Filmmaking With Vintage Film Gear | Advice Needed
by James M. Williams Jr.
My Dad's Super 8MM Bolex Reflex P-1
I received a collection of my late father's cameras from my eldest brother when I went to Juneau for my youngest sister's funeral.
After returning to Anchorage I went through the box of cameras. The box has several old vintage and potential collector's item cameras, including some vey old SLR cameras with separate Eye View Finders "EVF." There are also several old 8MM and Super 8MM home movie cameras for filming. I examined them very closely and there are only 2 that actually sort of work. One is an 8MM, which there is no film. The other is a "Super 8MM "Bolex Reflex P-1" camera. The cameras are very dirty, from a combination of poor storage in a garage and later, in a basement with no heat.
After working on the Super 8MM Cine camera, I finally got it working again. The spring was badly dried and rusted and the gears were very gummed. The actuator button was jammed and clogged with dirt and aluminum oxide. After cleaning the camera extensively with WD-40, then carefully removing the grime and dirt from the gears, I re-oiled and packed fresh grease in the gear system in the gear housing. I have yet to dismantle the lens and clean it as well.
Having said all this, the camera is now operating smoothly and quietly. The telephoto lens, although dirty, has an incredible focal lens reach and the telephoto zoom is so smooth and soft to use. The lens is equipped with a built in range finer also known as a "Split Image Focus" ensuring that I will always have super crisp and clear focus.
I am excited about this because film is still available and I can actually begin using the camera to shoot with. Granted, it's going to be an expensive adventure for sure. The cost of the film alone is $16.50 per 25foot roll. However, the roll is actually 50 feet, in that only half of it is exposed at a time, then flipped to film and expose the other half. At that rate, and including the developing and processing charge at $45.00 per roll, I will be extremely limited to how much filming I can do.
However, I still want to give it a try. I got the camera clean and working beautifully and quietly. I would love to do some actual filming with the camera now that it's working. Before I take out for a test filming, I'll take it to a camera repair shop to have the lens dismantled and professionally cleaned. It's a gorgeous film camera and is well worth the time and effort I put into revitalizing and restoring it. I've gone as far as I can on my own, but know absolutely nothing about the lens, so I'll leave it to the experts.
If anyone has any advise, I'd appreciate any suggestions...