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Re: Eclair Cameras: Image Quality

Just returned from vacation and have been scanning
through some of the messages posted about image quality and reversal
First, I have shot tons of footage on Mitchell 16's,
Maurer 16's, a Bolex EBM, Beaulieu R16's, NPR,s, an Arri 16M, Arri 16S's,
an ACL, and an Arri SRII.  Intercut there is no visible difference
between scenes shot on these cameras, other than the lens.  However, there
is a difference in durability and features.  The Beaulieus, for
example, are not sturdy and we have had problems with them losing their loops.
One good drop of the lid and the resulting dent keeps it from sealing out
the light.  Also had light leaks around the movement and some backfocus
issues.  The registration on all of these models is excellent if everything
is in spec.

Reversal film:  Shot miles of ECO and EF when that
was the only way to go.  ECN blew them out of the water.  Maybe you don't
care about image range, but it is a huge benefit in lighting.  I always had
to keep the lighting ratio within 4:1 to retain any shadow detail.  Now I
can go to 8:1 or 16:1.  Neg is not as sensitive to exposure
variations nor to color balance issues.  With reversal, a stop over and you are
probably dead in the water.  With neg you can be 3 stops over and print
it down to a nice--if a bit soft in sharpness--print.  We always had to gel
windows when lighting interiors with tungsten because daylight from
outside is rendered BLUE on reversal.  On neg it is just cool.

The main disadvantage of negative is in post
production, if you are going film out.   You not only have an additional printing
generation, you can't burn in nice white titles, which was easily done in
reversal by simply A-B rolling them.  Fades and dissolves on neg. are awful
(16mm, where you don't want to go to a grainy, unsharp optical).  On
reversal they're beautiful.

100' rolls:  Apparently, you are not shooting
extended sync sound scenes in dramatic films, where short rolls are really a
ridiculous choice.  If you like reloading every 2-3/4 min., more power to
you, but on a dramatic film set that would be unacceptable.  BTW, have you
noticed that Kodak is now labeling "daylight" spooled color film loads,
"Load in total darkness"?  Ironic.

Metering:  Use what works, but again, if you are
shooting dramatic films where numerous shots from different angles need to
have matched skin tones, forget your TTL meter and stick to a good
incident meter.  Contrary to Mike Welle's opinion, this is not elitist, it is
the only way most cinematographers can get consistent quality quickly.
If your skin tones wander because your meter is adjusting exposure due
to varying background tones, you have a big issue in printing.  The timer
is going to have to do a lot of scene to scene correction.  A Sekonic 398M
is a perfectly good meter, so long as your light levels are above about
20 fc, just don't drop it--it's a bit delicate.  I've never used an ACL TTL
meter (or exposure "monitor", I think they called it, since it is
uncalibrated), but have always wondered how practical it would be in actual
use.  You have to zero it on a known scene exposure, don't you?  How long
does that hold after you turn off the camera power?

Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614

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