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Is this a good starter, for a newbie?


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#1 Rick Garcia

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 08:26 AM

This is my first posting and question. I recently read an post in which someone said that using a super8 would be great for someone who is starting out. Well it has caught my interest and I have been looking into my options ($$$). I plan on getting a canon hv20, but I would like to understand film. Anyway, I found these cameras on a local craigslist post. Is this something that a newbie can work with, also if I test them out, what should I be looking for? I would appreciate all and any feedback. Thank you.

http://sanantonio.cr.../669047831.html

http://sanantonio.cr.../665300024.html

Rick Garcia
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#2 James Grahame

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:00 AM

This is my first posting and question. I recently read an post in which someone said that using a super8 would be great for someone who is starting out.

Buying a cheap S8 camera doesn't really make sense - each roll of film will cost a minimum of $25. You want the best image possible on that film. That said, it's possible to stumble upon the occasional bargain.

When shopping for a camera, you want one that can shoot at the "pro" speed of 24 frames per second (along with the old home movie standard of 18 fps and possibly one or two 'slow motion' speeds such as 36 fps). An intervalometer is a nice feature for shooting time-lapses, too.

But - most importantly - many cheaper late-model Super 8 cameras cannot read the speed notch on some modern films correctly. Check this list at the Super8Wiki to find a camera that can correctly meter the new film (it's not complete by any stretch, but it's a good starting point.)
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#3 Richardson Leao

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:18 AM

I also would get something without sound as it just adds useless weight. About the reading of the cartridge speed, there's always the possibility of measuring light with an external meter, that would actually add to the film pedagogy


Buying a cheap S8 camera doesn't really make sense - each roll of film will cost a minimum of $25. You want the best image possible on that film. That said, it's possible to stumble upon the occasional bargain.

When shopping for a camera, you want one that can shoot at the "pro" speed of 24 frames per second (along with the old home movie standard of 18 fps and possibly one or two 'slow motion' speeds such as 36 fps). An intervalometer is a nice feature for shooting time-lapses, too.

But - most importantly - many cheaper late-model Super 8 cameras cannot read the speed notch on some modern films correctly. Check this list at the Super8Wiki to find a camera that can correctly meter the new film (it's not complete by any stretch, but it's a good starting point.)


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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:27 AM

It's a great camera to start out with. I started out on a camera not to dissimilar. I don't belive you don't need all the gimmicks some speak of here. You need an understanding of the art. Using real film as a foundation is about the best way to go. It allows you to understand nuances that video does not. You also want some editing equipment for splicing your film.
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#5 James Grahame

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:40 AM

Using real film as a foundation is about the best way to go. It allows you to understand nuances that video does not. You also want some editing equipment for splicing your film.

Video is an excellent way to learn shot composition, timing, lighting and editing as a total beginner. It doesn't make sense to spend a small fortune to learn basic skills. The film camera should come into play once one has developed a certain aesthetic eye and some background knowledge.
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#6 Rick Garcia

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:44 AM

It's a great camera to start out with. I started out on a camera not to dissimilar. I don't belive you don't need all the gimmicks some speak of here. You need an understanding of the art. Using real film as a foundation is about the best way to go. It allows you to understand nuances that video does not. You also want some editing equipment for splicing your film.


Thanks for all the info. I looked up some of the cameras and found some good deals on ebay, however, my intentions were not to film anything that I would submit to anyone, just trying to get an understanding, like Walter said: "Using real film as a foundation is about the best way to go." I also found this online as a respond to the editing equipment....

http://austin.craigs.../679962712.html

So would one of those two camera and this splicer be a good way to get some understanding?

If not, I will consider purchasing something with "pro" speed.
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#7 James Grahame

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 10:21 AM

So would one of those two camera and this splicer be a good way to get some understanding?

The Sankyo shoots at 18 + 24 fps, so it already shoots at "pro" speed. I'm not sure it will correctly read the speed of an E-64T cart, though. It looks like it has a manual exposure mode, though, so you could just use an external light meter to set exposure if it can't read certain speed settings. This could be a good deal.

It's hard to tell what model the Minolta is (the seller is giving a video camera model number from the box it was stored in.) It looks like it's an XL-42 or XL-64, which means it shoots at only 18 fps and does not read E-64T correctly (although you can manually override the exposure).

