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Did I buy and ACL 1.5, or 2?


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#1 Allen Lambert

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 03:50 PM

I just bought an ACL from someone who identified it as an ACL 1.5, but now that it has arrived (I bought it over the internets) and I'm looking at it I wonder if it isn't an ACL II. It has the flip down cover for the magazine latch, but the Angenieux viewfinder (Frankenstein?), the magazines are French (2-part pressure plate with the 4 guide tabs), and it has the 4 pin XLR power input.

I'm a hobbyist and certainly not an expert, so I'm hoping someone here can help me. I am going to be shipping it off in a few months to be checked out/overhauled as-needed.

Thanks in advance!
Allen
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#2 Craig Knowles

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 07:07 PM

What's the serial number?

I just sold an ACL 1.5 with serial #1975. A friend of mine has an ACL II around #2075. The changeover must have happened somewhere during that serial range.

There are some obvious cosmetic differences between the 1.5 and the II, the most visible being:
1) the base,
2) the motor and
3) the front power switch.

The ACL II's have:
-- a recessed On/Off flip switch on the front (as opposed to a sliding push-button switch on the ACL 1.5)
-- a lip on the front of the baseplate (as opposed to no lip for the ACL 1.5)
-- a recessed thumbwheel on the motor for advancing the shutter (as opposed to an exposed thumbwheel on the ACL 1.5)
-- a locking frame-rate selector that must be pulled out before it can be turned (as opposed to a knob that can be easily turned on the ACL 1.5)

I hope this help.

Edited by Craig Knowles, 06 March 2008 - 07:08 PM.

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#3 Allen Lambert

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 08:01 PM

Thanks, Craig, that is a huge help. I don't have it with me at the moment (I'm at work), but the serial number is over 2000. I does have the recessed flip switch in the front, and the lip on the front baseplate. I'll check it later for the other two items you mentioned, but I think it is the ACL II.

Allen

What's the serial number?

I just sold an ACL 1.5 with serial #1975. A friend of mine has an ACL II around #2075. The changeover must have happened somewhere during that serial range.

There are some obvious cosmetic differences between the 1.5 and the II, the most visible being:
1) the base,
2) the motor and
3) the front power switch.

The ACL II's have:
-- a recessed On/Off flip switch on the front (as opposed to a sliding push-button switch on the ACL 1.5)
-- a lip on the front of the baseplate (as opposed to no lip for the ACL 1.5)
-- a recessed thumbwheel on the motor for advancing the shutter (as opposed to an exposed thumbwheel on the ACL 1.5)
-- a locking frame-rate selector that must be pulled out before it can be turned (as opposed to a knob that can be easily turned on the ACL 1.5)

I hope this help.


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#4 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 09:29 PM

Thanks, Craig, that is a huge help. I don't have it with me at the moment (I'm at work), but the serial number is over 2000. I does have the recessed flip switch in the front, and the lip on the front baseplate. I'll check it later for the other two items you mentioned, but I think it is the ACL II.

Allen



Sounds like the ACL II.
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#5 James Baker

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 12:50 AM

And then there are the mutts. I have a S16 converted ACL II with an ACL 1.5 motor. :D

A great camera, btw, for discreet, inconspicuous sort of work. And esp. with the tiny 200' mags.
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#6 Allen Lambert

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 11:33 AM

The serial number is 21XX, and there is a lip on the front plate, and a flip switch on the front, as well as a recessed thumb wheel on the motor. It's an ACL II alright.

Thanks again for your help!

Allen

What's the serial number?

I just sold an ACL 1.5 with serial #1975. A friend of mine has an ACL II around #2075. The changeover must have happened somewhere during that serial range.

There are some obvious cosmetic differences between the 1.5 and the II, the most visible being:
1) the base,
2) the motor and
3) the front power switch.

The ACL II's have:
-- a recessed On/Off flip switch on the front (as opposed to a sliding push-button switch on the ACL 1.5)
-- a lip on the front of the baseplate (as opposed to no lip for the ACL 1.5)
-- a recessed thumbwheel on the motor for advancing the shutter (as opposed to an exposed thumbwheel on the ACL 1.5)
-- a locking frame-rate selector that must be pulled out before it can be turned (as opposed to a knob that can be easily turned on the ACL 1.5)

I hope this help.


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#7 Craig Knowles

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 01:55 PM

The serial number is 21XX, and there is a lip on the front plate, and a flip switch on the front, as well as a recessed thumb wheel on the motor. It's an ACL II alright.


Interesting. I've got an ACL II around #2300 that has the Kinoptic viewfinder so they must have changed it sometime between ~2100 and ~2300.
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#8 Allen Lambert

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 10:26 PM

Interesting. I've got an ACL II around #2300 that has the Kinoptic viewfinder so they must have changed it sometime between ~2100 and ~2300.

