How to Inspect a 16mm Camera

Posted By Tom Stephenson on 24 April 2014

Posted in Used Equipment Buyers Guides

Here is a guide to some key features of a 16mm camera which should be inspected prior to purchase. 

Step 1: Check the Film Speed Dial

Springs can age and as a result will need to be recalibrated.  This can be an expensive process so it is best to check the spring is in good working order before purchase.  To check if the spring has worn down, look at the speed dial.  If the camera speed slowly shifts from the reading, this is a sign that it will need to be recalibrated as the spring has worn down.

Step 2: Gate Check

The easiest way to check if there is any debris on the gate is to rotate the turret and expose the gate.  If there is any hair or fragment of broken film, make sure that this is professionally cleaned so that inspection of permanent damage can be clearly checked.

Step 3: Straight Take Up Spool

Open the camera to make sure that the take up spool is straight.  Although this is not an expensive piece of equipment, it can cause camera jam if it is bent, so it is important to make sure that it is straight.  Make sure to carry spares when filming.

Step 4: The Filter Holder

Check that there is a filter in the filter holder, which you will find to the front left side of the camera.  The filter holder often cannot be seen through the viewfinder so check that it is in place before purchasing a 16mm camera.  If the slot is empty, it will cause light leak when filming, by allowing light to enter through the slot.

Photo Credit: Gavin Schaefer