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LEICINA SPECIAL Super 8 or K-3 16mm


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#1 Izreal

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:32 AM

I have an option to either buy a LEICINA SPECIAL Super 8 or a K-3 16mm. Which camera would be a better buy for learning? Can the LEICINA SPECIAL be crystal-synced? The K-3 is a option because of the price and I've heard good things about the camera. The only thing is that it is a spring wound so crystal-sync is out of the question. Even though having a sync sound camera is not that big of an issue, it would be nice to have to experiment with sound as I grow. Does the LEICINA SPECIAL have pin registration? And on the fps dial it has 25fps not 24fps, how big of an issue is this? Is it possible to shoot 24fps with this camera? Or would a Beaulieu 4008zmII-6008 be a good option? I want a camera with interchangeable lens, whether it's a super 8mm or 16mm.
Which camera would give the better images, the LEICINA SPECIAL/Beaulieu or K-3 16mm? I know 16mm would give me a bigger image, but the K-3 lacks pin registration, so the images not be as steady.
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#2 Ian Marks

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 01:26 PM

Since you're learning, you definitely should buy the K3. It's very basic, all manual (which you absolutely need when you're learning) and will give much better, sharper, and steadier results. As a rule, Super 8 cameras do not have registration pins (there apparently was one special instrumentation camera that did), and only some 16mm and 35mm cameras have them. A registration pin is not necessarily required for a steady image. Remember that the Aaton, a 16mm camera renowned for its image steadiness, does not use a registration pin. The Eclair ACL and CM3, the Arri II, the Konvas, and the Bolexes are all steady cameras.

Furthermore, a good K3 will give steadier images than a Leicina or any other Super 8 camera because the Super 8 format, with its crappy in-the-plastic-cartridge pressure plate, is inherently problematic as far as steadiness goes. That is not to say that all Super 8 footage is unsteady (although a lot of it is).

Save your money. Spend $200 for a K3 and another $75-100 for a good meter and learn how to use them both. You'll be a much better cinematographer, even if you later decide to buy a Leicina. And please, Leicinaphiles, do not respond to this post by talking about how wonderful and steady your camera is.
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#3 santo

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 02:02 PM

Question: "I have a choice. I can buy a medium format Pentacon Six" :
Posted Image

or a small format Leica M3 . "
Posted Image

Answer: "Save your money. Take the Pentacon Six, medium format will give you a lot better pictures that are sharper than small format ever can be, and you'll learn a lot more about photography from it. Don't you Leicaphiles write and tell us how wonderful your M3's are!"

;)
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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 02:03 PM

Now that second-hand 16mm film handling kit is so cheap you might go that route. If you shoot reversal it's only about twice the price of Super-8 now. I got a Steenbeck, pic-sync and splicer for about GBP120 all-in (I already have a K-3) and will probably go the K40 route. The great thing about 16mm. is that you have a pro format to start with. The demise of process-paid Super-8 K40 removed a lot of the convenience of the format. Good luck.
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#5 andres victorero

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 02:12 PM

The Leicina super 8 is a great camera, i think the very best camera of super 8.
K 3 is a low cost 16 mm. camera but i have seen great images.
yes the 16mm film give you a better resolution than super 8 film, but the 16 mm. film is more expensive than super 8, more difficult to load and more expensive to developing. yes the 16 mm can give you better images than super 8 but is more expensive.
I bought a leicina special and I´m happy with this. I think that is the best and inexpensive (and you can get great images) way to learn film , like me ;)

Edited by andres victorero, 22 February 2006 - 02:15 PM.

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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 02:30 PM

I'd say that the Pentacon/Leica comparison is a different argument. For stills, 35mm is better supported than rollfilm. It's the other way round with Super-8 and 16mm, at least if you stay on film. With movies a lot more happens between shooting and presentation than there is with stills. The Super-8 cartridge's built-in plastic pressure plate has always been a bit of a limiting factor, although you can now buy a precision metal replacement. But it costs as much as a couple of cheap Super-8 cameras.
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#7 santo

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 03:01 PM

I'd say that the Pentacon/Leica comparison is a different argument. For stills, 35mm is better supported than rollfilm. It's the other way round with Super-8 and 16mm, at least if you stay on film.


