I love mechanical things, both for their objective coolness and their implications for a green future. A future with nice things that we take care of, less waste, and dignified manufacture.
Among my top 5 mechanical favorites is the Bolex H16 16mm camera. I made a video about it:
My friend (and filmmaking colleague) Mauro and I and our baby daughters and our pregnant wives went to Avalon, NJ and Mauro shot me explaining how the Bolex works. I included some Bolex footage of my daughter Louisa on the beach. Here’s one roll/100 feet/3 minutes of Kodak 16mm:
Here are a few mindblowing things about the Bolex.
Better than HD resolution (arguably better than 4k)
The thing is 50 years old and still works perfectly
It’s FULLY MECHANICAL, NO BATTERY, NO POWER, just a spring that you wind up and it goes
We don’t make things like this anymore.
A Bolex isn’t for most people. Developing and scanning movie film is… costly. BUT it’s perfect for these home movies and it’s my most common wedding gift. I shoot 100 feet, add music, and voilà, A very special document of the day (also helps when you don’t know anyone).
And here’s a more somber occasion shot on the Bolex: The spreading of my grandmother Geema’s ashes at Skaneateles Lake. This was when I had a (really) cheap lens. Still awesome. Music composed by my sister.
Now, the quality of film is beyond the scope of this conversation, but it’s undeniably (and literally) organic. The colors, the dynamic range, the grain… The stuff that comes out of the Bolex just always feels great and has this “forever” quality to it.
The Bolex is as cool as it gets, but while film is practical for 92% of photography (yes, moreso than digital), it’s IMpractical for 96% of cinematography.
But the reason it’s so fascinating is… if we can make something that does THIS with zero power, what else can we make?