Honestly, I would hold off until you find a camera that can read modern cartridges correctly and that offers at least 1 + 18 + 24 fps. There are lots of them out there selling in the price range you're looking at (I just picked up a nice Nikon for $16.50).

Edited by James Grahame, 14 May 2008 - 10:26 AM.

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#8 Walter Graff

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 11:51 AM

I'd say the best way in this age to get a better understanding of expose and what it does is taking stills. Not digital ones. Print your own. I spent most of my college years in a darkroom dodging and burning and the result was an understanding of exposure you can't get anyway else.

As for cutting, yes you will understand the mechanical process. The real challenge will be learning to get the most out of 8mm. I look at it as similar to a guy in the Dominican Republic who likes baseball but only has a homemade bat to play the game he loves in an open field. By the time he's been understanding the game using a lesser tool by practicing with it, he finds the bigger tools are easier to use when someone gives him a bigger and professional bat. Many Dominican pro baseball players tell that story.
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#9 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 12:55 PM

First of all, welcome to S8 at ciny.com, Rick.

First:

Maybe it's the similar professional approach to learning and filmmaking between us, but I second Walter's view here 100%.

I do not recommend video or digital stills at all as they induce the user to develop nasty habits and ill-conceived approaches on how to get results, from not mastering one's imagination to set-up a shot, to not caring about the timing of the shot footage, to having a lax approach to repeating takes, let alone understanding the correlative workings and effects of f-stops, focal length, focal range, depth of field, filming speed, film speed, exposure index etc.pp. This will also affect dealing with subject matters when shooting documentaries or dealing with directors and actors on shorts of features.

In still photography, the lack of immediacy and absence of meaningful ergonomics in operating these things is even worse, destroying any didactics and pedagogical components necessary for learning to "see" with a technical "eye" (just looking at the interplay on the lens markings of a "vintage" photocamera explained everthing to know about lens and camera to me, while today, even with ICT knowledge, I can barely master the "logic" behind on screen menus and iconography - I fear that in a not too distant future, it will take a company like Apple to "reinvent" the photo-camera to bring shooters back to straight user experiences of yesteryear).

This statement might sound elitist (and that has now become a negative word), but "digital" f*cks up people's work ethics and ability to gain thorough knowledge with the tool in hand, especially when new to photography and cinematography.

For an overview on related aspects by Ken Rockwell, go to this post of mine here.


Second:

"Newbie approaches" have been debated here already, and summaries of "starting out - what camera to choose" can be found in the pinned FAQ at the top of this forum by clicking here.
For example, in another thread (CLICK ME) linked there, Rick, Matthew, Terry, Alessandro and myself have formulated basic things to know and bear in mind for newbies in a situation like you.

Not to repeat myself:
If you want to start out in cinematography, go for a simple yet not restrictive camera first, and then (inevitably) upgrade after some shot footage to a more sophisticated machine that will be your S8 fellow for a long time.
DO definitely try to get hold of some literature to accompany your free-style learning-by-doing as this will make you help understand some workings better. Tips for books can be found here.

If you have only a 50 USD budget and can't use eBay for shipping and are hence restricted to these two cameras, then I would go for one of these two. Beware that the Minolta listing (which showcases a good choice) however has a wrong heading and description not correspnding to the picture. So doublecheck the seller.

If you have some leaway, however, and some patience, then I would go for a Canon, Bauer or Nizo silent camera. A Canon 500-series, Bauer C 700 XLM or Nizo 156 or Nizo 2056 are great cameras. They should go for not more then 100 USD with Buy it now (hint, check eBay) and you have a good gear to start with. Occassionally, treasures fall into your lap for even less, like a Beaulieu 5008 with 6-80 or a Bauer S 715 selling for 50 USD on eBay, as happened to my brother and me recently.
So maybe learn a bit about cameras by strolling through the hyperlinks listed in the pinned FAQ here or at super8wiki.com. That will give you some overview.

If you want to make a serious splash into S8 in the future, check out the Top Camera Guide here


I know that all this might come to you with overburdening force, but all beginnings are hard yet once you get a grip on things, i can assure you, it will all fall together rapidly and you will be able to make sense of what seems to be complex now with great ease.

