Well, I'm getting back into film production in a big way. (more about this in a different thread)
But of course, like everyone in film production, I need to spend money on stock, processing and transfer instead of cameras and lenses.
In order to save A LOT of money, I was contemplating buying a cheaper body, something like an Aaton LTR, where I can use Nikon glass instead of very costly PL mount glass for the Arri.
I haven't used an Aaton before, I've been an Arri guy since I was a kid, S, M, BL, SR, IIC, III etc. So I know all about Arri/PL mount, I know all about how they work, I can load the mag's in the dark with my eyes closed... get it, in the dark, eyes closed... I crack myself up.
Anyway, are the cheaper LTR cameras any good? I've got a guy selling one on ebay right now, which seems to be a good deal and I don't wanna pass it up.
It's a nice little package; however you will need to shoot it up to abel cine or someone of the sort for a look over. Aatons are fine, similar to arris, much nicer for handholding, of course, as that's their design. I haven't ever used nikkon glass on a cine film camera-- i wouldn't personally recommend it, as the marks will not necessarily line up and you can't exactly pull off of a monitor on film. So, I'd say unless you're shooting everything at F16, it would be much nicer/smarter/better to go PL and rent the PL optics you need as needed. hell you could buy my S16mm prime set if you wanted in PL or track down a good S16mm zoom
You'll be limited to longer focal lengths with the Nikon glass. I've used some for those type of shots and it was ok, although I only saw the final result on standard def TV. You can replace the Aaton mount with a PL mount on the Aaton, which will give you a larger choice of modern glass. The alternative was to use an Arri bayonet to Aaton Adapter, but that offers only the older class now.
I'd check up on the service history. Aatons are usaully quiet, have a great viewfinder. and the mags are easy to load.
Plus 1 on Adrian and Brian. If you could live without PL mount and if the service is up to date and not approaching an overhaul, then it's a really good deal. But if you are patient, some will come up with a PL hard mount. Later model (XTR), with PL mount and known service history is worth more, but it's still small money really.
ACL are also nice hand holding cameras. Not as nice on the shoulder as LTR/XTR, but much nicer than SR. Trouble is that with the best viewfinder, motor, grips and on board batteries the ACL II weighs close to an SR. Have to say though, that ACL has about the best possible idea for interchangeable lens mounts for the camera. Also, with a 200' mag it's quite small.
Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 21 October 2015 - 03:14 PM.
With prices as low as they are today, I would look for something as modern and serviceable as possible. You can get an XTR Prod for not much more than that LTR. Also, you can adapt any old S or B mount primes to PL, which go for pretty cheap as a set. Also, S16 zooms can be found very cheaply.
We'll have to get a lens tech on here to give a believable explation of why the cheap Arri/PL lens adapters aren't so good. It'll be something about the radial screws pressing directly into the side of the Arri mount, or the uncertainty on flange location and permanence of that. The decent ones with a lock ring are expensive, about $400, as are the parts to remount the lens as PL.
It's more complicated for Std mount because of the mechanics of the lens, but Bayonet is very simple. I use these - his work is excellent - and just leave them on. Occasionally have the FFD checked. I'm not saying it's the only way to go, but very feasible for someone operating on a budget.
I don't believe in anything cheap being "good" - but the market has made some great old primes pretty inexpensive. Bayonet MkI Super Speeds can be had for a song.
Edited by Kenny N Suleimanagich, 21 October 2015 - 04:49 PM.
For me, it's more about the body then anything else. Lenses are easy to find and adapt. Plus, Ive been told the Aaton's will take larger barrel lenses. So when I eventually buy a URSA mini and 35mm coverage glass, there is potential that glass can work on the Aaton right? Adrian explained to me recently that the SR's can't take those lenses because the larger barrel hits the viewfinder.
The Arri SR's have a registration pin and the Aaton don't?
The SR3 viewfinder is so-so, I can't remember the Aaton viewfinder being much different.
The SR battery system is A+, love it! But Aaton has a similar on-board kit, is it any good?
The SR mag's are easy to work on, I have no idea how the mag system works on the Aaton.
The SR3 has an integrated electronics package, the Aaton has an external one. Does this mean I always need to wear that belt for shooting standard 24, or can you set it and unplug the belt pack?
In terms of parts... I mean, wouldn't Arri be more expensive no matter what because they're the hundred pound gorilla and these older Aaton's are pretty cheap, so if you need parts, just buy another camera body?
