A Beginner’s Guide to Working with a 60-Year-Old Russian 35mm Camera
Art and Experience: If you’ve always wanted to shoot on 35mm film, here’s a video that shows you how to do it simply and inexpensively.
In this day and age, indie filmmakers primarily use digital cameras, but those who do shoot on film tend to favor 16mm (mostly because it’s relatively cheap and accessible). However, if you thought that using a 35mm camera was reserved solely for big budget filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, you might want to check out this video by Joey Shanks of Shanks FX. In it he talks about cheap 35mm film cameras and shows you what to look out for when purchasing one.
The camera Shanks uses in the video is a Konvas 1m, a Russian 35mm film camera made in the late 1950s. There are several ways to get your hands on one, including eBay (Shanks recommends buying through a site called Olex Services), but it tends to cost about $850.
Here are a few questions Shanks says you should ask yourself before you buy one of these things:
When acquiring a 35mm camera, here are some questions you need to ask straight from the video’s description:
- Has it been tested ? (“Untested” is always a huge red flag)
- Does it come with a lens and what kind of lens mount does camera have?
- Does it come with film magazine/s ? How many feet does it hold?
- How will you power the camera? a) Manual Hand Crank (included with camera?) b) Spring Drive (hard to find with Konvas cameras) c) Power Drive (does it come with cord and battery?)
Now, I don’t think any filmmakers are going to trade their sweet Blackmagic Cinema Camera for a Konvas 1m or any other ancient 35mm camera, but I do think if you’re a fan of 35mm, have always wanted to try your hand at shooting on it, and either can’t afford or don’t want to rent an Arricam, then you might want to look into one of these vintage 34mm cameras. And the Konvas 1m isn’t the only option, there’s the Mitchell 35mm camera, the Bell and Howell EYEMO, and the Arriflex Eclair, all of which are around the same price.