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Buying Eclair ACL or Aaton LTR?


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#1 Jason Banker

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:01 PM

Hi,

I am wondering if it is better to buy an Eclair ACL converted to S16 for about $3500 or an S16 Aaton LTR 54 for $7000?

Please compare weight, ergonomics for handheld work, ability to attach a video tap, reliability, and camera noise.

Is it worth spending twice the money for an Aaton?

Thanks
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#2 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:56 PM

ACL works with 100' and 200' magazines. I'm not sure there are 400' ones.

It's got a special kind of shutter : the mirror is not turning, it's oscillating at half the speed and you have a seperated shutter (175 °).

Never heard of a video tap for it, though it might exist, I don't know, but you 'd more easily rent one for the LTR, for sure.

Had one at school, don't remember how noisy it was (may be not that much) but I never saw any in production... Shot many shorts and TV series with aaton LTR and XTR, though.
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#3 John Mastrogiacomo

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:33 PM

ACL works with 100' and 200' magazines. I'm not sure there are 400' ones.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There are English and French 400' mags. The French ones are considered better.
A video tap can be added to the ACL.
They are pretty quite and can be tweaked to be quiter by guys like Bernie O'Doherty. :)
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#4 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:38 PM

There are English and French 400' mags. The French ones are considered better.

:D :D :D :P
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#5 Jason Banker

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:19 PM

... Shot many shorts and TV series with aaton LTR and XTR, though.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


So from this I can assume that if I bring an Aaton on set people will feel more confident than if I bring a Eclair ACL..? (its more professional?)

Would that alone make it worth the extra money?

Also does the shutter make the ACL less interesting of a buy? How much does one really change shutter angle?

Is the ACL a much smaller package (sort of like a cheap Aminima)?
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#6 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:33 PM

>So from this I can assume that if I bring an Aaton on set people will feel more confident than if I bring a Eclair ACL..?

I would say yes

>How much does one really change shutter angle?

I don't think you can change it on the ACL.

The original LTR has " a patented multi-sampling sytem (that) allows shorter exposure (...) without the consequent jumpy movement peculiar to variable shutter systems" says the ASC manual...

>s the ACL a much smaller package (sort of like a cheap Aminima)?

not that smaller, in the beetween I would say. But when it comes to these considerations, it depends a lot on the lens, matte box and accessories, actually.
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#7 Mike Welle

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 09:05 PM

If you buy an ACL make sure it has the 75 fps motor, and an orientable viewfinder. In at least one regard, the ACL is superior to the A-Minima because you can instantly change magazines. Of course, it is not a new camera. If you convert it to Super-16 you need to tell your camera tech to change the shutter angle to 144 or even better 135 degrees otherwise the oscillating mirror will interfere if the mirror does not park automatically. The ACL is best in my opinion with 200' French (not English) magazines. English mags have problems with slow motion--they tend to lose their loop. The 400' French and English mags tend to fall off the camera. The camera was not designed in the first place for 400' mags and the fact that you have to stick a clothes pin in between the mag and the latch to keep it from falling illustrates this perfectly. The video tap is sold by AZ Spectrum and you lose 1 to 2 stops in brightness. This can be offset by having your camera's viewfinder laserbrightened by Bernie O'Doherty. It is probably the best camera out there for mobility outside of the A-Minima. Loading the ACL is a breeze in comparison. No, it's not a perfect camera. Yes, your magazines might scratch film if they aren't adjusted properly, but after getting through these headaches, you will find that the ACL is a good solid camera. There is a reason why it only costs $3,500.00 and that reason is you have to struggle with it and learn by trial and error what works and what doesn't.


Hi,

  I am wondering if it is better to buy an Eclair ACL converted to S16 for about $3500 or an S16 Aaton LTR 54 for $7000?

  Please compare weight, ergonomics for handheld work, ability to attach a video tap, reliability, and camera noise.

  Is it worth spending twice the money for an Aaton?

