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Arri SR3 vs Aaton XTR vs Aaton A-minima


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#1 Trevor Fernando

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 10:51 PM

Hey Guys,

I'm shooting a Super 16mm film coming up. What are the main similarities and differences between these cameras?

The SR3 is more expensive than the XTR Prod which is more expensive than the A-minima to rent. I know the A-minima is the new guy and is very compact with some new features, so what doesn't it have to make the other two more expensive.

All things being equal, the A-minima seems mighty attractive based on its price and size, so I suppose if I'm not sacrificing much, that might be the best option for a small budget short film...

Thanks in advance!
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#2 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 11:05 PM

All things being equal, the A-minima seems mighty attractive based on its price and size, so I suppose if I'm not sacrificing much, that might be the best option for a small budget short film...

The Minima does need those special 200 ft Emuslion OUT spools. The spools are suposidly not good for many reloads, so you can only count on factory loads of Kodak FIlm. Those low budget filmmakers who are used to using ends/recans or buying Fuji will be either out of luck or spending a lot of time turning rewinds in the darkroom.

On the other hand the Minima is a package that was inteded for modern handheld, and simalar shooting.... I would love ot see one up close
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#3 Trevor Fernando

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 11:27 PM

The Minima does need those special 200 ft Emuslion OUT spools. The spools are suposidly not good for many reloads, so you can only count on factory loads of Kodak FIlm. Those low budget filmmakers who are used to using ends/recans or buying Fuji will be either out of luck or spending a lot of time turning rewinds in the darkroom.

On the other hand the Minima is a package that was inteded for modern handheld, and simalar shooting.... I would love ot see one up close



For this we'll only be using original Kodak stock...no short ends. And actually I prefer the 200 ft spools because we won't be shooting too much film (about 500 ft.), so if I got 3 rolls of 200 ft. film, I'd have 600 ft. total, as opposed to getting 2 rolls of 400 ft. film which would give me 800 ft., leaving 300 ft. of unecessary film.
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#4 Mark Lyon

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 11:35 PM

Hi--

I'm an A-minima owner, and have shot a lot of commercials and industrials on mine, as well as shooting with Aaton XTRs. I've never used an SR3. Here are some pros and cons:

A-minima:
is limited to 200' loads, and is a little bit louder than the XTR and SR3
has a brighter viewfinder, but it's not orientable
has a distant-eye viewfinder, so you can shoot without your eye being pressed onto the eyecup
takes longer to thread (but not to load mags)
Allows daylight film loading
Allows max speed of 50 fps
Has b/w video assist of modest quality
Has built-in intervalometer
has aaton code

XTR:
Can run 400' or 800' loads
Super quiet
Instant threading of mags
Mags must be loaded in dark room or tent
Max speed I think is 75 fps
Has nice features like illuminated framelines
Excellent video assist
My DP would prefer it for hand-held, since it sits nicely on the shoulder and is heavier
has aaton code


I don't know the SR3, but I think it's pretty much equivalent to the XTR--I think that choice is largely a matter of personal preference and rental availability.

Best of luck with your project--

Mark Lyon
Mighty Max Films
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#5 Trevor Fernando

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 12:03 AM

Hi--

I'm an A-minima owner, and have shot a lot of commercials and industrials on mine, as well as shooting with Aaton XTRs. I've never used an SR3. Here are some pros and cons:

A-minima:
is limited to 200' loads, and is a little bit louder than the XTR and SR3
has a brighter viewfinder, but it's not orientable
has a distant-eye viewfinder, so you can shoot without your eye being pressed onto the eyecup
takes longer to thread (but not to load mags)
Allows daylight film loading
Allows max speed of 50 fps
Has b/w video assist of modest quality
Has built-in intervalometer
has aaton code

XTR:
Can run 400' or 800' loads
Super quiet
Instant threading of mags
Mags must be loaded in dark room or tent
Max speed I think is 75 fps
Has nice features like illuminated framelines
Excellent video assist
My DP would prefer it for hand-held, since it sits nicely on the shoulder and is heavier
has aaton code
I don't know the SR3, but I think it's pretty much equivalent to the XTR--I think that choice is largely a matter of personal preference and rental availability.

Best of luck with your project--

Mark Lyon
Mighty Max Films


Thanks a lot Mark! That helps a lot. I suppose if anyone has any more insight on the SR3, that would be cool, but I think the A-minima sounds like a decent enough option for this project. It would be nice to have a better video assist, but I like the fact that it supports daylight spools. The smaller mag is fine for this project. The lack of an orientable eyepiece is a bit of a drawback for certain angles and such but I think it should be fine for this.

