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My 'new' Super16 Eclair NPR!

NPR Eclair shutter

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#1 Lonny

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 10:05 AM

I still need to build a battery for it to fully check it out, but so far it seems like a nice, solid camera and I'm really excited to start using it. One of the first things I noticed is that I couldn't adjust the shutter. When I emailed the previous owner he stated "the NPR has a fixed shutter. Did the (ebay) listing imply an adjustable shutter?" Kind of defensive sounding, but I assured him it wasn't a deal breaker, I was just trying to find out the specifics of the camera.

The camera has all the controls indicated in the instruction manual I downloaded for adjusting the shutter. EVERYTHING I've read about the NPR lists the adjustable shutter as one of those features normally found on higher-end cameras but the NPR comes with one. Is it common practice to replace the shutter when modifying to Super 16? Could the NPR be ordered from the factory with a fixed shutter? Bernie, can an adjustable shutter be re-installed?

Anything else I should check once I get the battery?

Thanks!

Edited by Lonny, 22 June 2013 - 10:06 AM.

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#2 Ian Cooper

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 06:01 PM

certainly on the standard regular-16 NPR, as built, they have an adjustable shutter.
Granted, mine can be a little stiff to get to move and adjust.
Why do you think yours doesn't have an adjustable one?

 

(PS. Don't forget, when the NPR was first introduced it was a cutting edge revolutionary design.  It's only now 50 years later that it is a bit basic and not so advanced compared to everything that has come since!)


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#3 Lonny

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 07:23 PM

Thanks for the reply, Ian -

I follow the directions for the shutter adjustment in the manual - hold the switch on the side of the camera to Reglage Obturateur, and then push in on the silver recessed knob on the opposite side of the camera and turn it to adjust the shutter.  The shutter turns a bit, but then seems to 'bind up'.  I don't see the black piece with the measuring lines like I see in the youtube videos.  The wheel the mirror is mounted to seems to be a solid piece and the mirror surface appears to be not quite 180 degrees, a little greater opening maybe 220?  I'll shoot a little video and post it, showing what I'm seeing.

 

It seems the battery I bought - a sealed lead acid 12V 5Ah isn't "at about 90%" as I was told, so I'll have to get that checked on Monday.  The camera ran for a second, really slowly, but now just the sync light turns on.

 

I was so excited to get this camera yesterday - I hope these things can be worked out so I can shoot some test footage.


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#4 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 10:46 PM

a sealed lead acid 12V 5Ah isn't "at about 90%" as I was told

 

Get yourself a multimeter so you can check the battery voltage whenever you want.  Fully charge the battery using  an appropriate charger for the correct length of time. 


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#5 Lonny

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:08 PM

My multimeter shows 12.53 volts.  I decided the XLR wire might be too thin so I did a new cable from thicker wire that fits better into the soldering sockets on the Cannon four pin connector.  Same result.  I plug it in and the sync light turns red, the motor runs for two seconds then stops.  Thing is, the sync light is on whether the switch on the camera is pushed or not - is that a low battery indicator?  I turned the little pot switch to a setting for 15 fps 60hz, since I thought fewer fps might help it turn over easier, but it didn't work.  I guess I'll get a charger for the battery and try it again fully charged.  I've been offered a refund, but it would put me out a total of $150 for return shipping and I only paid $900 for the whole kit (body, three mags, all supposedly converted to Super16, 12-120 lens that doesn't quite cover the S16 frame).  I think I'd rather keep it and put the $150 toward servicing?


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#6 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 12:05 AM

Sorry Lonny,  I don't know the NPR.  I was just trying to encourage you to have adequate power supply to the camera,  to remove that uncertainty.  There are several NPR guys who may notice your thread and give some ideas.

 

Cheers,

Gregg


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#7 Ian Cooper

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:49 AM

First things first, get your battery charged!

The NPR takes a reasonable amount of current whilst it's running, so you want to know the battery is charged to start with.  Looking at the terminal voltage whilst there's no load on the battery doesn't reveal a huge amount, especially when what you're wanting to run is a thirsty beast.

 

If you really want to see what the battery's doing then try measuring it's voltage whilst running the motor.  If you're not able to easily do that, and currently don't have access to a charger, then try unclipping the motor from the camera and see if it'll run on its own without the load of the camera.


