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
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.
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?
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
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
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
The fader is marked H16. There is also
an H8 version.
What is the
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
When was the H16
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