Eclair ACL 16mm 1

The Eclair ACL Manual

Online and in .PDF format.

Some Info About This Site:

I, Eric Bickernicks was going to create this elaborate web page that extolls the virtues of the Eclair ACL 16mm camera with all sorts of links, history, pictures and data. Then I decided that it would've taken too long for something at that no one would ever bother to see. (Come on, how many of you Eclair ACL 16mm camera owners are out there?) I made the .PDF version of the manual just so I'd still have a copy if I lost my original.

This document tries to recreate the original manual as closely as possible. I OCR'd all the text and scanned the images at 150 dpi. I even recreated the original lame-ass layout they tended to use before the advent of computers. You can either view it on your computer or, if you printed the pages on slightly yellow, musty paper you'd have something that looks AND smells just like an original Eclair ACL 16mm camera manual!

I personally used the Eclair ACL 16mm camera to shoot my big indie feature. It was called "". I had kept a running journal of the production and the use of the Eclair ACL 16mm camera here. I posted some technical info about the Eclair ACL 16mm camera and other equipment used in the film here.

Leave a comment about this website or the Eclair camera HERE.

Send and e-mail to the author of this webpage.

The Eclair ACL I Manual:

Here's an online .PDF version. This is an uncompressed version that when clicked, will probably launch the Acrobat plug-in for your browser. (I always found this kinda annoying.)

Eclair ACL Manual.pdf (1.2 meg)

Here's a compressed "stuffed" version that you'll be able to download, THEN view.

Eclair ACL Manual.sit (900k)

What? You don't have a Mac? OK, here's a Windoze "zipped" version. So you couldn't AFFORD a good :-)

Eclair ACL (900k)

Eclair ACL 16mm

The Eclair ACL II Manual:

This manual apparently came out a few years after the original production run of the ACL. Has info on 400' mags and was completely updated.

Eclair ACL II Manual.pdf (1.3 meg)

Here's a compressed "stuffed" version that you'll be able to download, THEN view.

Eclair ACL II Manual.sit (1 meg)

Jesus, you still usin' that PC? ya go. :-)

Eclair ACL II (1 meg)

Eclair ACL 16mm

I wanna make a movie..where can I BUY an Eclair ACL camera?

If you want to pay top dollar, buy one from a dealer off this list. (You'll easily pay around $5000 for a basic package.) If you want to spend half of that, ya gotta check out ebay.

www.ebay com/Photo & Electronics/Photo Equipment/Movie

You'll almost always find an Eclair ACL 16mm camera for sale by someone in the country. (Not to mention Eclair NPRs too) Most regular Eclair ACL 16mm cameras seem to bid for about $2500-$3000. Super 16mm versions top out around $4000-$4500.

How about some Eclair ACL links?

PerryP Eclair ACL page - best ACL page I've found - pictures, specs, mods, resources

CamerasPro ACL II - specs and info

Du-All Camera - ACL matte box rods

Movie House/Robert Latimer ACL page - ACL camera specs

A quicky history of the Eclair ACL.

I pulled this off of It was posted by Mark Andrew Job on 4/21/99.

The Eclair ACL is a very FRAGILE instrument indeed. At the time it was designed it was the MOST ADVANCED INSTRUMENT available for 16mm film/television documentary work. It was first introduced to producers at BBC-1 television in April 1970 for trial work in England where it was first originally assembled from parts made in Paris, France. In 1971 the beastie was released to the general public of film makers. This camera was originally designed with only a small 200 foot film magazine with a small hall effect motor for the two international film speeds at the time 24 (Still is) and 25 fps Pal land in Europe. The camera's name was derived from the three initials of the names of the three camera engineers who designed it. They are Anston, Coma and Jacques Lecour. The little Hall effect motor was designed at Sorehemec-Cahess-Eclair-International Diffusion in Paris by a pretty clever engineer named Jean-Claude Beauviola. Beauviola also designed the Beala Motor for the Heavier built Eclair Noiseless Portable Reflex (NPR).

