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Super 8mm Film speed/crop factor


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#1 Adam Barnett

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 02:04 PM

Are the ASA ratings the same for Super 8mm film as they are for regular 35mm film? I've never seen Super 8mm film advertised as being 1600 ASA for example. The numbers are always low. Why is that? Also, what's the crop factor like for Super 8mm film?
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#2 Joel Pierre

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 05:34 PM

More sensitive and smaller is the film, more the grain is visible.

Grain is already highly visible on 24 x 36 mm sensitive films, so imagine the same film with the tiny images of Super 8 (4.01 x 5.79 mm)…
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#3 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 06:24 PM

Yes, slower films have less grain. Since an S8 frame is almost 16 times smaller than a 35mm frame, it has used low speed stocks, untill recently... the newer stocks are much finer grain than they used to be, therefor you have 3 of the 4 available S8 stocks from the 35mm line- 100D, 200T, 500T. 500T is currently the fastest MP stock from Kodak, and still looks quite good in an S8 frame.
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#4 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 07:07 AM

Slow speed films are the norm for super 8 because of the tiny size of the frame. However, as others have noted in this thread, modern film stocks are finer grained than their predecessors so it is now possible to use fast film with super 8 and get decent results. Yea, if you used a 1600asa film in 8mm, the footage would be excessively grainy like a sand storm.

Regarding the crop factor on super 8, you can get some pretty impressive magnification because of the tiny frame size. A moderate focal length like 70mm makes for a damn good telephoto. The 70mm on my Canon 1014E has a little bit narrower angle of view than a 300mm on a 35mm still camera. However, all this comes at a cost for the wide angle end of the lens. Generally, wide angle coverage is not very generous in super 8. Usually, the shortest focal length you will find on a super 8 zoom is around 6 or 7mm. And although that sort of focal length sounds impressively wide, in reality it is very restrictive. The 7mm on my Canon 1014's 7-70mm zoom is barely wide at all, not much wider than a 'standard' lens on a still camera.
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#5 Joel Pierre

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 07:42 AM

The 7mm on my Canon 1014's 7-70mm zoom is barely wide at all, not much wider than a 'standard' lens on a still camera.


If the normal focal length is equal to the diagonal of the image, then in Super 8, the normal focal length is 7 mm (43 mm in 24 x 36). 6 mm correspond to 35 mm. 70 mm in Super 8 correspond to 430 mm in 24 x 36.
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#6 Martin Baumgarten

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 07:53 PM

In the 1970s and 80s there was a variety of higher speed filmsocks for Super 8mm. Places such as ESO-S Pictures and Superior Bulk Film Company offered filmstocks in B&W up to ASA 1,000. GAF used to make Super 8mm as fast as their B&W ASA 600 and GAF Color Reversal ASA 640. KODAK's now long discontinued Professional EKTACHROME SMA 7244 ASA 160 Type A, was easily pushable to E.I. 320 and E.I. 640, and I had great success with pushing it up to E.I. 800; albeit the increased grain and color shifting at that point. Also the long ago KODAK favorite of 4XR 7277 ASA 400 was immensely popular with sports filmers. But the films were usable, looked great when used correctly and served a purpose, just as the new high speed films we have today.

The current crop of KODAK's produced Super 8mm filmstocks can all be pushed to double their effective filmspeeds quite easily with minimal sacrifice in quality, and beyond if needed (if you can live with any artifact drawbacks such as grainier images and contrast buildup).

One reason filmspeeds have been relatively slow over the years is that most filmers shoot in daylight, and that usually requires slower speed film, and the other benefit, which is finer image grain. The days of mom & pop shooting Super 8mm have waned significantly, and most of us using this format (or 8mm or Single-8 or 9.5) are enthusiasts, hobbyists, serious amateurs and even professional workers. So, using a higher speed filmstock in Daylight such as TRI-X at ASA/ISO 200, with proper B&W filtration for contrast and tonal range (via either using the builtin 85 orange filter, or other orange, yellow, medium yellow, deep yellow, green, red etc filters) coupled with maybe a Polarizing Filter or Neutral Density filter, you can easily get the effective E.I. down to around E.I. 10 to E.I. 50 and that will allow shooting in most any bright light situation. The filmstocks available can also be cross-processed, and for example, when using EKTACHROME 100 Daylight as a Color Negative, it could be pushed up to ISO 400 easily if needed. The same goes for TRI-X 7266 which can be done as a B&W Negative, either without Reversal in the same chemistry thus yielding a higher contrast Negative image, or in any one of several continous tone Developers to yield a nice rich toned Negative, which can also be pushed to ISO 400, ISO 800 and even ISO 1600 (the last one with some critical limitations of course for exposure latitude, film response, and grain).

So, there are still many options with what is available, and we also have filmstocks made by other sources in this unique format of Super 8mm. I must add, yes, I have used that ASA 1,000 B&W filmstock that used to be available, as well as the GAF 500 Color Reversal, the EKTACHROME SMA 7244 and others over the years. While the grain was higher, it wasn't any worse than when KODAK's 4XR 7277 was still available and that was ASA/ISO 400, which could be pushed another stop or two easily. It's still nice to know we have various filmstocks, smaller than in the past, but still enough to allow us creative folks some serious options for our filmmaking craft.

As for the "crop factor", not sure which area you want this to refer to. In projection, it's relatively small on higher end projectors, nominally around 10%. For video transfer, that all depends on what company is doing it and what equipment they are using and how its setup. It's quite possible to transfer full frame complete with ragged edges if one wants it to look that way, similar to the full frame 35mm printers that filed out their enlarger negative holders. So, the results vary, and you'd have to ask what the cropping is, or just conduct some test rolls prior to committing a project to a given laboratory.
Hope this helps. Best regards.
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#7 Matt Stevens

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:53 PM

I'm editing a Super 8 short right now. We shot exteriors on a single roll of Kodak 100D color reversal. The interiors were shot on eight roll of Kodak 500t and one Pro8mm 500t I had laying around.

Lightpress.tv did my transfer at 1080p24 in uncompressed QuickTime.

No question Super 8mm is flawed, but those flaws (dust and scratches that are obvious, an image that is not rock steady) are part of what makes it so special. Lightpress delivered superb 1080p scans for me and I am just beyond satisfied with their work.

Here is a link to the 100D footage I put together for the short film's opening.



Before I leave for vacation on Thursday morning I will post some of the 500t footage.

If I had the money, I would shoot an entire feature on Super 8, utilizing steadicams where appropriate and making sure the camera had a hell of a good follow focus attached to it. That' the biggest issue I had. Keeping the shots simple enough so that focus was not racked during a shot. We did it for one single scene and it was a pain in the rump. Our one tripod shot too.
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