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» 8mm Forum   » 8mm Forum   » Ambico Video Transfer box vs. picture frame type mirror and ground glass

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Author Topic: Ambico Video Transfer box vs. picture frame type mirror and ground glass
Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted April 15, 2016 11:57 PM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just wondering which one results in better quality transfers (if there's much difference). I'd be using a Sankyo 2000H projector and my wife's Canon DSLR for the camera.

I know hot spots can be an issue with this type of setup. The Ambico's are a dime a dozen on Ebay and it looks like you project onto some sort of diffusing surface and that image is reflected towards the camera. I believe there's a macro lens in there somewhere:

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The picture frame style product currently being sold on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/jh9ft9r seems to take the opposite approach.

I'd appreciate any thoughts any of you may have.

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Ty Reynolds
Film Handler

Posts: 92
From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Registered: Nov 2015


 - posted April 16, 2016 01:46 AM      Profile for Ty Reynolds   Author's Homepage   Email Ty Reynolds   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've never used the Ambico box, but a common problem with those older devices, besides the hot spot, is the texture of the screen material that is picked up by the camera. Some of those old transfer boxes on ebay are better than others in this regard. The best one I've come across was made by Keystone. Those boxes are from a time when home video cameras were far less sharp than they are today, and the results intended for VHS.

I've used the Sharples unit sold on Amazon. The ground glass is surprisingly good. The mirror is not. This type of setup absolutely requires a front surface mirror, which means, as the name suggests, the reflective material is on the front of the glass. Instead, the manufacturer has cheaped out and used the more common rear surface mirror. This means the the reflected image in the ground glass is both the bright, sharp intended image from the rear surface, and a ghost-like shadow image from the front surface of the mirror glass. According the the instruction sheet, the ghost image is a the result of a setting problem in the customer's camera, which is utter nonsense.

You can reduce the hot spot by placing a piece of translucent glass in front of the projector lamp to diffuse the light. I've also used glass etching paste on the lens taken from a cheap halogen lamp to make an effective diffuser.

Edit: I see in another thread that Janice, who would know, is recommending the Sharples ground glass unit. If the mirror issue has been corrected, then I withdraw my reservations.

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Brian Fretwell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1738
From: London, UK
Registered: Jun 2014


 - posted April 16, 2016 04:24 AM      Profile for Brian Fretwell   Email Brian Fretwell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think when I tried a box like this the hot spot was less noticeable if I used the maximum telephoto range on both the projector and camera lenses. The idea is that the light is more straight on through the system so the diffuser does less work at the edges. That was in the days of limited range zooms and tube pick-up cameras though.

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Will Trenfield
Master Film Handler

Posts: 499
From: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK
Registered: Mar 2016


 - posted April 16, 2016 05:01 AM      Profile for Will Trenfield   Email Will Trenfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I saw a solution to the mirror problem Ty refers to on YouTube. Someone had used a piece of a stainless steel tile instead of a mirror and the results were very good.

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Janice Glesser
Film Goddess

Posts: 3407
From: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted April 16, 2016 11:14 AM      Profile for Janice Glesser   Email Janice Glesser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hot spots are caused by too much light and not the mirror. Telecine boxes and the mirror and ground glass units do not use standard mirrors. They use a single surface mirror that will give you a much sharper less distorted image than a piece of stainless steel tile.

I have tested both the telecine boxes and the mirror and ground glass. It gets down to ease of use and quality. The advantage to the box is that it can be set up in the daylight...but you will sacrifice sharpness in the image. Some model boxes are better than others and the ground glass in these units can sometimes make the picture grainy. However, depending on your expectations this might be adequate especially if you have video editing skills. A better model Ambico unit is the V-0655. The image quality on this model is much better than the Deluxe Ambico...very close to the mirror and ground glass unit.

Here are some of my videos of other telecine boxes I've tested that I consider better than the Ambico Deluxe model:

Ambico V-0655
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1QaAsp3Iug

Quasar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdTe3lVr2hA

Kalimar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10x6D1DzrCE

Polestar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpHe9If8A5s

Mirror & Ground Glass
I prefer the just the mirror and ground glass. It's no match in quality to my frame-by-frame Moviestuff Workprinter, but it's more than acceptable. The room light should be low, but does not have to be totally dark. I find this unit to be easier and faster to set up than other methods. The ground glass is of high quality and any graininess can be minimized with video editing software after capture. Hot spots can be reduced by using a combination of a lower wattage lamp...diffuser...adjusting the exposure...and using ND filters on your camera. The image will be somewhat sharper with this method compared to a telecine box.

Sample Mirror and Ground Glass Transfers:

16mm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSdxLwL6EuM

Super 8mm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqoF4gqUwh4

[ April 16, 2016, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: Janice Glesser ]

--------------------
Janice

"I'm having a very good day!"
Richard Dreyfuss - Let It Ride (1989).

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Will Trenfield
Master Film Handler

Posts: 499
From: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK
Registered: Mar 2016


 - posted April 16, 2016 04:42 PM      Profile for Will Trenfield   Email Will Trenfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought that the transferred footage with the Kalimar was good but it's no match for your super 8 transfer which is brilliant. What make of mirror and ground glass unit do you use if you don't mind my asking?

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Janice Glesser
Film Goddess

Posts: 3407
From: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted April 16, 2016 09:09 PM      Profile for Janice Glesser   Email Janice Glesser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I bought mine off Ebay about 5 years ago. The ones selling today look the same.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HOME-MOVIE-TRANSFER-TELECINE-Convert-Your-8mm-S8-Slides-to-Video-DVD-Digital-/252357052774?hash=item3ac1a70966:m:mFVQov7Nk--Mh1S3Wc9UXHQ

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--------------------
Janice

"I'm having a very good day!"
Richard Dreyfuss - Let It Ride (1989).

