Controls on the Bolex

written and designed for the web by Joel Schlemowitz

[Joel Schlemowitz Film Production Pages]

[The Bolex] [The Sekonic Light Meter]

Controls on the Bolex, right side

a. run button

When this button is pushed the camera will run for as long as it is held down.

b. run switch

When the run switch is moved back to the "M" setting it runs the camera hands free. When it is moved forward to the "P" setting it exposes a single frame.

"M" stands for motor, and "P" for Pixelation.

c. winding crank

This crank is used to wind the spring before shooting. It is turned counter-clockwise. (Turning it clockwise unscrews it from the camera body.)

d. footage counter

This counts the amount of film shot in feet. It automatically resets when the camera door is opened. It counts in ascending numbers, from 0 to 100. When the camera is loaded the counter will read "ft" and the film needs to be advanced to "0" to get past the flares.

e. diopter

This adjusts the viewfinder to the eyesight of the operator.

f. viewfinder door lever

This lever cuts off stray light from the viewfinder if you are filming without looking into the viewfinder.

g. frames per second dial

This adjusts the speed of the camera. 12, 16, and 18 frames per second for fast motion. 24 frames per second for sound speed. 32, 48 and 64 frames per second for slow motion.

The department calibrates its cameras so that the little dot added to the dial is more or less 24 frames per second.

h. frame counter

The top dial counts frames and zero's at 50 frames. The bottom dial counts 100’s of frames and zero’s at 1,000 frames.

The 100’s of frames dial is reset by turning the frame counter knob. The top dial (single frames) is reset by turning the 8-to-1 shaft (right side-i).

i. 8 to 1 shaft (the backwinding shaft)

When the spring is disengaged the backwinding crank is inserted here to rewind the film inside the camera. Remember to close the variable shutter before backwinding.

j. 1 to 1 shaft

Certain electric motors, such as the MST, or an animation motor are attached to this shaft.

k. variable shutter lever

This adjusts the variable shutter. When it is in the up position the shutter is open. When in is in the downposition the shutter is closed and a pointer is visible in the viewfinder. There are indicators for closing the shutter by 1/2 a stop and 1 stop.

l. spring disengage lever

By simultaneously turning this lever to "0" and setting the run switch to "M" the camera's spring is disengaged. The camera can then be backwound or an electric motor installed on the camera. To reset the spring first move the run switch to "STOP" and then move the disengage lever to "M."

"M" stands for the spring motor, and "0" is the disengage setting.

m. instantaneous/time switch

When set on "I" the camera will give a consistent exposure to all single frame exposures when the run switch is moved to the "P" setting. When set on "T" the shutter will remain open for as long as the run switch is held on "P." This only effects single frame shooting. It is a good idea to keep this switch set to "I" most of the time so that if you do single frame shooting and haven't checked it, then chances are it will be set correctly.

"I" stands for instantaneous and "T" for Time exposure.

Controls on the Bolex, left side

a. supply This is where the full spool of film goes when loading the camera. The film must be coming off the spool clockwise.

b. take-up

This is where the empty spool is placed when loading the camera. The film should go on the spool clockwise.

c. loop formers

These allow for automatic threading of the camera during loading. They need to be in the closed position to load the camera, and in the open position for shooting. They can be closed using the loop former lever. It is not recommended to close the loop formers by just pushing them closed, as this could eventually bend them out of shape.

d. loop former lever

When this lever is turned to point down it closes the loop formers. When the center button is pressed the loop formers open. The center button is automatically pressed by the camera door when the door is put back into place. On older Bolexes there is no center button and the loop former lever must be moved back up to open the loop formers after threading.

e. film cutter

The cutter is used to cut the film at an angle which helps it run smoothly through the camera during loading. If the camera jams while you are trying to load it, it might be because the film wasn't cut properly on the end.

f. pressure plate

The pressure plate holds the film on the film plane. The pressure plate can be removed to clean the gate. It is very important to check that it is pushed back into place before filming, otherwise jumpy, out of focus images will be the result.

g. spool ejector

When the spool ejector is pressed the spools are ejected. This can speed up the reloading process.

h. audible counter

When this lever is in the down position the camera will click once every second when it is running. This can be handy for timing long takes. If the clicking just gets on your nerves it can be switched off by turning the lever up to "0."

i. filter holder

This holds a gelatin filter, such as an 85 filter. It is very important to have the filter holder in place, even when not using a filter, otherwise light will come through the slot an produce a white bar of light on the right side of the frame, which you will generally not see while shooting.

Controls on the Bolex, front

a. run button

When this button is pushed the camera will run for as long as it is held down.

b. turret lock

The turret lock can be used to lock down the turret, and is helpful for heavy zoom lenses, but tends to get in the way at other times.

c. turret handle

This handle is used to rotate the turret. It can be folded away, as pictured here, to allow easy winding of the camera.

Comments? e-mail

The material on these pages may be printed out for personal use only. Use as course handouts only with proper acknowledgment of authorship and the New School's Film Production Department.

[Joel Schlemowitz Film Production Pages]

[The Bolex] [The Sekonic Light Meter]

© 1999 Joel Schlemowitz All Rights Reserved