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CP16 vs. Eclair NPR, and Super 16mm


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 11:20 AM

I'm looking at a couple of packages offered by Visualproducts.com. I've narrowed it to either a CP-16A, or an Eclair NPR. The CP-16A is going for 2500, and the NPR for 3900. I've heard great things about both, and the packages are very similar (zoom lense, 2x400 mag, batteries, crystal sync). I like that the eclair has the added option of using a c-mount (I can use my Bolex lenses), and the easy to attach mags (although I've heard there can be problems with the mag holding secure--any truth to this?) But ultimately, are these advantages, and the overall quality of the NPR worth the extra 1400 over the CP-16A? Also, for the same price as the NPR, I could get a CP16R, with all the same accessories as earlier? I'm not as familiar with the CP16 line, but are there any features that make the 16R advantageous over the NPR?

And finally, I've been reading a lot about Super 16, and althought it sounds fantastic, is it really worth the additional 3 or 4 grand to get one of the above models converted to S16, especially since this camera will be for graduate school, not necessarily a professional career. I would be most grateful for any info.
Best,
BR
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#2 Brian Rose

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 11:41 AM

Also,
does the CP16 line require a torque motor for the 400 mag?
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#3 Carl Durrenberger

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 02:00 PM

The CP16/R has one main advantage over the /A model: in-camera reflex viewing.

This makes reflex viewing a function of the camera on the /R, meaning that any lens can be used, provided the correct adapter can be found to mechanically couple the lens to the camera.

On the /A camera, reflex viewing is achieved via a "dogleg" viewfinder side-mounted onto the lens itself. The biggest problem with this setup is that you are stuck using only lenses that have such dogleg viewfinders built into them (probably the Angenieux 12-120 that VP sells with the camera). You can't use a nikkor still prime, a nice Zeiss zoom, Cooke glass, etc. It can be rather limiting.

If you look closely at the images on VP's website, you will see the difference between the camera-mounted viewfinder of the /R model versus the lens-mounted "dogleg" viewfinder of the /A model.

The CP mags do not require a torque motor; the takeup reel is driven by a camera-powered belt.

If you're going to compare cameras, the CP16/R is the more fair comparison to the Eclair NPR, being that the NPR is reflex. That's probably why VP has the prices of those two cameras matched.

The CP16/R does have certain advantages over the Eclair:

1. Video tap capable - for 950 VP will install one. (only the /R has this)
2. Lightweight on-board batteries - means you don't have to lug around battery belts.
3. Integral crystal motor - means you don't have to deal with the quirks of outboard aftermarket motors.

The Eclair has certain advantages over the CP16/R:

1. Coax mags - means that changing out mags is easier/faster than on CP16/R
2. Variable shutter - means that you can change shutter angle to achieve certain in-camera effects.
3. 2-lens turret - means that you can switch between 2 lenses quickly (or even between regular and super-16 if camera is converted).

In the end, you have to judge yourself which camera "wins" against your criteria. I personally chose the CP16/R, but many folks love their NPR's, especially for more spontaneous documentary-like shooting where the quick-change mags and lens features are advantageous.

The CP16/A, while attractively priced, locks you out of using most lenses (particularly the wonderful Zeiss and Cooke zooms). I wouldn't particularly recommend it, but if that's all your budget really allows, it will suffice as a useful learning tool. And its certainly better than a Scoopic or Bolex because you can at least do sync sound filmmaking with it and get the convenience of 400-foot magazines.

At this stage in your career, I think super-16 might be disadvantageous, mainly because I think you'll learn more by projecting 16mm prints and critiquing them rather than just looking at telecined super-16mm footage and trying to imagine what a blowup would look like. Remember that super-16 is not a projection format...
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#4 Robert Morein

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 03:51 PM

[quote name='Carl Durrenberger' date='May 8 2005, 03:00 PM']
The CP16/R has one main advantage over the /A model: in-camera reflex viewing.

This makes reflex viewing a function of the camera on the /R, meaning that any lens can be used, provided the correct adapter can be found to mechanically couple the lens to the camera.

