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Super 8 buyers guide


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#1 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 05:04 PM

Considering the current environment in terms of high camera prices and online sales being so common these days. I was thinking that it might be a good idea if we pooled our collective knowledge of various cameras and their common problems so that others may have an idea if what to look for / questions to ask about the gear they are considering buying.


Beaulieu 5008S
common problems:
- Dead batteries.
- Fungus / mildew on elements deeper in the lens.
- Gears in the zoom system get out of alignment, so camera does not zoom smoothly or continuously.
- The camera is rather loud which one might not expect considering that it is equipped for audio recording.
- Dead photo cell.
- Loose handle.
- Lack of basic maintenance such as lube and cleaning.
- Because of the camera's reputation the prices being asked are often very high, its not hard to find ebay sellers asking $600 - $900 for this camera.

Positives
-Its more like a professional camera than most other super 8 cameras in that it does not have a lot of extra features that you don't need / won't use.
- The c mount saves the fact the the lens it comes with can go bad. I have used my 5008s with all sorts of different lenses and the results have been very good.
-All metal body is durable.
- You can still get these cameras serviced by a few different people around the country.
- The viewing system does not use a prism in the light path, it has a mirrored shutter so you are not robbing the film of any light.
- If the lens is clean, it is a very good lens, wonderful smooth zooms at variable speeds.
- The lens is also a Macro lens. that allows for continuous moves from Macro to normal range.

Canon 814xl-s / 1014 xl-s
Common problems:
- Batteries left in the battery compartment leak.
- Foam around door flakes off and can get into film chamber (common on other cameras too.)
- Film footage counter does not advance properly.
- Intervelometer does not function properly at all speeds.
- Since this camera has a lot of electronics there is a lot that can go wrong and an ebay seller who claims their camera is in perfect working order may not really have tested ALL the electronics.
- Both exposure modes may not work. I've seen one where the internal exposure meter worked but it was not possible to set the exposure manually.
- My 814 gets a blue smear in the frame when shooting bright scenes. No, its not a lens flair, its a smear. I am told that this is a known problem with these lenses, in that as they age there is some separation of the lens elements that causes this problem.


Positives:
- Easy to focus.
- well balanced and light weight in the hands.
- Macro lens.
- Runs at close to constant speed.
- its a very sturdy camera.
- Can be maintained by a number of folks in the U.S.
- These are fairly quiet camera, not quiet enough for intimate interior work but still far quieter than other cameras.
- If the electronics are in good shape then you have a flexible camera that can handle a number of different tasks.

Price: Currently these are the most expensive cameras out there. Even in perfect working order are they really worth more than $500. I would say they are not. But even if people disagree about a proper price for these cameras, they are fairly common and often do have electronic problems that the sellers are unaware of so think long and hard before paying top dollar for one. I think a reasonable price for an 814xl-s is in the $200 - $350 price range and maybe a little more for the 1014 but not much more.


O.K. what other cameras or knowledge can folks add?
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 05:32 PM

Sankyo 620-XL Supertronic
PROBLEMS:
- Does not meter 64t film correctly...best if used with the manual exposure
- A little bit tedious to focus right. Isn't "spot on" sharp like some viewfinders.
- Footage turns out too soft if aperature is wide open. Avoid slow stocks unless you have TONS of light
- Camera has (IMO) annoying feature of a power saving mode that turns camera off after what feels
like 1 minute of inactivity (exaggerated, of course.) Pretty much need to focus, turn-on, set exposure, and shoot quickly.
- Sortof loud for indoor sound shooting.
- Not currently crystal syncable through the film group

POSITIVES:
- Tons of features for people like dig that (time lapse, I.T., Superimpose, etc.)
- When the aperature is smaller, the picture quality is fantastic
- 220° shutter helps offset slower stocks a bit
- For some reason (which I don't know) this camera keeps a pretty constant speed when shot at 24fps. I have done sound clips that hold for up to a minute (never tried anything longer so who knows?) I'm not recommending that you do dialog with this without a crystal sync, but if you have to lowball it, keep to a minute or less with this camera and you might be pleasantly surprised.

- Macro focusing (awesome!)

PRICE: I paid $40 for this camera about 2 years ago on eBay. Now I see them going for $150 or so. If you can get them for $40-$80, it's a killer deal. These are Sankyo's top notch cameras. The only one higher up is the Sankyo 620-XL/200 which is the same as this but takes 200' mags.
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