Questions? Look through the list below to find an answer. If you have a question about a topic that isn't covered here, feel free to contact me.

Q: [1.1] What is a Bolex?
A: A spring-wound, clockwork motor driven movie camera manufactured by Paillard-Bolex (pī-yär' 'bō-leks) in Switzerland during the mid 20th century. Although the company still exists, this website mostly deals with the 16mm and 8mm cameras and equipment they produced from 1935-1969. Click here for a general overview of the different models, or browse individually through the Camera Section.
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Q: [1.2] What were these cameras used for?
A: They were used by amateurs and professionals around the world for documentaries, family home movies, educational films, cartoon and stop-motion animation, science and medical research, sports, nature studies, industrial safety and business training, time lapse study for solutions to automobile traffic congestion, commercial television production, newsreel footage, entertainment and much more. Today, over 30+ years later, these cameras are still used by amateur enthusiasts, film school students and professionals.
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Q: [2.1] Who runs this site?
A: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"
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Q: [2.2] How accurate is the information on this site?
A: As accurate as I can determine, given my sources of information accumulated over the past 20 years. I don't claim to be an expert, and I encourage your corrections. If you feel certain facts need to be changed or clarified, just email me.
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Q: [2.3] What are your sources of information?
A: My sources include, but are not limited to: First hand experience from the equipment I own or have used; official Paillard service and repair manuals for certified repair employees; Bolex instruction manuals; vintage magazine print advertising; Bolex product catalogs and sales brochures; the Bolex Reporter magazine (articles and equipment reviews); books written on the subject of Bolex, printed by Paillard and other publishers; collections of written correspondence between customers of Paillard Incorporated and its employees; correspondence between myself and former employees of Paillard-Bolex and Bolex camera dealers; authorized dealer material and intracompany correspondence.
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Q: [2.4] Why are later models of equipment not included here?
A: The time period this website covers, in respect to Bolex cameras, is mostly limited to the Paillard era. It best represents my personal interests, and the equipment I use or collect. Besides, EL and SBM cameras are still manufactured by Bolex and it's not difficult to find information on the later models. I'd suggest reading Andrew Alden's Bolex books, if you're interested in finding information on the full range of products Bolex has manufactured.
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Q: [2.5] Why isn't the Bolex 16 Pro featured on this site?
A: The Bolex 16 Pro was a professional camera designed for television news coverage and studio work. As such, it's a little beyond the scope and purpose of this website (which is mainly to feature cameras designed by Paillard Bolex for the amateur market). That doesn't mean many of the cameras listed here weren't used professionally; indeed, the H models were.
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Q: [2.6] Are items featured on this site for sale?
A: No, I'm just a collector and user of cameras. I often find cameras at very low cost, and sometimes decide to resell them; but it's definitely not a source of income and I don't operate a camera retail business, online or otherwise. However, there are occasionally links to cameras for sale on eBay throughout the site.
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Q: [2.7] Are you interested in buying my Bolex (item)?
A: Thanks for asking, but I'd suggest just listing it on eBay. I check eBay every day (like a morning newspaper), but don't often bid on stuff. My collection has grown and diminished over the past 20 years, as I've bought and sold (and lost!) many items. At this point I'm really only interested in unique items like dealer signs, store displays and the odd bit of ephemera. (If you have those items, by all means, send an email with a description and condition). You're also welcome to post a message on our Facebook fan page or send us a Tweet @bolexcollector about your item.
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Q: [2.8] Do you buy or collect Bolex magazine advertisements?
A: No. I buy and collect all sorts of vintage magazines, though; all ads featured on this site are from my personal collection and are scanned, intact, from those magazines. I don't like the idea of destroying perfectly good vintage magazines just to remove a print advertisement.
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Q: [2.9] Can I submit something to this site?
A: Sure, I'm always interested in adding more to the site and building on the information already here. If you have (original) scans or pictures, just email me. If you want to share some information, you can also post a message on our Facebook fan page for others to read.
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Q: [2.10] Why (or when) did you create this site?
A: I began this site in 1997 when I learned HTML. I actually didn't intend to create a public website. I originally wrote a few pages with information and image scans, to gather what little information I could find on Bolex at the time and to use it for personal reference. It was a useful resource, but nothing I wanted anyone to see (it was disorganized and ugly). Over time, I decided it might be useful to other people who were interested in Bolex cameras. I kept adding to it over the years, until I realized it would never really be "finished". So, I purchased this domain and finally got around to publishing it in 2005.
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Q: [2.11] What happened to the Discussion Forum?