Some Ultra Primes and Master Primes won't fit on the SR cameras. This is why the 416 was such a radical departure from those designs.
Aaton batteries are all 12v, SR3 is 24v. 12v has cheaper alternatives than 24v.
Aaton mags are way easier to load. The 416 copied the Aaton design style.
Not sure what you mean about the belt pack vs the SR3?
The XTRs are just a more modern system. The electronics are improved and the mags are magnetically-driven (quieter). Both the same price these days so it comes down to what you need most.
I love ARRI and learned on the SR3 - and now own a 416 - but I'd buy an XTR over the SR any day if only for the lens choices and superior ergonomics (and almost in fact did buy an Xterra over the 416).
Edited by Kenny N Suleimanagich, 21 October 2015 - 05:15 PM.
....Bayonet is very simple. I use these - his work is excellent - and just leave them on. Occasionally have the FFD checked.
Just after my last post I spotted this on eBay and it does look really good for the money, cheaper than the ones at VP. I think Aluminum alloy is OK if you look after the important contact surface. That 7075 alloy can have a higher yield stress than some stainess steels. But ss should be tougher, harder to dent or scratch.
I talked to a guy in the UK who after much research had some Zeiss remounts made in ss. There was initial machining, grinding, ageing and etching or some such chemical treatment to stabilize the ss. I could see why they cost.
Totally with you on the older Arri mount lenses. A lot of 16mm MKII superspeeds were in bayonet mount too.
Ohh and about the registration pin? Does the Aaton still have decent registration? How do they technically control registration? I know there are ways to get the pulldown claw to hold in place before pulling down, do they use a method like that?
I'm starting to think Aaton could be the way to go. I did some research about the mags and they are far superior to the old SR mags for sure. I really like the design of everything. I just never thought the French could make such a nice camera! That's been the business of Germans forever! LOL
The Aaton doesn't gave a registration pin, the camera has been used on many Super 16 feature films, so it's not an issue. It was explained to me by their agent as using the natural spring in the film when the correct loops are set to aid the registration, how accurate that claim is I don't know,.
Exactly right, they're all about using the natural shape of the film to get a steady image through the mag guides/pressure plate.
I've never heard of needing to use a crystal sync controller with an Aaton - but I've only worked with the XTRs, which I'm pretty sure are all crystal sync. Visual products has an XTR Prod kit for $4600ish. They give a warranty, too. Not a bad way to go for a camera that's maybe a decade old.
I think LTR have inbuilt xtal sync for sound speeds but for the variable speeds not. So the Medialogic gizmo gives xtal control for those other speeds. Does it let you choose any speed up to 54fps? That might be useful. Having the box in a bum bag with the umbilicle would be no fun for a lot of people. But if you are putting your battery there anyway it might not matter. Off-board battery removes a lot of weight.
Another reason to hold out for a later model. XTR or XTRProd will run 75fps. Finally catching up to ACL (smiley face)
The onboard battery does so much for the balance. I'd seriously just go for the newest thing you can find. Those cameras were not radical redesigns, just refinements on the original idea. The exception is the leap from LTR to XTR. $1700 is a great deal, but I wouldn't depend on it for a paid job in 2015.
Thanks for your input guys, it's much appreciated.
I'm waiting for some full package quotes right now, one SR3 and one XTR. Depending on what they look like, I might forego everything and try this LTR for shits and giggles. It's a very low entry price AND glass cost will be peanuts compared to PL mount stuff. I need more then one camera, so I may just grab the LTR anyway.
To be fair, I never used Aaton, but I always really admired the designer Jean-Pierre Beauviala, and his work.
On LTR/XTR the onboard battery sits above the shoulder and can't give much contribution to ballance or pitch stability (not much contribution to moment of inertia). On XTERA the 2 batterys are shifted back to the rear of the mag, which is a big contribution to balance and stability.
Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 22 October 2015 - 02:59 AM.
I also want to purchase an MOS 35mm camera for playing around. I purchased a bunch of old stock and I wanna just play around. I noticed these lenses were old Arri mount. The guy selling the Aaton has arri mount adaptor to Aaton mount. So unless I'm missing something... why can't I buy those two antique 35mm cameras, make one of them work with all those parts and use the glass on the Aaton as well, assuming it's not in rough shape.
I know it's a stretch here, but it sounds intriguing and cheap! If it's just junk, I'll just resell.