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Coordinates: 46°27′19″N 6°23′24″E / 46.45535°N 6.390115°E / 46.45535; 6.390115

Bolex International SA
IndustryCamera Manufacturing
FounderCharles Haccius
Jacques Bogopolsky
Area served
Key people
Otello Diotallevi (Master technician)
Hugo Diaz (Administrator)
ProductsMotion Picture Camera

Bolex International S. A. is a Swiss manufacturer of motion picture cameras based in Yverdon located in Canton of Vaud. The most notable products of which are in the 16 mm and Super 16 mm formats. Originally Bol, the company was founded by Charles Haccius and Jacques Bogopolsky (a.k.a. Bolsey or Bolsky) in 1925. Bolex is derived from Bogopolsky′s name. In 1923 he presented the Cinégraphe Bol at the Geneva fair, a reversible apparatus for taking, printing, and projecting pictures on 35-mm. film. He later designed a camera for Alpa of Ballaigues in the late 1930s.

Paillard-Bolex cameras were much used by adventurers, artists (new-American cinema groups), as well as nature films, documentaries, and are still favoured by many animators. Over the years, notable Bolex users and owners include:Andy Warhol, Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Jonas Mekas, Jean-Luc Godard, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, James Dean, David Lynch, Marilyn Monroe, Edmund Hillary, and Mahatma Gandhi[1]

While some later models are electrically powered, the majority of those manufactured since the 1930s use a spring-wound clockwork power system. The 16 mm spring-wound Bolex is a popular introductory camera in film schools.


Early history[edit]

In 1927, Jacques Bogopolsky imagined a camera for the 16 mm format (Bolex Auto-Cine A,B,C), and created the Bolex society with the help of Charles Haccius, a businessman from Geneva. Charles Haccius invested 250,000 Swiss francs in the company. The society did not produce any cameras. However, the Auto Ciné A and B were produced by Longines in Saint-Imier and the projector by Stoppani in Bern. As of 1929, the company Longines no longer wished to produce the cameras.

Bolex was bought by Paillard & Cie for 350,000 Swiss francs and Jacques Bogopolsky was hired as consulting engineer for five years. Soon Paillard realized that the cameras and projectors were not in fact the exceptional products promised by their partners and after two years Jacque Bogopolsky was no longer welcome in Sainte-Croix.

In 1932, Marc Renaud, a young engineer, inspired by the products of Paillard and assisted by Professor Julliard,[who?] began development of the Paillard H16 camera.

In 1935, the H-16 camera was put on the market, the 9.5mm version followed in 1936 and the Double-8mm version in 1938. The H-16 was highly successful. Paillard-Bolex introduced the L-8 for the market of pocket 8mm film cameras. With the postwar boom in home movie making, Paillard-Bolex continued to develop its 8mm and 16mm ranges with the H-16 increasingly adopted by professional film makers. The company also made a successful range of high-end movie projectors for all amateur film making gauges.

In 1952, during the golden era of 3D film, Bolex offered the Bolex Stereo: a 3D stereo kit for their H-16 camera and model G projectors. Several technical changes were made to the H cameras in 1954, above all an entirely different claw drive together with a laterally inverted film gate and a 170 degrees opening angle shutter. In 1956, the first H-16 reflex viewfinder model was brought out. In reaction to the upcoming use of heavier varifocal or zoom lenses and the bigger synchronous electric motors attached to the body Paillard gave it a big rectangular base with three tapped bushings replacing the original single-tap “button” base in 1963 and soon afterward a protruding 1-to-1 shaft for the ESM motor. A saddle for a 400-ft. film magazine finally allowed the H-16 to be used like professional synch-sound cameras.

In 1965, Kodak introduced the Super 8mm format.[2] Paillard Bolex was slow to introduce a Super 8 camera although they quickly modified the 18-5 Auto 8mm projector for Super 8 as the 18-5 L. At about this time (1966) the Bolex 16 Pro Camera was introduced to compete with the Arriflex 16 BL camera, as a technically advanced professional camera more suited for television use than the H-16. Nevertheless, the H-16 Standard camera was made until the last days of 1969. The H-16 and H-8 standard models afford the rackover critical focusing feature that had been first introduced with the Bell & Howell Standard camera in 1912.

Company restructuring[edit]

Effective January 1st, 1970 Paillard sold the Bolex division to Eumig of Vienna.[3] In 1971, Eumig rationalised the Super 8 range and Super 8 equipment production in Switzerland was discontinued. The Bolex product brand was retained while being manufactured in Eumig or Chinon factories. The H-16 cameras were still made in Switzerland.