A: Long story. But, it became almost a full time job to approve accounts and moderate the forums, even with help. I enjoyed having a forum for Bolex enthusiasts to connect and discuss cameras and filmaking with others, but I simply couldn't devote the proper time to maintaining it. I decided to remove it after creating Bolex Collector on Facebook for people to connect with others, discuss Bolex and post pictures, videos, etc. It's much more convenient, I think. Apologies to everyone that enjoyed the forum, but I hope you'll join us on Facebook.
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Q: [3.1] Can I still buy film for these cameras?
A: Yes. Sources for 16mm, double run 8mm and Super 8 film stock and processing can be found on the Links page.
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Q: [3.2] Can I still buy PX-13 Mercury Cells?
A: Not likely. Most countries banned mercury batteries because of environmental concerns. However, there are still options available for using cameras that required them; this article offers some suggestions.
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Q: [3.3] Which cameras can be used for animation?
A: Any camera that has the ability to capture single frame exposures. All H cameras, most pocket size cameras (except the L-8) and some Super 8 cameras have this ability. However, a cable release (and adapter, if needed) is required for single frame filming to be considered practical.
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Q: [3.4] Can these cameras shoot time-lapse?
A: Technically, any camera that can take single frame exposures is capable of time-lapse. However, H model cameras are preferred as they allow the shutter to be held open for time exposures.
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Q: [3.6] Do I need to use RX-mount lenses on my Reflex camera?
A: H-16 reflex cameras require "RX mount" lenses for focal lengths of 50mm or less. These lenses are marked "RX" on the inside front of the lens barrel.
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Q: [3.7] Can I use H-16 RX lenses on my H-8 REX camera?
A: Although the H-16 and H-8 reflex cameras both use c-mount lenses, they are not interchangeable. Exceptions are C-mount Kern macro lenses of 75mm and greater focal lengths; these can be used on an H8 REX or H16 REX. However, for focal lengths of 50mm or less, all lenses should be marked "H8RX" when used on the H-8 REX camera.
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Q: [3.8] Is there a replacement for the Mallory RM450 battery?
A: Yes, but not exactly. The Mallory RM450 was a 1.35V mercury cell battery used in P1, P2 and P3 cameras. It measured 11.6 mm in diameter and 14.5 mm in height; unfortunately, there seems to be no modern replacement of that exact size. The good news is that batteries of the same voltage and diameter exist (Zinc Air Cell Z675PX or the Wein Cell MRB675). However, both only have a height of 5.4mm and some sort of conductor is required for the battery to make contact. There are adapters available on eBay and elsewhere that make up the height difference. Some users even suggest using tinfoil, stacks of metal washers or springs as a conductor.
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Q: [3.9] What battery is used to power my P3 or K2 zoom lens?
A: These cameras used a pair of mercury PX1 1.35v batteries, which are no longer made. However, you can use a pair of LR50 (or PX1A or A1PX) 1.5v alkaline batteries. Because they're used to power the zoom control, and not used in an exposure meter, the difference in voltage is negligible.
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Q: [3.10] How do I find the shutter speed of my camera?
A: I will eventually add a table of exposure times for each camera on their respective page. However, you can easily determine the shutter speed for your camera by using this simple formula:
Exposure Time = (fps x 360) / (Shutter Angle°)
For example: Let's say your camera is an early model H16 with a 190° aperture shutter disc. If you want to determine the exposure time while filming at 24fps, you multipy 24 (the number of frames per second) by 360 to get 8640. Take that product and divide by 190 (the aperture degree of your camera's shutter) -- the dividend results in 45.4736842, or 1/45 second exposure time.
Incidentally, if you have a list of exposure times (from a chart or user manual specific to your model) and want to determine the angle of your shutter aperture, you can use this formula:
Shutter Angle° = (fps x 360) / (Exposure Time)
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Q: [4.1] Can I still buy replacement bulbs?
A: Replacement lamps for most projectors are still available. The ANSI code for the modern equivalent of the original is listed on each projector page, under the "Lamp" specification. However, if you have an early model 18-5L that uses an incandescent lamp, your projector requires modification to accept halogen lamps; 12V/75W incandescent lamps are no longer manufactured, but 12V/75W halogen lamps (code: EVN) are readily available. Later 18-5L projectors were manufactured to use the halogen lamp and require no modification.
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Q: [4.2] What projector should I use?
A: Your choice of projector is, ultimately, up to you. I've owned or have used several Bolex models and consider them to be good quality projectors. When looking for a projector, you should consider the availability of replacement parts and lamps, among other things. Except for the earliest projectors (which seem to be the most desired for collectors), they're relatively inexpensive.
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Q: [4.3] Will Bolex projectors scratch, burn or ruin my film?
