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Converting from Aaton to PL mount


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#1 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 11:59 AM

I just bought a LTR54 that have a Aaton mount. I´d like to convert it to a PL mount so that I can use the camera as a 2nd unit camera or use it as a B camera when needed. Anyone know more places than those below to get the conversion done? I´d also like to have opinions about the conversion.

http://www.camera-engineering.com takes £450 for the job according to the list.

http://www.lesbosher.co.uk/ Don´t know the cost

I have not received my camera yet as I won it on a Ebay auction . One thing I´m wondering about is what type of timecode that is built into this camera? I´m thinking it could be some early attempts at using timecode and that it´s not supported anymore but please enlighten me if anyone have information about it. I think I got a good price on this auction and as the seller is located in Sweden there will be no custom to pay. I have bought from this seller earlier when he was called "isellarri" so I trust him that it will be no lemon but then again I can´t be sure before I hold it in my hands.
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#2 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 04:58 PM

We can do the conversion. We do it properly as a factory-authorized Aaton dealer and service center. The proper mount itself costs 1200. If the camera already has the holes drilled in the front casting then it's about $125 for us to install and align. If we need to drill the holes then it's more like $500.

When you get something for less then I cannot assure that you are getting the properly-designed parts and that they are correctly installed. There's a lot to the mount with certain parts made from aluminum and others of stainless steel, with precision shims in a specific "spider" design for the camera. Acurracy of the alignment for depth and flatness is measured in microns.

I don't know the particular vintage of your LTR54, but it is likely using the old original Aatoncode instead of the newer Aatoncode2. I'm not sure about the cost or feasibility of upgrading this, but could check into it if you wished.

Mitch Gross
Technical Director of Rental
Abel Cine Tech NY
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#3 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 12:59 PM

Thanks for the offer but I´ll try to find someone here in Europe to the conversion if I decide to do it. I don´t think that I´ll upgrade to Aatoncode2 as that is an investment that I don´t think will pay off. I have never used the old Aatoncode, is it still usable or is it "dead"?
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 05:11 PM

Consider the old code dead.
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#5 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 06:31 PM

Almost figured that as I never run into it before. Still trying to make up my mind if I´m going to change the mount or not. I belive that I can find cheaper lenses with the Aaton mount but I will not be able to use it as a B-camera as it wont accept the same lenses as the A-camera (Every s16 job I´ve been on it´s been superspeeds in PL-mount).
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#6 Daniel Stigler

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 11:59 PM

You can ask Geckocam (www.gecko-cam.com) or P&S Technik (www.pstechnik.de). Both are located in Munich, Germany and offer some service for Aatons.
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#7 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 12:32 AM

I have decided to go with Les if I´m going to do the conversion. He offers it for £360. Now all I have to decide is if I´m going to do the conversion or not. Aaton users and everyone else come with input regarding this conversion, pros and cons.
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#8 Mitch Gross

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 01:49 PM

Getting a PL mount doesn't mean you have to give up your Aaton mount. I don't know what Les or others do to the camera for their nonstandard mounts, but the proper Aaton PL mount uses six screws to attach to the front casting of the camera. Purchasing one for your camera means that you buy the new mount, have these thread holes drilled in your camera front and the mount precision aligned. But you don't throw away the Aaton mount. A qualified technician with an accurate collimator and a few Aaton-specific tools can swap mounts at any time in under an hour, so you cost is that hourly rate. At Abel it's currently $125. So you can use an Aaton mount for your personal use and switch to PL mount at minor cost if you need to use other lenses.

I personally own an LTR54 with which I keep in Aaton mount. I have a Canon 8-64, a Kinoptik 5.7, Optar 9.5, 12, 16 &25, and converted Zeiss Contax 35, 50, 85 & 135. The zoom is the only lens in native Aaton mount. The 5.7 is Arri standard with an adaptor, the Optars are Arri Bayo with an adaptor (one quick-release version for all of them), and the Contax are all converted to Aaton mount. Certainly it is less expensive to own these lenses in this manner.

I've learned that Les Bosher uses a two-part mount system. He converts the camera to his own neutral mount and then mounts his PL mount to the front of this. This double mount introduces two points for play and it can be nearly impossible to get a zoom to track in straight to the center. (If the mount is not perfectly flat and centered then as the lens zooms the image will drift out of center.) This can be not only annoying but can lead to softness on the edges of frame. It will take much more time to swap between mounts if you use Les' PL mount.
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#9 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 07:28 PM

Ok thanks I think I´ll stay away from that PL "double" mount. How much do those zeiss contax lenses usually sell for? I received the camera today and it is actually a late LTR7 snr C837 but with LTR54 movement and motor. Is it a big difference from the "real" LTR54 as that is what the seller told me it was?

I´m leaning towards sticking with the Aaton mount and getting a set of zeiss contax some wideangle superspeeds and maybe a Nikon tele. I´m however impressed with this old Aaton. I did a test run with it and looked for scratches and it passed without any problems, but what really impressed me is how quiet it was. I wouldn´t even compare it to a SR1 it´s much quieter than that. One thing that would be nice to have is a better manual than the one that I have downloaded from Aaton. Is there some kind of service manual that is more detailed? And one last thing, how do one know if the camera have a pellicle installed?
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#10 Mitch Gross

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 11:51 AM

I'll let Nate tackle some of the specifics on differences between the old Aatons. A 7 "upgraded" to a 54 is not the same as a factory 54. Steel claw v. aluminum-tipped claw, among other things. Yours is a fairly late-model 7 but it's still 70s vintage.

Converted Contax still lenses can usually be found for $500-$1000 each. But they do not exist in the wider lengths. Take a look at my list of lenses. You get cine lenses for the wider lengths and then the Contax lenses starting at 35mm. But your workhorse lenses will always be from around 9mm to around 25mm.
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