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A-Minima technical questions


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#1 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:46 AM

Hello fellow Filmmakers and A-Minima users,

i have a shoot coming where i am going to use the A-Minima.
The camera was sponsored for this shoot. After the shooting is done i will write an article for a german magazine
that will cover the usage of the camera within our production as a part of the sponsoring deal.
This article covers some of the technical aspects of the camera i have a lack of information on, mainly this:
Manual states (citation):
"DistantEye viewfinder “Aaton patent”; the only reflex camera which doesn't fog the film if your eye is not held against the camera rubber eyecup."
How is this done? I assume it`s some kind of a light trap or prism system, just can't find any info about it.
Manual states (citation):
"200' quick change magazines, 'B' wound rolls in Aaton's flexible daylight spools"
I know that the film needs to be A-wind. Is that a typo in the manual?
Why was the standard B-wind changed for the Minima?

I also heard the rumour that the gate is virtually scratch-free. How is that done?
If you know, please invest a minute of your precious time and enlighten me.
Thanx and have a beautiful day. Oliver
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#2 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:49 PM

Nobody?!? Pleezeee...
and sorry for the double post.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:31 PM

The A Minima by design, needs the B winding as mentioned in the magazine on 200' "daylight spools," which are special order. Not all Kodak stocks, I don't think, are offered for the A Minima and I have no idea about Fuji. A call to either will give you more information as to the emulsions you can work with.
The viewfinder system, though i'm not 100% sure on this, requires pressure from your eye to open up and let you see through it. A call to either Aaton or an Aaton dealer/service provider. will answer your questions properly.
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#4 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:01 PM

"DistantEye viewfinder “Aaton patent”; the only reflex camera which doesn't fog the film if your eye is not held against the camera rubber eyecup."
How is this done? I assume it`s some kind of a light trap or prism system, just can't find any info about it.


I'm not sure exactly how the Aaton version works, but both Arri and Bolex (for the Pro) have a mechanism where the eyecup requires pressure to open an aperture in the eyepiece. Once you remove your eye the aperture closes.

I also heard the rumour that the gate is virtually scratch-free. How is that done?


Regular cleaning? :)

I would hope that every professional film camera gate is "virtually scratch-free"!
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 03:51 AM

I'm not sure exactly how the Aaton version works, but both Arri and Bolex (for the Pro) have a mechanism where the eyecup requires pressure to open an aperture in the eyepiece. Once you remove your eye the aperture closes.



It's not like that, there is no cover that closes, it just works!
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#6 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 06:14 PM

It's not like that, there is no cover that closes, it just works!

That of course is correct. No pressure necessary, can be viewed from a distance (thats why its called a "Distant VF" but how is it done? Prism, light trap...?
The Wiki Article states that it uses A wound film. The special order rolls are emulsion out but the manual states b-wind which would be emulsion in.
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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 06:24 PM

Kodak is the only one who supplies the proper wound 200 foot loads, http://motion.kodak....Films/index.htm

However, I have read here on cinematography.com that people have successfully loaded fuji stock into the mags. Also, Kodak now offers more stocks for the A minima, including both black and white stocks.
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#8 Chris Keth

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 06:40 PM

If you want to make the rest of your life seem bright and exciting, rewind film onto a-minima daylight spools yourself. To put it simply, it's a miserable job.

The eyecup doesn't have a mechanical closure. It's something akin to a lens that portholes very badly. Your eye has to be in just the right place for you to see an image. This means that if a light is in just the right place and your head isn't, it will stills fog film. I would treat it like any other viewfinder.

I find it easiest to thread the camera with the aid of an orangewood stick or a chopstick. There are numerous places in the body that my fingers just won't fit and the bit of wood helps out. I still can thread any other camera faster than I can thread an a-minima.
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#9 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 02:51 PM

Wow, lots of mis- and partial information here.

The Distant Eye viewing works because the shutter has a unique cup shape, so that light is either travelling directly to the eyepiece with the shutter closed or the film getting light with the cup up right by the eyepiece so that no light can get into the camera there and cause any fogging. It is a unique design unlike any other, and to replicate it on another camera would mean carving out a lot of space within for that cup.

The mags load backwards from every other 16mm mag I know, meaning emulsion out. I've forgotten whether that's A or B wind, but I suspect A and will have to check. It's been a while.

The gate is another unique A-Minima design. The film is positioned with a naturally occuring urve based on the size of the loop. This spring tensioning gently but very effectively pushes it up against a pair of guide rails on either side of the gate. These two rails are simply for proper positioning and are well outside of image area. The effect is to have the film frame sort of float naturally at the correct position, and it works exceedingly well. Because it is not sitting against a hard gate there is no hard point for a hair to lodge against. Those two rails are held in place magnetically, so one can pop them out every rare once in a while to wipe them down.

It's all increadibly cleaver, innovative and totally Aaton.
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#10 Simon Wyss

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 02:43 PM

I’m copy-pasting from Aaton’s web page:

With its "distant-eye viewfinder" A-Minima invites the operator to move the camera from eyebrow to arm's length (and back), without worrying about the light that enters the eyepiece! This distant-eye feature is obtained by means of a cone-shaped shutter attached to the reflex mirror (Aaton patent): it prevents the light that enters the eyepiece from being diffused onto the film by the viewing screen. This feature is especially helpful to camera operators who wear glasses, or who take shots in acrobatic positions (e.g. mountaineering).

(Coloured by me)
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#11 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 01:53 PM

The A-Minima in fact uses A-winding, emulsion out. Kodak helped pay for the development of the camera so any other film manufacturer will have to pay part of the development costs is they want to market A-Minima-suitable film spools.

Very nice compact S16 camera for low profile shooting, practice magazine loading first, the viewfinder really doesn't fog and you put the camera against the shoulder, not on the shoulder. Blow-ups were indistinguishable from XTR footage.
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