Arriflex 16SR II, 16SR II-E, 16SR II HS and Super 16 Models: 1982
Updated 21 June 2020
As the evolution of the 16SR I continued, ARRI began to add features to the camera. A new ARRI Precision Exposure Control (APEC) was added that automatically detected the camera’s speed, making it unnecessary for the user to set a frame rate (fps) on the meter as with the SR-1.
Extra sound insulation was added to the main “tower” casting, essentially isolating the movement/gate block from the rest of the tower casting through a rubber insert.
Eventually so many changes had been made that the decision was made to rename the camera 16SR II. On the earliest of these cameras you can see how a “16 SR II badge” was added to the base after “16 SR” was machined out.
In 1982 ARRI introduced the 16SR II-E, meant as the “Economy” model since it was $3,400 less expensive than the standard 16SR II. The 16SR II-E is identical to the 16SR II, except that the APEC metering system is not incorporated and the couplings for automatic exposure with auto-iris lenses are not built in.
Ironically, these same specifications were re-introduced in the 16SR 3 Advanced. SRII-E cameras have a different run switch which is always in “standby” mode. This switch was also commonly fitted to SRII’s that were upgraded with the Cinematography Electronics 16SR speed control.
Highspeed versions of the 16SR2 were offered. The specs were identical to the 16SR2 except the following:
- Speed range 10 – 150 fps
- Magazines have fixed pressure plates
- Cameras are painted light gray and have Highspeed badges on the mags.
- Sound insulation in tower casting was deleted. Sound levels are 3-6 dB higher than a regular speed 16SR2
All 16SR2 accessories are compatible with the Highspeed models except the magazines. HS magazines must be used with HS models.
16SR II’s are rated by ARRI as having a 3 dB lower noise level than 16SR Is. However the tolerance for this average noise level is plus or minus 3 dB. This means that the quietest SR-I’ s have the same noise level as the average SR-II. The loudest SR-II’s have a noise level of the average SR-I’s.
These are the tolerances for brand-new cameras from the factory and used cameras will have a much greater variation, depending on the type of use and frequency and quality of maintenance they received. It has been my experince that cameras that are not overhauled and lubricated at least once every five years will become quite noisy due to wear of the movement.
16SRII’s were much more popular as rental cameras, and used ones often have a great deal more wear. I’ve seen many heavily used and badly maintained SR II cameras that were much louder than an SR I.
Use in NASA Space Shuttle Program
NASA adopted the 16SR2 as the 16mm camera to be used on the Space Shuttle (STS) program. These cameras had only a few modifications from a stock 16SR2.
The top carry handle was machined down to a stub and a custom dovetail quick release plate was put in its place. The magazines used modified 400′ daylight spools so astronauts would not have to deal with a mag in a changing tent in microgravity (zero-G). The magazines were set up for ESTAR base film.
At NASA’s request ARRI added dual flashing red running lights (earlier cameras had a single running light that was hidden behind the on-board battery), a green LED to indicate proper battery voltage, and an infrared LED system to detect when the tail end of the film has run past the gate and shut off the motor.
These upgrades (with the exception of the top handle modification) were added to all 16SRII cameras after their introduction on the NASA cameras.
Lenses used with the NASA 16SR2’s include the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 1.8/10-100 type 1 and the Angenieux 5.9mm T2.
NASA’s 16SR2’s were retired in favor of digital Mini-DV cameras. The SD image quality of the Mini-DV cameras was far inferior to the 16SR2’s which can achieve HD image quality, although at a 4:3 aspect ratio. But the light weight and ease of use of the Mini-DV cameras won out.
The NASA 16SR2’s were donated to various museums. One is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Another (pictured above) is on display at the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Weatherford, OK (pictured above).
Late Model 16SR2 Upgrades
In 1989 Kodak introduced Reduced Tolerance Perforations in 16mm filmstocks. The size tolerance for the perfs was reduced to 0.01mm. This allowed ARRI to increase the size of the regstration pin to 1.26mm, which produced an increased registration accuracy of plus-minus 0.01mm (approximately 1/750th of the image height). This new registration pin was introduced in the very last 16 SR II’s produced and is standard on the SR-3. It can be retrofitted to earlier SR’s.
ARRI Factory Super 16 (Bayonet only)
Some SRI and SRII models were manufactured as factory Super 16 compatible. These cameras had a different front casting with a bayonet mount that was shifted 1mm to align it for Super 16. The cameras had a 172.8º mirror shutter. These cameras could not be used to shoot on standard double-perf 16mm film, as the lens mount is permanently set to super 16 and would be far out of alignment for standard 16. This misalignment causes zoom shots to have a very noticeable lateral image shift, and prevents the use of standard-16 lenses that would otherwise be compatible because of vignetting.
