This piece is taken from Classic Camera Magazine
number 16, and is provided to try to demonstrate the style of the magazine.
Note that the magazine article is illustrated, but in order to keep download
times to a minimum, I have omitted the illustrations from this version.
All back issues of Classic Camera Magazine are available;
see the main Classic Camera Magazine page for
This camera is something of a rarity. It is also unique
in design, because it is the only Standard-8 cine camera which offers
reflex viewing, interchangeable lenses, and t.t.l. metering. In fact,
it was the very first reflex camera to go into production (in 1960) with
through-the-lens metering! The prototype Pentax Spotmatic was displayed
at Photokina in 1960 alongside the Camex, but the Spotmatic did not reach
production until five years later.
I have used most of the interesting Standard-8 cameras
extensively, and have several favourites - the Paillard Bolex K.1 and
K.2, and the Canon 512, are three - and this camera must rank equally
with these. Of course, every camera has its pros and cons, and these
for me have more pros than cons!
Having interchangeable lenses makes it possible to
fit a small prime lens, if a relatively compact camera is required.
With a zoom lens and pistol grip, the Camex is about the same size and
weight as other cameras.
The lens mount is unique to Camex, being a bayonet
fit. A wide range of different lenses and accessories was available
to fit the camera. The full range listed by Camex is:
Angenieux 6.5 mm. f/1.8
SOM Berthiot 12.5 mm. f/2.5
SOM Berthiot 12.5 mm. f/1.9
Angenieux 12.5 mm. f/1.8
Cimac 12.5 mm. f/1.4
SOM Berthiot 20 mm. f/2.5
SOM Berthiot 20 mm. f/1.9
SOM Berthiot 35 mm. f/3.5
SOM Berthiot 35 mm. f/1.9
SOM Berthiot 50 mm. f/3.5
SOM Berthiot 75 mm. f/3.5
SOM Berthiot 100 mm. f/3.5
SOM Berthiot 150 mm. f/4.5
Angenieux 7.5 to 35 mm. f/1.8
Angenieux 9 to 36 mm. f/1.8
Angenieux 9 to 36 mm. f/1.4
Schneider 8 to 48 mm. f/1.8
SOM Berthiot 8 to 40 mm. f/1.9
Angenieux 17.5 to 70 mm. f/2.2
Angenieux 12 to 120 mm. f/1.8
Hyper Cinor 0.5x Converter for 12.5 mm. lens
Cimafoc 0.5x Converter for 12.5 mm. lens
Angenieux Retrozoom Z36 converts 9 to 36 mm. to 6.5
to 26 mm.
Angenieux Retrozoom RZ70 converts 17.5 to 70 mm. to
12.5 to 50 mm.
Extension tube with variable length to take 50 mm.
or 75 mm. lens.
The reflex viewing system operates from behind the
lens diaphragm, so the brightness of the image seen through the viewfinder
depends on the lighting conditions. In addition a mirror shutter is
used, so when the camera is running the viewfinder image is further
darkened by flicker. This is the only real disadvantage of the Camex.
I have on occasions completely lost sight of my subject because the
view of it was so dim. Most reflex cine cameras have the lens aperture
behind the viewfinder prism so with these a bright viewfinder image
is maintained under all conditions, but they do not offer interchangeable
lenses. The Standard-8 Bolex H.8RX has an additional (and very accurate)
optical viewfinder which can be used in place of the reflex finder when
the latter is too dim.
The t.t.l. metering works with a match-needle in the
viewfinder, and is independent of the lens fitted to the camera, as
it relies on the light from the lens falling on the metering cell behind
the lens. The lens aperture is adjusted until the correct exposure is
indicated by the match-needle.
Film loading is easy. There is no sprocket film feed
on the Camex, which is unusual for a French camera in this class. Drive
is by clockwork motor, which gives a continuous run of about 38 seconds
at 16 f.p.s. There are running speeds of 8, 16, 24 and 32 f.p.s. and
single frame. Rewinding of the film is possible, by a special crank
handle, but this is only possible when the camera drive spring motor
is partially or wholly run down, as rewinding the film tensions the
The exposure meter is a CdS cell, requiring power from
two small batteries which are installed in a compartment in the film
chamber. Suitable replacement batteries are readily available.
Other accessories made for the Camex include a good
pistol grip, nice hide outfit cases of different designs, attachments
for medical and scientific work, and a very practical stand with a 3D
Production appears to have ceased with the introduction
of the Super-8 system in 1965. The price of the Camex Reflex 8 CR with
Angenieux 7.5 to 35 mm. f/1.8 zoom lens was around £180 in 1963.
Camex equipment does not seem to have been widely sold
in Britain when it was new, so is comparatively rare here today. I consider
that the Camex Reflex 8 CR is one of the most interesting cine cameras
to come my way, and it has been found to give a very satisfactory performance.
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