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Looking for a good Super 8


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#1 Joseph Ivey

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 04:34 PM

I am new to this forum so forgive my ignorance. I collect old 8mm cameras, but have recently seen the value in using them to shoot various film projects. My question is, what is a good all around Super 8mm camera, and what are the general rules for shooting with Super 8mm (i.e. shutter speed, frame rate, color reversal vs. color negative)?

I do come from a photography background so I have a Sekonic 508 light meter so I do know some aspects of film but not all. I intend on shooting several rolls before taking on a project with the camera I buy so I can get used to it, but it still helps to go into it with some knowledge. Thanks.
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#2 A.Oliver

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 05:26 PM

Whats your budget for a super 8 camera?. If you have a pile of money, lookout for a leicina special c/w 6-66 f1.8 schneider zoom lens, and if you want the sharpest possible super 8 images, get the 10mm macro-cinegon for the said camera. Beaulieu 6008 and 7008 cameras are excellent. Canon 814xls and 1014xls are also great run and gun cameras, though the lenses tend to be a bit soft towards f2.8- f1.4. I think it would be worthwhile investing in a camera that can read film speeds from say 25-500 asa, just incase you need to rely on the auto iris on occasions. I have messed with many cameras, nizo, beaulieu, canon, bauers, leicinas, eumigs etc. The best images were obtained with the leicina special and beaulieu 4008,5008,6008,7008 range of cameras. Shoot at 24fps, use reversal to start with, this will allow you to see any exposure errors due to the limited latitude of reversal film.
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#3 steve hyde

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 10:07 PM

Nikon R-10 is the camera I recommend for starting with. I own one (Shot four rolls with it today in fact) I have never had it serviced and it has never let me down. I have probably shot about 40 rolls with it and have changed the batteries once. I have never heard an R 10 user complain of the camera malfunctioning in the two years that I have been trolling Super 8 web boards. I also own a Beaulieu 4008 that I had serviced and like very much, but the R 10 is easier to shoot and has far brighter TTL viewing.

You should also check the table in this thread to learn more about shutter speeds for these cameras:

http://www.cinematog...topic=10509&hl=


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#4 Joseph Ivey

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 02:21 PM

I guess my budget is the sky. Obviously I don't want to drop $30,000 on a Super 8 if I can help it. I might as well put that down on a 16mm. I would say that realistically, I would not want to spend more than $2,500 max. I would love to spend less than that, but I am also not scared of spending a little more for a quality product. What are the camera prices of the cameras that you guys mentioned?
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#5 Brant Collins

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 02:50 PM

http://www.ijmincorp.../equipment.html

This guy wild build a Beaulieu from $800 to 1200 depending on what you want. I have a Syankyo I got off e-bay that I like but I have bought a few DUDs too. So my nest purchase will be from someone that can fix them too.

http://www.spectrafi...om/Cameras.html

They also have cameras for sale and they service so my next serious Super8 will come from one of these two suppliers. I also ran a free want add in my local paper Wanted Super8 cameras. Had a lot of calls but nothing on a pro level, but it is a good way to find a deal

I am stuck between getting a 1014xls or 814xls and a Beaulieu. I like that the Beaulieu can change lenses, but others swear by the Canons?
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#6 Chris Burke

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 05:37 PM

I am stuck between getting a 1014xls or 814xls and a Beaulieu. I like that the Beaulieu can change lenses, but others swear by the Canons?




Don't rule out a Nizo 6080. If you are going to be shooting sync, this is the camera to get.


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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 02:34 PM

If I were in the market, I'd need a lot of persuasion not to go for the Beaulieu and be able to use just about any lens in the known Universe.
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#8 David Goldfarb

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 06:57 PM

If I were in the market, I'd need a lot of persuasion not to go for the Beaulieu and be able to use just about any lens in the known Universe.


I've also come recently to Super-8 from still photography, and I arrived at the same conclusion as Mark Dunn and got a Beaulieu 4008 ZM II, which came with a fairly new aftermarket battery. The Schneider 6-66/1.8 is an astonishingly good lens, and I'm not a fan of zoom lenses. It's handy that I can adapt my Canon FD and Tamron lenses easily for C-mount, and there are plenty of good C-mount primes out there for not too much money. Full manual control is also a big plus for me, and it's a well-built camera.
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#9 santo

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 07:30 PM

A Beaulieu is always a good choice, but you have to invest a little money. I've never read any posts from anybody competent and sane on a super 8 board who was disappointed with a Beaulieu 4008 that was in good working order.
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#10 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 11:30 PM

If I were in the market, I'd need a lot of persuasion not to go for the Beaulieu and be able to use just about any lens in the known Universe.


For the beginning film student, it's still useful to have a Super-8 camera that offers manual exposure AND auto-exposure as well. The Super-8 format tends to lend itself to more spontaneous shooting. Many times Super-8 is shot when there is less control over the images that are too be filmed, the mobility of the Super-8 cameras can lend itself to a tiny crew, perhaps even a crew of one is all that is needed. The need to move quickly and get more shots in less time will render the ability to change lenses less important to a beginner shooting solo.