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#8 Lonny

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 07:30 PM

It purrrrrs like a kitten! I noticed that after I run it for a bit, before starting it up again, I have to switch it to shutter and roll it forward a bit and it seems to 'give', as if it's bound up a bit. Then I switch it back to motor and it runs fine. Is that normal or am I not leaving a large enough loop? I do the whole 'two finger', divide the loop thing. Also, the sync light seems to flicker from time to time, is that a concern?

I know you must be sick of all these newbies with the questions, but I really appreciate the help! I think I'm going to love this camera! SO much quieter than my Beaulieu.
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#9 Lonny

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:42 PM

Here is the video showing the shutter - I think the adjustable has been replaced with a fixed one.....


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#10 Ian Cooper

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 04:28 AM

I don't know about 'two fingers', using that as a gauge would rather depend on the size of your fingers.  I suggest you follow the original user instructions, which is to pull the loop out of the magazine and ensure it is 12 to 13 frames (ie. perfs) long, then tuck it back into the magazine trying ensure the loops are equal both top and bottom.   I seem to recall this figure is engraved into the end of the mag on mine.

The easiest way to see if the binding up problem is related to how the film is loaded, is to try running the camera without any film in it (not at high speed ;)  25/24fps will be fine).   If it still exhibits this problem then it clearly isn't to do with the film loading.

I very occasionally have the motor on mine hiccup.  If it's going to do it then it'll be when you stop it running.  When you next try to start it then the light comes on and it refuses to start.  Manually nudging the shutter forward with the advance dial just so the "auto stop with shutter closed" circuit kicks into play is sufficient to reset it all and it's fine thereafter.  Despite being an electronics engineer, I have no desire to try fault finding inside after having seen in there! ;)  The vast majority of the time it runs first time, and it'll happily sit and run a full 400ft through in one go without loosing sync if you so desire, so a very occasional hesitation isn't a problem for me.

Alas, I haven't used it in a year or so now, and with the state of 16mm in the UK now I can't see me playing with it again any time soon.  Without digging it out I'm not sure how your shutter compares with mine to see if it's been changed.  Personally I'd concentrate more on resolving any possible motor issues first.

 

Ian.

 

 

It purrrrrs like a kitten! I noticed that after I run it for a bit, before starting it up again, I have to switch it to shutter and roll it forward a bit and it seems to 'give', as if it's bound up a bit. Then I switch it back to motor and it runs fine. Is that normal or am I not leaving a large enough loop? I do the whole 'two finger', divide the loop thing. Also, the sync light seems to flicker from time to time, is that a concern?

I know you must be sick of all these newbies with the questions, but I really appreciate the help! I think I'm going to love this camera! SO much quieter than my Beaulieu.


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#11 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:48 AM

I very occasionally have the motor on mine hiccup.  If it's going to do it then it'll be when you stop it running.  When you next try to start it then the light comes on and it refuses to start.  Manually nudging the shutter forward with the advance dial just so the "auto stop with shutter closed" circuit kicks into play is sufficient to reset it all and it's fine thereafter.  

 

In my experience this kind of issue is invariably due to either a short in one of the motor windings or occasionally a problem with the brushes, like a stiff pivot. Stopped at a particular point in its rotation the motor won't run, but inched on a bit it starts up again, and once running it seems OK.  I've never worked on an NPR, but I've come across it in an ACL motor, and in other movie cameras.

 

Depending on the severity (number of commutator bars affected) it can create slight speed dips which would cause a sync light to come on momentarily.

 

Alternatively, if it's a binding issue manually inching the camera forward without film loaded should give you a sense of whether there's a mechanical tight spot somewhere in the intermittent pulldown cycle. But again, I'm unfamiliar with an NPR.


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#12 Lonny

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 11:28 AM

Ah, run it without film to test the binding.  I don't know why I didn't think of that.  I think I'll end up selling off some other equipment so I can get the NPR to Bernie for servicing.  Who knows when it was looked at last and I'd feel better knowing it had been looked at before doing any large projects with it.  It's sad to think of your NPR sitting in a closet somewhere, Ian!  Filmstockclearance(dot)com has great deals on Fuji film right now, but I can understand.  I probably should have used my money to do a project with my Beaulieu rather than buying the NPR, now I can't afford film!  I'll shoot a test roll with the different lenses I have and post the results.  Thanks again for the help.