Thanks

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#8 John Mastrogiacomo

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 10:59 PM

The 400' French and English mags tend to fall off the camera. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The later ACL's (1.5 and 2) have a cover over the mag latch that keep the mags from coming off. :)
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#9 Jason Banker

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 01:57 AM

There is a reason why it only costs $3,500.00 and that reason is you have to struggle with it and learn by trial and error what works and what doesn't.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


So is it worth paying the extra 3 or 4 grand to buy a Aaton to avoid having a camera I am going to struggle with?

I want to be able to make industry standard films, and music videos with the camera. Is the ACL up to the job or is it more of a beginners kit to get your feet wet with shooting 16mm?

Obviously I am a beginner, but I want to buy a camera that inspires confidence, and will not regret having in the near future. This is a very serious buy for me.

Edited by Jason B, 21 July 2005 - 01:58 AM.

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#10 Mike Welle

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 07:13 AM

I have an ACL 1.5 with cover over the mag latch, and in my experience, the cover doesn't prevent the 400 foot magazines from falling off. I was told by a tech if you apply upward pressure on the latch below the cover they won't fall. Of course, I know about the clothespin in my previous post. These have an inconvenient way of ejecting themselves while shooting. The 400 foot magazines tend to fall when you use the camera handheld. I was walking around with my camera down in Key West two years ago and the 400' mag fell on two occassions. I had to send it to a camera tech to get it repaired. I have never experienced this problem with the 200' magazines. If you look at the manuals the Eclair ACL was originally designed to use 200 foot mags. And the great thing about it is you can use A-Minima loads. I have used them before. Its important to have several standard spare cores on hand because the replacement core in the A-Minima load does not have a slot (it's non-standard). You need to remove the flanges in a black bag or tent by turning them counter clockwise. Load it exactly the way it shows in the ACL I manual.

You can save a lot of money by purchasing an ACL 1.5 or II. The Aaton LTR or A-Minima does not run at 75fps. It does not take 200' loads. The 200' loads very quickly become your friend. A properly tuned ACL has rock-solid registration. In slow motion the thing never jumps at all. I've never had a problem with registration. If you get the ACL it might be a good idea to send your camera to a tech who can provide a 144 degree shutter.


The later ACL's (1.5 and 2) have a cover over the mag latch that keep the mags from coming off. :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#11 Mike Welle

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 07:22 AM

If you want a camera that inspires confidence I would suggest buying an Arri SR or better yet SRII. You can sometimes get a good buy on Ebay. CinemaTechnic can convert these cameras affordably. Don't get me wrong, the ACL is a great camera. Registration is rock solid. It runs 75fps (as does the SR). No other camera in the price range has 200' magazines. And no other one allows you to snap them on and off instantly. I would not say it is a "beginners kit" or a camera to get your "feet wet" with. It's just that the Arri SR is more of a recognized camera.

So is it worth paying the extra 3 or 4 grand to buy a Aaton to avoid having a camera I am going to struggle with?

I want to be able to make industry standard films, and music videos with the camera. Is the ACL up to the job or is it more of a beginners kit to get your feet wet with shooting 16mm?

Obviously I am a beginner, but I want to buy a camera that inspires confidence, and will not regret having in the near future. This is a very serious buy for me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Edited by Mike Welle, 21 July 2005 - 07:32 AM.

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#12 Mike Welle

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 01:29 PM

Here is one of the best posts I've read on the subject on the Eclair ACL forum. It was such an insightful post I thought I would post it here:

When Eclair came out with the Panoram model both Aaton and Arriflex 16 SR
have taking most of the market for 16 mm cameras. It was also very risky to
bay an ACL from Eclair, already nearly bankruptcy.

Aaton, made for Super-16, took most of the market in Europe, except Germany.
Arri didn't believe in the Super-16 format, and it took very long time
before Arri started to make Super-16 cameras. Aaton was also less noisy and
not before Arri came with the SR3 they had an camera able to compete with
Aaton.

Eclair ACL II is a great camera and with the 200´ magazine is one of the
smallest 16 mm cameras on the market. ACL is the cinematographers camera,
not very good for a rental company, it's to damageable compare to Arri 16
SR.

