The éclair NPR (Noiseless Portable Reflex, earlier “ECLAIR 16”) is a 16mm film camera originally manufactured in the early 60’s and the first one of its kind. By the standards of the day the NPR was a small, quiet camera that allowed sync-sound shooting. The NPR helped to revolutionize the art of film-making with various technical innovations. The NPR is considered a major contributor to the French New Wave genre and enabled independent filmmakers to create movies outside the confines of a major studio.

The NPR featured a quick-release magazine that was separate from the camera body. Although this seems obvious now, prior to this innovation film had to be loaded directly into the camera body. Instead of stopping production to load and unload film, magazines could be pre-loaded with film and changed quickly. This innovation made the NPR a favorite choice for documentary film-making.


An ECLAIR 16 II seen with the vertical 2-lens port turret (upper: C-mount, lower: CA1 mount)

ECLAIR 16_nameplate

NPR - ECLAIR 16 II mag plate


The NPR is the older sibling to the ACL camera.

NPR twin view


[left] Frontal view of the body with lenses removed, [right] The gate area

NPR Super16 gate

Here the Super16 aperture seen.


The “ECLAIR 16” camera has been designed in such a way that the motor and the shutter are on the same drive shaft, so no gears are needed between them. Consequently, the camera is intrinsically noiseless and needs absolutely no blimp.


Its low and unobtrusive profile, its center of gravity very low and its compact co-axial 400 ft magazine that rests on the shoulder ensure perfect steadiness during hand-held shooting. A carrying handle makes it as easy to carry as a briefcase.


The “ECLAIR 16” has a true reflex viewing system using a mirrored shutter, the blade of which is an optically ground surface coated mirror in magnesium. This system eliminates all possibilities of parallax and framing and focusing can be truly cinematic. Viewing is continuous, magnified 10 times and right side up. The standard eyepiece is fully rotating and capable of a double 360° swivel. It can swivel for right or left eye viewing, for high or low position and for shooting forwards or backwards.

Blueprint courtesy of Steven Jackson (Touched up by Erkan)


Like the world’s outstanding 35 mm documentary camera known under the name of “CAMÉFLEX” (“CAMERETTE” in U.S.A.), it takes with the “ECLAIR 16” less than 5 seconds to snap on and off the 400 ft pre-loaded magazine as no threading is required in the camera. The magazine itself is quick loading and most threading is in open light. It accepts 100 ft. 200 ft and 400 ft daylight loading spools and 400 ft loads on standard cores.


The two position turret accepts all lenses and can be rotated fast. Usually it is equipped with the Angénieux 12-120 mm Zoom and a very short focal lens, the minimum being F-5.7 mm. The turret is provided with a “CAMÉFLEX” bayonet type mount that ensures the precision seating required by heavy, wide angle and Zoom lenses; the other one is the standard C-mount that is widely used throughout the film industry. The ground glass is engraved with the standard frame or with the standard and T.V. frames. It also covers an extra area of nearly 100 % more than the aperture. So, one can see what’s happening just off screen. The shutter is adjustable from 180° to 5° and cuts across the frame from side to side; this means less stroboscopic effect than with other cameras.


The film transport mechanism comprises a single pull-down claw and a single registration pin which permit the use of single system sound. The claw is wedge-shaped; it slides quickly into the perforation and makes contact with its lower edge before the pull-down begins. No claw chatter. The registration pin limits vertical movement to less than one thousandth of frame height. The photographic definition in absolutely maximum.


Two types of motors – interchangeable – are available:
1° – 12 volt D. C. governed motor with built-in automatic clapper
2° – 12 volt D. C. crystal-controlled motor with quartz oscillator
The crystal-controlled motor permits sync. sound without any physical connection between camera and recorder.

  • Portable light self-blimped camera (20 lbs.) permitting direct sound recording facilities in studio or on location.
  • Great versatility of use as a shoulder camera or on a tripod.
  • 360˚ rotating reflex viewfinder.
  • Instant changing co-axial 400ft magazine (less than 5 seconds); double footage indicators tor reels or spools.
  • Film mechanism with high precision single pull-down claw.
  • Perfect steadiness ensured by combination of a registration pin and spring loaded side pressure bar.
  • Maximum sharpness ensured by special back pressure plate.
  • Variable shutter 180˚ closing to 5˚.
  • Twin lens turret enables wide angle lens such as F-5,7 mm to be used in conjunction with 12 x 120 mm Zoom lens without interference.
  • “Super 16” format (.292 x .485), on request.
  • Multi-duty motor; 12 Volts tor 24 and 25 frames per second, controlled by crystal or by frequency of 50, 60, 100 cycles. Output pilot signal (50, 60 or 100) by commutator. Variable speed governed from 4 to 40 frames per second. Automatic stop in viewing position. Tachometer. Automatic or hand-driven clapper.
  • Portable 12 Volts battery in plastic protecting box or in leather belt.

Mr. Grant Loucks, the president of the Alan Gordon Enterprises, Inc., told me that they still stock some NPR spares. Parts only, no service or cameras for sale!