On the /A camera, reflex viewing is achieved via a "dogleg" viewfinder side-mounted onto the lens itself. The biggest problem with this setup is that you are stuck using only lenses that have such dogleg viewfinders built into them (probably the Angenieux 12-120 that VP sells with the camera). You can't use a nikkor still prime, a nice Zeiss zoom, Cooke glass, etc. It can be rather limiting.

If you look closely at the images on VP's website, you will see the difference between the camera-mounted viewfinder of the /R model versus the lens-mounted "dogleg" viewfinder of the /A model.

The CP mags do not require a torque motor; the takeup reel is driven by a camera-powered belt.

If you're going to compare cameras, the CP16/R is the more fair comparison to the Eclair NPR, being that the NPR is reflex. That's probably why VP has the prices of those two cameras matched.

The CP16/R does have certain advantages over the Eclair:

1. Video tap capable - for 950 VP will install one. (only the /R has this)
/quote
There is a video tap for the NPR:
http://members.aol.c...m/nprvideo.html
[quote name='Carl Durrenberger' date='May 8 2005, 03:00 PM']

2. Lightweight on-board batteries - means you don't have to lug around battery belts.
3. Integral crystal motor - means you don't have to deal with the quirks of outboard aftermarket motors.

The Eclair has certain advantages over the CP16/R:

1. Coax mags - means that changing out mags is easier/faster than on CP16/R
2. Variable shutter - means that you can change shutter angle to achieve certain in-camera effects.
3. 2-lens turret - means that you can switch between 2 lenses quickly (or even between regular and super-16 if camera is converted).
/quote

The NPR has much better registration than the CP. The pressure plate is much longer, and the pressure much higher. It has a spring loaded side rail. This means that unlike the CP, it can shoot for HD transfer. It also has a lower profile. Try shooting in a car with a CP!

But both cameras have weaknesses:
1. The motor of the CP is virtually nonrepairable.
2. The belts of the CP are made of gutta percha, and disintegrate.
3. The NPR is famous for losing sync, because the motor coupling is a soft rubber "doorknob" that relies on friction to keep it from slipping. Anyone who contemplates using an NPR should pick up a "speed checker" tool.
4. The NPR turret compromises the lens-focal plane accuracy. It's considered a plus to convert to a non-turret, hard front.
5. The NPR is a brute to hand-hold.
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#5 Josh Hill

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 04:14 AM

Like I've said before, Paul Hillman at Visual Products knows his CP16s. If you have a motor problem, he can most likely fix it. Plus, during a regular overhaul he replaces the belts in the CP16 with custom made belts that don't disintegrate over time.
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 08:43 AM

Thanks for the info. Perhaps you can tell me what this means. In the two CP16 packages he offers (CP16A and R) , the more expensive R package comes with what he callsl "recelled" batteries. There is no mention of this for the cheaper cp16A package. Does that mean the CP16A, in addition to not being reflex, does not come with a recelled battery? Should I be worried? How easy to find are the CP16 batteries anyways?
Brian
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#7 Marty Hamrick

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 08:15 PM

I've used both cameras extensively.You can seriously get burned with a bad viewfinder on a 16A.I would steer clear of that one.Especially if it had been a TV news camera as it would've beaten to hell by several different news shooters and reconditioned a few times.The Eclair is a much nicer package.Quick change mags,spinning mirror shutter,orientable finder,yes worth the extra money.The Eclair would've had likely had fewer owners and less abuse as this is more of a documentary,commercial type camera.Also an Eclair NPR can be easily converted to super 16.This is important.If you shoot 16mm these days HD release is almost a certainty.
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#8 Josh Hill

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 02:58 AM

CP16R can also be easily converted to Super16. Visual Products will do a wonderful job with that, and can even give you a PL hardfront.
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#9 andrewbuchanan

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 09:34 AM

The NPR's variable shutter alone would make the decision for me. I guess I have praised the NPR enough in this forum... and will not bore everyone with the details again (a search will yield plenty of info). I think for the price... it is the best bargain. However, if you get a good example of either of these cameras (NPR opr CP-16R), you will be very sassiffied (in the words of Clarance Carter). Don't even consider a 16A.
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#10 Ian Marks

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 11:48 AM

I have an ACL, but since acquiring it I've seen several very nice NPR packages, both converted and unconverted, for sale at what I thought were great prices.