Recent development[edit]

In 1981, Eumig went into liquidation and Bolex was bought by René Ueter who set up Bolex International in 1982.[3]. Bolex International no longer serially manufactures its cameras, but does repair 16mm and Super 16 cameras for customers on special order.

Motto and slogan[edit]

Perfection through Precision.

Since 1814, Bolex has lived by this proud slogan.

"Bolex cameras, projectors, and accessories are all proud products of the same superlative Swiss precision craftsmanship."[4]

"Around the world, Bolex has earned an unequalled reputation as the maker of professional-quality equipment for the amateur movie-maker."[5]


A Bolex H16 REX-5 spring-wound clockwork 16 mm camera

Many notorious directors began their careers shooting on Paillard-Bolex Cameras, including David Lynch, Jonas Mekas, Peter Jackson[6][7], Terry Gilliam, Will Vinton, Maya Deren, and Spike Lee.It results as a developement of a cult of using Paillard-Bolex for decades for beginner's camera in film schools worldwide.[8]

The Bolex cameras remain a strong status as an icon into cinema and intemporal beautiful objects as itself. Its production helps to give Swiss Made its reputation of quality[9], additionally of watchmaking.

It has been used in various advertising as a symbol. In 2015, it appears into an Omega's ads with George Clooney[10]. Another time, as well in 2015, various Bolex models, including P2/8mm and Super Zoom/8mm appears into another famous campaign for Chanel eyewear with Kristen Stewart[11][12]

Recently in May 2019, actor Chris Hemsworth post with one H16 on social media.[13][14][15][16]


"The Bolex H16 camera played a central role in the work of many avant-garde filmmakers from the 1940s through to the 1970s because of its precision and lightweight, robustness and range of facilicites, and the high quality of its optics, especially the zoom lenses, and its simple operation, which made possible an infinite combination of creative cinematographic choices."[17]

"The Bolex H16 is probably the camera which most influenced a generation of experimental and documentary/ethnographic filmmakers."[18]

Technical aspects of the Bolex[edit]

The camera′s capacity is 100 ft. A 400-ft magazine (on the Rex 5 – or converted Rex 3 or 4) can be attached to the top of the camera. From the beginning, it offered automatic film threading, a clutch for disengaging the drive spring in order to crank the film by hand forward and backwards unlimited, and a cut-off turret disc that is not wider than the camera body in center position. Stepless speed control was available between 8 and 64 frames per second. Early cameras have a 190 degrees opening angle shutter. A few years after their introduction the H cameras could be equipped with an accurate single-frame counter. That accessory was incorporated into all H camera models since 1946.

As with a still reflex camera, the Bolex RX has a viewfinder, which allows the filmmaker to view what he or she is filming. This specific viewfinder is made up of a double prism that deflects 20 percent of the light going through the lens into the viewfinder.

The Paillard-Bolex H-16 usually has a turret for three C-mount lenses. Often, the camera was provided with a 16mm Switar or Yvar, a 25mm Switar or Yvar and the third lens was often a 75mm Yvar or 50mm Switar. Only lenses with the designation "RX" in 50 mm or less can be used on the RX models. RX corrected lenses were also manufactured by Schneider, Berthiot, Angénieux, and Rodenstock. The single lens port H-16 M(arine) was made in conjunction with the first underwater housing. A second, later marine housing was made for the electric drive models.

Some people had their H-16 camera converted to Super 16. This format is highly suited to telecine conversion, as Super 16 is close to the 16:9 electronic image format. Some conversions were more successful than others. Bolex (latterly) did offer a factory Super 16mm camera. This has the appropriate markings in the viewfinder and the film gate is machined and polished to professional standards.

Bolex did have a foray into purely professional cameras with the Bolex Pro 16. Again, they decided against a registration pin for mechanical simplicity, to keep the camera as quiet as possible for sync-sound filming. This camera was only offered with 400 ft magazine capacity.

Notable models: cameras and projectors[edit]

Swiss made with the year of introduction except for the Italian Silma made SM8

Jacques Bogopolsky and Charles Haccius[edit]

Models produced by Longines

  • Auto Cine (1925)
  • Auto Cine B (1926)
  • Auto Cine C (not released)

Paillard Bolex[edit]