All the best

Hans Hansson, FSF
Sweden

Mike Welle

So is it worth paying the extra 3 or 4 grand to buy a Aaton to avoid having a camera I am going to struggle with?

I want to be able to make industry standard films, and music videos with the camera. Is the ACL up to the job or is it more of a beginners kit to get your feet wet with shooting 16mm?

Obviously I am a beginner, but I want to buy a camera that inspires confidence, and will not regret having in the near future. This is a very serious buy for me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#13 Robert Morein

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 02:51 AM

I have both cameras.
The LTR54 is considerably quieter, which is for feature work a concern. There is an excellent barney made by Custom Upholstery Products that allows the camera to do close-in sound work.
OTOH, it is a fact that very few LTR54s can actually run at 54 frames/second. This is because of the odd film path in an LTR, that actually twists the film 180 degrees between the supply and takeup sides of the mag. This can be fixed at a cost of $1200 per mag. The ACL has a very straight, twistless film path. The multispeed motor is also larger than the Aaton motor.

The ACL has the most universal lens mount system in existence. Changing the Aaton mount on an LTR54 to PL is an expensive proposition. With the ACL, it's trivial. There isn't even a trip to the shop. Simply unscrew one adapter and put on another. The ACL also takes C mount lenses. I have government surplus extreme wide angles, in C mount that would cost more than the camera in bayonet or PL.

If you put a C-mount lens on an ACL, and attach a 200 foot mag, the camera weighs in at about 8 lbs. For small crew work, the ability to hand-hold the camera, instead of using bulky support gear, is a plus. Until the advent of the A-minima, this configuration of the ACL was the lightest sync-sound camera.

I think that in general, I would prefer the LTR54 for sync sound work. However, if you are starting out, the ability to use cheap C mount lenses, some of which are extremely sharp, is a great advantage. Both cameras have superb image registration. The lens is the limiting factor.

As far as the business of magazines falling off the camera, I find that this occurs if the latch mechanism is incorrectly mounted to the camera. This occurred with one of my ACLs. I screwed the latch mechanism down in the proper position, and it didn't happen any more.

The shutter angle is fixed at 175 degrees for a nonconverted ACL. ACLs converted in 60 Hz countries have the shutter converted to 144 degrees.

The AZ Spectrum video tap does not cause any noticeable light loss to my eye.
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#14 Mike Welle

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 08:36 AM

As far as the business of magazines falling off the camera, I find that this occurs if the latch mechanism is incorrectly mounted to the camera. This occurred with one of my ACLs. I screwed the latch mechanism down in the proper position, and it didn't happen any more.

I have only had it happen with 400 foot magazines. It has never happened to me with a 200 foot magazine. My latch mechanism is properly mounted and my camera in perfect shape and a 400 foot magazine loaded with film will invariably fall when you are walking around places with it. Unless, you have hiked with the camera or walked around with it, it is not a sufficient test. Everytime I have walked places with the camera with the 400 foot mags they have fallen. When I have walked places with the 200 footers they have always stayed on. The 400 foot magazines must put too much strain on the camera.

The AZ Spectrum video tap does not cause any noticeable light loss to my eye.

I've heard from numerous sources that it uses a beam splitter to split the signal 50/50 and that you lose 1 to 2 stops of light. If you look at the Eclair ACL list forum Wade Ramsey explains this. Almost everytime you modify your camera from its original design there will be a trade off of some sort. If you go to Super-16 expect to lose your light meter.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]
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#15 Robert Morein

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 08:38 AM

As far as the business of magazines falling off the camera, I find that this occurs if the latch mechanism is incorrectly mounted to the camera. This occurred with one of my ACLs. I screwed the latch mechanism down in the proper position, and it didn't happen any more.

I have only had it happen with 400 foot magazines.  It has never happened to me with a 200 foot magazine.  My latch mechanism is properly mounted and my camera in perfect shape and a 400 foot magazine loaded with film will invariably fall when you are walking around places with it.

That indicates your camera is not in perfect shape.

