16mm film is (almost) all black


New member

I've just got some film back from the lab, and it didn't turn out. I'm trying to figure out why.

I shot black and white 16mm reversal film, using an Arri BL. When I got the film back, almost every single frame was black. Occationally, I have one or two frames which are visible and well exposed.

I think it was a problem with the camera's shutter. I was doing test shots, experimenting with various exposures of the same shot, so if it were an issue with exposure, I would expect to see some variability, but all frames are black. Also, the fact that I occationally get a single frame, well exposed and framed right between the two sprockets makes me think it was a mechanical issue.

Has anyone encountered this before? Any feedback would be appreciated!!!
Well, it could be grossly underexposed so that only the flash frames as the camera ramps up or rolls to a stop, which are normally way overexposed, are correctly exposed.

But it sounds more like some other problem, maybe the shutter.


New member
Yeah, I was worried about that.

But like I said, it was a test shoot, so with each shot I tried a couple of different exposures (usually between 4 and 8) so you'd think there would be some difference, but no, just black.

I was using two 250W photoflood bulbs with umbrellas and taking incident light readings. The two shots that turned out were done with a single bulb suspended over the actors head. They were really dark, but I could still see my subject.


New member
It depends what kind of film you were using, but underexposure would explain it most easily. I've shot on the BL many times. And if it's your first time shooting film, it needs A LOT more light than digital. A 250w floodlight wouldn't see much unless it was pointed directly at the subject, and only a few feet away-even with kodaks pretty fast 7222 (250) stock. At least at f2.8. Exposure is all about numbers adding up to you seeing something. By process of elimination, exposure seems the most likely because:

1. you can't flash b/w 16mm film very easily unless you were shooting with 400 spools, and event then, it would be unevenly distributed...

which brings you to mechanical problems...

2. The eyepiece has a fail safe mechanism that only allows you to see what the film is recording if you press your eye to it. If you're seeing the image in the eye piece without pressing your eye, that means that LIGHT is also seeing your image, and all your footage would be flashed as it went through the gate-maybe leaving a few frames properly exposed for those moments where you put your eye down.

3. Possibly, although unlikely, you might have a light leak in the magazine. Make sure you ALWAYS use gaffers tape to seal the edge of the mag to avoid such leaks.