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Willem Jansen

Repair K3 or go more professional (Eclair ACL)

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For a few months now I have my second Krasnogorsk 3 (the previous one was sended out to be repaired but never got it back.....). I recently shot a test roll with it and, at first, was really happy with the results. But then I started noticing that some of the shots were out of focus. Really weird because I made very well sure that I had focussed properly. It now seems there's something wrong within the camera and needs to be repaired. I already have had contact with Bernie and have a range of what the costs will be.

 

Problem is I'm starting to have second thoughts of even getting it repaired... (shipping costs etc. etc.) It's already my second and I really thought this one was working a 100%. It's the black version with the m42 mount and it is converted to Super 16, so I was really excited about the thing. For a simple camera as the K3 is, I have a lot of trouble with it so far.

 

Is the K3 worth getting repaired? Or is looking for a more professional camera like the Eclair ACL a much better option?

 

I just would like to have a camera that doesn't need be fixed all the time. I know this happens often and will happen more. But I was planning on shooting my first short film with it and now only have a test.

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I have never used a K3, I would suggest get and ACL, these camera can have issues too, but they are small cameras which I like, ideal to take out and about, especially with the 200ft magazines, they are quiet perfect for filming dialogue and being a C mount the ACL can easily accept virtually any lens via an adapter.

Pav

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I would not suggest an ACL unless you are ready for crystal-sync sound production. If you're shooting MOS (without sound) you don't need to carry that heavy battery around. You just need something that can be wound up and not cause you trouble.

 

About that K-3, did you convert it yourself? Have you removed the loop formers? What battery are you using with the built-in light meter?

And very important, is the viewfinder diopter adjusted for your eyesight? Do you wear glasses? These will help diagnose the focus issue. You could just have an ill-adjusted diopter.

 

If you get rid of that K-3, your best option is either a Bolex Reflex H16 or, if you feel adventurous, a Filmo 70-DR. The Filmo's build quality is beyond anything ever made for the amateur market and you can smash a hundred Krasnogorsk-3s with it on a rock, it will survive while the K-3s turn to dust. The only caveat is that focusing requires practice and training, or an Angenieux zoom with a Type 120 viewfinder. But it beats carrying a heavy battery around.

 

Yes you could get a Beaulieu R16 if you are sure it will never drop onto the ground. If it does, there will be trouble and it will need a trip to either Bjornlandia or Bernieland.

 

The K-3s are cheap for a reason. They are nice to have around but not without their quirks. Getting rid of the loop formers is essential to avoid film jams. I like my K-3 but it feels like a third grader's papier-mache project next to the plate-armoured tank that is the Filmo 70-DR. It comes down to what your preferences for reflex focusing are.

 

So no, if you are not going to sync sound, you do not need to spend the money for an Eclair. In fact, due to Digital Interpositives, some people don't even need a crystal sync camera for syncing sound, and some folks don't even bother to shoot 24fps for it.

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The thing is that I actually want to shoot crystal-sync. For my upcoming project I don't need it. But in the future I definitely will. And I like it to be a shoulder camera.

 

No, I didn't convert it to Super 16 myself, the loop formers are removed and that's how I bought it off eBay. The guy from whom I bought the camera from did very well know what there needed to be done to make it work the best possible way. I use a Sekonic lightmeter.

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I would not suggest an ACL unless you are ready for crystal-sync sound production. If you're shooting MOS (without sound) you don't need to carry that heavy battery around. You just need something that can be wound up and not cause you trouble.

 

The original ACL batteries are actually quite compact and light - they're only about 4" x 6" I think, and maybe a bit over an inch thick. One can easily fashion a bracket to hold one of these on the camera itself, that attaches to either the tripod mount, or the top handle mount.

 

Personally, I decided not to recell my old ACL batteries a long time ago, and just built a simple lead-acid battery that sits in a small camera bag on a shoulder strap. It's really heavy, but it runs forever.

 

The ACL is a great camera - quiet, modular, flexible lens mounts, and if you get an ACL 1.5 or newer (basically the Heavy Duty motor is what you want), you can do variable frame rates in addition to xtal. I think mine goes up to 72fps, or something similar. the 200' mags are nice if you have a place to spool down your own film, because they're very small.

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Honestly, ebay is probably your best bet. Budget for having to do some work on it, and line up someone to do that work. If the sale is happening close to you, it may be possible to work with the seller to get the camera to a repair tech for an inspection (you'd probably have to pay for this though). If you're lucky it may be in good shape already, but I'd expect to have to have it cleaned and lubed, at minimum.

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Would you mind, or any ACL II owner, what to look for if it's for sale as a package? Like accessoires and so on.

 

I'm not planning on buying one right now. But as a future replacement for my K3.

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It really depends on what you want to do. If you have a place to spool down film (a dark room with a set of rewinds), then you can get away with just 200' mags, but 400 footers are easier since that's the load size you'd buy most likely anyway. plus, a 200' load is pretty short, so you'll be changing mags all the time.

 

If you're shooting an event as it's happening, rather than a narrative film with sets and whatnot, then you want more mags, so you can pre-load them and just pop a new one on as you run out of film.

 

Lenses are really up to you. The nice thing about the ACL is that the lens mount system is flexible. It's got a C-mount built in, and a larger threaded ring that takes adapters for Eclair, PL and Nikon mounts. There may be others as well. So you have a fair bit of flexibility in lens choice.

 

The main things I'd be concerned about are the mag sizes and the motor. You want the heavy duty motor, because the earlier motors had problems pulling a 400' load with some mags. If you have the HD motor, it's not an issue. That said, because it's modular, you can use parts from one on another. Officially there was never an ACL "1.5" -- that's just an ACL with a heavy duty motor, pretty much. And that's fine.