Unless, you have hiked with the camera or walked around with it, it is not a sufficient test.

I have.

  Everytime I have walked places with the camera with the 400 foot mags they have fallen. stayed on.  The 400 foot magazines must put too much strain on the camera.

I'm sorry to hear that. Camera body castings differ subtly.

I've heard from numerous sources that it uses a beam splitter to split the signal 50/50 and that you lose 1 to 2 stops of light.

All video taps do this, without exception. It is not particular to the ACL. The exact figure is 50% split, which is exactly equal to 1 stop, not two, which would be equivalent to a 3:1 split in favor of the tap.

The film path of the ACL is arguably better than the LTR. The LTR C mag actually puts the film through a severe 180 degree twist. It was not until the Aaton "D" magazines that this was corrected. The film path of the ACL is twistless.

Here's another point that bears mentioning. According to Nathan Milford, chief tech for Abel Cine, the Aaton rep in the U.S., an Aaton requires vacuum impregnation of the bearings every four years, at a cost of $1200 - $1500. By contrast, George at Optical Electro House will lube an ACL to factory specs for $300. He actually completely rebuilt the guts of one of my ACLs for $1000, an extremely reasonable figure. The replacement of Aaton bearings is much more expensive.
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#16 Richard Mills

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 12:52 PM

As an ACL owner the thing I like the most about the camera is that it can take any lens mount that you can machine.
I have Cannon, Nikon, and PL adaptors plus with the C mount any lens that I want to use I can.

I have never had a mag fall off so I must be lucky. I only have the 400 footers.

My camera is basically a Frank-en-cam. I have tried to figure out if it's a 1.5 or a 2. Some parts of a 1.5 some parts a 2, can't really tell which model I have. Went all over the net to find out this information got all three owners manuals and compared the notes so I think I have what they call a 1.5.5. I bought it on ebay 3 years ago and I have had no problems with it at all.

Plus it is lighter and just as quiet as my Arri SR, so I use it mostly when I need to go hand held.

Richard Mills
Phoenix, AZ
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#17 Mike Welle

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 05:00 PM

Robert,

I apologize if my post came across as snippy or combative, or arrogant or rude. I may have written it in haste and did not have time to fully consider my words. I think these forums promote a sort of humanlessness. When you talk with someone you can see their expressions and mannerisms and understand they mean well, but on these forums all you see is text. When someone disagrees with you, because we cannot see each other face to face, we attack too harshly, perhaps. In the words of Shakespeare: "Tis death to me to be at enmity, I hate it and desire all good men's love." Robert, I think I have read some of your postings on the Eclair ACL forum and found them very, very useful. You seem like a well informed, intelligent person. I would wager that your films are visually appealing and you are a talented cinematographer. We have a lot in common in that we both like (in my case, and perhaps yours, love) the Eclair ACL. It seems as though the reason we are at ends is because of my belief about the magazines falling off. I must admit that I was angry when I read your post, and responded in the negative at first. But where was that getting me? By attacking you, I am only attacking myself in the end. Because you might attack, and I might attack, and on and on it goes. Its bloody and mindless really. We are both good people, we just can't see each other face to face. I wish you peace.

What I must state are the facts that I know, my understanding of the world, of the Eclair ACL. What I discovered over many years was that I was not the only one who had the magazine falling problem. It's mentioned in "The 16mm Camera Book" where they speak of people having to tape the Eclair mags on. It's also mentioned on the Eclair ACL 144 site. The distinction that both of these sources did not point out, that I was trying to add (from my experience) is that the 200' magazines don't fall and the 400' magazines do fall. I believe this is due to the fact that the camera (Eclair ACL1) was designed from the outset, from the get-go if you will for 200' mags. I would hypothesize that when cinematographers asked for a 400' mag, Eclair designed it, but the fact that it was meshing/mating with a camera designed for 200' mags in the first place caused a problem. I believe it could not handle the mass of the heavier magazines. But what do I know? I'm just an individual. You may disagree with me based upon your experience, but in my experience this has been the case. I do not believe my camera is broken (i.e. not in perfect shape), despite the fact that you do. The fact that it went to 3 technicians over the years supports my belief. The fact that I said my 400' magazines fall supports yours. But I would rebut that (rather hypocritically, I suppose based upon my earlier comments, where I was sounding like I shouldn't disagree). Here is my case, my proof, my support:

http://members.aol.c...CL/acl1and2.htm

It says near the bottom:

A cover that flips overtop of the Mag Release on the ACL II replaces the sliding lock on the ACL 1 and 1.5 designed to keep the Mag Release from being depressed. Neither design successfully prevented magazines from prematurely falling off. The best lock of all is to use part of a CLOTHES PIN wedged between the top of the Magazine and the Release Latch; this forces the latch to stay engaged in the Mag.

That is my point. That is all I have to say. I doubt I will repost soon. But I hope to leave you in peace.

Thank you,
Mike Welle


That indicates your camera is not in perfect shape.

I have.

I'm sorry to hear that.  Camera body castings differ subtly.
All video taps do this, without exception. It is not particular to the ACL. The exact figure is 50% split, which is exactly equal to 1 stop, not two, which would be equivalent to a 3:1 split in favor of the tap.

The film path of the ACL is arguably better than the LTR. The LTR C mag actually puts the film through a severe 180 degree twist. It was not until the Aaton "D" magazines that this was corrected. The film path of the ACL is twistless.

Here's another point that bears mentioning. According to Nathan Milford, chief tech for Abel Cine, the Aaton rep in the U.S., an Aaton requires vacuum impregnation of the bearings every four years, at a cost of $1200 - $1500. By contrast, George at Optical Electro House will lube an ACL to factory specs for $300. He actually completely rebuilt the guts of one of my ACLs for $1000, an extremely reasonable figure. The replacement of Aaton bearings is much more expensive.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#18 John Mastrogiacomo

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 04:15 AM

By contrast, George at Optical Electro House will lube an ACL to factory specs for $300. He actually completely rebuilt the guts of one of my ACLs for $1000, an extremely reasonable figure.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


George rocks! Whenever I have a problem with my ACL he fixes it in a day or two and his prices are VERY reasonable. :) :)
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#19 Robert Morein

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 03:10 PM

Robert,

I apologize if my post came across as snippy or combative,

Not a problem, Mike.
I was just reporting my personal experience. We would have to take a poll to determine if 10%, or 50% of the cameras have this problem. It could be the strength of the spring, or variations in the camera body casting that determine this.

And please do repost soon!

Regards,
Bob Morein
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#20 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 01:56 AM

It says near the bottom:

A cover that flips overtop of the Mag Release on the ACL II replaces the sliding lock on the ACL 1 and 1.5 designed to keep the Mag Release from being depressed. Neither design successfully prevented magazines from prematurely falling off. The best lock of all is to use part of a CLOTHES PIN wedged between the top of the Magazine and the Release Latch; this forces the latch to stay engaged in the Mag.

Mike Welle
[/quote]


I was talking to George Z at OEH about this problem (mags falling off on ACL's). He claims he figured out a way to stop the problem. By putting a screw somewhere on the top near where the top handle screws on to the body, the problem is apparently solved forever. As I don't know anyone with such a modified ACL, I cannot empirically verify his claim. Besides taking his word for it, that is. He is a top notch ACL tech, equalled only [or should I say complemented] by Bernie O'Doherty and Les Bosher, possibly the three foremost living techs currently working on ACL's. When they retire or pass on, we are in trouble. But nobody is perfect or omniscient, or what have you. (He did fix my fried circuit-board CP-modified 48 fps ACL motor, despite the small fact that the motors and the parts for them have not been made for almost 30 years! And he only charged me $400! But he also did say that that same motor would never produce flicker-free footage on 400' loads like a real heavy-duty multi-speed 72 fps ACL2 motor. Yet I, nor its previous owner, have never had any flicker problems running this motor on 400' loads [knock on wood]). Be that as it may, I will have him try the screw trick on one of my ACL's next time they go into his shop. I'll let you guys know.
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