Camera Profile – Arriflex 16S Series Protection Status Protected by Copyscape

CinemaTechnic Camera Profile – Arriflex 16S Series

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Arriflex 16S/ 16ST

These vintage cameras, the oldest of which are now nearly 75 YEARS OLD, are unsupported and should be viewed as collectibles. CinemaTechnic is no longer supporting Arriflex 16S cameras. Questions regarding these cameras will not be answered.

  • Model:                Arriflex 16St, Arriflex 16M
  • Predecessor:  none
  • Successor:      Arriflex 16BL
  • Format:            Standard 16mm only
  • Movement:      Claw and registration pin
  • Viewfinder:      Mirror reflex,  butterfly shutter, fixed viewfinder
  • Lens Mount:      ARRI Standard, ARRI Bayonet (lens turret)
  • Power:                8.4V DC
  • Speeds:              24 or 25 fps fixed, 5 – 50 fps with variable speed motor
  • Film capacity:      100′ internal daylight spools, 400 ft (120m) magazines (16M 400′ magazines only)
  • Silent operation:     NO
  • Crystal sync:       Only with aftermarket accessory, no longer available

Introduced in the early 1950’s, the Arriflex 16S his was the first ARRI 16mm camera.

The 16 S follows the design paradigm of the Arriflex 35 II. Both are designed as MOS cameras, too noisy for sync-sound shooting. Both use a spinning mirror reflex design and a 3-lens turret accepting ARRI mount lenses (later re-designated ARRI Standard mount when ARRI Bayonet mount was introduced). Both use a straight viewfinder tube in the film door.

Lens Choice

Arriflex 16S cameras accept only ARRI Standard mount lenses  unless the camera is the 16SB model (see below).

Arriflex 16SB
ARRI 16SB Turret
Arriflex 16SB turret with one ARRI Bayonet mount (note stainless steel insert) and two ARRI Standard mounts.

The 16 SB is the most common variant of the 16 S. The SB has one stainless steel ARRI Bayonet mount and two ARRI Standard mounts. This allows you to mount Bayonet mount lenses, expanding lens choice, and making the higher quality 16mm lenses, such as the Zeiss Super Speed (High Speed) T1.3 primes,  available to the 16 S.

Film Magazines

The 16S can accept special 400 ft magazines, allowing compatibility with larger film loads and film on standard cores (rather than metal spools). The magazines use a separate electric torque motor that had to be removed from one magazine and placed on another.

Historical Significance

The Arriflex 16S was a popular news camera, particularly in the 1960’s. Prior to the widespread availability of silent 16mm cameras with internal sound, much news and documentary footage was shot on the 16S as MOS footage.

The 16S can frequently be seen in documentary footage of press events. Nearly any doc of the 1960’s NASA manned space programs will show 16S cameras used by the press.

The Arriflex 16S, however, was to the best of my knowledge not used by NASA, at least not by astronauts during manned space missions. Other 16mm cameras such as the Maurer Data Acquisition Camera were used. The first ARRI 16mm camera used by NASA in space was the Arriflex 16SR2

Super-16 Conversion:

The Arriflex 16S and 16M cameras CANNOT be successfully converted to Super 16 format.

Arriflex 16S with 3 lenses on turret, compendium matte box. Courtesy ARRI

This illustration shows the Arriflex 16s with 400ft extrernal film magazine, mattebox, and 3 lenses monuted on the turret. Courtesy ARRI

Above: Arriflex 16 M shown with 200ft and 400ft magazines. A rare 1200ft coaxial magazine was also made for the 16 M. Courtesy ARRI

Arriflex 16 M

This camera is essentially a 16 S without internal film capacity. It uses special gear driven 400ft film magazines used only with the 16M.  The Arriflex 16M was a mainstay of NFL Films in their early years before they switched to the 16SR series cameras, which offered better ergonomics and must faster magazine switching.

16S Service

We are no longer supporting the Arriflex 16S cameras. These cameras are VERY labor intensive to service and at a labor rate of $160.- per hour, the cost of anything beyond a very basic service can exceed the purchase cost of a used camera. Parts have been unavailable from ARRI for decades. We have sold off spare parts and tooling for these cameras. For these reasons, we are no longer servicing these cameras.

Last Update 2020-02-03

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Optics and Optical Testing for Digital Cinema

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