By the way, do you happen to know if you can get daylight spools for any of the standard vision2 kodak stock? I think we're looking to get Kodak Vision2 16mm 250 and/or 500 (18 stock).
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#6 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 02:36 AM

Thanks a lot Mark! That helps a lot. I suppose if anyone has any more insight on the SR3, that would be cool, but I think the A-minima sounds like a decent enough option for this project. It would be nice to have a better video assist, but I like the fact that it supports daylight spools. The smaller mag is fine for this project. The lack of an orientable eyepiece is a bit of a drawback for certain angles and such but I think it should be fine for this.

By the way, do you happen to know if you can get daylight spools for any of the standard vision2 kodak stock? I think we're looking to get Kodak Vision2 16mm 250 and/or 500 (18 stock).

Kodak sells all of its Vision2 stocks in the 200" daylight spools.

The A-Minima is really intended to be a b-cam/handheld cam, but for low-budget work there's really nothing wrong with using it as your a-cam as long as you can live with its low configurability. Stick a good lens on it and you can get great results.
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 10:27 AM

For this we'll only be using original Kodak stock...no short ends. And actually I prefer the 200 ft spools because we won't be shooting too much film (about 500 ft.), so if I got 3 rolls of 200 ft. film, I'd have 600 ft. total, as opposed to getting 2 rolls of 400 ft. film which would give me 800 ft., leaving 300 ft. of unecessary film.


Both the XTR Prod and the SR3 can take 100ft daylight spools aswell as the more typical 400' rolls on core, so those cameras certainly don't limit your choice.

The only limitation would be from the A-minima which would force you to film on Kodak stocks only.

Your avitar says your a director so in all honesty the choice of an XTR versuses an SR3 is irrelevant to you, as both cameras with the same lens and stock will produce identical images. Its really a choice for your DOP or Camera Operator, who may have a preference for either one.

As said here already the A-minima is the only stand out of the three, as it will give you the option of having all the mobility availble to a light 3-chip DV camera.

Best,
Andy

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 04 November 2006 - 10:27 AM.

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#8 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 10:43 AM

[quote name='Andy_Alderslade' date='Nov 4 2006, 07:27 AM' post='136356']
Both the XTR Prod and the SR3 can take 100ft daylight spools aswell as the more typical 400' rolls on core, so those cameras certainly don't limit your choice.

The SR series allows 100' daylight spools, but the XTR only allows film on cores.
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#9 Nathan Milford

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 02:53 PM

LTR and XTR mags can ABSOLUTLY take 100' daylight loads.

The core retainer on the feed side comes off to handle this.

You still takeup to a core though and will need to unload in a bag.
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#10 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 02:54 PM

The SR series allows 100' daylight spools, but the XTR only allows film on cores.


Are you sure, because I have actually used 100' spools in an XTR, though notably not an XTR Prod. I remember the XTR manual saying that it accepts 100' spools but that the mechanical footage counter will not work with them and only the digital footage counter can be used. I believe the LTR is the same.

I haven't come across an XTR Prod in a while so I may have forgotton if there was a change in the magazine.
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#11 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 03:22 PM

Are you sure, because I have actually used 100' spools in an XTR, though notably not an XTR Prod. I remember the XTR manual saying that it accepts 100' spools but that the mechanical footage counter will not work with them and only the digital footage counter can be used. I believe the LTR is the same.

I haven't come across an XTR Prod in a while so I may have forgotton if there was a change in the magazine.



My mistake- I've never seen or heard of it used in that configuration. I could have sworn that I read in the manual that it took only cored loads. My bad guys!
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#12 Logan Schneider

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 04:03 PM

The XTR Prod or the SR3 would be the best choice probably if you can afford them. The A-minima is known for being delicate and not especially reliable.

I have never had a problem with the XTR prod or the SR3.
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#13 Mark Lyon

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 11:25 AM

[quote name='Logan Schneider' date='Nov 4 2006, 01:03 PM' post='136387']
The XTR Prod or the SR3 would be the best choice probably if you can afford them. The A-minima is known for being delicate and not especially reliable.

Perhaps I've just been lucky, but my A-minima has been solid and reliable. It's such a simple camera, it's hard to see what would go wrong with it. What probems have you heard of? I'll be on the lookout.

But one more thing that might factor into the camera decision: will there be lots of handheld shots? If so, you might lean toward the Aatons--I'm no expert on the SR3, but I've heard people say it's a bear for hand-held.
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#14 Nathan Milford

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 12:02 PM

The A-minima is known for being delicate and not especially reliable.