It's about as accurate a parallel apples to oranges comparison as possible. Actually at this point there are more film stocks readily available on super 8 than there are in 16mm. 30-something.

Limited shooting time (number of exposures), difficult loading, loves to chew up film, heavier, bulkier, crude in comparison -- all these are cons of the Pentacon/Krasnorgorsk. But on the other hand, way cheaper, bigger image size = sharper images, and if you drop it, buy another one -- they're cheap and plentiful as bortsch.

With movies a lot more happens between shooting and presentation than there is with stills. The Super-8 cartridge's built-in plastic pressure plate has always been a bit of a limiting factor, although you can now buy a precision metal replacement. But it costs as much as a couple of cheap Super-8 cameras.


I agree, super 8 has a limiting factor with steadiness issues. You'll never get pin-registered perfection. However, the Leicina Special has a Teflon-coated "special" narrow film gate developed against Kodak's advice which functions using the same principles as the metal "precision pressure plate" to flatten the film. Mostly done because the Special was designed for extensive scientific instrument applications. I mean, how many other super 8 cameras have a zero instrument plug-in on the side? University tech institute auctions are a great place to get Specials in mint condition moth-balled over the years. I got one of my new old stock ones still in its plastic bags at one. As I've demonstrated with clips shot in challenge on other webboards, it is the equal to any single 8 or double super 8 footage, and nobody would take me up on the challenge I made to wind-up 16mm camera owners to beat it.

Honestly though, I think the K3 is a pretty cool camera. I love old Soviet machinery like that. I bet izreal would have a great time shooting with one, and probably so would I. The short run time of the wind-up motor would prove very frustrating, though, if you're shooting any kind of narrative film with dialogue and actors, but there are ways around the 20 some second limit, I guess. This one with a motor so you can shoot longer than 20 seconds is very interesting on ebay right now: http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem

Overall, it is a real apples and oranges comparision if ever I read one, though. They're such different cameras.
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#8 Ian Marks

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 04:11 PM

However, the Leicina Special has a Teflon-coated "special" narrow film gate . . .


Santo, I could almost sense you lurking when I asked that Leicinaphiles not to bother chiming in about how great their cameras are . . . but I'm always glad to hear what you have to say.

I don't think the Pentacon/Leica M3 comparison works very well. As you say, this is an apples and oranges question, choosing between a Soviet-era Krasnogorsk, which for all we know was assembled in a former hobnail boot factory, and the Leicina, one of the most sophisticated and beautifully made cameras from Germany, a country known for its brilliant engineering.

If the question were "which is the better camera, regardless of format?" I would have said the Leicina. But as for which camera would be the better choice for learning, I'd say that the Leicina's sophistication would be lost on someone who did not understand the fundamentals (shutter speed, aperture, metering, depth of field, etc.). The K3 is actually a particularly good camera for that, in that it is very basic (and yet capable of giving very good results).

Izreal also stated that he wants a camera with interchangeable lenses. For Super 8, that pretty much means a Leicina or Beaulieu (or if one wants to get weird, a Nalcom). Super 8 simply doesn't provide the many lens choices available for 16mm shooting. I know you can fit M-mount lenses to the Leicina, and others via adapters, but the Super 8 format's frame is so small that assembling a kit of lenses in useful focal lengths is going to be a challenge - one might as well stick with the original zoom. Besides, everything I've heard about the zooms supplied with the Leicina (Santo) is that they're superb.

