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Your Preference for 16mm - Aaton (LTR & XTR) or Arri SR (I, II, or III)?


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#1 David Fitch

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 09:37 PM

I've been a super 8 hobbyist for quite some time, but I've really wanted to make the jump to buying a S16 camera and shooting some 16mm.  With prices for pre-owned S16 packages becoming increasingly reasonable, the thought is becoming all the more tempting.

 

At the moment, I'm considering either an Aaton (LTR or XTR), or Arri SR (I, II, or III).  While I currently don't work in filmmaking, I was a freelance AC back in college and worked exclusively with Aaton LTR and XTRs, so I'm pretty familiar with the nuances of those systems.  That said, I think an Aaton might make the most sense in terms of my previous experience, but depending on prices and what's available, I definitely wouldn't rule out an Arri.

 

So, when it comes to 16mm cameras, what's your preference...Aaton or Arri?  I'm sure each camera has its quirks, but are there any reasons that you tend to prefer one camera system over the other?

 

Thanks to anyone who's willing to take a moment and chime in!


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#2 Oron Cohen

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 11:50 AM

Both are great cameras, loading the Arri is as easy as it can get, the Aaton is lighter/more comfortable on the shoulder.

 

I also think Arri is build like a tank and with a bit of care will last more or less forever :-)

 

In the end of the day Just go with the best deal you can get, my advise is to try and get a bundle that includes Camera+good zoom(like canon 8-64 or similar)+some accessories (on board Batteries are especially important as it not always easy to find).  

 

Also stay away from regular 16 cameras, you could always crop the sides if needed for 4:3 ratio, and the prices are as low as they can get at the moment, just saw a 416 on the forum for 9K which is a joke considering what you getting...


Edited by Oron Cohen, 09 December 2013 - 11:51 AM.

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#3 David Fitch

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 12:48 PM

Thanks for the advice, Oron.   As you suggested, my plan is to hopefully pick up everything as a package deal.  Also, my hope is that the included lens will be good to go for S16.  I'd hate to get everything only to notice some vignetting in the S16 frame! 

 

One quick question about the S16 gates, as I definitely wouldn't want an R16 camera.  Both the LTR and XTR I worked with had S16 gates, but I read somewhere (not on this forum) that only the SR3 is capable of S16 and that the SRI and SRII aren't capable of being modified for S16.  Is there any truth to this?  I'm a little suspicious of that statement, as I've seen a few SRI and SRII packages on eBay billed as having S16 gates.


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#4 Zac Fettig

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 01:17 PM

The SR1 and SR2 can be modified to s16. However, only the SR3 and some SR2s shipped as Super16 cameras; most left the factory as R16 cameras. All SR1s were shipped as R16 cameras.


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#5 Will Montgomery

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 04:48 PM

Aaton's are great cameras and are comfortable on your shoulder for sure, but I've found many more Arri techs around then Aaton techs. Which also means more Arri parts laying around in drawers in rental houses even if they've sold off their film cameras. Something to keep in mind.

 

Guess it's a little like Coke and Pepsi.

 

Another option might be to look into a Canon Scoopic. Coming from Super 8 you might find that camera to be really easy to use with a built-in meter (auto iris if you want to use it). They are really small and easy to use with a great lens.


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#6 Oron Cohen

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 07:19 PM

 

 

One quick question about the S16 gates, as I definitely wouldn't want an R16 camera.  Both the LTR and XTR I worked with had S16 gates, but I read somewhere (not on this forum) that only the SR3 is capable of S16 and that the SRI and SRII aren't capable of being modified for S16.  Is there any truth to this?  I'm a little suspicious of that statement, as I've seen a few SRI and SRII packages on eBay billed as having S16 gates.

No, that's not correct. There were plenty of Arri SR2 super16 cameras, most of them got converted at the factory or by professional camera tech and are rock solid, still haven't seen SR1 super16 so I'm not 100% sure about it. 

 

One point that Will raised and is very true, is that it's much easier to find parts and repair an Arri as it was a favourite of Rental houses (did I mention it was build like a tank). 


Edited by Oron Cohen, 09 December 2013 - 07:20 PM.

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#7 David Fitch

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 01:44 AM


Another option might be to look into a Canon Scoopic. Coming from Super 8 you might find that camera to be really easy to use with a built-in meter (auto iris if you want to use it). They are really small and easy to use with a great lens.