While it's not my favorite camera, I believe that is a misconception.

Personally, I have a love\hate relationship with them because I repair them and they aren't particularly friendly for the technician, but the delicacy and reliability rumors are usually a result of the hurt egos of AC's who don't learn the camera (which is very different in MANY regards from an SR or XTR) and commit numerous user errors on set where they don't have time to really learn the camera and have lots of eyes on them. Especially when standard productions use it in a standard a-camera role.

The camera is VERY easy to load, if you're experienced with it. It's a conceptual leap from Arri or Panny mags.

It is incredibly feature packed. Intervalometer, incident light meter, TC sync, timecode generator (built in origin c+)... especially for it's price point. More onboard features than the Xtera or 416.. at a fraction of the price.

The camera has a pretty simple mechanism. Very few parts are actually breakable if the camera is handled properly. It was built for extreme circumstances and for a specialized purpose. I wouldn't use it for an a-camera but I do enjoy shooting with it. I've stolen quite a few shots on the subway with it. I've seen them rigged in impossible places... places an SR or XTR wouldn't handle.

I'd rather be shooting on a XTRprod... but the A-Minima is by no means delicate nor is it unreliable. I can't say the same about many DP's and AC's though. >8)
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 01:37 PM

I would personally take the SR3 or the XTR. The a-minima is a fine camera b ut it has a couple fatal flaws for general filmmaking for me. The eyepiece is not orientable and has a very narrow angle through which you can see an image. I know this is to cut down on leaks through the eyepiece but it makes it terribly annoying for most shooting. You have to crane your neck into uncomfortable positions just to operate.

The other thing I dislike about it is the noise. It is a considerably louder camera than the other two. The noise will still be slight but after lots of operating under blankets to satisfy the sound mixer, I will never use one outside of specialized roles again.
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#16 Nathan Milford

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 02:06 PM

I would personally take the SR3 or the XTR. The a-minima is a fine camera b ut it has a couple fatal flaws for general filmmaking for me. The eyepiece is not orientable and has a very narrow angle through which you can see an image. I know this is to cut down on leaks through the eyepiece but it makes it terribly annoying for most shooting. You have to crane your neck into uncomfortable positions just to operate.

The other thing I dislike about it is the noise. It is a considerably louder camera than the other two. The noise will still be slight but after lots of operating under blankets to satisfy the sound mixer, I will never use one outside of specialized roles again.


Yeah. It's about as loud as a Moviecam (28db). No where near as nice as the SR or XTR (20db or less).

I wish it had a better viewing system and mechanical footage coutners on the magazines... I imagine those things were omitted from the design to keep the camera affordable.

It's good for what it was made for though.
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#17 Mark Lyon

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 06:52 PM

Good point about the noise levels.

On the viewfinder, I think there're pros and cons. On the pro side, it's incredibly clear and bright (perhaps because the optical path is so short?). We also use an LTR quite a bit, and it's a real pain to use because the viewfinder is so dark. On the con side, it's not orientable, which is a problem especially if you're left-eye dominant. I'm luckily right-eye dominant, so it's not a big deal for me.
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#18 Nathan Milford

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 08:04 PM

Good point about the noise levels.

On the viewfinder, I think there're pros and cons. On the pro side, it's incredibly clear and bright (perhaps because the optical path is so short?). We also use an LTR quite a bit, and it's a real pain to use because the viewfinder is so dark. On the con side, it's not orientable, which is a problem especially if you're left-eye dominant. I'm luckily right-eye dominant, so it's not a big deal for me.


I don't think it would be too difficult to design and implement a more orientable viewfinder extension for the A-Minima. The viewfinder housing attaches with four 1.5mm screws to the chassis. The assembly houses a prism and two optics. I'd design it if I had the time, but there are only 300 or so A-Minimas out there so if it were made... it'd cost a lot.

Fro the LTR, it's really the screen. The intermediary prisms and elements don;t add or remove much in the way or brightness. You're talking about a 30 year difference in fiberscreen advances and performance and manufacturing between it and the A-Minima. You could buy a new screen (that would be the universal screen for the XTRplus) and it'd be as bright and clear as day. But it's an expensive part.

- nathan
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#19 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 08:42 PM

It's good for what it was made for though.



Absolutely. It's just not an A-camera in my book.
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#20 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 09:04 PM

A friend of mine shot a whole feature with the A minima, yeap it was a pain to reload but they had a great workflow that allow them to save tons on film,
Some times your work with what they give you .....
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