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Re: Eclair ACL Pre-purchase questions
The page at my site www.members.aol.com/Super16ACL/Acl1And2.htm will
answer a great many of your questions.
I have done over the years exactly what you are suggesting --- start basic
and inexpensive and build. However in the long run that may not result in the
most cost effective way to do it, (just like purchasing a car on a payment
plan rather than buying it outright with cash --- less money at any given
moment, but overtime you pay more).
The ACL body went virtually unchanged between models 1, 1.5 and II. It was
primarily the bells and whistle's that changed. In fact, there is virtually
no way that I've found to even distinguish a 1 from a 1.5 body, and the only
way I know of to tell a II by sight is by the addition of a mag release
flip-cover (and removal of the sliding lock).
To go from a 1 to a II (forgetting about the mag release), you'd need to add:
the ACL II base, Heavy Duty motor with external speed setting, Kinoptik
viewfinder (many times brighter than either of the Angeneux finders, and
worth the cost of admision alone), an on-board battery holder, and the
anatomic grip. HOWEVER, finding these items as individual accessories is
uncommon. They haven't been made in 20 years (that's went Eclair went
belly-up), and usually only surface if an unreparable camera is being sold
off piece by piece.
-I bought a Kinoptik finder a year ago on the web for $1100 ... a reasonable
price. It's the only one I've ever noticed for sale on the web, although
admittedly I haven't been looking lately.
-I also bought an ACL II anatomic handle on the web for about $300, but that
was a really good price. They are rare to find, and will probably cost a lot
more if you can even locate one.
I've personally never seen an ACL II motor for sale, (they are like Gold and
highly sought after), although the ACL 1.5 motor is essentially the same if
you can do without external sync. (George at Optical-Electro House will
convert a 1.5 motor for external sync for $450). To take advantage of an
external sync setting on the motor, you also need the ACL II Base. Frankly, I
see no other real reason to have the larger ACL II base except for external
sync (though it does set the camera down flat, and the RUN switch is recessed
so that pressure from a Barney won't turn it on.).
It is also possible to replace any of the speed crystals in the 1.5 motor (or
the 1 motor) with another of your choice --- for example, using the switch's
setting for 25fps (or 32 fps etc.) to become 23.976 or 29.9.
If you can't afford an ACL II all at once, and if you don't need the external
sync of an ACL II, buying an ACL 1.5 would give you a great motor, and then
you could sell off the Angeneux Orientable finder once (if) you locate a
I tried to market an on-board battery holder (see the 2nd splash screen on
the: members.aol.com/Super16ACL site) but could not shore up enough
interest to make it economical. But Ray had the good idea of gutting an ACL
pilot module and putting rechargables in there!
For hand held work, the ACL II anatomic handgrip is really worth it. The ACL
does not balance on your shoulder quite as perfectly as an Aaton, and the
grip was designed to give your arm maximum leverage by tilting the handle a
little. I've adapted other handles --- even an Aaton type --- and they aren't
as effective as the actual ACL II handle for shoulder holding.
As for Super 16, you'll have to call around and compare prices and features.
The HD-144 kits range from $390 (Silver) to $750 (Gold), and one top Tech out
there charges about $1300 to install --- I'm not sure if that price includes
etching the ground glass to Super-16, or if any mag modification is included
(I only recommend modification of the rollers ... not the mag pressure
To shop around, check out all the Techs at the Super 16 web site. And a
number of Techs also offer their own in-house conversion, with each doing it
a little differently. I've heard of prices ranging (in US $$$) from $1000
(UK) to $1500 (Australia) to $2700 (USA) for an "in-house" conversion,
depending on who is doing it and what you're getting. But compare carefully
--- there are no "Eclair Conversion Guidelines," so it is likely that not all
conversions are created equal. For example, the least expensive conversion
may re-mark your ground glass in pencil rather than haveing it etched --- but
that will work. Most conversions don't re-center the mirror --- but that's
probably just a technicality to be 100% up to Super-16 specs, (though for
some of us, doing it 100% to specs is a fanatasism). Some conversions may
re-work your existing lens flange, some may replace it with a custom-made
S-16 flange --- you can usually tell a "re-working" if the flange appears to
be rotated. Most conversions re-machine the existing aperature plate and
shutter. (While the HD-144 uses new, custom-made S-16 parts, re-machined old
parts work fine).
A good "guide" to use in asking questions is actually the HD-144
"installation guide" itself, a free download from the Super-16 site. You can
use it to compare features as you shop around, and it will give you a bit of
an idea of what is involved so that you can ask informed questions. Good luck.
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