F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

May 2010. Stephanie died peacefully on 19th April after a short stay in hospital. She had been suffering from acute cervical cancer. Fred will continue to run the business to the best of his ability. The web site is slowly getting under control again as he tries to take over some of Stephanie's responsibilities, and learns some of the mysteries of Dreamweaver.

Pieces An on-line look at cameras etc. by Stephanie Marriott


Is my H16 a reflex?

What does RX mean on a lens?

Can I convert my non-reflex H16 to a reflex?

I want to fit a motor. Which one can I use?

Which grip will fit my camera?

How do I know whether I have a flat-base camera?

Can I use an RX-fader on my camera?

What is the variable shutter?

When was the H16 introduced?

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September 1999

Introduction. We get more enquiries about Paillard Bolex H-series cameras than anything else. Part of the reason seems to be that colleges and universities are still telling students to go out and buy an H16 without giving them any other information (like why they have to have an H16). H16 cameras are not cheap unless they are the older, non-reflex models, and they may not do the job. The H16 is still available new, both in clockwork and electric drive models, and for both 16 mm. and Super-16.

Please note that we deal in amateur equipment and we know nothing about professional equipment. The H16 occupies an unusual position in that it is used by both enthusiastic amateurs and professionals. Any questions about bayonet-mount H16's, or electric drive H16's are outside our field of expertise and we cannot answer them. Similarly, we know virtually nothing about sound sync.

So here is a selection of the questions we get asked that we can answer - with the answers, of course.

Is my H16 a reflex?

To be honest, no-one ever asks us that. What happens, is they tell us they have a reflex and then tell us something else which makes it clear the camera is not a reflex.

If it doesn't say "Reflex" on the camera, it isn't a reflex.

The confusion comes about because some non-reflex cameras have a viewfinder on the top of the camera which appears to act like a reflex viewfinder. It doesn't. It is called an eye-level focusing attachment, and works through the lens, but not when the lens is in the taking position.

Pictures: reflex H16 non-reflex H16

What does RX mean on a lens?

It means the lens is specially made for the H16 reflex. The reflex prism means that a standard C-mount lens should not be used on the camera, at least not for normal and wide-angle lenses. Therefore, there is a range of C-mount lenses for the reflex cameras. Do not attempt to use a non-RX lens of focal length less than 15 mm.

There is a range of C-mount lenses for the H8, marked H8RX. Although these are C-mount, they cannot be used on the H16.

Can I convert my non-reflex H16 camera to a reflex?

No. What you can do is buy a C-mount lens with built-in reflex viewfinder. Although made for the H16M (which has only one lens mount), the reflex lenses (all zooms) can be used with the turret models as well. However, these lenses are not cheap. You will be most unlikely to save any money by buying a non-reflex camera and a reflex lens, and you may have a problem locating a suitable lens. The reflex lenses are also quite big and heavy.

I want to fit a motor. Which one can I use?

The MC-17 motor will fit all H-series cameras but there are different models of MC-17 motor for ealier and later cameras. It uses the camera's speed governor to regulate the speed and will give speeds up to 32 f.p.s. (with suitable power supply).

The MST motor has more sophisticated speed control but can only be used with later cameras which have a 1:1 drive shaft fitted. An MST motor will only give you a single speed; most of them are for 24 f.p.s. but they were also made for 25 f.p.s.

Which grip will fit my camera?

The Sure-fire grip is a D-shaped handle-like grip which places the hand in a roughly horizontal position. This grip will fit all H-series cameras, and operates the camera with a built-in cable release. A cable release adapter is therefore required as well. The Declic grip is a pistol grip for flat base cameras which was made in various styles, one of which works the side release of the camera (see the Declic instructions).

A pistol grip was made for the round based camera, possibly not by Bolex. These are rather scarce. It operates the camera by the front release button.

The Declic grip requires the use of a quick-release attachment, which is also required for the Paillard Bolex tripod.

How do I know whether I have a flat-base camera?

Try to stand the camera on a flat surface (with caution). The flat-base camera will balance there, the round-base camera will fall over (hence the need for caution). A detachable flat base adapter can be fitted to a round-based camera, but it will not accept the Declic pistol grip.

Can I use an RX-fader on my camera?

You must have a reflex camera (the RX designation). As far as we know, all H16RX cameras have a variable shutter.

The fader is marked H16. There is also an H8 version.

What is the variable shutter?

The H16 variable shutter allows the shutter to be opened or closed while the camera is filming. This progressively alters the amount of light reaching the film and causes a 'fade'. Opening the shutter to the operating position means that the light increases and so the picture appears - this is a fade-in. Closing the shutter means that there is a decreasing amount of light and the picture disappears - this is a fade-out. With precision, and backwind, it is possible to overlap a fade-in and a fade-out to produce a lap-dissolve.

When was the H16 introduced?

1935. The original camera had many of the same features as the latest cameras - a tribute to the designer, Bogopolski. The H16 Reflex came along in about 1956 and the RX5 (the last new model to take C-mount lenses and the latest model we ever handle) in 1967.

Note: I like to give price information in both sterling and American dollars. However, this information is not always available to me, in which case I use whichever I can get. I do not convert from one currency to the other; market conditions vary and camera prices were often very different in the U.S.A. and Britain, so conversion would not give an accurate picture.

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