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RE: Eclair Cameras: Light Meter Issues

There are, nevertheless, situations when having an internal lightmeter would prove invaluable. Let's say you were walking down the street and you saw a UFO. I can pretty much assure you that you don't want to be taking out your lightmeter and calculating F-Stops at this time--no matter how much more accurate it would be.

One of the great things about the Canon Scoopic and its M and MS versions were/are the ability for auto iris. Yes, film snobs around the world will tell you that you should always be calculating your readings with a light meter--but in the real world the built in lightmeter solves tons of problems. I remember being able to do long tracking shots with the M or MS because it could compensate when you moved from an area of lightness to darkness instantaneously. How were the seemingly endless tracking shots in "Goodfellas," "The Player," and "Snake Eyes" accomplished? I can't imagine these being done with the operator manually adjusting the iris. Why do all of the leading video camera manufacturers put auto iris onto their cameras--because it makes shooting much less dicey, gives you less headaches if in the opposite situation you had taken inaccurate readings and it gives the inexperienced videographer or filmmaker the ability to make movies without having to worry about the painstaking process of light readings. Yes, in some instances manual light readings may make a slightly better exposed picture. But when the pressure is on its often more reliable to put your trust into a filmmaking machine rather than (to quote the Sex Pistols) "a human machine." In essence, auto irises and built-in meters add to the democratization in filmmaking. While the ACL does not have an automatic lightmeter like the Scoopic, its built in light meter allows you to determine the light reading for a static shot or a shot without much lighting change (although a safer bet would be static shots). In a previous post it was inferred that reaching up and changing apertures with the Eclair ACL was essentially futile. In order to change F-Stops while the camera is exposing film you have to adjust the iris poteniometer while the camera's shutter is running (let's say at 24fps). If you calibrate the meter without the camera's shutter moving you will get inaccurate readings (if you take your readings while film is being exposed). If, on the other hand, you take readings before the shutter is moving then you should calibrate the meter by adjusting the potentiometer without the shutter in motion (this is how I expose film). According to what I understood from a conversation with Bernie O'Doherty, having red diodes activated while film is running through the camera can lead to flicker problems. I have spoken with Bernie about creating an on/off switch for my camera which will allow me to de-activate the light meter after I've taken a reading and before I am about to run film through the camera. I wonder if the previous post entitled EXP ON/OFF switch is related to this?

Now that I'm clear on all of this, it leaves me with two questions: 1) Does the internal light meter go up to ASA 800 or ASA 400? 2) Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to make the internal light meter work with Super 16?

Since the Eclair ACL is such a light weight compact camera it only makes sense that it should have a built-in light meter. The techs at Eclair were smart enough to realize this for Regular 16. Even if you dislike the built-in metering, it would be nice to have others understand that I am one voice in this community (who may be among others) who does believe in the built in light meter for the reasons mentioned above. For people like me, who believes in automation at a fair price, It would be great to keep the simplicity and democratization of built-in light metering as an option for Super 16 with the ACL.

Gerald.L.Loessberg-1 wrote:

This is only my opinion and there are quite a few here on topica, but having a light meter that informs the operator that the lighting conditions have changed is not very helpful. While shooting, what are you going to do, reach up there and change apertures, good luck. Most experienced dp´s check their external meter between shots. Modern telecine will let you compensate for minor or for that matter even major exposure changes inside a take. There is no replacement for understanding exposure and taking a moment to analyze your scene and what your gaffer has done to it. Take the meter out . If you want an ARRI SR S16 then buy one and quite trying to make your ACL into one. The ACL when healthy is quieter, lighter and more flexible than the SR will ever be. Eclair has achieved the sublime in this camera and remember that the Arri SR was in fact designed after the Eclair NPR, neither of which is as quite as a healthy ACL. The ACL with the 200´ mag is the smallest professional camera on the market and if it has been modified properly with Mark´s Gold kit, ( he still has some available) it is the coolest. Whatever cool is worth. Have your camera serviced by a good tech, converted and start shooting. That is what the camera was designed for, shooting.

----- Original Message -----
From: Mark <super16acl@aol.com>
Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2003 8:00 pm
Subject: Re: Eclair Cameras: Light Meter Issues

> It would certainly be a pain to try to retain the light meter with > a Super-16 > conversion, and frankly I've never done it. But I can visualize > how it would > be accomplished. > > It could involve replacing the convex lens on the prism with a > longer one, > using a wide angle diopter on the viewfinder to see both the light > meter and the > full super-16 frame, and ultimately the circle in the finder that > represents > where the reading is taken would be off-center of the image. I > gave > suggestions in the HD-144 manual for those who wanted to try, but > I think it may fall > into the category of either "Life is too short" or "the cost is > more than the > camera is worth." But check with Bernie O'Doherty. Also, August > Loessberg has > been playing with enlarging the field of view through the finder, > which would > be a major help. Mark. > > >

Michael Welle

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