Either that, or the person who had this BEFORE the person who sold it so me swapped-out the viewfinder. Or are they not interchangeable?
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#9 Boris Belay

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:04 AM

Hi Allen, Your camera is indeed an ACL II model. Somehow, it's lost its Kinoptik VF somewhere along it's 30-or-so year life (all ACL VF are switchable, provided you have the matching base, which mounts with two screws).
Since you ask that question, here is my long answer regarding the dating and the history of the ACL. The evolution of the ACL is a bit of vexing one to figure out as it has not been well documented, even in Eclair literature (I'm trying to find out all the information I can before posting it on a website). First complication is the French/English double history and different timelines (at leat one thing is simple about the British ACL : it did not evolve beyond the original model except for the addition of the Brit 120m. mag, but production extended into the mid-70's, overlapping with the French production). The French camera evolved progressively, and even as improved features were available, the older ones remained as an option. Basically, the order is something like this :
Spring 1971 - original model : small base, small motor, small Angé viewfinder, 60m. mag only.
1972 - production stops in France for about a year, then starts again under the SOREMEC parent company.
73/74 - progressive introduction of : a) the French 120m. mag (after the British made their own), b) the heavy-duty multi-speed motor (first models did not have mirror parking feature) and matching mid-size base, c) the optional built-in lightmeter, d) the new magazine release protection system (which is not a feature introduced with the ACL II, despite what is said on the Super-16 ACL site), and finaly e) the improved Angénieux VF. The model incorporating all of these improvements is officially known as the Type 1974, but it's what people often call the 1.5 ACL (French serials range in the 1200-2000 or so).
76-78, Eclair releases the rare MOS sound ACL with a larger base needed for the sound electronics (French serials around 1700). Later, the motor is upgraded to be externally synched, the large base ("for future electronics") is adopted on all ACLs, and Angénieux stops making viewfinders for Eclair, replaced by Kinoptik (two kinds : the well-known large, orientable kind and also a small, non-orientable one, more rounded than the original small Angénieux model).
By 1978, Eclair comes up with the name ACL II for the camera including all of these improvements. By then the ACL II motors have been further improved with a bevelled plate that protects the inching knob, and the large base of the camera houses a Lemo connector for external synching (unfortunately, the Eclair Botex synching box is a very, very rare accessory today). Strangely, Eclair never printed an ACL II manual, only a 4 page insert that is meant to replace the central pages in the 1976 manual. The insert describes the Kinoptik viewfinder, large base, and the new ergonomic grip. ACL II serial numbers run from about 2000 (or perhaps 2200) to 3000 or so.
By 1986, production had stopped after bankruptcy of the Soremec/Eclair company, an attempt at reviving the company by its main engineers and employees, and the final Aaton buy-out of remaing stock, parts and patents. In the mean time, further models based on the ACL had been developped but hardly produced : the famous S-16/reg-16 Panoram (3 or 4 working prototypes built), but also an EX-16 model, which is basically a souped-up return to the original ACL concept of a light, minimalist camera (60 m. mags, small Kinoptik VF, unobtrusive motor designed by Aaton). The last ACL IIs produced are basically the same as the 1978 version, with the MOS option still offered, as well as an undocumented time-coding system. The lightmeter remained optional throughout production, so an ACL II does not necessarily have a lightmeter. A factory Super-16 option was also offered at some point in the late 70's, but I have yet to identify any such model. Incredibly enough, internally the camera was changed only in very minimal ways throughout its 15 years history, and deespite the ACL's growth from a light, minimal sister-model to the NPR to a full-blown (and much heavier) very versatile production camera -- a testimony to the excellent original design of Coma and Lec?ur !
After the Aaton buy-out, service of existing cameras was left in the hands of the main French service center renamed Eclair SCOP (the remains of which were bought by Gérard Gallé of ART & MEDIAS in Argenteuil), while Aaton retained the control over all electronic parts. A new motor (that of the EX-16 ?) and a set of new options (lightmeter, etc) were announced by Aaton, but I don't believe many were delivered, if any at all. Understandably, Aaton chose to concentrate on the production of its own cameras, after the demise of the company that first hired Beauviala to adapt his quartz-controled motors to the Eclair NPR.

If anybody has any information or corrections to add, or any questions related to the history and dating of ACLs, don't hesistate to ask !

Edited by Boris Belay, 02 June 2008 - 07:08 AM.

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#10 Boris Belay

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:25 AM

Ooops, first edit... The ACL sound model is obviously not MOS. It's a Commag single-system camera with the possibility of using either the built-in recording features or an outside recorder. Older ACL cameras could even be adapted for the latter option.
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#11 David Auner aac

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 11:06 AM

Wow, Boris that is indeed a wealth of info!

Understandably, Aaton chose to concentrate on the production of its own cameras, after the demise of the company that first hired Beauviala to adapt his quartz-controled motors to the Eclair NPR.


Speaking of the NPR do you have any such info about it too?

Cheers, Dave
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#12 Boris Belay

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:02 AM

Hi Dave,
No, sorry : not much info on the NPR/Coutant. That would take even more research, as that camera had such a long lifespan and just as little clear info from Eclair on its evolution.
My info is culled from all the Eclair manuals, brochures, and price lists that I could get my hands on, as well as scanning both the French and US specialized press (American Cinematographer) for news, pictures, ads, etc. Web-sites and eBay is a very good source of info too, but these have to be cross-checked with period info.
Anyways, I should post all of this on a site, and all my info on Bolex too. Then perhaps the Cameflex, and the NPR...
Cheers, B
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