Need advice and tips to improve my telecine

Hi !

As my Telecine for Super8 is now working “perfectly” (for my needs), I’m building one for 16mm now), I just wanted to have advices about the camera I use. For the moment I’m quite happy with the Raspi HQ ofor Super8 and even 16mm, and a reversed enlarger lens. But as I’m looking for eventually upgrading the camera, I’m totally lost in all the specs, as I don’t know anything about MP, bits, sensor size… and the prices are going really high quickly.

What could you thing about as an upgrade ? The Raspi HQ costs 54 euros here (65$) and I see nothing a little bit expensiver (let’s say 200€ / 240$, so 4x the price of the HQ) that could seems to be an worthy upgrade.

My telecine is slow, and that’s not a problem as I’m only digitizing 100ft reels I’m filming myself, so the fps could even be 1 fps, I have time and no heavy archival work to do :slight_smile:

The spec of the HQ: * Sony IMX477R stacked, back-illuminated sensor, 12.3 megapixels, 7.9 mm sensor diagonal, 1.55 μm × 1.55 μm pixel size / I make 4056x3040 captures.

Perhaps there is nothing to upgrade expepted if I put at least 1000€… I have no idea :slight_smile:

Thank you,

Have a nice day, best regards from the today beautifull snowy Alsace (Strasbourg, in France, just at the German border)


The main issue is the shutter - the price increases substantially when you go from a rolling shutter to a global shutter. If your film is in continuous motion then you really want a global shutter, but if you’re stopping the film taking the photo and advancing frame-by-frame then rolling shutter should be fine. Your other option is to use a 16mm projector as the film transport, remove the shutter, and then the film is held reasonably steady in the gate and you can probably improve the stability in the gate if you’re handy as well to further reduce the effect of the rolling shutter. In terms of upgrades the Flir Blackfly S USB3 BFS-U3-63S4C-C would be a good choice for the money although don’t forget you’ll need to buy a lens as well (if you were getting that camera probably best to get Flir to calculate it for you and recommend a lens). That’s still a rolling-shutter imager which is why it’s cheap, you can see as soon as you go global shutter the price escalates. But with a global-shutter you can safely capture at 15 frames per second or even faster with the film in continuous motion.


Hi Filmkeeper, thank you for your answer !

We are directly facing my interrogations here, as I do frame by frame capturing (so rolling shutter is ok), and I’m using enlarger lenses and bellows:

The raspi HQ has more resolution, more Megapixels, but smaller pixels (1.55 vs 2.4) and slightly
smaller sensor than the blackfly you talked about, for 1/6th of the price. That’s why I’m wondering if there is an interest to upgrade… or if I don’t understand what is important here (if think that’s the point :slight_smile: )…

As I’m using my captures to do still photography and movies, the resolution is important because I want to print some of those still images from my Super8 and 16mm for book & exhibition… so I’m afraid that if I would buy such a blackfly I wouldn’t see any improvement at all… Is that the truth or am I totally misunderstanding something ?


Good questions, Gregory. I’m still learning this stuff as I go and often forget and have to re-learn it.

Pixel size and sensor size both affect overall image quality. Here’s a good article that explains pixel size better than me, which also links to a follow-up article on sensor size.

The short answer is that the Blackfly is a big upgrade.

Firstly, we can look at price as a good indication. Both are mass-produced and have competitors so we can assume the price is fairly reasonable compared to other cameras that are similar. The RPi HQ is ~$25USD and the Blackfly is ~$450USD.

What are you getting for this big price difference? Image quality. This brings us back to image size and pixel size.

The Blackfly’s overal sensor size is much bigger than the RPi camera. Although its overall pixel count is lower, you’re getting a wider sensor area which means a lot more light. This means you’re going to get a lot more detail, especially in the darks of your image.

To put it another way, on the RPi sensor, you have more pixels collecting less information, and on the Blackfly you’re getting less pixels collecting more information. The resolution on the Blackfly is still 3072 x 2048 which is 2x standard HD, so you should be good there for print. Of course, if you’re cropping your scanned images in post, you lose some of that so fill up the field of view with as much of the final image as you can to take advantage of the full resolution.

Another important spec to look at is dynamic range, which is the number of “steps” between pure black and pure white the sensor can capture. A good comparison is “t-stops” in regular photography. A lens with 2.8-12 has less dynamic range than an equal lens with 2.8-16. The measurement for dynamic range is “db,” short for decibels. The higher the number, the better the dynamic range.

