Designing Logmar's ultra-light Magellan 65 Camera
A Conversation with with Tommy Madsen, CEO of Logmar Camera
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The 70mm Newsletter
by: Thomas Hauerslev,
Tommy, please tell me about your background as a camera engineer
I am not actually a camera engineer but rather educated as a mechanical
designer and have always had a passion for cameras.
I bought my first Super 8 camera when I was 10 years old (1960) and I have filmed
ever since. Of course, not continuously, because as you know, when the kids were
small, the camera went into the closet. Back in 2012 I started investigating
the idea of perfecting Super 8 and had some good ideas about 16mm as well,
so I started
started dedicating much time in this direction. I started these projects when I was
still employed at Martin Professional in Denmark and at some point, I had to
quit my job, because the Super 8 project took all my time.
What inspired you to build a new 65mm camera?
It was actually my son who jokingly said "Why make a Super 8, when we can
make a 65?"? You know, "Size matters" [Laughing]. During my travels, I asked
around in the business, and several people told me "There is no business in
65, don't start with that". But, never say "don't" to me [laughing]. When I
returned, I started thinking about a 65mm camera and have done so ever since. The
65mm was developed side by side with the Super 8 in principle, however, the
Super 8 took so much of the time, so I only worked on the 65mm in my spare
time. It wasn't until we finished the contract with a third party for an 8mm
camera that I started to develop it on my computer in 3D.
• Go to Gallery: The Magellan 65 Camera
• Go to Gallery: Behind the scenes with
Tommy Madsen, CEO Logmar
• Go to Logmar Camera
Solutions premieres a new hand-held 65mm Camera
What is the basic idea and design considerations of the new Magellan 65mm
Light weight and as small as possible of course. That was our goal from the
very beginning. If we were to make a 65mm camera, it should not be a big and
bulky apparatus. It should be possible to carry it on your shoulder, and be
as small as possible.
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Gallery: The Magellan 65 Camera
Gallery: Behind the scenes with Tommy
Madsen, CEO Logmar
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Logmar Camera Solutions IVS
Silovej 8, 2.
+45 93 98 08 50
Tommy Madsen - Chief Executive Officer. Logmar Camera Solutions, Denmark
How about the noise level on this camera, was that a design
Yes, but it is very, very, difficult with such a wide film, as all the
mechanics are much bigger compared to the Super 8 camera.
What makes the noise in a camera?
Normally the gears, but in this camera, there are no gears, only belts, and
belts don't make noise as such. The registration with the two claws and the
pins, that are also belt driven and all the rotating metal parts (and film
loops) all generate noise, so you can't eliminate it totally, even though we
have invested a huge effort into in-camera insulation whereever possible.
What is the major difference between your camera and cameras already in
The main difference is we are using an oscillating mirror (or guillotine)
shutter instead of a rotating disc mirror in a 45 degree angle which
“everyone else” is using.
If I had chosen the rotating disc, the camera would be wider and longer. So
essentially, we took the basic idea of the Logmar Chatham S8, and just made
it bigger. We know our Super 8 camera works extremely well, so we thought,
why change it, if we could use the same concept with 65mm?
What else is new in this camera compared to other cameras?
The electronic view finder is new. I know many cinematographers will say "You
can't have a camera with an electronic viewfinder". I think time will show
that you can, because it is much easier to operate.
All digital cameras have electronic viewfinders, and they work very well, so
of course it can work on a film camera as well.
The misconception is that the electronic-View Finder (eVF) in a film camera
looks straight out of the lens but that’s not the case at all.
Our eVF looks at a ground glass exactly as if you were looking at it in an
optical viewfinder. With the resolution of either Full HD or 4K Ultra HD,
people will be able to see much better what is going on in a low light
scenario than they would with an equivalent optical view finder.
The eVF when combined with our 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi also allows remote
viewing when the camera is used on a crane or similar – again something an
optical viewfinder wouldn’t be good at.
How many years of research and development went into presenting this
We spent seven months designing the blueprints and making CAD and then another
14 months having it manufactured, but I will say that we spent the better
part of two quarters of a year doing nothing because our metal vendors were
a bit slow.
What were the major problems during development?
I don't see them as problems, more like challenges. The exterior has changed
a little during the process as I mentioned, but I always had the same plans
for the inside of the mechanism. When you build a camera and you follow your
instinct and your own ideas, then when you assemble the parts as they arrive,
then of course, some changes pop up. Always. It's impossible to make a
drawing, order the parts, put it together, and make it work 100% the first
time. There is no way that will happen
How did you learn how to draw in a computer?
I don't know, I just do it [laughing]. I am not a skilled computer user at
all being 68 years old and when I was designing in my earlier jobs I always
drew by hand and had colleagues make the CAD from it. The trouble was,
though, that when I started Logmar I didn’t have any colleagues so before I
could build my first camera, I had to learn how to use a CAD program,
because I didn't know.
That was great motivation and luckily my son had a friend who taught 3D CAD
lessons in evening school so I asked him some questions about it, and after
10 questions, I said "I think I can do it" and here we are today [smiling],
and I could, because I just need to learn how to start. And then everything
just followed. When you use it every day, you just learn more and more. The
software can do so many things, and I may have only used on tenth of what it
can do, but it is enough to build a camera.
