Bolex B8L


8mm Camera


  • OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 5" x 3 1/2" x 2"
  • WEIGHT: Approximately 28 oz.
  • OUTER CASE: Highly polished duraluminium body, covered in genuine Morocco leather. Metal parts are chrome-plated.
  • FILM CAPACITY: 25ft daylight loading spools of double run 8mm film. When a roll runs through the camera, only half the width of film is exposed. The spool is then reversed and run through again, exposing the other half. When processed, film is split and spliced together giving 50' for projection. Projection time at 16 fps for 25' roll is 4 minutes.
  • THREADING: manual, with no loop forming; with the pressure pad opened the film is simply placed over a guide roller, threaded behind the gate, over the bottom guide roller and onto the takeup spool.
  • MOTOR: Constant speed, spring motor mechanism; governor controlled. Generous winding key, attached to the camera, folds back against its side when not in use. Spring cannot be over-wound.
  • TURRET: Accommodates two standard D mount lenses.
  • VIEWFINDER: optical type; adjustable dial shows the scene as viewed by focal lengths of 12.5mm, 25mm and 36mm. Accessory prism attachments allow for filming with 5.5mm lenses, and for parallax correction while filming at close distances.
  • VARIABLE SPEED: 12, 16, 18, 24, 32, 48 and 64 frames per second.
  • RELEASE BUTTON: continuous exposures can be made by a sliding release lever or cable release. The lever can be locked to prevent accidental exposures, or set for continuous hands-free filming.
  • VARIABLE SHUTTER: Adjustable dial changes the shutter opening from 0-165 degrees to allow for shortened exposure times and fades. Shutter gives an exposure time of 1/35th second at 16fps when fully open (165 degrees).
  • FOOTAGE COUNTER: Precise reading of exposed film footage. Audible end-of-film signal. Resets to zero upon reloading.
  • SINGLE FRAME: A cable release socket allows the user to expose single frames for filming animation, titles, etc.
  • EXPOSURE METER: A photoelectric cell measures light through the lens. Two needle indicators in the viewfinder are then aligned by adjusting the diaphragm on your lens, resulting in proper exposure.
  • TRIPOD SOCKET: 1/4" thread

Notes and Comments

The B-8L was the first in a series of "Compumatic" cameras that allowed an easy method for determining proper exposure. The system consisted of a photo-electric selenium cell, galvanometer needle and adjustable guide needle (set according to film sensitivity between 10-40 ASA). The cell was moved into position behind the lens, before filming, by pressing a control trigger; the galvanometer needle then reacted to the light intensity. Proper exposure was indicated by turning the lens diaphragm until the two needles were aligned. The photo cell was automatically retracted as soon as the camera was started with the release button.

The compumatic series of cameras featured a newly shaped release button containing a name plate. Unfortunately, the name plate was simply glued on. As a result, these cameras can sometimes be found with the plate missing; it may diminish the appearance but it otherwise has no effect on the operation of the release.

In addition to the light meter, the B-8L featured a slight improvement over the B-8VS: a locking shutter control. The new plexiglass dial included a chrome latch that allowed the shutter to be secured in fully open (165 degree aperture) or half open (82 degree aperture) position.

Bolex twin-lens turret cameras:

B-8, B-8VS, B-8L, B-8SL and B-8LA.

Serial Numbers and Dates of Manufacture

The serial number on this model can be found on the base of the camera body, inscribed around the tripod mount. The B8L began production in 1958, starting with S/N 702901, and was introduced the same year. It was superseded by the B8LA in 1961.

Bolex B8L :: Serial Numbers
  #   Year
702901 745000 1958
745000 822000 1959
822000 885000 1960
885000 887500 1961