quick.

Processing:  Again, I am cheap and I like to do stuff myself, so I process everything myself.   I don’t like complicated either so I do a very simple hand processing method using the least equipment and chemicals possible.  I process in a hand made dark tank.  It is a simple affair that is easy and cheap to build.  The film is spooled off the daylight reel in a dark room and bunched up and stuffed into the dark tank.  Then the film gets a quick wash in a warm borax solution for a couple of minutes, then a rinse in water, a 5 minutes develop in dektol, then a rinse, then a 5 minute soak in fixer and then a final rinse.  Let the film hang dry for an hour or two and it’s time for spooling and digitizing.

Digitizing:   I fought with this step for quite a while.   At first I bought an old B&H projector and just projected the reel and shot the result with whatever camera I had laying a round.  But I was unhappy with the results.  You can never get the shutter of the camera and projector to line up and the rate was always off, a bad flicker is the result.   I tried several methods before I settled on my current setup.   I took another old 16mm projector and retrofitted it with a stepper motor drive and a microswitch on shutter.  So I can control move the film slowly and precisely through the projector.  I also changed the light source to a LED bulb with a diffuser.  I use a Canon G5 camera that is aimed back into the lens to individually capture each frame as a high resolution image.   It take a couple of hours for the rig to run through and capture a single 100′ of film but I like the results much better.   Digitizing one 100′ reel leaves me with about 4000 – 1.5mb images that crop down to a 1600×1200 image so I can do a 1080p movie without losing quality.

Editing:   I take the images and drop them into Avidemux for initial processing.  This program allows me to crop, rotate, invert the negative and color correct all in one pass.  The output can be any number of  formats including uncompressed avi’s to highly compress mpeg4’s.   I take these files and load them into Sony Vegas pro for the final editing to a youtube or dvd type output.

Here is a quick example of what the files look like before and after processing.

Bell and Howell’s Filmo 70 Camera   11 comments

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70a sideview This is where I started on my 16mm adventure.  I was looking around on Ebay for Super8 film cameras and I ran across a B&H Filmo 70a in a box for a great price and I ended up winning the auction even though I really didn’t intend to.  Has that ever happened to you?  I mean there you are innocently browsing around and then Wham!, then a box shows up a couple of days later with something you hadn’t even been looking for.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 framerate closeup The Filmo 70 is a great starter camera that has a lot going for it: sturdy, inexpensive, easy to understand, easy to use, readily available, cool retro look, good resale value.   Of course there are some things that are not so good: heavy enough to make a great boat anchor, no reflex viewfinder.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 inside

If you go wonder around ebay looking for these monsters you are going to find a blue million variations.  B&H made these cameras for more than 30 years and they make 5 or 6 different models.   The above camera is an ancient 70a model made in the 20’s.  It has just a single lens limited framerate, I have one that goes  from 8 to 16 frames and another that  goes 12 to 24.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Later version frontview Later models add the three lens turret, the ability to hand crank or add motor drive, speeds up to 64 frames a second, upgraded frame counter, additional longer film magazine.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Later version rearview

The camera shown here was used as a sports camera filming high school football games.  It definitely show a good bit of wear but even after all that it still works fine.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Later version sideview So what about repair???  well any old camera found on ebay is quite a tossup.  I have purchased all kinds of old cameras of ebay and it seems that maybe 50% turn out to be OK.  I have purchased the occasional camera that came broke and was easily repaired with a bit of oil or other TLC but generally digging into the guts of any camera is good way to end up with a junk box full of camera parts and not much else.  The filmo 70’s are not too bad to work on if you restrict yourself to the shutter area, if you go beyond that into the spring motor portion then you are asking for the spring to pop out and knock you head off.   One of the oldest 70 that I got didn’t work at first but after I remove the shutter panel from the front I found that it just needed a tiny bit of oil to get it running.  Of course it was only after I had it apart that I found that there was a cap on the front in the dead center of the panel that made it easy to oil without disassembly.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 shutter closeup

Another factor to consider with these old cameras is that they were made for double perf film.  I have had success converting one camera by removing the transport sprockets and sanding off one set of teeth, also the pull down lever needs to be modified to remove one of the teeth on that.  I was a relatively easy convert.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Single Perf Alteration

Another thing to look for if you are looking at 70’s is whether or not your camera has a winder.  Several of the older cameras I got came without keys and I had to make one up to use them.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Crank

I took a 8 inch bolt and did a little torch work with my torch and made a quick crank that gets the job done.  I supposed I could have gone shopping on ebay and found a crank for 30 or 40 bucks but I a just a little to cheap to spend that much on a crank when that is all I spent on the camera in the first place.