The lens mount on the K3 is either an M42 (a/k/a the Pentax Screw) or a weird bayonet. The Meteor zoom that comes with the K3 is supposed to be just okay, but one can fit a huge assortment of Takumar and other good 35mm still camera lenses, in focal lengths that are actually useful, if the camera is the M42 type. Not exactly the plethora of lenses available to the owner of an Arriflex or Eclair, but pretty good.
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#9 santo

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 04:34 PM

I don't think the Pentacon/Leica M3 comparison works very well. As you say, this is an apples and oranges question, choosing between a Soviet-era Krasnogorsk, which for all we know was assembled in a former hobnail boot factory, and the Leicina, one of the most sophisticated and beautifully made cameras from Germany, a country known for its brilliant engineering.


I guess you're right. Now that I think about it, I remember so many posts from people complaining about getting stinker K3's, I never ended up buying one. The USSR had decent optics, mostly all from the Zeiss operations they inherited after WW2, but mechanical precision was way down the list in the quota system they had. All kinds of registration problems which the K3 is notorious for. Meanwhile, those Pentacons were part of the East German publicity machine to demonstrate to the West that "we will bury you". They were famous for two things: drug-enhanced gold medal winning athletes, and Carl Zeiss Jena. The State backing both to be excellent, no matter the cost for the people. Those poor guinea pigs are dead now, but the Zeiss Jena products are still with us, and some of those Zeiss Jena optical products are mind-blowing these days in a price for value comparison with anything else from the era. That Zeiss Jena on the Pentacon example pictured is as sharp as pretty much anything put on a Hasselblad and miles ahead of Mimyas and other Hasselblad wannabes. Lots of indie tests demonstrate that all over the internet. Mechanically, not up to Hasselblad, certainly, but a lot better than the USSR counterparts.

Yeah, you're right, it is not even an apples to oranges comparison when you think about it. The buyer of a K3 is crazy not to pick one up which is not tested and promised to work as designed by the seller. N.O.S. is no big deal. There's a warehouse of them somethere in Russia. You've got to pick up one that works.
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#10 A.Oliver

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 04:46 PM

Now that second-hand 16mm film handling kit is so cheap you might go that route. If you shoot reversal it's only about twice the price of Super-8 now. I got a Steenbeck, pic-sync and splicer for about GBP120 all-in (I already have a K-3) and will probably go the K40 route. The great thing about 16mm. is that you have a pro format to start with. The demise of process-paid Super-8 K40 removed a lot of the convenience of the format. Good luck.


You will need to get your skates on if your going the 16mm k40 route, take a look at this http://onsuper8.blogspot.com/
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#11 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 05:17 AM

Oh dear. And my CIR splicer arrives today. Anyone got a 100' LOMO tank?
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#12 David Goldfarb

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 06:32 PM

I've owned both a Pentacon 6 and a Krasnogorsk-3, which I purchased while studying in Poland in 1989. The Pentacon had decent optics and took good pictures when it worked--they're notorious for framing problems. I think I spent about $125 then for a system with four lenses. Here is one of my street photos from that period--

http://www.echonyc.c...to/immcross.htm

The big clunky Pentacon was a much better street camera than my slick Canon "New" F-1, which marked me as a foreigner. With a Pentacon or Kiev, I could pass for local.

The K-3 cost me $35 and worked perfectly, but as a student I couldn't sustain the cost of working in 16mm. Today it might be a different story, with the option of shooting negative film and editing digitally. I sold the K-3 when I got back to the US at quite a nice profit, even as the purchaser got a great deal, and traded the Pentacon system for lighting equipment for still photography, some of which I still use.
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#13 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 08:02 AM

get the leicina. it can be used for "professional" super 8 applications while the krasogorsk will always be just a toy. i own a couple of high end super 8 cameras that i use all the time, while my keystone 16mm is never used even i though i shoot way more 16mm than super 8. the reason is of course that i rent. if you're going to spend thousands on film, processing and telecine you might as well rent a nice arri or aaton package for a couple of hundred, right?

/matt
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