-Michael
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#10 Rick Garcia

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 01:22 PM

WOW!!! Thanks for all the information guys. This website is awsome. I will continue to research S8 and then make my decision. It is obvious that their are a great amount of different opinions when it comes to this topic. I will keep an eye on ebay for any "Steals". All have been great help and I will check all links and FAQ's. I believe this will continue to guide me in the right direction. Thank you.
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#11 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 01:40 PM

I hope you will come back with further questions after your initial research :) . Ciny.com is indeed a great place to get anwers, at any level.

Do also venture out into the other sub-forums, on lenses, lighting, film stocks, cinematography and the general discussion. There is something of an insular habit of some users (conditioned by the occassionally overburdening hard-core hobbyist / collectable tradition of S8 * ) just to focus on the S8 forum for their questions, while alot can/should be debated and learned in other forums as well - after all: 65, S35, S16, S8... it's all essentially the same, whether you shot with a Nizo 2056, an Aaton 16 or a Arri 35 BL B) .




* P.S.: before someone shouts "foul": I have nothing against hobbyists/collectors nor did I mean to say "they" are "all" like "that"... Kevin Olmsted here is a great collector/hobbyists and a good friend of mine, but he knows where S8 is heading and sees it appropriately in context of "cinematography" as a whole.
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#12 James Grahame

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 06:40 PM

I hope you will come back with further questions after your initial research :) . Ciny.com is indeed a great place to get answers, at any level.

Do also venture out into the other sub-forums, on lenses, lighting, film stocks, cinematography and the general discussion.

I second this. The trick to successful filmmaking is to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions to experienced "old hands" when you have the chance. The best classroom in the world is real-world experience, and nothing makes you feel more humble than the first few times that you try to light a scene and block a few scenes - even on a tiny indie production. You'll feel like you're juggling a dozen eggs.

I don't agree that analog is the only way to learn photography and cinematography. It happens to be what many of us old codgers grew up with (I'm in my 30s), but learning the nuts and bolts of digital equipment is extremely valuable, too - especially since DSLRs and prosumer camcorders offer excellent manual control these days. Film has an incredible aesthetic, but there's no reason to burn through hundreds of dollars worth of film unless you're somewhat confident that you'll get meaningful results from it.
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#13 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 07:04 PM

...since DSLRs and prosumer camcorders offer excellent manual control these days [...] there's no reason to burn through hundreds of dollars worth of film unless you're somewhat confident that you'll get meaningful results from it.


I never quite got the monetary argument pro digital gear... :blink:

...neither for using a Genesis or RED over a Panaflex Millennium or Aaton Xterà, nor any Panazony HD/DSLR over a Beaulieu/Bauer/Nizo...

...or to paraphrase: "...there's no reason to burn through thousands of dollars worth on digital recording, mixing and editing gear unless you're somewhat confident that you'll get out of videography before your gear gets totally obsolete, worthless and necessary to be completely replaced."

Oh, sorry, I forgot, the cheap miniDV or DVD 8cm media must be the argument for shooting video with loooaaads of minutes on them over 25 year old cine-film gear that fulfils HD requirements easily even in its S8 incarnation but has just 2.5 mins of film on it... :rolleyes:
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#14 James Grahame

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 07:41 PM

I never quite got the monetary argument pro digital gear... :blink:

I agree completely that it doesn't make sense for an amateur filmmaker to purchase a RED One because it will depreciate quickly.

I think the main argument for digital gear is that most families have a fairly modern video camera kicking around, making it pretty easy for someone to shoot and edit a short video without spending much extra money. Video is easy to edit on computer and there are no issues with sync sound, making it an easy way to start telling stories with moving images.

Even though the equipment is cheap, Super 8 gets expensive in a hurry. With a 5:1 shooting ratio, you're looking at over $100 to shoot and develop a single 2 1/2 minute film, assuming you edit it by hand and project it. An inexpensive digital transfer will easily double the cost and requires the same NLE software outlay as video.

It's important for people to jump into Super 8 filmmaking with their eyes open. The simple act of using film won't make the final product look like a Hollywood blockbuster, and film is often a challenging medium to work with. That said, film can be absolutely beautiful when done right.
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