Mishkin Productions Australia

Why 16mm?

Despite the many options for shooting a short film, or longer on video, MiniDV, Digital, or Super8,  many people consider 16mm film an increasingly preferable alternative to these formats. 

Without going over the pro’s and con’s of the various formats, details of which are plentiful on the internet, using 16mm enables the film maker to utilise the same film stock available to 35mm film production.  With the right type of lens, processing and transfer, 16mm can can look equally as good as 35mm for a fraction of the cost.

The cost of purchasing 16mm Cameras has fallen sharply over the past few years.  Many production companies and film schools used 16mm cameras.  As the industry slowly moves to increasingly affordable digital cameras, older 16mm cameras are entering the market with very competitive prices. Frequently on auction sites 16mm kits can be bought for a few thousand dollars compared to just 10 years earlier where the same kit would have fetched nearer to ten thousand dollars.

The more options a camera has the greater the cost, however, basic cameras can often be just as good.  While the camera film movement itself has not changed in over a hundred years, more modern cameras take full advantage of advanced technologies in magazine, motor, lens, hand-held weight, and construction design.  Purchasing older cameras is cheaper, but accessories are getting fewer, power supply can be an issue, and getting the camera serviced may be problematic.

Below is a very brief and general guide of commonly available cameras, mostly based upon majority internet based opinion by users, and is intended to be a quick reference denoting general aspects.  Each camera has unique characteristics that may benefit a user over other cameras.  Any person researching buying a camera needs to conduct in depth research to ensure they buy a camera suited to their needs.  All manuals below courtesy of http://www.apecity.com/

PRO's: Well built, lenses widely available, early cameras very affordable, later cameras getting cheaper. Uses 1R film. Lots of service support.

CON's: Early cameras hard to get parts, possible worn lens flanges, noisy.
handy links:
PRO"s: Well built, well suited for tripod work, sound recording options, getting very cheap. Uses 1R film

Heavy, suited towards semi-pro user, very specific running requirements etc. parallel viewfinder.
PRO's: Well built, easy to use, many accessories, widely avail. Highly sought after.

Need specific batteries, often have to get re-celled, not too costly. 400ft mag option.
PRO's: Very well built, spring wound, widely avail. and affordable, reliable, high quality design, large lens choice. Mostly 1R, early cameras 2R.  240 series camera quite advanced, solid, well designed camera.

CON's: 100 ft loads, spring wound, parallax viewer.
handy links:
SB/SBM Manual
Reflex Manual

PRO's: Very well built, reliable, numerous model types, spring wound and later motor powered, common lens type, high quality cameras getting cheap. Most Reflex models 1R, earlier are 2R

CON's: Early models require skilled user, parallax viewfinder etc.  Most cameras 100ft load.  Note: RX and non RX lenses differ.  See links for more info: LINK1 & LINK2
handy links:
PRO's: Well designed, reliable, easy to use, quality results, ideal learner camera. Uses 1R film

CON's: 100 ft load only, fixed lens, and rechargeable battery will most likely need re-celling.
handy links: 
PRO's: Well designed and built, easy to get serviced, reliable, can be converted to Super16. Use 1R film, takes 400ft magazines

CON's: If used a lot, will need servicing, early shutter issues caused smear on exposed film, mostly resolved by now.
handy links: 
Eclair16 Manual
EclairACL Manual
PRO's: Well designed and built camera. Easy to use, many accessories, very sought after.

CON's: If used a lot, will need servicing, rechargeable battery will need to be re-celled or replaced.
PRO's: Semi-professional camera made between 1975-92.  Good quality design, renowned image stability, moderately quiet at 42d, takes 1R & 2R film, many available high quality lenses.  Multiple varieties of cameras were made, see THIS site for a clear picture of Russian cameras.

CON's: Camera specific lens mounts, service support limited outside Russia and Europe, parts very hard to get.
Note: For more websites related to Russian cameras, see the following page on this site: "Australian 16mm" and the links listed under "Australian & International websites of interest"

K1,K2, or K3
handy links:
PRO's: Solidly built, later K3 cameras have common M42 lens mount, spring wound, cheap intro camera, easy to repair. Uses 1R & 2R film, quality standard lenses

CON's: Only 100ft load, prone to jam if over-wound, easily removable loop formers can scratch film, early cameras had bayonet lens mount, ie less lens variety
Note: For more websites related to Russian cameras, see the following page on this site: "Australian 16mm" and the links listed under "Australian & International websites of interest"
handy links:
k100 Manual
Special2 Manual
Model E Manual
PRO's: Well designed cameras, cine special has 100ft int. load, 200ft magazine available, reliable

CON's: Spring wound, getting quite old, will need service, camera specific lenses.
PRO's: Solidly built, moderate availability. Accessories moderately available, range of quality lens available. Can use spring wind attachement or 12v electric motor, easy to service. Runs 2R & 1R film

CON's: 100ft mags most commonly available, camera specific lens mount, camera very heavy, accessories expensive.
Note: For more websites related to East German cameras, see the following page on this site:"Australian 16mm" and the links listed under "Australian & International websites of interest"
NOTE:  Although the above is intended to be a very simple guide, if a person should suggest useful information not covered here, I would be happy to include it.  mishkin.film@gmail.com


On occasion film footage may either be poorly shot or transferred.  Colours might be off key, jittery image, or incorrect brightness.  By using computer programs like VirtualDub  Film9 and Avisynth, old jittery footage can take on a whole new life with rich colours and steady images. 

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