 

Also, personally I think Super16 is overrated. With modern fine-grained film stocks and high resolution scanners, there's little benefit to a Super 16 conversion. You're getting maybe 1mm or so more image area and you have to worry about having lenses with enough coverage. You can simply frame your images for a widescreen crop in post. The non-S16 cameras are cheaper, too.

 

I have no affiliation with these sellers, and I don't know anything about the cameras, but these are some I'd think are worth looking into:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/ECLAIR-ACL-II-N16-CAMERA-PACKAGE/253372127419?hash=item3afe27d8bb:g:O9MAAOSwlzRaXVkL

 

This one looks like a bit of a gamble (since it's from an estate) but may be worth it:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Eclair-ACL-professional-16mm-Camera-Angenieux-F-9-5-57mm-1-1-6-2-2-Zoom-Lens/263402021063?hash=item3d53fbe0c7:g:vHEAAOSwQcJaPsYy

 

on the latter, looks like just 200' mags and you'd probably need a new battery, and you'll want to upgrade the motor at some point (something you should be able to find online). But the 9.5-57 is a nice lens and it appears to be in decent shape. Hard to beat for under $1000 if it works, as a starter package.

Edited by Perry Paolantonio

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I have used other cameras, but the ACL has been great, I bought the camera in stages, first I bought the camera body, it was converted to Super 16, the viewfinder I use with it is from a CP-16, I bought a small motor, some 200ft magazines some 200ft daylight spools off Ebay and recently the ergonomic handle, I use a 12 volt battery from a Canon DSLR. The camera is great, I was intimidated by it first, but it's not big, works great and produces stunning images and is ideal for filming dialogue.

Pav

post-15128-0-59440800-1517520274_thumb.jpg

Edited by Pavan Deep
  • Upvote 1

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Thanks Perry and Pav for the information. Much appreciated!

 

Pav, do you have any footage shot with your ACL you might wanna share? Nice picture btw ;)

Edited by Willem Jansen

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I use airsoft nimh batteries with most of my cameras, they are cheap and relatively lightweight and if you add velcro to the sides you can easily mount them to any velcro surface (like the side of the camera or magazine where you have added velcro... or a tool belt... or a tactical vest... etc etc. :lol: )

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That really sucks that you never got your first K3 back from the repair place. If I were you, I would be demanding the camera back. I used to have a K3 myself and I found it to be very reliable. I ran about four films through it total. I never had any issues with it until one day, it died. Would not run anymore after winding it up.

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Well, I ofcourse tried to get in touch with the guy. At first he'd send me emails and photos of what was wrong with the camera and then I didn't hear from him anymore. But the website is still online and I have the address, so I'm still planning on pressing charges.

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Well, I ofcourse tried to get in touch with the guy. At first he'd send me emails and photos of what was wrong with the camera and then I didn't hear from him anymore. But the website is still online and I have the address, so I'm still planning on pressing charges.

 

Who did you send it to?

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A man who has a company in Holland and a website named: cameraherstelpunt.nl

So for any Dutch or European people on this forum who seek a place to get their equipment fixed: stay away from that website!

 

Believe me, I don't wanna bash on people but people like him are bad news.

Edited by Willem Jansen

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I used to have a K3 myself and I found it to be very reliable. I ran about four films through it total. I never had any issues with it until one day, it died. Would not run anymore after winding it up.

 

Dying after only 400 feet sounds like the opposite of very reliable!

  • Upvote 2

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It was very reliable for a few years before it died on me. During the time when it was running, it never scratched or jammed film, and I never had film jumping or anything like that. Very smooth and stable. 0 issues before it's untimely death. Ive heard from a few other K3 owners that they had a number of issues with film jumping / jamming etc (something Ive never experienced with my K3.)

Edited by Patrick Cooper

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If you're K3 dies, just by another one. Cheaper than trying to fix it for sure. You may have missed the best buying opportunities for pro level Super 16 cameras, but keep an eye out for an ACL or Arri SR 2/3 if you want to shoot with sound.

 

Blimping a K3 seems like kind of a futile gesture...once you get it setup you'll have to take it apart to change your 100' reel out...not very practical for most shooting and that camera was never meant for that; it was meant as a step up from Super 8 for home movies and is great in that way.

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it was meant as a step up from Super 8 for home movies and is great in that way.

 

And that's why I bought the K3 and not an ACL or Arri SR2/3. I thought of myself not being ready to own a camera like those (especially an Arri SR2/3) at the time.

 

 

If you're K3 dies, just by another one. Cheaper than trying to fix it for sure.

 

If I buy a new one, that'll be my third... and who knows if that one will work properly... I rather get this one fixed and shoot my upcoming short film with it and in the meantime save money for a better camera.

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I'm thinking about making a DIY blimp for my K3. Putting it in a sleeve of a coat doesn't really work for me.

 

Anyone with tips?

 

Yes. I'm seen people create them out of Pelican cases with foam and a hole cut out. Google Pelican case camera blimp to see how it's done with DSLRs. I tried to find a pic of the one somebody made for the K-3 but that was in 2005 when I left the hobby, so it's gone now.

 

I would not spend the money on a Pelican, I would look for something like a Fat Max foam padded toolbox since your main preoccupation is blimping sound and not whether it will get hit.

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Google Pelican case camera blimp to see how it's done with DSLRs. I tried to find a pic of the one somebody made for the K-3 but that was in 2005 when I left the hobby, so it's gone now.

 

Why would you blimp a dSLR? to muffle mechanical shutter noise for still images? They're silent in video mode.

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