The NPR is arguably more robust than the small ACL, and you don't have the motor issues. The CP16R is a pain to thread when you're in a hurry, but it's hockypuck rugged and cheap to buy.
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#11 Raffinator

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 02:42 PM

The NPR has much better registration than the CP. The pressure plate is much longer, and the pressure much higher. It has a spring loaded side rail. This means that unlike the CP, it can shoot for HD transfer.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Robert,

What is a "spring loaded side rail", and how does it affect the ability to shoot for HD transfer?
By the way, I use the ACL quite a bit and like it a great deal, wondering if it has this feature as well.

Raffi
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#12 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 03:28 PM

Hi Robert,

What is a "spring loaded side rail", and how does it affect the ability to shoot for HD transfer?
By the way, I use the ACL quite a bit and like it a great deal, wondering if it has this feature as well.

Raffi

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


In Super-16, the perforated side of the film is the "reference edge" defined by standard SMPTE 201M. Optimum lateral steadiness is achieved when the reference edge is positioned against "fixed" guides, and the opposite side is gently pushed against the fixed guide, sometimes using a "spring loaded side rail".
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#13 Robert Morein

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 10:41 PM

The ACL has a spring loaded side rail.
The rail on the side opposite the claw is spring loaded.
You can feel this by pressing sideways on the rail with your finger.
Be gentle.
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#14 Raffinator

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 03:18 AM

The ACL has a spring loaded side rail.
The rail on the side opposite the claw is spring loaded.
You can feel this by pressing sideways on the rail with your finger.
Be gentle.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Cool, I will look for it. I am assuming that this "lateral steadiness" factor is much more critical for telecine to hd ("hd transfer"), and thus the spring loaded rail makes it more exact. Thanks.

Raffi
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#15 Brian Rose

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 05:24 PM

Obviously, there is quite a debate between the NPR and the 16A. Maybe this might help. You see, I am an undergrad who will be attending film school in another year. I'm looking for a nice crystral camera that is affordable and can be used for a range of things (hence the portability of the aformentioned models). So, for a film student, is it really worth it to pay the extra 1600 for the NPR, when I very well might upgrade later? I've heard great arguments for the reflex camera, but I don't expect to need, or be able to afford lenses, so I don't really need reflex, if I have a dogleg lense on the 16A. Would you still recommend going the extra mile for a 16R, or an NPR?
Best,
Brian Rose.
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#16 Ian Marks

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 06:06 PM

I would advise against getting the CP16A (non-reflex) unless you get it at a ridiculously low price... The view through the Angenieux lens' built-in finder is funky (an aerial image with a central ground glass spot for focussing). There's no real upgrade path for that camera, either. Most of the CP16Rs can take a a video tap, and they can all take Arriflex or Nikon lenses via an adapter, making them very versatile.
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#17 Rik Andino

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 07:08 PM

I've heard great arguments for the reflex camera, but I don't expect to need, or be able to afford lenses, so I don't really need reflex, if I have a dogleg lense on the 16A.  Would you still recommend going the extra mile for a 16R, or an NPR?

Brian Rose.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes.
There's no point in spending money to get a camera
That you'll have to sell two years later when you want something better.

Spending the extra cash will insure
You won't need to buy another camera in three years
When you want to do better things.
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#18 moviespeak

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 08:40 PM

I've used both cameras extensively.You can seriously get burned with  a bad viewfinder on a 16A.I would steer clear of that one.Especially if it had been a TV news camera as it would've beaten to hell by several different news shooters and reconditioned a few times.The Eclair is a much nicer package.Quick change mags,spinning mirror shutter,orientable finder,yes worth the extra money.The Eclair would've had likely had fewer owners and less abuse as this is more of a documentary,commercial type camera.Also an Eclair NPR can be easily converted to super 16.This is important.If you shoot 16mm these days HD release is almost a certainty.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


"....you can seriously get burned with a bad viewfinder on a 16A..."

Could you be more specfic ie, I have a 16A, and while I haven't shot anything with it yet, could you please give me a few of the pitfalls I may encounter and how to avoid them. Thanks in advance.
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