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The Bolex P1

Very advanced for its time.

The Bolex P1 is a marvel of form and function. It is unmatched in features, size, weight, and quality in both 8mm and super 8mm disciplines.

The camera features a variable shutter, electric light meter, zoom lens, manual ASA settings. 12-64 frames per second (plus single frame), and a fantastic "DECLIC" pistol grip.

The lens is a Som Berthiot f1.9 8-40mm reflex zoom. It is sharp but not as sharp as the fixed-focus Switar lenses you would find on a Bolex H8. The zoom mechanism is very smooth provided you have the long stick. The short stick is better for walking with the camera as it stays out of the way. The lens take a Series 7 filter and requires the lens hood to hold the filter in place. A dream to hold and travel with.

The camera can be operated wth or without the light meter battery. I found the battery to be discontinuued so I simply used a small zinc air battery and then used a small wire clip to make contact with the top of the compartment. Works great! The clockwork spring mechanism prevents over winding and also stops before the frame rate can no longer be maintained. Very advanced for its day.
The only regular 8mm camera you will ever need.


Important: When your camera is not loaded, never let it run at more than 32 fps as this could cause damage to the mechanism (film advance). Also, the dark, shiny side of the film must be facing towards the back, the light side towards the lens.

When viewing through the lens, small movements of the light meter needle are of no imprortance. So long as it remains within the limits of the cut-out, the maximum deviation is limited to +/- 1/3 stop for normal speed films (ASA 10 - 25) and +/- 1 stop for films of 200 ASA. Finally, the needle will swing completely to the very left as soon as you press the shutter release and remain there until the end of the scene. The original battery is the Mallory RM450. It is no longer made. Switch to the zinc-air battery mentioned above.

The following exposure times are very important to make a note of:

12fps - 1/29th variable shutter open;
12fps - 1/58th variable shutter half-closed;
16fps - 1/38th variable shutter open;
16fps - 1/76th variable shutter half-closed;
18fps - 1/43th variable shutter open;
18fps - 1/86th variable shutter half-closed;
24fps - 1/58th variable shutter open;
24fps - 1/116th variable shutter half-closed;
32fps - 1/76th variable shutter open;
32fps - 1/152th variable shutter half-closed;
48fps - 1/116th variable shutter open;

48fps - 1/232th variable shutter half-closed;

64fps - 1/152th variable shutter open;
64fps - 1/304th variable shutter half-closed;

Single frame open shutter shots have a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second at all speeds except 12fps (1/27th); Single frame half closed shutter shots have a shutter speed of 1/75th of a second (12fps - 1/64th).

If you come across one of these models, be sure to snap it up. It will be the only regular 8mm camera you will ever need.

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