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A few questions on Super 8 film.


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#1 VincentD.

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 12:32 PM

Hey everybody,

I'm going to be buying a Super 8 camera this weekend, then some film this week, and hopefully I'll be shooting my first short on Super 8 next week. Anyway, I just wanted to get some info. on Super 8 so I don't go into this whole adventure totally blind.

Here is a link to the camera that I will be buying. First, can I get any input on the camera? Does it have a good reputation, is it reliable, etc.

Next, I'm divided between whether or not I should shoot on Black and White or Color film. Black and White is only available in Reversal, while Color is available in both Negative and Reversal. Can anybody please explain for me the differences between Negative and Reversal and their pros/cons?

Also, it seems like every film is available in both Tri-X and Plus-X. Can anybody please explain the differences between these two as well?

Finally, how do I make sure that the film is not over or underexposed, and change the DOF? (Also, since I won't be able to see the results on the camera, how do I figure out which DOF I need for a shot is?)

Thanks ahead of time for all the help, I know there are a lot of questions here, and I appreciate it very much!
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#2 santo

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 01:11 PM

Hey everybody,

I'm going to be buying a Super 8 camera this weekend, then some film this week, and hopefully I'll be shooting my first short on Super 8 next week. Anyway, I just wanted to get some info. on Super 8 so I don't go into this whole adventure totally blind.

Here is a link to the camera that I will be buying. First, can I get any input on the camera? Does it have a good reputation, is it reliable, etc.


A very good "first super 8 camera" choice. As long as it's in good shape when you get it, of course.

Next, I'm divided between whether or not I should shoot on Black and White or Color film. Black and White is only available in Reversal, while Color is available in both Negative and Reversal. Can anybody please explain for me the differences between Negative and Reversal and their pros/cons?


Do you have a projector? If you have a projector you can watch your results if you shoot reversal once you have it developed. With negative you have to get it telecined to video to watch it.

Reversal is tricky to shoot because you have to make sure you get your exposure just right. Meanwhile, a chimp could shoot the modern Kodak negatives and get a usable image provided they don't underexpose it more than a stop.

Also, it seems like every film is available in both Tri-X and Plus-X. Can anybody please explain the differences between these two as well?


Only black and white is Tri-X or Plus-X. Go to the Kodak site under Cinematography products and look up the differences.

Finally, how do I make sure that the film is not over or underexposed, and change the DOF? (Also, since I won't be able to see the results on the camera, how do I figure out which DOF I need for a shot is?)


Well, use the camera's internal light meter if nothing else to make sure you're getting the right exposure. Zoom into where the most important part of the shot is and lock the exposure and set the focus and then zoom out to compose the shot. If you're shooting on a tripod, use a tape measure to make sure focus is right.

As for DOF, why not download a manual for another camera if you don't have one for that camera? Usually there is a basic depth of field chart with most. Here's one to a Nikon R10 which has a pretty handy DOF chart towards the end. http://www.apecity.c...s_15_and_32.pdf

Now, the most important advice. One neglected and which puts so many into fits of denial. Typical fixed (nonremoveable) super 8 zooms from the 70's are in a lot of trouble if you shoot below an f4. You will get back footage that is soft focus and you may not know why, since you did everything right. Whatever you do, make sure you get no less than an f4 showing on your light meter for any shot. And, if at all possible, to be safe, aim for an f5.6. These are consumer grade zooms that are designed to be ridiculously fast for marketing purposes. Just keep that in mind and make sure it's stopped down properly. f8 to f16 is where they perform best. Wide open, f2, f2.8 means soft focus. F4 is a roll of the dice.

Finally, good luck with this. Hopefully it's not too involved a short and you're not putting a lot into and looking at it as a pure learning experience. Keep notes, and be objective of what works and what doesn't. Some shots will no doubt "score" technically, others will surely miss. Learn why by real experience and logical deduction and avoid the strange superstitions and belief systems you'll find on super 8 boards. I've tried my best to stamp them out, but they keep popping up! :)
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rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Abel Cine

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc