Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Eclair ACL

27th april 2005

A friend is interested in putting an Eclair ACL super-16 / PL mount package together for a special project. It's been waaaaaay to long since I worked with an ACL and I'm very much out of the current loop. (Is there a loop?)

Any experiences, good or bad, with the above rig? Ground glass? Scratching? PL lens mount issues i.e. clearing the mirror, etc. Anyone come up with an on board battery rig? Who does quality conversions?

Any and all info would be greatly appreciated.


Rod Williams
Motion Picture First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California

The ACL can be easily converted into a great little S-16 camera with a PL mount. Optical Electro House in LA, Visual Products in Ohio, Les Bosher in the UK and The Movie House in the UK all offer conversions. Check their websites for more information, although O.E.H. in LA didn't really have much of a website when I last checked.

Your friend will want a later model ACL (1.5 or 2) with an HD motor that can drive up to 75fps and handle 400' mags without difficulty. The articulating orient able eyepiece is much better than the older version and French mags are better than the English ones. There's a link on Les Bosher's website to an ACL community forum that may be of interest.

Mitch Gross

>There's a link on Les Bosher's website to an ACL community forum that >may be of interest.

Of course, that's not to be confused with a dating site, I think.

Les makes fine PL mount adapters, too. I just bought a few -- very quick delivery.

Jeff "has no financial connection, just a happy customer" Kreines

>The articulating orient able eyepiece is much better than the older >version and French mags are better than the English ones

I don’t know if the mags I used to have on mine in Australia were from France or the UK, but I do remember that they used to actually fall off at regular intervals. That old attachment system with nothing supporting the mags was never one of my favourite designs. The camera did a great job however.

Kindest Regards

Motion Picture Director of Photography
HD Cinematographer

L'IMAGE CINEMATOGRAPHY - Based in Asia - Filming the world

Global Web Presence :

Can't over emphasise the importance of the late model / French advice.

I had nothing but problems with mine (English) of several years ago. It jammed given half an opportunity - thin stock (B&W, reversal).

Avoid the mags that take-up using a roller. The slightest bulge in fixing film to core sand dunes into an inevitable jam. (had to paper tape the film to the core and write apologies to the lab). Think hard about getting an Aaton (my eventual solution). But if other people have had better luck with later models - go for it - an awesome camera if only I could get film through it.

Nils Kenaston

Given prices, I'd get an Aaton LTR -- it will cost less, it's a much much better camera, and it's designed from the start for S16.

It will probably cost no more than buying and converting an ACL.

Jeff Kreines

It's been a long while since I shot with an Éclair and while they do have their quirks, your story sounds like a camera that was converted improperly (tech did a poor job) or it's a camera that suffers from neglect. With motion picture cameras there is no such thing as "benign neglect". Scratches due to gate problems point particularly to a problem that can usually be corrected by a competent technician.

I've used both ACL and NPR models and while the NPR wasn't particularly "ergonomic" compared to other cameras, both the ACL and NPR proved to be reliable and the only problems I ever encountered were due to "operator ignorance" (mine).

My earlier post about the Éclairs notwithstanding, I have to agree with Jeff Kreines now that I know that it is more cost effective to go with the Aaton LTR. It is a much better camera and I wasn't sure what it cost to convert them to Super 16. Thanks Jeff!


Jeffery Haas
freelance editor, camera operator
Dallas, Texas

While I question if one could get an ACL and convert it to S-16 for less than getting an Aaton LTR in S-16 (or buy an unconverted one and have it converted), I do agree that the Aaton is the far better investment. Much more camera for the money and much for potential camera given upgrades and accessories available.

Mitch Gross

The story continued...a few weeks later...

Hey Guys,

Thinking about getting one of these cameras, its been Super16 converted, and selling for a decent price under 6000 CAN, just wondering if anyone has had an issues with these camera's or believes you can get a better price elsewhere.

I figure I'd rather buy a film camera that will hold its value for a couple of years rather then investing in a $5000 Dvx100, even though the DVX is a great camera and I would love to own one.

Any thoughts?


Vinit Borrison
Toronto, ON


If you look around, you might be able to get a S-16 Aaton for a little more.

The ACL does however have the 200' mag option, which is a great thing. Also, you can use a 10mm Switar w/ adapter on the ACL, not possible w/ the Aaton (however the Aaton has Contax and Nikon possibilities) also the Aaton has a much better viewfinder (fiberoptic, etc)

There are also issues as to who did your conversion.

Do a search for the ACL user's group online for tips from owners. The usual issues are: the 1.5 (or 2?) French model is better, w/ the large 75 fps motor, etc.

Good luck

John Babl

>Also, you can use a 10mm Switar w/ adapter on the ACL, not possible >w/ the Aaton (however the Aaton has Contax and Nikon possibilities)

Well, actually, if you have an LTR without lightmeter, you can get a very rare Aaton to C adapter, and shave down the rear threads of the Switar. Hard to focus (have to make a little handle) as the lens is recessed inside the mount.

I once bought a GSMO to get the 10 Switar adapted for it -- it was removed from the focussing barrel, mounted in an aluminium sleeve, and slid back and forth in an Arri mount adapter to focus!

Jeff Kreines

> you can use a 10mm Switar w/ adapter

...or you could just buy the Nikkor 9.5mm lens designed for their Digital D2X & D2H & use the Aaton/Nikon adapter.

Al Satterwhite
DP/Los Angeles

Al Satterwhite wrote :

>or you could just buy the Nikkor 9.5mm lens designed for their Digital >D2X & D2H & use the Aaton/Nikon adapter.

2 problems:

No F-stop ring and the 10mm is a fisheye. I can jury rig ND’s all day but the fisheye gets a thumbs down...Of course you could always search for a 8mm AIS Nikkor but you better have lens support to go with that block of glass...

Tom McDonnell
New Orleans, La

Or you could just get an 8mm S-16 T1.3 lens from Optex or Optar or Elite and have modern technology optics in a proper cine housing and be done with it.

There's a lot of ways to get there, but the straight road usually does the job the best. Might not be as much fun as the crazy curves, but you sure save a lot of gas.

Mitch Gross

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