Thursday, August 23, 2012


The Bolex P1 is easy to use. First, load the film. See the Bolex manual for the exact procedure. It's pretty simple - you can do it in subdued daylight (outdoors), indoors or under a jacket, film change bag, etc. The film reels have solid sides so the film will not be exposed. Close the film door. See the latch/lock? Look closely. 

See the single dot (above) and the double dot (below) the lock knob? Flip the lock D-ring so the 2 dot mark is covered up. Later, if you forget, you can reference the dot to tell which half or the reel you are shooting. Single dot = first half of film reel. Double dots showing? You have flipped reel once and are on second and last half of film reel. PS: 'Overt' means open and 'Ferme' means closed (locked).

Set the ASA number from the film you are using onto ASA Dial. Pull lock tab out on the ASA dial with a fingernail, rotate the dial until the FPS (frames per second) number you will be shooting aligns with the ASA speed. Example: if you are shooting at 18 FPS at ASA 100, align the 18 FPS (red color) to 100 ASA number. Push lock toward center of ASA dial to lock dial.

Set shutter to 'open'. The shutter lever should be parallel to the ground and a little silver colored 'half-moon' (open shutter) lines up with the center of the release selector. The release selector selects: run (down position), single frame (center position), and camera motor locked (up)  position.

Wind camera motor until it stops. 22 & 1/2 turns or 11 full turns (approximately) to full wind. Do not force wind the camera wind handle once you feel the 'clunk' and the wind end.  Door closed? D-ring set? Cover the lens with the dust cover. Press the RUN button. Burn a few seconds of film. This is because the beginning of the reel may have been exposed to light when loading film and you don't want the beginning of your epic to start with red/yellow blurs and flashes. Go ahead, 'waste' 3 seconds.

Remove the dust cap. Aim camera at subject, need to zoom in or out? Move zoom stick forward or backwards to 'frame" subject. If you can't frame the way you want, physically move your body closer or farther away from subject.

Once framing is done, adjust the focus with the focus ring located at extreme end of lens. Turn either way until the 'little screen' in the viewfinder, with the diagonal line, matches up with both sides of the 'split focus'. When the two side 'match up', the picture will no longer be 'split' and it will be in focus.  If the view always appears blurry, adjust the diopter on the eyepiece. 

There's a diopter (focus adjustment) just like on the right lens of a pair of decent binoculars. Focus again. Recheck the diopter as necessary. After you get it set, note the number on the diopter. That is your diopter setting for the eye you are using. Check focus again - all ok?

SET IRIS (diaphragm)
Turn the iris lever until the needle centers. Camera is already wound so you just press the run button on the Declic handle or button on the bottom of the shutter housing, to film. Hold the camera steady. If you move or pan too fast, people will get 'seasick' when watching :)  Rule is to 'go slow'. 

Make sure you keep the camera vertical. Look for vertical objects in the viewfinder such as trees, poles, fences, doors, edges of buildings, power lines,  etc, so you can shoot with the camera vertically. If you make a mistake, tell 'em you were being creative.

You should always fully wind after each shot. Keep the individual shots short. 5-15 seconds or so. Plan on putting the shots together in or out of order when editing the film. If you don't plan on editing the film, make a written shot list or at least think about what you want to shoot and why. Make the film 'tell a story". 

You can shoot longer shots, but remember that the spring motor will film no more than 4 feet at a time (takes about 23 seconds to go through 4 feet at 24 FPS) on a full wind. The little round counter on the back of the camera is the counting footage from reset (zero). You can tell how many feet are left on the reel. At 25 feet (end of reel), the camera will start 'clicking' every second or so. 

This is the camera telling you that you have hit the end of the 25 feet on the reel (no film left). Flip the first if on the first half of the reel or load another reel of fresh film. Each time you flip the pressure plate lever to change the film, the counter will reset to zero.

After filming on one side (25 feet), open the film door, flip the film from top to bottom, replace it the same as it originally went in (film's dull side or emulsion side of the film stock towards front of camera). You can tell when the first 25 feet is finished by 1) looking at the counter on the back of the camera body or, 2) you will notice the motor speed changes slightly, or 3) the clicking noise. 

It is possible for the motor to continue filming when NO film is passing the gate. You may think you are filming, but nothing will be recorded as the film has reached the end of its 25 foot limit. Check the counter frequently to prevent this from happening. Running the motor without film passing the gate will not cause the camera or film any harm, but you will not capture the moment :(

If the film has come off the supply reel (top reel) during the first half to second half change, thread the film leader back into the take-up reel. Winds a turn or so to hold the film in the reel. Failure to this properly may allow the film end to slip out of the take-up reel and you'll shoot what you think is another 25 feet of film only to find when you open the door that the film has not been loaded properly. 

Reset the film into the take-up reel and try again. Close the film door. Flip D-ring to cover the single dot. Your on the second half of the reel now. Shoot until the film is exhausted. The film has now run through the camera twice and is now back on the original fresh film's (not 100% exposed) reel.

Filming is done. Package the film in the can it came in and mail it to a film developer. Never send in the Bolex metal reel. Usually the film reel holding the exposed film is returned to you. Typically, the film is transferred to a 3" plastic projection reel. And the 'can" is tossed. Ask for the can to be returned if you want it back. 

Time to play film: 1) Load on a 8mm projector and view on against a white wall, sheet, projection screen, or 2) have it transferred to DVD or other format for use with a DVD/CD-ROM/MPEG/Blu-Ray, etc, to play on your TV or computer. 8mm film is MOS - no sound. However, if you want sound, use a small portable recorder like this:

to record live audio. Remember, with audio, the closer the recorders' microphone(s) are; the better the audio.  If the film is transferred to a digital format, audio can be added using any number of video editing programs. 

Here are a few:


ADOBE PREMIERE!493964%2Cn%3A541966%2Ck%3Aadobe+premiere+elements+10

Both of these programs are around $100.00. Both have an upgrade path to professional version. I recommend starting with either of these and progressing if you need more features. The pro versions of the program are $400-$600.00 each.

All this (except for the audio part), and the editing programs is found in the Bolex P1 Owners Manual. We include a copy on CD-ROM with the camera service/repair. Occasionally the original paper manuals show up on eBay. They sell for $5 to $15.00 depending on the condition. There are people on eBay who have scanned PDF copies to sell and there are those who have reprinted the paper manual.

No comments:

Post a Comment