The RPi cam specifications on this are a little vague, quoting “67db @ 8x gain.” Taking a look at this chart on Wikipedia, we can see that this is equivalent to about 23 stops, which sounds great until you add in the “8x gain” part. Gain is an electrical adjustment to the pixel readings which artificially enhances the range. The result is visual noise. Usually lots of it. The actual dynamic range of the HQ camera (according to some well documented tests) is about 11.3 stops. The Blackfly, on the other hand, as a db rating of 47, which is equal to ~15 stops. This doesn’t sound like a big difference, but remember that each “stop” is twice as much light as the previous one. So you’re getting almost twice as much light into the Blackfly.

Lastly it should be noted that some people report having a hard time getting the RPi cam to give them actual raw images without compressing or altering them before spitting them out. If you search these forums you’ll find a few threads on that.

TL;DR - Blackfly is getting more light to a bigger sensor with more sensitive pixels. You’ll be getting a lot more visual information and that will make your work in post much much easier.

If any of that is confusion, please let me know and I will try to clarify as much as I can.

1 Like

Hi Mathew !

thanks a lot for all those explanations and links ! Now I think I begin to understand how it works, a little… Perhaps for me such a camera in monochrome version (I’m shooting 95% of the time black and white film…) would be a good investment…

If I decide to buy one, I’ll do some kind of comparison between the 2, I’m sure a lot of people are like me, in need of experimenting or seeing differences to understand :).

thank you !


It’s me again…

So do someone know those cameras ? When I saw the specs + prices I think it could be a great deal for a intermittent motion telecine like mine ?


1 Like

Yes, if you’re shooting in B/W, monochrome will deliver more image quality.

I’m not familiar with the camera you posted, but as long as you’re okay with the rolling shutter (intermittent motion) then it is worth checking out!

1 Like


For movies 3072 x 2048 is plenty of resolution, that’s still full UHD resolution. Still photography, sure go with the 4K version (talking B&W that’s the mono sensor). The Sony Pregius 2nd gen sensors are used in commercial scanners like Lasergraphics and Kinograph, but they all come with global shutters - the same sensor used in the 2019 4K Scanstation is this one but the Bayer/colour version, and obviously in a different camera and with a Schneider-Kreuznach lens. There’s a white-paper on the Sony Pregius sensors here (direct link). You can also double-flash HDR to get even better quality if your film is held steady in the gate, there’s an existing free open-source project to do that for Bayer captures here (no idea how it works, you’d need to talk to the developer - plus that’s for Bayer it would have to be modified to do Mono).


Thank you Matthew and Filmkeeper for all those informations. I’ll think about it. The Camera I share is not pricey but the postal fees are insulting for a 38g camera so I gave up for this one. I’m hesitating because that’s a lot for money for me yet, but if I buy one, I’ll tell you and share something.

I think the IXM183 sensor could be the more interesting for me… I’ll continue digging, as I’m looking for a rolling shutter, usb3 (for my Rasp Pi) and still hesitating for the choice of mono/color camera.

Thanks you !


You’ll want to do your research on the camera manufacturers, I’d suggest Flir or Basler rather than looking for a manufacturer with the lowest possible cost as the sensor is only part of the cost of the camera. And you want a good supplier who will match a good lens for you and guarantee the product, it’s not worth saving money buying a cheap lens then you may as well have bought an expensive lens with a cheap camera.

You can scan in colour with a mono sensor by the way, all you need is an inexpensive RGB LED light board (although I would suggest paying a little extra to get a good quality one) and then you can scan R/G/B for your colour film, and that way you don’t need a second camera and you will get really good colour separation. It will take 3x as long, but it shouldn’t matter too much because it’s only for 5% of your film, and you can always get a colour camera later on if you prefer it.

Yes, you’re right Filmkeeper, I was looking at Basler as it s a little bit cheaper here… I’m just afraid about the RGB processing if I have to merge 3 images at a time, not only for the speed of the process, but just for the 10500 files I’ll have to manage before generating the final files :slight_smile: .

I have a 50mm Rodagon-N 2.8 enlarger lense (reversed) that works well for me on the Rasp HQ Cam I have, and an other Schneider-Kreuznach enlarger lens, 40mm (don’t remember which one, but a good one) I use for the adapted 16mm projector I’m working on (I used the 40mm on the 16mm only because it was the one left…), I think those are good stuff for the moment. As I’ll have (when I’ll buy it) a larger sensor, I’ll just have to be sure I won’t have a focusing problem as I’ll need more distance with enlarger tubes and less dof to have the magnification I need (and perhaps some light loss ?)…

Thanks for you help

There’s software to automate an R/G/B merge. I’d work on one thing at a time, first get mono scanning to where you’re happy, then worry about colour. The supplier of the camera should be able calculate the lens you need for you based on the camera and the distance, and yes the focal depth is very shallow this is why it’s important to have a way to mount the camera and make micro-adjustments along a slider to focus it, and also to have the film at a precise distance (very difficult to do with warped film of course). The commercial scanners use polished metal plates as the film gate and the film slides over it, if you’re handy you can make one yourself.