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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 Kinoptik. 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 plate). 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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