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted April 17, 2016 01:39 AM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Janice, that's the kind of information I was looking for.

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Ty Reynolds
Film Handler

Posts: 92
From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Registered: Nov 2015


 - posted April 17, 2016 02:06 PM      Profile for Ty Reynolds   Author's Homepage   Email Ty Reynolds   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Janice, I assume yours has the front surface mirror? I bought mine about a year ago, and it has the rear surface mirror. The instruction sheet, with its reference to the ghost image, makes it clear that the rear surface mirror is intentional. Perhaps the manufacturer has lowered their standards? If so, then I reinstate my reservations.

One could buy the unit and replace the mirror, but at what point is is better to just build it yourself? Two picture frames hinged together, a sheet of frost glass, and a mirror.

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Malcolm John Toye
Junior
Posts: 5
From: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Registered: Oct 2014


 - posted April 19, 2016 10:29 AM      Profile for Malcolm John Toye   Email Malcolm John Toye   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Janice. I note the Panasonic Home Telecine Adapter WV-J20AE looks similar to the Quasar. Have you any advice on Video Camera setting for the manual mode when copying cine films ? How do you rate this compared to other Mirror/ Lens adapters .Thank you

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Janice Glesser
Film Goddess

Posts: 3407
From: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted April 19, 2016 09:29 PM      Profile for Janice Glesser   Email Janice Glesser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
@Ty...If the newer units are now using a rear-surface mirror, then I agree that won't work. It's a shame just to cut the cost per unit they now make it useless. I picked up another model mirror/ ground glass unit at a thrift store last month. You might keep an eye out for the Sima CopyKit. The ground glass is very fine and it uses a front surface mirror. They may be difficult to locate.

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@Malcolm...I can only tell you what I use on my Canon HV40.

* FPS: TV Mode: 60fps (sometimes 30fps works better...depends on the original film frame rate)
* EXPOSURE: Exposure adjusted visually.
* FOCUS: I initially use the auto focus then set it to manual to hold the focus.
* WHITE BALANCE: I like to use the manual white balance, but auto white balance should work just fine.

--------------------
Janice

"I'm having a very good day!"
Richard Dreyfuss - Let It Ride (1989).

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted April 20, 2016 08:58 AM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I ended up getting an Ambico V-0655 from eBay yesterday for $22.00 once shipping was added in. We'll see how it goes. Thanks for all the advice.

I can see where this hobby could turn into a real DIYers paradise. I found a youtube video on how to make your own ground glass that was done by a large format guy. I also was directed to a site that sells surplus photographic equipment including kodak front surface mirrors and ground glass: www.surplusshed.com

So I guess it wouldn't be that hard to make my own if the Ambico ends up not being all that great.

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Barry Fritz
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1052
From: Burnsville, MN, USA
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted April 20, 2016 10:10 AM      Profile for Barry Fritz   Email Barry Fritz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ebay has some of the Sima CopyKits listed now.

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted April 20, 2016 11:17 AM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Unfortunately I didn't see Janice's endorsement of the Copy Kit until I'd already bid on the Ambico but yeah, they are there. At least this Ambico model was one that Janice liked better than the others. I don't mind doing some experimenting.

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Janice Glesser
Film Goddess

Posts: 3407
From: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted April 20, 2016 03:41 PM      Profile for Janice Glesser   Email Janice Glesser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Tom...I've be experimenting for over 6 years [Smile] There's no end and you'll learn alot.

Have fun! [Cool]

--------------------
Janice

"I'm having a very good day!"
Richard Dreyfuss - Let It Ride (1989).

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David Washburn
Junior
Posts: 5
From: Monroe, NY, USA
Registered: Aug 2018


 - posted August 31, 2018 05:17 PM      Profile for David Washburn   Email David Washburn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Is the Sima copykit 2 a copycat?

I ordered a Sima copykit from EBay and got the Mark 2 model instead. Same quality or nasty knockoff?

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--------------------
Guzziownr

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Janice Glesser
Film Goddess

Posts: 3407
From: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted August 31, 2018 10:15 PM      Profile for Janice Glesser   Email Janice Glesser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi David... The unit you pictured is another version of a transfer box and not the same thing as the Copycat Kit mirror and ground glass unit as shown in my photo
in the above post.

[ September 01, 2018, 10:01 AM: Message edited by: Janice Glesser ]

--------------------
Janice

"I'm having a very good day!"
Richard Dreyfuss - Let It Ride (1989).

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Harley Jones
Junior
Posts: 25
From: Cardiff UK
Registered: Feb 2005


 - posted September 01, 2018 10:42 AM      Profile for Harley Jones   Author's Homepage   Email Harley Jones   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Like Janice, I have got very good transfers from the open mirror and screen system.
The best system I used was made in Holland by Van Doornen which gave a totally grainless image and I made many transfers of 9.5mm before I bought my Moviestuff’s Retro 9.5 scanner.
Here’s my current ebay listing for the Van Doornen https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/332788138161

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Harley
www.cinenostalgia.co.uk

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David Washburn
Junior
Posts: 5
From: Monroe, NY, USA
Registered: Aug 2018


 - posted September 01, 2018 05:45 PM      Profile for David Washburn   Email David Washburn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks to Janice and Harley for their replies. It's too cheap to return so I will play with it. I am hoping that they used the internals of the original Copykit so the correct mirror and ground glass can be found within.

--------------------
Guzziownr

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