Using Bolex Cameras

Bolex is not just another brand in the movie-making industry, it’s an institution. For decades, film-makers have used the Bolex camera to tell stories on the silver screen, stories both humble and extraordinary. These hand-cranked machines are used not just by professionals, but also by amateurs. Those who have long been in the movie-making business use Bolex cameras for its style. Novices, on the other hand find themselves learning the basics of filming with these vintage cameras. For those who are rearing to try out the Bolex camera, here are a few tips.

Zooming in with your Bolex camera is radically different from doing the same with the usual digital camera. In place of pressing a button, you’ll find yourself choosing the correct lens based on the depth of field and type of framing you want. After picking out the lens, you’ll need to do the regular zoom calibration by zooming in on your subject then zooming back out. Next, look through the viewfinder to focus on the object you need to zoom in on. This may seem like a lot of work for those who grew up using digital cameras where the camera itself takes the guesswork out of the equation by automatically adjusting the focus while you zoom. While it is tedious, it will help budding film-makers learn the basics of zooming.

The standard film speed is twenty-four frames per second. Too fast and you’ll be wasting precious film, too slow and the end-product will look a little choppy. If, however, you want to film something in slow-motion, you can speed up to forty-eight frames per second. At twelve frames per second the film will be running in fast-motion. This is especially important to note since Bolex cameras are usually hand-cranked models.

One thing to remember before loading 16mm film into your Bolex Camera is that you need to trim it first. The 16mm film is a mite too big, so you’ll need to take some off the edges of the film stock. Scissors are definitely not a good idea; you’ll most likely end up with unevenly trimmed film. A film strip cutting device is usually used to cut off the extra bits, this way; the film will fit perfectly right into your 16mm film camera.

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