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#13 Ian Cooper

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 02:19 AM

 

In my experience this kind of issue is invariably due to either a short in one of the motor windings or occasionally a problem with the brushes, like a stiff pivot. Stopped at a particular point in its rotation the motor won't run, but inched on a bit it starts up again, and once running it seems OK.  I've never worked on an NPR, but I've come across it in an ACL motor, and in other movie cameras.

 

Depending on the severity (number of commutator bars affected) it can create slight speed dips which would cause a sync light to come on momentarily.

 

Alternatively, if it's a binding issue manually inching the camera forward without film loaded should give you a sense of whether there's a mechanical tight spot somewhere in the intermittent pulldown cycle. But again, I'm unfamiliar with an NPR.

 

Thanks - there's no obvious stiffness or resistance, but you could well be right.  It must be about 4 years ago since I got the camera and spent any time trying to investigate things. By 2010 I'd decided to just use it!

When I first got the camera the motor was being awkward the vast majority of the time and would almost never run.  I tracked that down to the connectors taking the feedback signals from the encoder disk back to the controller board.  Subsequently talking to a camera engineer with experience of Eclair electronics, he confirmed that the proprietary green connectors had been a frequent cause of problems.

It took a great deal of wiggling, but I finally managed to squeeze into the available space some alternative new connectors which (almost) totally solved the problems.  Looking inside there's the obvious analogue driver PCB, which I seem to recall also contained the PLL.  In addition my motor has two mystery accessory sockets on the front as well, these head off to some digital boards that contain a wealth of TTL logic gates in the lower half.

0004.jpg

I decided in the absence of circuit diagrams (which apparently were never readily available) trying to track down where an exceedingly rare intermittant fault lies was really not worth the bother - I'd be better off just using the camera!  :)


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#14 Ian Cooper

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 02:46 AM

..., Ian!  Filmstockclearance(dot)com has great deals on Fuji film right now, but I can understand.  I probably should have used my money to do a project with my Beaulieu rather than buying the NPR, now I can't afford film!  I'll shoot a test roll with the different lenses I have and post the results.  Thanks again for the help.

 

 

 

Yes, they have some very tempting prices.  Fuji's  "Complete 16" package was great value as well.  Unfortunately the price of film was never really the main stumbling block for me, I ended up giving away a pile of 400ft cans last summer which had been sat in the fridge for a year or so with little prospect of use.

 

The difficulty I found was on the telecine side.  The 'best light' transfer that came as part of a process & Tk rushes package from a number of different labs always seemed to give results that looked dark and underexposed when viewed on the TV.  If I tried lightening them on the PC then the image would very quickly fall apart into an ugly mass of grain/noise.  Labs were able to confirm the density of my negs were fine, and in their opinion the telecine results looked good for a rushes package as well.  I seemed to reach an impasse.

The last little project I shot with the NPR was done using the 'Complete16' scheme, and once again I was quite disappointed with the telecined results - they just weren't usable.  In the end I took the film down to Rushes Post Production and booked a seperate telecine session with them where I sat in with the colourist.  I have to say it was a fascinating experience, and there was no problem at all producing a 'normal' looking image you might expect to see on a TV programme.

 

In the end I reached the conclusion that the best light Tk I could get as part of dailies/rushes deal was not intended for final finishing.  For an offline edit prior to a final Tk and grade it would no doubt be fine.   Although Rushes gave me a healthy discount for being a non-commerical personal 'home movie' type affair, the cost was still a bit eye-watering!  By the time the price of film & processing was added on as well it made for a rather expensive 500ft of film!  Lol.

As much as I love the process of it all and using the camera, I simply can't afford the high cost of getting a final telecined version I can edit and do anything with.

 

Prior to the NPR I used (and still have) a Beaulieu R16 as well.  Two very different cameras!  As nice as the R16 is, I was very aware of the 2.5 minutes of film passing through as the camera whined away.  By comparison the 400ft in the NPR seems almost limitless, and the camera softly purring sat right next to my ear seems much more relaxing.  If only the NPR was the same weight as the R16 it would be almost perfect!  Lol

Best of luck with your projects, hope you have fun with it.  The flight case for my NPR now acts as a table in the living room as it's too big for any cupboards!  lol.


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