 

I thought about trying a Scoopic or Bolex...but only for about a second :)  Heck, I already have a K3 which, unfortunately, scratches emulsion like crazy, so it's really more of a conversation piece now than anything else!  Having AC'd with Aaton cameras in the past gave me a taste of working with a truly professional camera system with all the bells & whistles, so if the price is right I'd definitely prefer spending a little more and going for an Aaton or Arri.


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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 02:41 AM

SR1 could be S16'd easily, however it's not as common as a SR2, which is great. I prefer (and own) and SR3 over the rest of the cameras out there-- primarily for the ease of loading. Also the nice thing with the SR3 is that it is a R16/S16 camera at once-- the lens can be re-centered for R16 as can the bridge plate in a matter of minutes-- also built like a tank.

Only issue is the 24V power supply which is harder to find-- though the batteries can be re-celled pretty easily.

I also am pretty sure the SR3 is backwards compatible on mags back to the SR2, but not 100% on that.

The time-code mags may be worthwhile, though I've never used them-- and the camera shared many acessories from the Arri 35mm camera family (IVS) ect. Also it will 100% be a PL mount which may effect your lenses.

 

however, if you're doing a lot of hand-held shooting, I would go aaton, primarily because it is much more comfortable (though on the SR there are ways to make it work without too much trouble-- it just doesn't hug you the way an aaton does).

 

 

whatever you get, send it off to get looked over by a qualified tech.


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#9 aapo lettinen

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 07:47 AM

If talking about SR3 Advanced, it has the advantage of more easily changeable frame rates (built-in capability vs. external speed box of the older SR models) and adjustable shutter angle.

 

If I remember correctly, the SR3 also has steadier image than previous SR models (less tolerance added in manufacturing; because of the tighter 16mm film manufacturing tolerances applied in the end of the 80's )

 

Also the viewfinder optics and eyepieces are slightly better. Older SR:s have, in the other hand, the 12v capability which can be an advantage in some cases.


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#10 Will Montgomery

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 11:47 AM

I also am pretty sure the SR3 is backwards compatible on mags back to the SR2, but not 100% on that.

The time-code mags may be worthwhile, though I've never used them-- and the camera shared many acessories from the Arri 35mm camera family (IVS) ect. Also it will 100% be a PL mount which may effect your lenses.

I use time-code SR3 mags on my SR2 just fine, I'm sure that SR2 mags would work on SR3's in a pinch although the noise level might be higher.

 

Does anyone actually use time-code on an SR3? I've never run across that being used.


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#11 Adriano Cimino

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:49 AM

Hello, as a general question (from a non-experienced guy, as I am), which one is the camera that need technical assistance more often?

Something I read about Aatons, that they need a proper vacuum lubricance, keeps me thinking an Arri would be cheaper to mantain over the time - save it has more available spare parts.

But, since both need CLA from time to time, which is the actual need of it, between the two, or even among older, more affordable alternatives?


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#12 Will Barber

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:22 AM

If you have the correct shoulder mount kit, the SR3 isn't too bad handheld. I've done some minor shooting handheld without the correct accessories, and even that wasn't terrible. SR3's are tanks, so maybe that's just my personal preference for a heavy camera, though I've never used an Aaton, so I can only speak about the features of the SR3 that I enjoy. I will say though, that they're a breeze to load even in a small changing tent, and I've never experienced an issue with the camera that wasn't due to simply not knowing every little thing about operating it.


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#13 Tim Carroll

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:31 PM

Hello, as a general question (from a non-experienced guy, as I am), which one is the camera that need technical assistance more often?

Something I read about Aatons, that they need a proper vacuum lubricance, keeps me thinking an Arri would be cheaper to mantain over the time - save it has more available spare parts.

But, since both need CLA from time to time, which is the actual need of it, between the two, or even among older, more affordable alternatives?

 

I think any 16mm motion picture camera is going to need service at about the same intervals.  Anywhere from two to four years, depending on how it is used.  Having serviced both ARRI and Aaton cameras, I think it's pretty much a wash as to which is "easier" to service.  Both need specific training and specialty tools to maintain so neither are really user-servicable cameras.  You will probably find more folks who can service the ARRI SR line of cameras, but few do it the way the factory actually prescribes.  You can probably still get ARRI in New York to service an SR3, and Axel Broda may still be servicing SR and SRII cameras.  Those are the two sources I know who do the service as per ARRI factory spec.

 

Best,

-Tim


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#14 Adriano Cimino

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 09:15 AM

I was not meant - not at all - to service them by myself !

Thanks for the reply.


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