The magazines on these factory Super 16 cameras were exactly the same as on a standard 16mm SR. This can cause scratching or pressure marks in the image area on the right side of the frame. It is reccomended that all 16SR magazines be upgraded to Super 16 compatibility. Although some would make the claim that the modifications are not neccessary, ARRI certainly felt changes were needed when it made the appropriate changes to the SR3 magazine.
ARRI GB Super 16 PL
ARRI Great Britain offered a very well done Super 16 conversion for the 16SR cameras. These are always SRII models and were likely offered as new, already converted cameras. These cameras can be identified by the SUPER PL engraving on the side of the front casting.
Aftermarket Super 16 Conversions
The original PL mount Super-16 conversions solved the problem of not being able to shoot both formats with the same camera. The lens mount is eccentric, and can be switched between the two different formats.
Now that double perf film is a special order only item, and regular 16 is an obsolete format, having a lens mount permanetly set to Super 16 is no disadvantage.
In 2003, CinemaTechnic introduced a reduced cost Super 16 conversion for the 16SR. In this conversion the Bayonet mount was re-centered to the Super 16 position. These cameras are Super 16 only, like the ARRI factory bayonet Super 16 cameras.
We later introduced a Super 16 only PL mount conversion in December 2003 which was much more popular. With Super 16 now the standard, and double-perf film rarely seen, there is no longer an advantage to being able to shift the optical center. The only reason to shift back to standard 16 centering would be if you were shooting film to be printed on 16mm release print with an optical soundtrack.
Status of 16SR Super 16 Conversion in 2020
It is still possible to convert a 16SR camera to Super 16. CinemaTechnic has a very limited stock of conversion parts available. Once these are gone we will be doing no more conversions. If you are interested in having your camera converted, contact us via email:
September 1982 American Cinematographer Ad (p874):
16SR-2E Package: Camera Body, 2x 400ft Mags, 2x On-Board Batteries, Charger, Handgrip, Shoulder Cushion, Case: $21,000.00 (approx. $52,750.- in 2016 Dollars)
Same package as above with 16SR-2 Camera Body (with lightmeter) $24,400.00 (approx. $60,300.- in 2016 Dollars)
August 1992 ARRI USA price list (last to include the SR-II):
16SR-2E Camera Body (no exposure meter) $28,550.00 (approx. $49,375.- in 2016 Dollars)
16SR-2 Camera Body (with APEC TTL exposure meter) $33,740.00 (approx. $58,350.- in 2016 Dollars)
16SR-2 HS Camera Body (10-150fps top speed) $38,450.00
400ft SR Magazine (each) $ 5,480.00
10-100mm T2.0 Mk. II Zeiss Zoom Lens $12,870.00
9-50mm T2.5 Cooke Zoom Lens $12,150.00
16SR Upgrades, Super 16, and ARRI 16SR “2.5” “Evolution” Models:
P+S Technik of Germany has pioneered extensive updates of the 16SR. The most basic Evolution of the 16SR is a basic conversion to Super-16. These cameras have PL mounts nearly identical to the SR3, and have the film transport upgraded to the SR 3 design, allowing the use of the original 180º shutter in the Super-16 format. They are also equipped with SR3 Super-16 gates, and use SR3 fiber-optic screens.
NOTE: P+S Technik upgrades for the 16SR are discontinued.
The 16 SR-3 is the biggest change in the 16SR design. .The camera has a completely new 24 volt electronic package. It is the first 16SR that was ready to shoot Super-16 format from the factory.
The 16SR3 follows the SR2 form factor closely, and the main difference in the body of the camera is the different housing for the new electronics that features a digital display on the operator’s side near the run switch. The SR3 has a PL mount which can be switched between standard and super-16 alignment.
The SR3 has a new optical system with a user-adjustable orienting prism. The new shutter has a variable mechanism that allows adjusting the angle from 45º to 180º . The movement timing is different allowing you to shoot super-16 with a 180º shutter angle. It is fitted with a super-16 gate as standard.
The body is equipped with timecode electronics (the time code imaging LED’s are in the mags). Half the video assist optics are incorporated into the body. You still need an accessory camera top handle with the rest of the video assist optics.
External accessory speed controls are rareley needed with the 16SR3 because the camera has built-in precision speed control, adjustable in .001 frame per second increments.
The SR3 is noticeably quieter than an average SR2. Low mileage well maintained Highspeed SR3’s are as quiet as a standard SR2.
Arriflex 16 SR-3 Advanced – The Final 16SR model – 1999
The SR-3 Advanced is essentially a SR-3 without a built-in light meter, and incorporating a new film gate with sapphire rollers that provide increased lateral registration stability and protection from wear of the gate side rails.
Removing the light meter and its beam splitter increases the amount of light transmitted to the viewfinder, which compensates for the light lost to the video assist prism. 800ft film magazines is available for this model.
2020-06-18 UPDATES IN PROGRESS…