16mmadventures_B-H Filmo 70 Crank closeup

Lenses,  Arrrrrrrrrrg     you do have to be a little careful with lenses with the 70 models.  The 70a’s that I have do not take standard c mount lenses like so many 16mm camera but take a c mount with a special extension at the back so that you focus by actually screwing the lens out the front.    And if you have a turret lens version then you have to look for a lens with out any protrusions out of the back the keep you from rotating the turret.  Oh yeah – and of course there is the issue of getting a matching viewfinder lens.

filmo 70a with lens

Here is my advice if you want a Filmo 70 off ebay – look for a seller with good feedback,  look for a camera that is in working condition hopefully with a lens and crank attached.  Be wary of anything that is “untested” which tends to be another way of saying broken.   Don’t get in a hurry watch them sell for a week or two before you buy.

Good luck and happy 16mm adventures!

Posted January 6, 2013 by 16mmadventures in Cameras

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Zombie Credits   2 comments

So what happens when you are a nut and you want to use 16mm in your next project but everyone else says no.   Well you do it anyway and try to figure out how to shoe horn it into the project without looking too stupid.   At work we were working on a zombie video and I really wanted to use some 16mm.   I finally found the spot, the credit reel.  We shot a quick piece that I just slammed together.  I pieced it together and it was pretty cool, but I wanted more.  I scrapped everything and started again taking a few of the ideas along.  We shot it in during our lunch hour.   With a little more time, I think it could have been better, but with small effort put forth I believe it came out as good as it needed to be.  It was shot with my Bolex H16 reflex on Kodak 7243 hand processed.  I not sure if the  time stamp feature is working on this link, so if you want to go straight to the credits – go to 14:48    Tell me what you think…

Posted December 30, 2012 by 16mmadventures in Examples

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Why – The Contrarian in Me   2 comments

Why 16mm – Why now, sometimes I ask myself.  Because,

  • it is not digital
  • analog film will probably not be with us for that much longer
  • it looks cool

Mostly because the minute that something is being abandoned by everyone, I all of a sudden get interested.

What do you think?

Posted December 25, 2012 by 16mmadventures in Philosophy

Another Film Test   Leave a comment

This film test was shot with an ancient Filmo 70A that I picked up from ebay.  The camera did not work well and when I opened up the shutter to lubricated it a bit I found a date scratched into the inside of the front plate that dated it to 1924.    The setting is our front yard with my then 5 year old daughter on a trampoline.  Kids can be such great subjects.  This was cut from just one 100′ reel of film with very little editing.    I believe this is the Kodak 7240 film again.

Posted December 24, 2012 by 16mmadventures in Film Test

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An Early Expirement   Leave a comment

I bought a batch of ancient ENG film and I did some experimental shooting with it.  This film was process as black and white reversal and I digitized it by running it through an old B&H projector and shooting the image with a Canon camcorder I had at the time.

Posted December 24, 2012 by 16mmadventures in Film Test

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What and Why   Leave a comment

I got interested in 16mm film after doing lots of digital videography and then wanting to experiment with a film look.  Well what better way of getting a film look than doing it with real film.  I have some experience with black and white photography and dark room work.  At first came 8mm, but when I found it hard to get good digital captures of 8mm I found the answer to be 16 mm.   The cameras are not expensive and they seem much more robust and industrial compared to finicky, consumer grade super 8 cameras that were not made to work after 10 years.   In this blog I plan to further explore 16mm and pass on what little I have learned for other folks interested.  I am a confessed cheap skate so expect to find here inexpensive ways to play with analog film.

Posted December 24, 2012 by 16mmadventures in Philosophy