A: Anything is possible, even with the best projectors. I've burned film on projectors that failed to transport the film when switched to a different speed (an 18-5 with a faulty motor), but have otherwise never had problems with ruined or scratched film.
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Q: [4.4] Is there a list of projection lenses on this site?
A: Not at the moment. The Lenses section only covers camera lenses, not lenses for projectors. I may consider covering Bolex Hi-Fi, SOM and other projection lenses in a future article. At the moment, these lenses are only mentioned on the projector page.
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Q: [5.1] Where can I get my camera repaired?
A: I'm not going to suggest or recommend any one facility over another. However, the following locations have offered Bolex Authorized repair in the United States for many years: Jesse Chambless at Chambless Cine Equipment Ellijay, GA; Dieter Schaefer at Procam Prescott, AZ; Carl Schietinger at Technological Cinevideo Services New York. Visit my Links page for other sources, and feel free to email me with suggestions for any facilities that also offer Bolex service or repair. You might also find some tips and advice from members of our Facebook page for Bolex Collector, regarding repair shops and basic maintenance.
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Q: [5.2] Can I modify my H16 to shoot Super 16?
A: Yes, check the Links page under "Service and Repair". Bolex International also offers the conversion.
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Q: [5.3] Can an H8 be modified to shoot Super 8?
A: I don't have any experience with Super 8 conversion for H-8 REX cameras and can't offer any personal recommendations. However, this modification can be performed by some of the businesses listed on the links page under "Service and Repair". Visit their websites for more information.
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Q: [6.1] What information is determined from the serial number?
A: Serial numbers for Paillard-Bolex cameras and projectors are used to determine the year of manufacture.
You can find serial numbers on this website in the Camera and Projector section by clicking the links at the top of each page. For a full list, see this article: Paillard-Bolex Serial Numbers. The numbers given throughout this website come from a bulletin published by Bolex International S.A., titled "Serial Numbers and Date of Manufacture," dated September 1, 1977, as well as original Paillard Service and Repair manuals.
On certain model projectors, the serial number can sometimes be used to distinguish between 50 cycle and 60 cycle variations. But this can be determined more easily by looking at the plate attached near the mains power connection.
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Q: [6.2] How can I tell if my camera is a reflex or non-reflex?
A: There are several methods. The easiest and most fool-proof method (if the camera is a H-16 model) is to look at the fixed turret carrier plate (it's attached to the front of the camera body, onto which the rotating turret disc is mounted). If the plate is wide and colored black with two polished metal vertical lines, it's a reflex camera. If the plate is either solid black or solid polished metal, and it measures only 5mm wide, it's a non-reflex. The previous method refers only to the identification of an H-16 reflex camera, and not an H-8 REX.
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Q: [6.3] How is it possible to determine if my model H camera is 8mm or 16mm?
A: The H-8 and H-16 has a very similar appearance. On non-reflex cameras, there are several methods for determining the difference. The easiest way is to measure the thread diameter of the lens mount: 8mm cameras use a 5/8" diameter thread ("D mount"); 16mm cameras use a 1" diameter thread ("C mount"). On reflex cameras, C-mount (1" diameter) is used for both the H-8 REX and H-16 REX; determining between the two can usually be done by simply reading the name plate.
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Q: [6.4] What is a "Bolex model H16-F25"?
A: This description sometimes appears on eBay and elsewhere. It is not a camera model, but rather an inscription on the front of a trifocal viewfinder that is used to identify the default focal length setting (You may also see an "H8-F12.5" occasionally). Sellers occasionally mistake this inscription to be the actual name of the camera, rather than a viewfinder marking.
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Q: [6.5] What is a Bolex H-16 J?
A: This camera was intended for use in the security and surveillance market. It was often permanently installed in a set location (e.g. a wall or ceiling) and operated remotely with an electrical motor. It's basically the body of an H-16 M-4. The letters "H-16 J" appear on the logo plate and it is otherwise identifiable by the complete removal of all control dials, winding handle, time lever (IT knob), film counters and leather covering. In addition, it's painted entirely in a flat black color. H-16 J cameras appear on eBay occasionally, but as it only has a shaft for the attachment of 1:1 motors and no other controls, it is rather impractical for normal filming or animation purposes.
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Q: [6.6] What's the difference between "Reflex", "RX" or "REX"?
A: The terms essentially mean the same thing: reflex. The letters "RX" inscribed on a lens identify it for use with reflex cameras. The model name "H-16 REX" (or H-8 REX), followed by a number, was used in the United States to refer to reflex cameras that incorporated a variable shutter. H16RX seems to be the preferred term in the UK, and perhaps other countries. As "REX", "RX", "RXVS" and "Reflex" were all used in official Paillard Bolex service and repair manuals, the terms could be considered a matter of personal preference. To reduce confusion, this website uses a naming convention for reflex cameras based on the usage by Paillard Incorporated during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States.