For a beginning Super-8 filmmaker, being able to zoom into what is important in the shot, get a quick auto exposure reading, then readjust the exposure manually up or down depending on the lighting conditions, is a terrific way to get properly exposed shots while running and gunning.

The "being able to use any lens in the Universe" concept is ideal for more planned out shoots, but for the beginning film student whom perhaps is shooting with no crew at all it may be overkill.
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#11 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 05:41 AM

I've had very good results with the Canon 1014XLS and the Leicina Special.
Never really understood the appeal of interchangeable lenses on super8 cameras.
The 4008 Beaulieu's handgrip I found to be annoying despite the 60's sci-fi styling of the camera.
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#12 David Goldfarb

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 12:36 PM

Never really understood the appeal of interchangeable lenses on super8 cameras.


Sure, it's a low-resolution medium in general, and part of the attraction is that the camera is light and easy to take anywhere, but the built in zoom might not be long enough, wide enough, sharp enough, soft enough, contrasty enough, smooth enough, fast enough, etc. for a particular shot, and if one has usable lenses, why not use them?

Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 24 February 2006 - 12:37 PM.

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#13 santo

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 12:54 PM

Prime lenses are an enormous advantage in any format, not only because of their added sharpness, detail, and contrast, but because they flat-out make you a better filmmaker. Yes, they do. You are forced to get off your ass and compose shots and choose lenses with different depths of field and angles of view. Plus, in super 8 a normal is around a 10 while a wide or short is around a 5 or 6. Your images have more depth using the wider lenses like that than just zooming in from your "back there". Because they are on your camera, you are less likely to change them unless the shot calls for it, so your shots are wider angle lens based so they look richer and more 3-D and, well, professional. With those focal lengths you don't have to focus often and you are free to shoot pretty much anything up to about 2 meters from the camera. This is an enormous advantage for on-the-fly fast shooting. Your camera is smaller and lighter with a prime, ready to go at all times without focus concerns. And primes seem to allow more precise focusing when called for.

There is also an argument, I don't know how valid it is but it is interesting, that using a limited set of fixed focal lengths has a subliminal impression on the audience. Again, it is part of the professional look to your films. Audiences appreciate the difference on a subconcious level between a film shot with a few fixed focal lengths and the look they give, and one that looks more "home movie-ish" with focal lengths all over the place and inseparable. Again, I'm not completely convinced, but it makes some sense. Using primes promotes this. Using a big zoom makes it easier not to bother.
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#14 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 02:03 PM

One of the most annoyingly framed shots that I regularly see on television are hospital patients in a bed. Rather than get the camera closer, the lens is usually zoomed in and it compresses the elongated bed and body in the bed in a very bizarre way. Not the way in which would give out style points either.

The laziness argument can also be extended to the tripod height. Don't just shoot at a certain height because it is "comfortable".

A zoom lens is most valuable when you have "restricted mobility". For instance shooting from a city sidewalk, or the stands at a stadium or race track. When you have no distance control over the object you are shooting and your ability to move in is limited to certain distances only, then it probably makes more sense to use a zoom lens.

Using a Zoom lens goes back to the theory of the beginning film student that isn't ready to plunk down serious money and hire actors and wardrobe and lighting rentals without first being comfortable with the camera they plan on using, plus a back-up!

When one is ready to move to the next level, and actually have a set, the primes could be a lot of fun.
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#15 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 04:22 PM

I'm not convinced the advantages of primes apply to super 8 as much. If the main advantage of a prime is that you can perform a focus pull without the lens breathing then that doesn't really apply to super 8 as the depth of field is so big, so focus pulls are rare. The equipment is also small so a second set of hands adjusting the focus is probably likely to cause unwanted movement.

If the second advantage is that primes are faster, well many super 8 zooms are reasonably fast anyhow (the zooms on my Bealieu is 1.4, my Nizo Pro is 1.7) so you'd be hard pressed to find a second hand c-mount lens significantly faster, or much wider in focal-length than most quality super 8 zooms for that matter (6mm on my bealieu and 7mm on nizo).

One can still choose to shoot and stick at a particular focal-length even with a zoom lens. A wise DP or Director may choose to stay at a focale length for continuity or stylistic reasons. It seems to be that comedies prefer wide lenses while dramas like long, though films can change with tone - I remember when watching the last Harry Potter film noticing one sequence was on a very wide while another on much longer lenses.

An advantage of a zoom is its easy to focus, as you can simply zoom in and focus and zoom out again for the shot. With a prime you'd need to get a tape mearsure out and if your shooting alone or through glass or at mirrors that becomes a bit more complicated.

In my opinion the Bealieu 4008 is a great camera but the handgrip does suck, its definatly for more carefully shot dramas than for documentries or more improvised/street based drama. Perhaps a Canon 1014XLS or Nizo is better for that.

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 24 February 2006 - 04:25 PM.

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#16 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 03:06 PM

Just because you have a zoom on the camera does not mean yiou have to zoom.
The idea is to use it as a variable fiocal length lens as one does (most of the time at leas for me) in other formats.
I am not a fan of zooming inshot and on the very rare instances where I zoom it is "camouflaged" with a camera move during the zoom.
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