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Using a Broken Super-8 Camera as a Light Meter.


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#1 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
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Posted 04 August 2011 - 05:09 PM

If a super-8 camera's film running function stops working, but the light meter still works, you can turn it into a nifty super-8 camera light meter with a built in zoom lens function and super bright view finder. It "may not matter" what film stock cartridge you keep in the super-8 camera turned light meter. What will matter most is establishing what the actual f-stop offset is between your working super-8 camera and your non working super-8 camera turned light meter.

If you discover that when your super-8 camera meter reads f8.0 with a kodachrome cartridge in it but your working camera with an Ektachrome 100 D reads f16.0 but actually requires an f11.0 for proper exposure, you now know you have a minus 2 f-stop offset between cameras, and a minus one f-stop offset for proper exposure. Any reading you get with your super-8 camera light meter you know to subtract one f-stop worth's of light on your working camera.

There are a TON of advantages to perfecting this system. First, you never have to move your working super-8 camera just to try and get a better auto-exposre reading before deciding where you will set your f-stop to manually. I can recall times when I would meticulously set the exact frame I wanted, but then would have to zoom in onto an object in the frame that I wanted to use to help me set my exposure.

But be careful, if you use more than one filming speed on your working super-8 camera, you will need to create a page or two of notes that delinates what the actual f-stop offset is depending on the film running speed one is using on the working camera.

Having a second super-8 camera that I can use like a spot meter but with a zoom capability and super-bright viewfinder would actually be a step up from some spot meters, and probably a lot less expensive.

Just remember to have some type of manner in which to delicately lay down the super-8 camera turned spot meter in between takes. Simply laying the super-8 camera spot meter onto a hard surface is an absolute no no, as is leaving it in the sun, or somewhere where it can be stepped on or dropped.

It will probably take a cartridge or two to get your system working well, but that will quickly pay for itself as you get more accurate exposures.
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 06:45 PM

Funny enough is that I have used this trick before. It is actually much cheaper than most light meters. I think the hard part is getting the precise offset since the light loss can be unique for each camera. But a real cheap way to find out is by shooting a roll of 35mm film on your still cam. Hell, with 24 exposures, you are bound to locate the sweet spot. :lol:
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