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Aaton A-Minima build-in photometer inquiry


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#1 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 08:52 AM

A brief couple of questions to all those who have shot with the Aaton A-Minima:

This little cat has a built-in "incident-light photometer coupled to camera speed (ISO exposure index)", as Aaton states. It is operated via the 'Sun'-symbol button on the control panel. A read-out states "the theoretical lens aperture", as the A-Minima manual says.

1) IS THIS indeed an incident light meter with an external (removable?) white dome mounted on the camera body?
If so, where is the dome located and what ambient range and in what direction is it measuring? Can the photo cell be taken off the camera body for close-object measurements or is it fully integrated? Are the lens aperture "recommendations" useful when shooting on the run (e.g. in Direct Cinema documentary settings)?


2) OR is it actually a reflective light meter, doing TTL/BTL measuring that is fully cross-calculated with the camera's shutter-opening angle, exposure time, transmission loss etc., as it is found on the Bolex 16 Pro (not H-series) or indeed top-gear Super 8 or SLR photo cameras?
If so, is it doing an emphasised measuring like a zone system calculation, or using a centric spotmeter angle, or just outputting the average of all incoming light, as some "press-button-stupid" cameras do?

Thank you very much in advance for responding. Highly appreciated!
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 08:57 AM

Hi,

Just a white dome on the side of the camera, a waste of space IMO.

Stephen

A brief couple of questions to all those who have shot with the Aaton A-Minima:

This little cat has a built-in "incident-light photometer coupled to camera speed (ISO exposure index)", as Aaton states. It is operated via the 'Sun'-symbol button on the control panel. A read-out states "the theoretical lens aperture", as the A-Minima manual says.

1) IS THIS indeed an incident light meter with an external (removable?) white dome mounted on the camera body?
If so, where is the dome located and what ambient range and in what direction is it measuring? Can the photo cell be taken off the camera body for close-object measurements or is it fully integrated? Are the lens aperture "recommendations" useful when shooting on the run (e.g. in Direct Cinema documentary settings)?
2) OR is it actually a reflective light meter, doing TTL/BTL measuring that is fully cross-calculated with the camera's shutter-opening angle, exposure time, transmission loss etc., as it is found on the Bolex 16 Pro (not H-series) or indeed top-gear Super 8 or SLR photo cameras?
If so, is it doing an emphasised measuring like a zone system calculation, or using a centric spotmeter angle, or just outputting the average of all incoming light, as some "press-button-stupid" cameras do?

Thank you very much in advance for responding. Highly appreciated!


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#3 Nathan Milford

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 09:06 AM

It's an incident meter. The diffuser is not removable and it outputs the aperture given that the ASA is programmed properly in the camera.

It is located near the rear of the camera next to the LCD. The readings are as accurate as any other properly calibrated light meter.

I think it's cute. While I typically use my sekonic or spectra... it has come in handy every once in a while.
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#4 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 09:25 AM

Dear me, that is what I call a rapid reaction...

Stephen, Nathan, thanks for the fast reply and clarification!

So it's a fully functional white-domed incident meter based on ISO and fps, giving out readings as accurate as any other comparable one could do; but in essence, it only makes some operational sense for a cinematographer if s/he takes the entire camera, goes to the object and takes a precise measurement as long as there is no add-on prodruding into the domes measuring range (like a rail, handgrip or other stuff) that could corrupt the light influx.

(Sorry, silly joke, I know, but I can't resist, as that would be a new spin on the Minima's size: "the world's first incident meter that can shoot S16 as well" :) !

Would anyone here who shot with the A-Minima have preferred a see a TTL-viewfinder system incorporated instead (as I outlined in my first post; e.g. for docu purposes) or should the entire light meter thing have been skipped altogether by JPB?
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 09:35 AM

Would anyone here who shot with the A-Minima have preferred a see a TTL-viewfinder system incorporated instead (as I outlined in my first post; e.g. for docu purposes) or should the entire light meter thing have been skipped altogether by JPB?


Hi Michael,

Yes and probably Yes.

Stephen
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#6 Nathan Milford

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 09:44 AM

One of the major design goals was to make the camera inexpensive. Popping an indecent meter on the side is much cheaper and requires less engineering resources. Installing a TTL meter would require all sorts of jiggering of the mount spider among other things.

I suspect it is for this reason that they didn't install a more orientable viewfinder and mechanical magazine footage counters... two features I would dearly love.
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 09:49 AM

I suspect it is for this reason that they didn't install a more orientable viewfinder


Hi Nathan,

That would be very cool.

Stephen
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#8 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 10:48 AM

The idea with the tiny camera is that you hold it right up to the use as a regular incident meter, thereby eliminating one more item for you to carry about. Good for daytime exterior I guess.
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#9 Tim Carroll

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 11:41 AM

Don't have nearly the experience with that camera that others do, but for me, that thing screams to be hand held. And as such, it seems pretty simple to walk forward five feet, get a quick reading with the meter on the camera, and walk back.

Just my 2ยข.
-Tim
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#10 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 11:44 AM

Installing a TTL meter would require all sorts of jiggering of the mount spider among other things.


Interesting. Given the ubiquitousness of such TTL solutions in the lower-priced Super 8 format, some 16mm cameras (I find it quite handy on the shouldered Bolex 16 Pro), let alone in photography, I have always been under the impression that implementing such a system would not be that expensive, resource-wise (componentry) and engineering-wise (wages for skilled craftsmen... craftspeople, sorry).

I suspect it is for this reason that they didn't install a more orientable viewfinder and mechanical magazine footage counters... two features I would dearly love.


I second that motion, and again, I was apparently misled to believe that mechanical solutions (esp. the footage counters) would be actually less of a drain on a company's resources than engineering electronical systems, manufacture the platines plus develop, test and update the software that is increasingly running in cine-cameras.

Re. the more orientable viewfinder: does the lack of orientability not go back to the dubious patent dispute ARRI started back in 1985 which cost Aaton one of their nine lives?
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#11 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 01:14 PM

Good for daytime exterior I guess.


Hi Mitch,

Day exteriors are a time that I hardly use a meter, I just look up at the sky and I know what the meter will say.

Stephen
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#12 Patrick Neary

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 01:40 PM

[attachment=2672:ExposureMeter.jpg]

:)
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:32 PM

[attachment=2672:ExposureMeter.jpg]

:)


learn that chart, except for sunrise & sunset you have it.

Stephen
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#14 Mark Lyon

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 07:39 PM

It's a great little camera, but I can't seem to get reliable readings with the onboard meter. At least on mine, it's hyper-sensitive to angle--moving the camera slightly will produce radical changes in the recommended T stop. So I just use my hand-held meter.
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#15 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 02:10 PM

It's hyper-sensitive to angle -- moving the camera slightly will produce radical changes in the recommended T stop.


Thanks for confirming that, Mark. I thought that this might be the case, but couldn't verify it. Very helpful. As were all the other posters. Thank you very much!
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