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Best Arri 16mm to buy for repairability sound cam


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#1 Alain Lumina

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:27 AM

Planning on getting a 16mm camera, wondering where is the sweet spot for maintainability. I had a Cinema Products CP-16R I liked but lost it while in storage, and Bernie says those have custom ICs that can't be replaced,  so not good.

What in the 16mm Arri line is the best balance between price and likely repairability? I can spend about 2500 for the camera; I'm guessing Arri 416s are too new to get for that price.

 

I'm open to other camera brands, but from reading inquiries about repairs, many seem to go unanswered (no one knows how to help) so I'm scared.


Edited by Alain Lumina, 22 September 2016 - 01:28 AM.

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#2 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:49 AM

Where are you Alain?  I think it's good if you have a camera tech nearish to you.  So,  what they are able to do,  this camera vs that,  could affect your choice of camera.

 

Talk to them.

 

Candidates might be SRII,  AatonLTR54, Eclair ACL.  But you can get lucky and find later model SRs and Aatons cheap.  Just bear in mind that a camera in need of overhaul may be worth nothing.  And a camera without an honest disclosure of service history is a big risk.

 

So are you feeling lucky?


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:51 AM

Well, I've shot almost exclusively with arri cameras in the past, with the occasional odd-ball CP16 or Bolex for little projects.

When it came time to buy my OWN equipment, I really didn't want something from the 70's, I really wanted something more modern. So that kinda removed the more affordable SR and SRII's from the mix. I also wanted Super 16, I didn't want to deal with "conversions".

This is partially why I decided to go Aaton for my Super 16 equipment. Not only are the Aaton's quieter then ANY Arri SR, but they are lighter, simpler and easier to work on. Plus, the Aaton's are much better for hand holding, which is a huge plus when shooting with small cameras.

I got my Super 16 Aaton LTR/XTR hybrid for $1500 bux, which is a lot of camera for not much money. I wanted to use older Bayonet glass, so the Aaton lens mount worked perfect, it keeps me away from dealing with the more expensive PL mount glass. It's also impossible to get SR3's for anywhere near $2500 USD. You're looking at $3k - $4k and because they're PL only, you're stuck to spending a lot of money on glass.

If I had everything to do over again, I would have saved more money and been more patient. I would have gone for a late generation XTR with the superior/more efficient video tap. My LTR's tap drains batteries and it's not very good either. The late generation XTR's tap is very good and the newer battery system is far superior as well. Obviously the Xtera would be the optimal camera to own, but they're super rare, I've only seen one for sale in the last 2 years.

Arri 416 would also be nice, but I can't imagine servicing it. Arri's are very expensive to own because it's the little things that go bad and need replacing. Don't get me wrong, my Aaton has needed quite a few parts, but I've had no problem finding them through Able Cine. The 416's are also around $8k - $12k used right now and the pricing is holding steady as the value of S16 has flatlined thanks to Kodak's commitment. In fact, this current round of used cameras on Ebay, has the highest pricing I've seen in a while. So we'll see if they sell or not, but it's very interesting for the future of things.

In the end, I love my little Aaton. It's not much to look at, but boy does she deliver. I love the simplicity of the movement and the ingenious pulldown claw. I love the ultra quiet mechanical magazine drive. Heck, even working on the camera is kinda fun in it's own way, it's no Arri that's for sure... for better or worse. Would I prefer an SR3? Sure, but only because it's newer, not because it's any better.
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#4 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 02:05 AM

Tyler,  you're just an Aaton fanboy aren't you.  On the issue of encouraging people to fiddle with their own cameras without any depth of education,  training....


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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 03:44 AM

Plus one for the Aaton.. was way ahead of the SR I and II.. they really did sound like a tractor,although built as tough too.. the Aaton single claw.. hairless gate.. the mag loading .. ergonomics.. the magnetic drive .. lovely camera,s..


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#6 Alain Lumina

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 06:43 AM

Thanks so much to all for the varied and very fast feedback. I have found, with film, in technical areas;  as well as actor enthusiasm, people seem so willing to help.


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#7 Alain Lumina

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 06:57 AM


"... a camera without an honest disclosure of service history is a big risk.

 

So are you feeling lucky?"

 

Heheh. I'm planning  to make a self funded 16mm feature. Leaning towards ORWA B&W and a Noir script.  I think that qualifies as feeling lucky,  to the point of being delusional. :D

 

Seriously, you raise a good point, maybe it's worth the extra to buy from a reputable dealer.


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:53 AM

Or just ask anyone who's,s selling, to have the camera serviced first.. Ive done that before.. and the seller was fine to do so.. 


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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 10:47 AM

Tyler,  you're just an Aaton fanboy aren't you.


Ya know, I never liked Aaton as a kid. I felt the cameras were more fragile then the Arri's and in a lot of ways they are. Arri's are made like mass produced diesel trucks. Aaton's feel like little/fragile home made sports car engines. No two cameras are the same with Aaton, they're constantly making changes and modifications over the years. To me, it shows how much they cared about the product. Where Arri pushed out the SRII, which is nearly identical to the SRI, Aaton were churning out a much more advanced camera technically for less money because they never stopped developing.

The moment I saw the pulldown assembly, I was hooked. In my eyes, that's the way to make a film camera and honestly, it's the most important single part.
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#10 Giray Izcan

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 11:43 AM

Well SR3s aren't loud. At least the ones I used were dead quiet.
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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 01:17 AM

Well SR3s aren't loud. At least the ones I used were dead quiet.


Like all things, depends on how well they are maintained. The SR3's are MUCH quieter then their predecessors.

We just did a demo with an SR3 and my LTR in class, both with film, both running and the students knew the SR3 was running, but had no idea the LTR was as well. That's how much quieter the Aaton is. They had to pick it up and put it next to their ear to hear it running in a dead silent classroom.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 04:06 AM

Interested to hear about the custom ICs in the CP-16. Depending on exactly what they do, it's very possible such things could be trivially replaced with a microcontroller and a bit of code these days, so let's not write off CP-16s with dead electronics.


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