Thinking of buying a Bolex camera on eBay? Here's a few things to look out for and a few question you might want to ask…
1) When was it serviced last? If the camera will sit on a shelf and never be used for filming, this question doesn't apply, nor do any of the following. Just pick something clean. If you are going to use the camera to film, it camera needs to be serviced every 2-3 years. Most cameras sold on eBay have NOT been serviced in 30+ years. Grease and oil dry up and camera will not function properly. Services can cost up to several hundred dollars. And that's if no major parts are broken.
2) What kind of lenses does it have? Are they clean? Scratched? Fungus inside? Does the iris and focus operate? Most sold on eBay do not operate perfectly. Again, if its not going to be used, this doesn't matter.
3) Does the camera wind smoothly? Bolex cameras use a spring wound motor. It the camera has been stored with the spring fully wound, the spring motor may be junk. Ask. If the seller doesn't know, consider the camera as "parts". Bid accordingly.
4) Can I get my Bolex service? Yes. But usually not locally. Ask around. Call all the local camera stores. Ask who repairs and services Bolex 8mm cameras. When making contact, be sure to tell them the model number. There are many service facilities that service the H16 ( 16mm) models. Few that will consider working on a 8mm except for the H8 series as it is essentially a modified H16.
5) Are Bolex cameras still used? Still sold? Yes. Use for music videos are especially popular. 16mm Bolex cameras are still made to this day. Bolex cameras are very popular will wildlife cinematographers. Spring wound cameras can go anywhere. No electricity needed. Extremely reliable although a little noisy.
6) Can I fix or service my own Bolex. Maybe. Can you service your own car? Do you have the tools? Parts? Manuals? Experience? Learning curve? What if you break something?
7) Do you homework. It doesn't take long and you can save some money. How much? A typical D8L or P-1 selling on eBay goes for about $40-$85.00 depending on the accessories included. Sometimes more - usually less. If a camera is selling for over $100.00 and it has not been serviced and it does NOT have a warranty, why would you want to buy it?