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Aaton Penelop User Group


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Hi fellow Aaton users,

hope you're all well and have purring kittens on your shoulders! My friend David Schweitzer and I are compiling a list of all the Penelopes around the world. Who owns one? What serial number do you guys have? If you don't own one, where do you rent it? Do you know how to service it? Who are your techs?
For those of you who are on Facebook, please join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1870336556426483/
We're trying to create a mutual support group and information center for all things Shoulder Cat! we'd love to have you join us in the Quest!

Merci bien, David

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Very cool! There is someone here in So Cal with one, but they're pretty darn rare in general. I don't think Aaton made more than 50, I think the actual number is more around 35 or so. Most of the inventory is owned by rental houses still, which is quite amazing. Panavision, Camtec in the US, then there are some smaller houses in Europe. I personally know of 3 private owners in Europe, but none of them are on social media.

 

I'm a 35III owner and I know where 3 of them are here in So Cal. Me and my friend both have 3 perf bodies and the other one is a 4 perf body with an anamorphic viewfinder.

 

I'd be interested to see who shows up facebook to talk about them.

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Hi Walt! Yeah, Danny (I think it was him) told me about you. Is your dad's name Wim? Are you on Facebook? We have a nice Aaton 35 group going there! Also, which Serial is yours? You can DM me if you don't want to post it here, we're trying to find all 48 cameras ever mode.

Best, David

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I used the first three that came to the United States through Abel Cine in New York in 2009 on a feature film called “The Fighter”. They could possibly still have them but I would think most likely not. I honestly didn’t think very highly of the camera. 

G

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2 hours ago, David Auner aac said:

Hi Gregory!

What were your issues with it? And no, AFAIK they don't have them any more.

Best, David

Hi David! It’s been quite a few years and I’m trying to remember everything we didn’t care for. First off, the camera is way too heavy for its size. I expect smaller cameras to be much more maneuverable compared with larger cameras. The video taps were dark and muddy in low light conditions. The viewing system was the same. You have to realize that we are more used to the brighter light paths with Panavision and Arri. Finally, there is no real estate on the camera bodies for the accessories we require for big feature filmmaking like Preston’s, Cinetapes, transmitters and on board monitors. We managed but it wasn’t pretty! It did take nice images in the end. Cheers! 

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Oh wow, that's very interesting. I found it to be amazingly lightweight. It only weighs about 2 lbs more than my S16 Aaton. I love to handhold it. Also can't say I had the same experience with the finder, nor the video tap. I do agree that it's a small body and running AKS isn't as easy when you're used to a PV or an ARRI. We had to jury rig something when I used it to power the SD HD converter. When I someday buy one I'd probably build myself some form of an adapter plate for that.

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3 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

I expect smaller cameras to be much more maneuverable compared with larger cameras. The video taps were dark and muddy in low light conditions. The viewing system was the same. You have to realize that we are more used to the brighter light paths with Panavision and Arri. Finally, there is no real estate on the camera bodies for the accessories we require for big feature filmmaking like Preston’s, Cinetapes, transmitters and on board monitors. We managed but it wasn’t pretty! It did take nice images in the end. Cheers! 

Yea, I mean when you're use to a 150k camera vs something half that cost, it's going to be a very different experience. Aaton's viewfinders are always darker than the later gen Arri and Panavision equipment, this is across the board from super 16 through 35mm. The VHD tap isn't that bad, I have one on my 35III and it's fine indoors in the dark. Ya just gotta know how to set it up. I have never seen an Arri tap any better, our Arricam LT tap is very poor actually. The XL and XLII taps are better for a multitude of reasons. But I don't think the VHD is that bad. I agree with the accessory problem, it's a big issue. The solution is so simple, but at the time nobody had one. A metal cheese plate that attaches to the two battery ports and not only allows you to use a different battery system, but also gives you enough real estate for wireless video. On the 35III, there is a bit more space when you use an alternative battery solution like the NP1. The cinetape goes on the front screw on the handle and the electronics velcro onto the handle. The client monitor goes on the back screw. The wireless follow focus doesn't need another box, so it just goes onto the rails. The wireless goes onto the NP1 adaptor slot with velcro. The whole kit does weigh it down a bit, but in the end it's MUCH smaller than ANY sync sound Arri camera and WAY lighter. There is actually no comparison. 

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7 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

I used the first three that came to the United States through Abel Cine in New York in 2009 on a feature film called “The Fighter”. They could possibly still have them but I would think most likely not.

I used one of those 3 bodies shortly after!  On my very low budget project with limited accessories - I enjoyed working with it.  I was in Abel's LA location in 2019 and asked about the Penelopes - they told me all the bodies had been sold.

I can totally see how big feature production could test the limits of that camera.  On the other hand I'd shoot a music video on one in a heartbeat...  if I could ever find one to rent!

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As far as I know, the owner of Ice Film London still owns a Penelope. I offered to buy it a few years ago but was told that he would probably never let it go 😉

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Posted (edited)

THE FIGHTER was completely hand held and steadicam. I now remember due to using Master Primes, the hand held Penelope was extremely nose heavy. I had the on board monitor armed all the way back to help balance the camera on the shoulder. On steadicam, the coaxial mags played havoc with the side to side balancing while rolling. The balance would change rapidly while the film traveled from feed to take up. If steadicam operator, Geoff Haley didn’t have the ability to balance on the fly, we’d be in big trouble!
 

G

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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Gregory , gotcha, I can see how that huge chunk of glass would make it nose heavy, because, well it is rather light. And well, the note about coaxial would also be true for any camera with that type mag? Or is it just not that significant with, say a BL because it's so heavy? But yeah, all that being said no camera can do it all in my opinion!

Best, David

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I believe we just had the wrong tools for that particular job. In the end, the picture garnered a couple of Golden Globes and Oscars, so who am I to criticize? 🤦🏻‍♂️😆

G

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