Hi everyone, thanks for having me. I'm new to cinematography, being a still photog for about 20 years now.
I have a tight budget to shoot 16mm and bought an Eclair ACL II kit for 500€, including Angenieux zoom, 2 400ft mags, kinoptic viewfinder, case, battery. The camera has hardly ever been used. It seems to run OK for now, i've not used it yet really.
My intention is really to use the camera on the shoulder most of the time, so I was kind of surprised when trying it. I have a MIMUL motor, which is actually large and seems to take the place of the shoulder between the body and the mag. Am I doing something wrong ? or is there really no good way to shoulder an ACL II & MIMUL combination ?
If not, is it possible to replace the motor for the standard one ? It might be getting me on another problem as I'd like to shoot long takes, so I'd be happy to keep the sturdier motor to use the 400ft mags... but just to know theoretically, can I remove the MIMUL ? it doesn't look like it.
The big Kinoptik view finder can give a very bright, big image, but they are a bit long in the last section, so they shift the camera forwards on your shoulder. The fully orientable Angenieux may not be so bad in that respect. I can't remember. The small early VFs were very compact and gave much better mass balance on the shoulder. But they aren't giving a self leveling image when you rotate the finder working on a tripod. You have to rotate your head.
I keep wondering if one could mod the big Kinoptik VF, shifting the eyepiece forward. A long VF extension too.
If the eyepiece allowed better position on the shoulder then I think the weight of the variable speed motor would be ok for the balance. The motors are not hard to swap out, but Andrew at AZ Spectrum says to be careful to keep good alignment with even screw tensions. The variable speed motors that I have had mount to a flange that fits over the original smaller flange for the smaller motors. This is removable if you choose a smaller motor.
One thing that would help with balance is to shift the battery(s) to the extreme rear. I made some drawings for a light weight 19mm rod base, the rods being handles when usefull. A shoulder pad could be mounted and batteries placed as far to the rear as you want.
about the changing motor issue. There is 3 captive screws on the left hand side of the motor, the manual explicitely says 3, and advices to simply unscrew them to loosen and remove the motor. But on my ACL II, the bottom screw is... absent, and replaced by a filling of what looks like aluminum or lead. There is simply no screw there. Both other will loosen and the motor does loosen a bit, but not entirely, still caught by that third attachment point. Does that look like I simply can't change the motor on that camera ? isn't it strange ?
I'm not sure why, but the bottom screw may be "sealed". If so, I don't know, havent seen that yet, but perhaps carefully remove the seal to see the screw There was something about it in the ACL 1.5 manual, but I can't find the page..
I too thought of the sealed screw they mention in the manual, (hence the tweaked looks) but I'm not sure. There are red-painted screws on the other side of the motor and i'm wondering if they're not talking about them. I don't know.
It looks like someone has tried to abrade or scrape the material out. What material is it? It's about down to the level of where the top of the screw head would be, and it looks a bit like the screw head visible at the very centre. Can you carefully remove a bit more material and you will see. Do you not have a service tech there you can ask?
For removing motor screws I took a screwdriver and ground a slightly rounded end to fit those screws well.
Regarding your original problem, I really haven't had any problems with using my ACL 1.5 on my shoulder with the heavy duty motor. Perhaps ACL 2 with its large base and VF is less comfortable? I wouldn't remove the motor if everything is working, there is a chance you'll break something...
If you are nonetheless going ahead with removing the motor, please be very careful. You have to very carefully pull the motor directly towards you and away from the camera. Otherwise a small 9-pin mini-ITT connector can break and it's a real pain to replace, trust me -- been there, done that...
Also, the normal procedure would be to inch the mirror to be in front of the gate before removing the motor. Your motor doesn't seem to have the knob for that, but make sure the mirror is positioned correctly after running the camera.
Thank you all for your answers and insights, i'm reading if not always commenting.
I have a black right hand handle that indeed helps a lot. I guess i was just surprised that the overall shape of the camera wasn't more ergonomical around the shoulder. My only other serious 16 experience was an Aaton XTR and the crevice between the body and the magazine is perfect to lodge the shoulder... I thought it'd be similair on the Eclair.
Anyway, i'll probably drop the camera at a pro for checking it up once i've got a lens. I'll leave it to him to see if everything's ok with the motor. I do not really want to change it anyway, since, as i understand, it's a better one to have for 400ft magazines (which i have and intend to use).