ARRI Lightweight Fibre Glass Blimp 16

This ARRI Lightweight Fibre Glass Blimp 16 was originally purchased by Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1960's.  It was used in their film school for a number of years and then retired to storage in the 1970's.  I bought it from them in 2007 and rebuilt it from the gound up.

The Blimp came with everything pictured above.

One issue with equipment of this age is that optics can yellow or fog.  That was the case with the soundproof glass on these blimps, as the glass is over forty years old.  If you give the glass a quick look, it appears fine, but if you closely inspect the glass you will see there is a fine hazing over the whole surface. This hazing will adversly effect your image quality as the camera lens shoots through this glass.  And unfortunately the haze cannot be cleaned from the glass.  To solve this problem I had Schneider Optics custom make a new soundproof glass for this blimp.  It is now optically pristine (as seen below as this picture was shot through the new soundproof glass, showing the lens in place).

The blimps came in two variations, one for the Arriflex 16S camera and one for the Arriflex 16M camera.  The difference is in the mounting plate for the camera.  This blimp came with an Arriflex 16S mounting plate.

The camera mounts to the plate and then the plate mounts inside the blimp with optical extensions to the eyepiece.

The blimp incorporates a built in follow focus and aperture adjustment so you can set and adjust the focus and T-stop from outside the blimp when its soundproof covers are closed.

Above and below are closer shots of the scales.  There is a little clear tab with a black centerline that moves back and forth over the scale on the top side to show the focus adjustment.  And there is a similar tab that moves back and forth over the scale on the bottom side to show the aperture adjustment.

As seen in the images above and below, there are lights inside the blimp itself which allow you to set aperture and focus and read the cameras footage and frame counters from outside the blimp, even in dim light.

As far as how well the blimp works in quieting the Arriflex 16S, the audio clips below will demonstrate.

This first audio file is the sound of the camera with a load of film running outside the blimp:

Camera running by itself

This second audio file is the sound of the same camera with the same load of film running inside the Blimp:

Camera running in a Blimp

The Blimp really reduces the sound of the camera.

This ARRI Lightweight Fibre Glass Blimp 16 came with everything pictured below.  You needed to supply the Arriflex 16S or 16S/B camera, lenses, motor and battery.  The power cord for this blimp has been converted to an industry standard 4-pin XLR for a battery pack to plug into.

The "Mounting Plate" is pretty self explanitory, and is shown attached to the bottom of the camera in one of the pictures above.  It is designed to simpify the process of putting the camera in and taking the camera out of the blimp, allowing the operator to change 100 ft film loads quickly.  This blimp also allows for 200 ft and 400 ft magazines to be used with the Arriflex 16S.

The "Filter Holder" mounts in front of the lens and is on a pivot so it can be pivoted out the front of the blimp (when the front blimp door is open) for changing filters.  It uses 3x3 filters.

The "Eyepiece Elbow" aligns the camera's viewfinder tube with the blimp's viewfinder tube.

The "Remote Power Switch" plugs into the back side of the blimp and attaches to the handle of the tripod.

The "Power Cable to Camera" plugs into the back side of the camera (in this case an Arriflex 16S) and then into an internal socket in the blimp.

The "Lens Adapter Ring" attaches to the front aperture ring of the Schneider, Zeiss, or Cooke lens.  The little slot in the top of the ring is where the spring loaded arm from the blimp comes out and interfaces with the lens aperture.  If you look at the picture labeled "Focus & Aperture Control Tabs on Lens" you can see the aperture arm is lower and to the left of the focus control arm.  The focus control arm mates into the little focus ears on the lenses.

The "Focus Knob" is the larger knob on the lower left side of the blimp (viewed from the operator's position).  It has a flip out crank arm for faster focusing.

The "Aperture Adjust" knob is the smaller silver knob on the back side of the blimp.

The "Frame Advance" wheel looks like an old telephone dial.  You press this in and turn it to advance the mirror to the viewing position, or to advance a few frames of film at a time.

The ARRI Lightweight Fibre Glass Blimp 16 is a beautiful mechanical piece.  Everything works smoothly and precisely.  And it truly quiets the Arriflex 16S camera, expecially when running a 100 ft internal load.