16mm film

film-reelThe 16-mm film was introduced by George Eastman Kodak in 1923. It was initially an affordable, non-flammable and safe film that was designed for the amateur market (home enthusiasts). The film is basically about 5/8 inch and 16mm wide unless it is shrunken as a result of bad storage. The sprocket holes are utilized in advancing the film and are also known as perforations. The 16mm film might have sprocket holes down on both edges. However, there are also other 16mm film with only one set of holes known as single perforation film. It should be noted that the 16mm film has holes located between pictures on the frame line. The 16mm was used for documentary film making, experimental film making and fine art. The 16 mm adequately documents the past because everything from news reporting to pornography to experimental film was created on this format. The 16mm film was wide and was accompanied by an optical sound track for those who had the extra money for it. This film was heavily used during the second world war.


By Unknown – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58242720

Reasons to shoot with 16 mm film

The following are some of the reasons why people should still shoot with 16 mm film:

i. It feels right – Digital formats do not accept mistakes, this is because something that goes wrong appears bad. However, mistakes made while shooting with 16 mm film tends to enhance the film’s character and also reminds us of human values.

ii. It adds some drama to a shoot unlike digital. This is because it forces people to think and rethink in regard to devising choreography and building mise en scene of every scene.

iii. It saves money on post production. This is because the film already has the quality unlike digital that requires the image to be made in posting first.

iv. Shooting with 16 mm film allows one to get favorable camera rates from several labs or even for free and it is not free then be sure it will be discounted.

Reel to Reel Tape Recorder

Reel to Reel Tape Recorder

Sound is recorded on the 16mm film either magnetically or optically and with a picture or without one. It has a limited frequency response. The 16mm magnetic film stock can record up to 2 audio tracks. Despite this fact, it was never utilized for stereo recordings.

The optical sound tracks of the 16mm film have a frequency response that is relatively poor i.e. about 100Hz to 6kHz. The dynamic range is rather limited as well i.e. about +3vu prior to distortion. This is mainly because of the slower speed that it runs at i.e. 36ft. per minute.

The dyes found in the color 16mm film gradually degrade to become transparent. Usually, they degrade at varying rates but it is important to know that magenta is the longest-lasting.

The 16mm film is currently still available in an array of stocks i.e. both negative and positive. It is mostly used by independent filmmakers and artists as well as in other applications. People that have decided to shoot on film should always be prepared for a tight shoot, plan their days in advance, avoid a lot of coverage and select a crew with the correct skill set.