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Anyone have knowledge of Eclair GV-16?

Evan Ferrario

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I found a GV-16 on craigslist for a good bargain: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sfv/pho/1998947576.html I have always been interested in high speed photography and going beyond the 75fps of the ACL. I was going to meet the seller tonight but I wanted to see if anyone could supply me with some info about the camera, as there is hardly anything out there.


The seller told me it was a 6 pin female cable. Does this cable run to some sort of controller box? Or is it the power cable? My major concern is that there is a piece missing which controls the speed, if this is the case, I am assuming it would be very hard to track down a replacement.


Does this camera run off 12 volts?


Is there a c mount? I thought it looked like one in the photo, however I couldn't tell if there was a thread or not from the picture.


I probably am going to get the camera, but if anyone could supply some useful info, it would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi Evan,


I know a bit bout the GV-16. The first thing to know is that there are two main variants : the original model made for technical research, which does need a specific control box, and an adpted model (GV-16 Sport) which has a shoulder-support and a built-in base with the controls included, and was made mostly to shoot sport events. I think this later model came out of the NFL's modifications of a number of GV-16s to shoot football. They even endorsed the GV-a6 in a number of 70's ads in American Cinematographer magazines.


As with all of Eclairs designed for scientific research (high speed in general), the cameras have various motors, which need their specific control box. The cable that comes out of the GV-16 body (same with GV-35, Camematic and so on) is not too feed the motor, but to control in camera functions such as marker lamps and such. The motor is fed by a cable that comes straight out of the motor. For the Sport model, the cables are fed into the built in base. There is no in-camera provision for triggering the motor either (except again on the Sport model).


The standard set-up for a GV-16 is an internal gear-box that will drive the camera up to 200 fps, but that can vary, since these cameras were pretty much custom built by Eclair. And the standard motor is a 24-27V. Kinotechnique model (speed regulation on the motor, like a Cameflex motor).


The standard magazine is a horizontal 400 ft model, but there was also a tiny 100 footer (which I have never seen anywhere so far).


Yes, the camera has a standard C-mount. It has no viewfinder, so you either use a regular lens with a gate boresight (I have one of those) or you use a zoom-lens with buit-in viewfinder. The Ange 12-120 with VF was the standard lens for that (esp. on the sport model, which even had a bracket to reinforce it). I'm not sure whether SOM Bertiot models would fit the camera, since the base of those lenses is quite wide. Eclair also made a (very rare) specific adapter to mount CA lenses on the GV-16 (I have one of those, if you are interested).


If the Craigslist camera is gone, look for a NFL-modified GV-16 that pops up on eBay now and then for a good price (I'm not sure if was ever sold). It seemed complete but a bit rough. Don't buy an incomplete camera, the motors and control boxes are just about impossible to find (I know, I have been looking for about two years now!), although the electronics would be easy enough to rebuild by somebody who knows this stuff a bit.


Just to be clear : this is not a quiet camera! I haven't run mine yet, but I can tell it will make quite a racket when it ramps up to those high speeds... Probably not pretty at low speeds either! The design goes back to the 60's, when the NPR was a breakthrough design in 'silent' cameras'


There is some overpriced documentation (User's Manual?) available on ebay (unlikely to go for the price they want!), and the camera is documented in early editions of the Carlson Professional 16/35mm Cameraman's Handbook (70's editions at least).


There you go. Don't hesitate to write back if you have more questions about the camera.



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Well, I bought it. The guy selling it worked for a reputable camera house and I trusted that it wasn't some banged around prop or something like that. He confirmed that I needed the controller box as well, a disappointment because I really am hoping to use this camera. I'm in no rush and it seems like the best options right now are finding a controller box, or making one, if perhaps the start stop function and power are the only signals necessarry, it can be done.


Yes the c mount is very restricted. Most of my c mount primes wouldn't fit as well as a canon 15-150 c mount zoom. The Angenieux 15-150 c fit great and also a 12.5-75mm panasonic tv lens fit nicely. I have seen the Angenieux with reflex viewfinder on ebay from time to time and will try to get one of those. For now, I thought some sort of sight mounted on the lens that was set up with a viewfinder, and pointed right at the center point of the lens would be relatively easy to make and at least give me the center point of any frame, I could focus by distance.


























Does this camera take normal kodak and fuji film? I tried loading a 100 foot daylight spool into it and it fit fine, but this gives me no indication of how the film acts at 200fps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all the info Boris, I really owe a lot to people like you and Bernie who are nice enough to give up your time to inform people like me and keep an incredible product like Eclair alive.


I'm mailing the camera off to a good friend and mechanical/electrical engineer who thinks he can get the motor running. Hopefully I'll have more to report back in a few weeks.

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  • 7 months later...

Well I wanted to update my progress if anyone is interested. It's been sitting on my shelf for a while but I still am hopeful to have the camera shooting film in a few weeks.


I was able to track down a base from a guy in france who is still holding onto a bunch of eclair spare parts. http://www.art-medias.com/menuF.html


He actually had a complete gv-16 and a base for sale. I bought the base for a fairly hefty price, I did get the camera for $100 originally, and he was nice enough to give me a few ACL screws which I have been missing.


The base came the other day and I was excited to see it had a geared crown for the ACL handle. I assumed I must of purchased the handheld version while mine was originally a studio camera. I swapped out the camera body with the base and everything fit and connected. it is very nice to hold on the shoulder. Also while I had the camera apart, I took the motor off and tested the movement. The camera itself moves fine and I was able to move the shutter gear with my hand. The motor does not turn smooth and this is the part I believe I will need to get repaired.


I apologize for the quality of the pictures, I took them with my phone.



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  • 3 years later...

Hi, Does anyone know what 24v battery would power a GV-16? I got one off of ebay and my 12v battery pack is not doing the trick. Any and all help with this camera would be appreciated. It's the "Sports" model with the shoulder mount and a on/off trigger (It was used to film slow-motion football action).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks Jean-Louis for your advice. I did get a 24v lithium-ion charger and tried to start the camera...but it still won't power up. I don't know if I am doing the correct procedure (positive on the 4 and negative on the 1 for 4-pin male xlr). I just don't know about this camera. I got it off of ebay.

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  • 5 years later...

Hi Marek, 


Can you tell me more about your GV-16 motors ? Which type/brand are they ? 


I may be interested in one if cheap... I don't plan on using my GV-16, just complete it for completeness' sake.  Or I could sell it if you're interested.


Best, B.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Boris, Sorry about the late reply. Seems that they are fully working GV-35 motors made by Eclair.  Not sure if they'll fit a GV-16 as the GV-35 motor is on the other side of the camera.

If you want a look two of them are currently on sale on eBay. I've posted videos of them running:





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