Our first investment was a 3D printer, and that was a good idea for the
prototype, because you can see if things fit all the right places. All the
threads etc., and when you are sure everything works, you send the files to
the machine shop. We use one company in Copenhagen, which are also making
parts for the Phase One camera, and another other vendor in Sønderborg. We
found them on the internet. At first I mailed them, followed by phone calls,
and finally I visited them in person. The Copenhagen vendor made all the
parts for the Super 8, but they could not manage to make all the parts for
the 65, so we had to find an extra supplier. They did everything from the
camera body, magazines and everything. Screws, belts and gears is something
you can buy on the internet. It's the same with the Super 8.
Despite the fact we do have a nice office facility, both cameras are mainly
designed and the first prototypes are build in my kitchen because I like
sitting in my home doing this work where there are no distractions and
How many cameras will be available?
We have 15 cameras available and can manufacture more with approx. 8 months
Will the new cameras be for hire, or purchase?
We have not yet decided upon a business model for the Magellan camera.
What's the price of a 65mm camera?
What kind of service will be available for the new camera?
We will offer a long term service program, and depending on the business
model we choose, potentially train external partners on the servicing also.
Tell me about the design consideration of using Carl Zeiss's Hasselblad
We thought Carl Zeiss is a very good brand and well known. When you put a
lens in front of a 65mm film, the lens should cover the whole area, and we
found out that Hasselblad lenses are perfect for that job. That's why we
chose the Hasselblad lenses which are also the same types ArriFlex used for
their 765 camera just slightly modified.
Actually the Bronica was my first thought but Zeiss lenses just had a better
brand name so they got chosen in the end and Zeiss lenses are also used for
IMAX films, and will do the job on the Magellan.
Finally there are a lot of these lenses available and Carl Zeiss is still
offering collimation and service on them.
Do the lenses need to be rebuilt to be able to use them on a film camera?
No, but the only thing you need to do is to check that they are
collimated, which means they are sharp at infinity.
How do you control focus on the lenses?
Focus is done manually, but you can get some plastic gears you can mount
on the lenses with a little motor to remote control focus. Usually, this
equipment belongs to the focus puller, who mounts this on the lenses.
Is it possible to use Panavision or ARRI lenses on the Magellan?
Only if we change the mount on the camera. If someone want to use these
lenses, we can get these mounts manufactured.
Can the Magellan run upside down?
I think it can, we haven't tested it like that currently though.
How is time code applied?
There is a Kodak key code on the film which tells what frame you’re
currently on and when you slate the film you can note the frame number from
the viewfinder menu and thereby get an offset to “reality” against the key
The camera itself does not record time code because it doesn’t need to as it
runs in sync.
The quality of the electronic viewfinder, is that good enough to cut into
No, because it is an image off the ground glass, and that is how we made our
In a digital camera you take the signal from the actual sensor which "looks"
through the lens and apply the “ground glass” effect in post processing, but
in the Magellan viewfinder, you see the actual high-resolution ground glass
and then we overlay the frame guide and digital information on top.
It is very useful for the people on the set to have the picture from the
viewfinder with these lines. For instance, the boom operator can see his
boom outside the frame.
How is the camera controlled?
There is a small display on the right side of the Magellan with six buttons.
We have discovered it is a little difficult to operate given its size so we
will be replacing it soon with a much larger screen.
The Magellan is equipped with a very powerful quad core computer from NVIDIA
which controls all aspects, including the Sony Full HD or 4K UHD eVF. The
eVF sensor is the most effective low-light sensor available from Sony which
enables you to operate the camera even at night. Imagine that with an older
optical view finder? You wouldn’t be able to see a thing because it is so
dark. On the Magellan, however, you can see everything.
What are your expectations for the premiere at the CineGear expo?
I hope a lot of visitors will come and see us, and we will be able to give
them value for their money. We can only answer questions, but people can get
a look-and-feel impression of the camera. They can lift it and see how it
looks. We will not be running film during the expo as we are still fine tuning
the drive train but we should have trial footage up on our website by
What kind of interest have you met from the industry?
There has been a tremendous interest during this week of launch since the
introduction on April 30. The whole world is "buzzing" with interest and we
have gotten a lot of meeting proposals by phone from respected companies and
individuals while also having received loads of e-mails from nearly all over
the world, and we already sent out material and interview to a Japanese and
German magazine, and I think there will be more. Please remember, it's only
been announced for a week. I think after two weeks, everything will be
"boiling" if this pace keeps up.
Why should film makers use the Magellan on a film production?
I think it could be used especially for hand-held shots, and of course on a
tripod as well. You can say, it is handier than most current 65mm cameras
out there right now. You should use the Magellan to make many new
interesting and creative shots, because it is a very compact camera. With
the viewfinder feed, you can control the camera remotely, and control it
with your cell phone or tablet with the built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
How about using it on your skateboard? Hold it in your hand, and look at a
monitor mounted on the camera instead of staring down a viewfinder tube like
on other cameras which would be difficult to do with an optical viewfinder.
With a wide angle, you have no idea what you are photographing, because you
cannot see it. You do it blind. But you can see everything with the Magellan
65. You can do new things with our camera which previously were impossible,
or very complicated, simply because the cameras were too big and too heavy. We
feel the Magellan 65 will bring new things for storytelling into large
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