He is also the first to think up exposing bar code digital information onto the opposing frame edges of motion picture film negative as it passes through the camera during exposure. The ACL went through many continual minor evolutions during its travel toward oblivion. Cinematographers complained bitterly about not being able to shoot full 400 foot rolls of film to pull ten minutes of shooting time out of a single film load. Eclair eventually relented and designed a good low torque "B," Wind 400 ft mag. This mag was quiet and didn't torque load up the puny motor on the side. However, the film take up tension arm would slowly loose tension and fall out of adjustment and no longer take up the exposed film in the magazine so it would jam up ! The adjustment for the English mag was actually very easy to make if you knew how to make it and most operators never figured it out ! This design created a sort of riot of very mean complaints from cinematographers so Eclair created the heavier and quieter built direct drive magazine which by this time was built back in Paris France and the instrument was no longer being assembled in England. This mag took up the film "A," wind (STUPID) emulsion out but worked perfectly and was noise dampened with lead sheaths inside the magazine door covers. This progression over torqued the tiny motor and it would heat up and let go and die ! Well this new development really pissed off people so Eclair designed a great big dual speed crystal motor which didn't heat up and die. Next people wanted an orientable view finder so the well known French firm of Pierre Angeniuex was engaged to come up with one which they did. Then people got upset with that because they didn't want to manually adjust the ground glass so then they redesigned the camera again and put a Kinoptic 13X automatically orientable viewfinder on that sucker. The heavy duty motor went through a variety of continual evolutions.

1. Large motor was changed to multi-speed motor (All Crystal) 2. Large motor was changed again to allow the camera oscillating mirror to stop in the viewing position. 3. Large motor was changed again to allow external speed regulation for the ACL-2

In 1980 the company closed doors after designing and displaying a spinning mirror progression of the ACL-2 Called The Eclair PANORAM !!!! THe very latest ACL-2 cameras came with the typical circular Aaton motor on them just as the company was going out of business. If I were you would stay away from this camera because they are now too old and have loosened up internally and are chatter boxes ! You cannot get them quiet unless you completely rebuild them. Most folks refuse to pay the high cost of a complete overhaul. Parts are VERY rare too.

Here's some other crap about the Eclair ACL I found on

Date: 9/14/98 - Author: DELRAY 62

French designers Anston Coma and Jacques Lecoeur amalgamated initials for the new design of 16mm Eclair cameras: and so introduced the ACL. Retaining many of the features of the NPR, the ACL was designed as a portable and extremely lightweight alternative.

In place of the cumbersome motor attached to the bottom of the NPR, the ACL motor is designed to plug into the side. Retained with three screws, the motor is nothing more than a slim rectangular box, running on 12V dc.

Unlike the NPR, the ACL shutter is nonadjustable, fixed at 175 . The turret is a single C-mount lens port, designed to accept an adaptor which will convert readily to Eclair or Arriflex mount. The camera also contains a bloop switch and lamp, to aid post-synching of sound with film.

200ft and 400ft coaxial magazines are available, [Eric Bickernicks note: 400' coaxial magazines are NOT readily available, I've looked] which clip directly onto the camera body for instantaneous shooting. Several handgrips are also available, allowing attachment to either the base or side of the camera body.

A well maintained ACL has a very low running noise and combined with it's low weight makes in an excellent choise for sound documentary shooting. However, compared to most workhorses of 16mm, it is a very fragile and occasionally temperamental camera. Many of these problems were tackled with the introduction of improved motors and magazines, designated ACL II in the USA (although this name was never applied by the manufacturer). The distinction being the country of manufacture engraved on the magazine (England for ACL I and France for ACL II) and the increased size of the motor (for ACL II). Some confusion has also arisen over the camera bodies this way, as ACLs were constructed in both England and France. The design specifications were exactly the same, so the difference between the two is only origin of manufacture.

Date: 2/25/98 - Author: David Wing

I need to get a copy of Eclair ACL II operation manual. If you have one please contact me. Thanks. Also, does anyone knows the address/telephone of the US Eclair ACL II distributor?

Try Dieter Schaefer at: Procam 22048 Sherman Way, Suite 105 Canoga Park, CA 91303 818-346-1292 He is one of the only factory trained Eclair techs in the USA. He would have all the answers. Good luck and tell him hi for me.

Assorted pictures of Eclair ACLs and accessories:

I lifted most of these from ACL postings on

eclair stock certificate.jpg (126k) - Original stock certificate for the Eclair company

ACL Super 16mm rig (252k) - long shots of assorted parts

Eclair ACL 200-400.jpg (63k) - Shows 200' and 400' backs

Du-All rod3.jpg (32k) - example of Du-All matte rods in place.