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#1 Colton Davie

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 05:26 PM

I am an aspiring filmmaker trying to learn all I need to know. I have been working with DV for a couple years, however, 8mm has caught my attention. I am trying to decide if super 8mm is worth getting into (from what I've read on the internet, it seems great) and, if so, which camera I should invest in. I need your help with the latter.

I own and work with a fairly decent set up, at least while I'm learning. A Canon XL1s, Bogen/Manfrotto tripod with 501 head, Azden SGM1X shotgun mic w/ boom, Lowel 3 peice light kit (tota, omni, and pro) as well as a couple other lights, one with a removable softbox, track dolly, etc. I would expect to continue using most of this with 8mm.

What I would hope to do with super 8mm is to start with probably a non-sync sound short then start doing some sync sound stuff. So, a fairly quite camera is important. As I have lights, I don't think I'd need any particularly amazing low light capabilities. Size is not really an issue to me. I do want something that is reliable. I probably won't be spending alot of money on lenses, so an interchangeable lens is not important. I would like a good zoom range. A sharp image is important. Variable frame rates, including slow motion, would be a nice option. The ability to lock down the exposure and/or adjust the exposure manually is also important. Finally, I would like to spend under $500 on a camera.

I'm kind of leaning towards a Canon 814XL-S. From what I've gathered, the Canon 1014 and 814 are supposed to be pretty good. However, I don't really know much about the other brands. Any suggestions or maybe some pros/cons of different camera models would be really appreciated.

Thanks,
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#2 santo

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 05:42 PM

The Canon is a good camera in that price range and for what you describe, but noise is an issue for sound work. It's not terrible, but I've heard a few run and none of them were really quiet enough for synch sound. Maybe a serviced one would be quieter? But that runs way over your budget. You might also want to look into Nizo 4056, 4080, 6056, 6080 models. They actually are quiet enough for limited sound synch applications and are within your price range. The image quality is about the same with either the Canon or the Nizo. Big fast 1970's zooms, but reasonably good stopped down.
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#3 Matthew Day

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 12:37 PM

Beware the sound Nizos! Make sure you get one from a relaible supplier and that they've been serviced. The internal rubber belt that drives them can detiriate as most are at least 20- 25 years old and there would still be camera noise issues even with a barney on. Have a look at the Nizo 481, 561, 801 and the best of the lot the Professional (all silent).
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#4 steve hyde

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 02:27 PM

....if you search some of my posts here you will find that I recommend the Nikon R -10 and Beaulieu 4008 ZmII and that is because those are the cameras that I have found that work well. My Bolex: smoked, my Nikon Super Zoom, unreliable. My Nizo S80: smoked. Canon 814e: sticky shutter. None of my cameras are quiet. In fact, I have never encountered a quiet super 8 camera. I keep hearing that the Nizo 6080 is quiet and I'm intrigued. The Nizos also have good timelapse functions on board so that can be useful if you are interested in making timelapses..... oh, and I bought a Nizo 4080(??) a while back unused still in the box. Put batteries in it and it didn't run so I sent it back to the seller. The seller told me he put some oil in it and it and then it worked fine. I passed on it.

For consistant results it is best to buy a servicable camera, have it serviced, then run a series of film tests with it using a good hand held light meter in a variety of lighting conditions. Learn how to do film emulsion tests - most importantly, exposure lattitude tests. Get a Cinematography text book: I recommend the one by Malkiewicz and Mullen.

Have fun,

Steve
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#5 santo

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 04:04 PM

:) As you can see, Colton, we're dealing with some issues when it comes to super 8 cameras because of their age.

You mentioned that a "fairly quiet camera is important". I've owned a lot of super 8 cameras and tested a bunch more, including the mentioned cameras and a Bauer S715xl and a Nizo S800. The Bauer was, I suppose, reasonably quiet. Forgot about that one. I don't know about doing synch with it, though. Again, reliability is unknown and who services them? Really nice Angenieux lens on it though. Forget about the Nizo three digit models (560, 800, 801 et al) if silence is actually the goal. Silent just means they weren't designed to use sound film back when it was available. They are a truly beautiful camera, though. I had the S800 on my desk for a year or two just to enjoy it as a piece of sculpture.

I did microphone tests with a few different cameras recently (aimed a shotgun mike at a running camera at 6 feet) and I can tell you this: servicing a camera, or even just putting in a few drops of oil in the metal moving parts and a little swab of lithium grease on a few shafts, will literally make a 30 year old camera drop its noise level in half! This is really important to remember not only for quiet operation, but for the stability of images you get and the reliability of your camera.

Maybe I'll post some results some day on that, but I am waiting for a serviced/rebuilt camera to arrive that might be something else for you to consider. I don't know. Not that I'm going to be sellng mine, but the sometimes overlooked Beaulieu 5008/3008 models were interesting enough for me to drop some money on recently and see what it can deliver. It's a "sound" camera, originally designed for sound super 8 cartridges (silent super 8 cartridges always work just fine in "sound" super 8 cameras), and it's supposed to be surprisingly quiet (quietest of the Beaulieus) and will be more so when rebuilt and all lubricated and running as new. I'm going to give it a shot and get a sound barney made at Custom Upholstery in LA and see what I can get for quiet operation. Actual performance, I can't comment on yet, obviously.

This is what the Beaulieus have going for them and why they cost an extra premium, besides being one of only two S8's that are of a professional design philosphy: there are over half-a-dozen places you can send them to for a complete dissassembly and rebuild to factory new specs. This is a gigantic big deal in a format with 30-some year old cameras, and one of the major reasons there are no new cameras. "New" ones of professional design are readily available or commissioned for a back to factory spec rebuild -- all cheaper than any new camera could be made for. Even so, that means a little more than your $500 dollar budget when the camera and the rebuild is factored together.
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#6 Chris Burke

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 06:48 PM

I would recommend the Nizo 6080. They are extremely quiet. Do have it serviced, Duall does a good job. Loads of great features (200 ft. mags, can be made sync, Macro lens, adjustable shutter angle, many fram rates, great low light capabilities). Mine had the gate punched out to about 1.58:1. Really good and reliable camera.

Chris
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#7 Colton Davie

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 01:00 AM

Thanks for the helpful replies guys. I think I've got it narrowed down to a few choices:

Canon 814XL-S - Pros: Good set of features, reliable(? I don't remember reading anything about them breaking down.), low price. Cons: A bit noisy.

Nizo 6080 - Pros: Great set of features, quiet. Cons: I have heard a few things about the drive belt having problems, how likely is this? (The drive belt issue makes me want to shy away from the Nizos.), according to this page, the newer 6080s may have inferior lenses compared to other Nizos, is this a significant problem? Also, I don't know what they sell for. Is the 4080 as quiet as the 6080?

Beaulieu 4008 S - Pros: Excellent features, particularly serviceable. Cons: More expensive, I have heard that Beaulieus have a certain kind of shutter that is different from most other cameras and causes a strobing effect during motion. Is this the case with this model?

The Nikon R10 is also interesting. However, I have not heard much about this brand.

Are these assumptions reasonable? Do you have any other suggestions to add? Comments on these cameras?

I guess what I'm looking for now is something that I can take with minimun worries and quickly start experimenting with super8, yet I will be able to continue to use as my skills increase. If I really like the format, maybe then I'll start working for a top notch camera.
In other words, I don't know yet whether I'll really like super8 and how long I'll stick with it, so I don't want to spend too much. However, I would like to get some decent results while I'm learning.

Thanks again for all your help. :)
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