Bolex Double Super 8 Movie Cameras: Surprisingly Affordable
By James Grahame
The Bolex H-16 is one of the most popular 16mm cameras in the history of film. First introduced in the late 1930s, tens of thousands of these workhorse Swiss spring-drive cameras have been manufactured. If you're shying away from getting your hands on one because of the high price of 16mm film, consider purchasing a Double Super 8 (DS8) Bolex instead.
We briefly mentioned DS8 a few weeks ago; it's a hybrid format that uses 16mm wide film to capture Super 8 sized frames. One half of the film is exposed, the reels are flipped, and the other half is shot. The 16mm strip is cut into two 8mm reels after processing and can be projected or transferred as "normal" Super 8 film.
JK Camera modifies Bolex H-8 Standard 8mm cameras to accept DS8 film. A Bolex H8 Rex-3 camera body converted to Double Super 8 costs $445 with 10x TTL viewfinder. The sprocket holes are aligned with the center of the frame and enlarged film claws are installed. The reel spindles also have square adapters to accept 16mm film reels. The mod offers several key advantages: Super 8 has a significantly larger image area than the older Standard 8 format, a DS8 camera will provide more stable image registration (the frame won't jump and weave as much) and you'll get 4X longer running times than 16mm.