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RE: Eclair ACL English verus French Mags
One advantage to the English 400' mag is that it is less prone to jam from
film coming un-attached from the core (since the rubber capstan keeps firm
pressure). And the capstan does not scratch the Super-16 edge. Also my
unscientific testing indicates that batteries last longer with an English
400' mag, suggesting that it does indeed require less torque to drive it than
the French mag (though whether that will prevent motor burn-out under duress
I can't say --- I've typically run 5 mags over an 8-hour period with no
burn-out problem). I do prefer the French footage counter, as it shows actual
film remaining in the mag. One needs to be slightly more alert threading an
English mag, as it is sometimes possible to thread the film between the
plastic housing and large roller (rather than between the two rollers), which
will cause an emulsion scratch if the film succeeds in getting to the take-up
side. In theory the housing is designed to kick the film around and BACK INTO
THE FEED CHAMBER if this is accidentally done, but I've had it get through to
the take-up chamber a couple of times (bad scratches). The fix is to install
a tiny plate (similar to the one on the French mag) that prevents the film
from fitting into any slot other than between the two rollers.
Really, though, in the end the key is the motor. If you've got a heavy-duty
motor, then the question of English vrs. French mag is, I think, immaterial.
I've been shooting a Super-16 film for over 3 years using both types of mag
with equal results. And the English and French cameras are, for all practical
purposes, the same (some slightly different diameter gears). It is the haevy
duty motor, viewfinder (Kinoptik is MUCH MUCH brighter), on-board battery,
and anatomic handle that really make the biggest difference of all (all of
which were on the French ACL II). Mark.
PS - The suggestion of using a fiber-optic cable from the out-of-sync lamp to
the viewfinder was a very good one. It proved to be easy and cheap, and works
well. I just drilled a tiny hole into the top of the orange lamp housing,
inserted the fibre cable (.75mm), and taped it in place with camera tape.
Then I drilled a tiny hole into the side of the eyepiece to slide in the
other end of the cable so that it is visible just beyond the metal piece that
swings shut when the finder is closed. I snipped this end of the cable at a
45 degree angle, so that the light goes upwards towards the operator's eye.
I also have a Tobin speed checker attached to my mini-slate, with a
micro-switch rigged to the clapper so that the checker is only turned on when
the clapper is open. No more out-of-sync takes from a failing battery! I
highly recommend both for failsafe.
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