  • H-16 (1935)
  • H-9 (1936)
  • Model G Projectors (1936)
  • H-8S (1936)
  • L-8 (1942)
  • M8 and M8R Projectors (1949)
  • B-8 (1952)
  • C-8 (1958)
  • B-8L (1952)
  • H-16 Reflex (1956)
  • D-8L (1958)
  • S221 Projector (1960)
  • P1 (1961)
  • 18-5 Projector (1961)
  • C-8SL (1961)
  • D-8LA (1961)
  • P2 (1961)
  • K1 (1962)
  • H-8RX (1963)
  • P3 (1963)
  • S1 (1964)
  • K2 (1964)
  • P4 (1965)
  • H-16 RX-5 (1966)
  • Bolex 16 Pro (1966)
  • 150 Super (1966)
  • SM8 Projector (made by Silma) (1967)
  • S321 Projector (1968)
  • 7.5 Macrozoom (1969)
  • H-16 SB, SBM (1970)
  • 155 Macro-zoom (1970)
  • 160 Macro-zoom (1970)
  • H-16 EBM (1971)
  • H-16 EL (1975)

Bolex Eumig[edit]

  • 660 Macro-zoom (1976)
  • 680 Macro-zoom (1978)

Notable patrons and owners[edit]


  • Andy Warhol, American artist, film director, and producer[19][20]
  • Jean Cocteau, French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic[21]
  • Fernand Léger, French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker[22]
  • Hans Richter (artist), German painter, graphic artist, avant-gardist, film-experimenter and producer.[23]
  • Robert Breer, American experimental filmmaker, painter, and sculptor[24][25]
  • Paul Sharits, visual artist, best known for his work in experimental, or avant-garde filmmaking, particularly what became known as the structural film movement[26]

Filmmakers and realisators[edit]


  • Marlène Dietrich, German-American actress and singer[60]
  • James Dean, American actor[61]
  • Marilyn Monroe, American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing comedic "blonde bombshell" characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era's changing attitudes towards sexuality.[62][63][64]


  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of several of France's highest literary awards and also won the United States National Book Award.[65]
  • Mahatma Gandhi, Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist[66]


  • Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest.[67]
  • Jacques Piccard, Swiss oceanographer and engineer, known for having developed underwater submarines for studying ocean currents.[68]
  • Haroun Tazieff, Polish, Belgian and French volcanologist and geologist. He was a famous cinematographer of volcanic eruptions and lava flows, and the author of several books on volcanoes.[69]
  • Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer with a background in zoology, botany and geography. Heyerdahl is notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947, in which he sailed 8,000 km across the Pacific Ocean in a hand-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands.[70]


There are two documentaries about the history of the Bolex camera. Beyond The Bolex, a biographical film about Bolex founder Jacques Bogopolsky (later anglicized to Bolsey), is directed by his great-grand daughter Alyssa Bolsey, and features an in-depth look at the original notes, schematics, prototypes of Bolex A and B cameras[71] A second product that is currently in production, is being undertaken by Swiss director Alexandre Favre.[72] Bolex was used exclusively to film Teeny Little Super Guy for Sesame Street in 1982.

Digital Bolex D16[edit]

In 2012, Cinemeridian, Inc. licensed the named Bolex from Bolex International to create a digital Super 16mm cinema camera called the Digital Bolex D16.[73][74] Digital Bolex announced their collaboration with Bolex via the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform on March 12, 2012 at the SXSW Film Festival where they had a trade show booth.[75]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Super 8 mm Film History". Kodak. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b R. James Breiding (10 January 2013). Swiss Made: The Untold Story Behind Switzerland′s Success. Profile Books. pp. 385–. ISBN 1-84765-809-1.
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  56. ^*bolex*&source=bl&ots=rWyPUqGeGA&sig=ACfU3U3RQ17QoBFwO_nzgJrKqm7nsekjDA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjuk62-xe3pAhVJ1qYKHSMNCi0Q6AEwAXoECBIQAQ#v=onepage&q=jean%20luc%20godard%20*bolex*&f=false
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  71. ^ Jones, Mark. "The BOLEX Goes Digital & Becomes A Documentary". Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  72. ^ "July Meeting". LA 3D Club. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  73. ^ Kif. "Old-School 16mm Moviemaking Goes Digital". Wired. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  74. ^ Sonja Schenk; Ben Long (1 January 2014). The Digital Filmmaking Handbook. Course Technology. pp. 157–. ISBN 978-1-305-25906-5.
  75. ^ Hardy, Robert. "First Impressions of the Digital Bolex from SXSW, and a Short Documentary About the Camera". No Film School. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  • Bolex History: Cameras, Projectors etc. by Andrew Alden. Published by A2 Time Based Graphics (April 1998) ISBN 0-9533075-0-6
  • Thomas Perret, Roland Cosandey: Paillard Bolex Boolsky. Yverdon, 2013. ISBN 978-2-8283-0044-9

External links[edit]