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Q: [6.7] Where can I find Bolex cameras and equipment?
A: Estate sales, antique stores, flea markets ('swap meets' or 'bonnet sales', depending on your part of the world), used or vintage camera stores, camera collector shows... sometimes even thrift stores and pawn shops. The most common way, of course, is eBay auctions. If you're not interested in buying, many motion picture rental facilities supply the later model cameras. Also, many University film departments have models of varying age and condition available to students.
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Q: [6.8] How much should I expect to pay?
A: There are far too many factors that determine the price of Bolex equipment. As such, this website doesn't attempt to place a value on any item. The most important factor should be the price at which you personally consider to be fair. My own philosophy: "pay as little as possible"! Bolex cameras are fairly common on eBay, so if you don't win the camera of your dreams, just wait a week or two; you'll see another.
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Q: [6.9] Is my camera rare? An eBay auction stated that it was.
A: Well, an eBay auction once stated that the Virgin Mary was visible in a grilled cheese sandwich (..looked like Greta Garbo to me). In other words, just because someone says it doesn't necessarily make it true.
Most Bolex cameras are fairly common, as they were manufactured in large numbers over a period of 30+ years. The words "rare bolex" are often used in auctions. In most cases, it's probably used because the seller has little information on, or is unfamiliar with, the item being sold. Much less likely, is the possibility that the seller is making an intentionally misleading claim to overstate the value. That doesn't mean there aren't certain items that are less common that others, or more highly desired; an Auto Cine or 35mm Cine Bol could certainly be considered rare. However, H-16, H-8, pocket size and super-8 cameras are not difficult to find on eBay or elsewhere.
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Q: [6.10] What is the value of my camera?
A: I often get email requests from people interested in selling a Bolex camera or projector that once belonged to a friend or relative. I'm always happy to answer questions or offer advice on selling equipment. However, questions regarding the value of an item are best answered by looking on eBay.
Simply browsing through the "Completed Listings" will give you an idea of what bidders have paid for a specific camera, projector or accessory in the past 30 days. Doing so will give you a general idea of what people may be willing to pay; in other words, what they consider the value to be.
There are no set "values" per se, as collecting vintage movie cameras is a fairly niche market. Furthermore, most people buy these cameras to film with, so something in working condition is going to have far more value than something in unusable condition.
The closing bid price at which any Bolex item may end fluctuates and can depend on several factors: the condition of the item; whether it has been serviced professionally, and recently; whether it includes additional accessories, original box, paperwork and instructions; the title and description used for the auction; the length of the auction and the time of day at which it ends; the number and quality of pictures included; the feedback rating of the seller; and sometimes even the season (usually higher around Christmas). Note that many of these factors sometimes have more to do with the appeal and presentation of the auction, rather than the desirability of a specific model.
Just keep it mind that because one item sold for a high amount, another similar or even identical item may sell for next to nothing, or vice versa.
If you're still unsure of its "value" and are interested in selling it, just list it on eBay for a starting price of $1.00. With pictures and a fair/honest description, it will attract plenty of bids by the time the auction closes, and will insure that your Bolex camera or projector is sold at a fair price and goes to someone who can use and enjoy it for years to come.
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Q: [6.11] Can I use text from your site in my eBay description.
A: Short answer: No.
Longer answer: It's against eBay policy to copy text from other websites without permission, and it infringes upon the copyright of the content I have written on my site.
I would request that you ask permission first. However, if you "borrow" text from my site to use in your description and you give credit to the source (, I don't have a problem with it. No need to email me. Just make sure to clearly separate the quoted text (borrowed from my site) from your own description of the item you're selling, so as not to confuse bidders. eBay policy states that sellers may only include a link in their description if it includes additional information about the item in your listing; so, you'll have to use the specific URL from my site that matches the item you're selling. Also, please indicate that my website is not affiliated with your auction, and the quoted text is for background/historical purposes only.
There are quite a few eBay policies concerning auction listings, so if you're in doubt, it's always best to simply write your own description. The buyers will likely know what they are bidding on, so just describe the name of the item and its condition and provide some good quality pictures.
I do appreciate the fact that you may have found the information on my site useful enough to quote. Just don't forget to describe your auction item and condition in your own words, to the best of your knowledge.
Please refrain from using images on this site in your auction listings; per eBay rules, it's fraudulent and could be misleading. Only use photos that you have personally taken of the actual item you are selling. For more information on eBay policies, see: Images and Text Policy and Creating Legally Compliant Listings: Create your own listing content
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