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Stiff Cartridge Syndrome


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#1 Larry Wilson

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 09:59 AM

I have a Canon 518SV that I picked up on eBay, and I seem to be having problems with it pulling film through itself. I had thought the problem was because of camera's age, but I also noticed that the reels in the cartridge seem to turn very stiffly.

I've had this happen on an older 814 as well, and the end result is sped-up footage, even with the camera set for 24fps. I'be used both E64t and 100d and had this problem.

I had read some time ago that this was a common problem with super 8 film because of the quality of cartridges that were available to vendors like Pro8mm and Spectra, but Kodak manufactures their own, don't they?

Is there anything I can do on the cartridge side of the equation to lessen the problem? I won't be able to get the camera worked on for a while, but I need it to cooperate with me.
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#2 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 10:30 AM

Check out comments by Martin Baumgarten in this post:

http://www.cinematog...15

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#3 Larry Wilson

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 10:51 AM

It's definitely not the transfer or the pulldown claw in the camera. There's no juddery frames, and the image is rock-solid. The camera motor just can't pull the film though itself. Now whether it's an issue with the cart alone or with both the cart and the motor, I don't know, but's definitely one of the two...

I had heard that someone had said it was a lubrication problem in the carts...
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 05:04 PM

I would consider turning the film cartridge spindle, while you are facing the non film label side, in the clockwise direction a few times. You should see the film advancing as you do this. This helps settle the film on the take up spindle and helps prevent loosely wound film. Loosely wound film can lead to the film cartridge jamming.

Other considerations, use the freshest, strongest batteries in your camera. Consider cleaning around the film gate with a wooden toothpick. Carefully attempt to clean out the bottom of the pull down claw area as well. Try not to break off the wooden toothpick in that area as that may add to your problem worse.

With no film in the camera, and the camera running, turn the filming speed dial and listen to how the camera sounds as you change filming speeds.
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#5 Larry Wilson

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:36 PM

I would consider turning the film cartridge spindle, while you are facing the non film label side, in the clockwise direction a few times. You should see the film advancing as you do this. This helps settle the film on the take up spindle and helps prevent loosely wound film. Loosely wound film can lead to the film cartridge jamming.

Other considerations, use the freshest, strongest batteries in your camera. Consider cleaning around the film gate with a wooden toothpick. Carefully attempt to clean out the bottom of the pull down claw area as well. Try not to break off the wooden toothpick in that area as that may add to your problem worse.

With no film in the camera, and the camera running, turn the filming speed dial and listen to how the camera sounds as you change filming speeds.


Just finished up with your checklist, and everything seemed to work well. One thing I had noticed was that the cartridge spindle on both of the 100D reels I shot were extremely stiff and did not want to turn. I didn't force them too much for fear that I would break something. but it does seem to be in line with what I had been reading about the quality of cartridges available to vendors. Supposedly they have lubrication issues or the pressure plates are spring-loaded too tightly, or something like that. Even Kodak's own manufacturing standards seem to have slipped quite a bit.

Is it possible to actually break something inside the cartridge so that the film doesn't advance through it? I want to try and make sure the film's wound tightly, but the wheel seems to offer such resistance when I turn it that I feel like something's about to break.
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#6 Martin Baumgarten

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 02:24 PM

Do NOT rotate the cartridge takeup core.....UNTIL you first depress the Pressure Plate to relieve the pressure on the film.........OR you could end up breaking the film. Depress the Cartridge's Pressure Plate with a small screwdriver or tweezers..keeping away from touching the film as best you can. Then rotate the takeup core clockwise and the film should easily glide down over the depressed pressure plate and move through the cartridge and takeup on the core.

To help the film glide/transport through the camera better and easier (once you've determined that the cartridge is not the problem, and you've tested the camera otherwise without film via running it and with fresh batteries etc), get some good spray Silicone and spray a clean cotton flannel cloth, then wipe the camera's film gate liberally with this. Also, to help the film in the troublesome cartridge, [AFTER having first pulled down a few inches and wound up the slack on the takeup core to make sure the film is indeed transporting okay].....pull the film in the Cartridge Gate upward a little so you can get underneath it....then wipe the Pressure Plate with a Cotton Swab that you sprayed with the Silicone. Prestone Silicone Spray works fine, as does the heavy duty Silicone spray available from hardware shops etc. ALWAYS make sure the Silicone is applied some moments after you have sprayed the cloth or swab.....to ensure that the propellant has evaporated. This leaves only the silicone behind and it won't harm the film. Alternatively, a good movie cleaner with lubricant or movie film lubricant will work as well. But, the silicone method has worked for me for decades...resulting in very stable film transport and images, many times on cameras that had steadiness problems. Anyone that has used EKTACHROME 64T can attest to how wet that filmstock is with lubricant. KODAK had to use plenty to get that thick filmstock to transport well in the cartridges.

Lastly, a word about the cheap plastic Super 8 cartridge. Unless there was an assembly problem, it's much sturdier than many think. I still have the very first cartridges that I opened and reloaded film in from 1981, and they have run over half a dozen reloads in them each and still work fine. The builtin pressure plate is very sturdy and can be firmer sprung than that of many spool loading cameras. The difficulty the cartridges have is in their coaxial design, in which the Supply Side is a stationary hub, and the film has to rotate around it sitting on a Slip Sheet Disc. The other potential problem is the sharp curves the film has to take in transporting through the cartridge, where there is only one roller as it exits the supply side on its way to the gate, and only a rounded plastic moulded hump on the takeup side. In practice, this has worked since the invention of the "KODAPAK" Super 8mm cartridge. But I mention all this since filmstock being used now is thicker lately, the cameras are getting older (so there are many tired cameras out there, from mainly lack of use and age), and that high humidity can sometimes cause film sticking initially when first using the cartridge after opening the foil pack.

Hope this helps you. If the problem persists with other film, consider just getting another camera....plenty out there, and many can be bought very reasonably priced and even cheap.
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#7 Will Montgomery

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 09:29 AM

...I mention all this since filmstock being used now is thicker lately, the cameras are getting older (so there are many tired cameras out there, from mainly lack of use and age), and that high humidity can sometimes cause film sticking initially when first using the cartridge after opening the foil pack.


Martin is right on target. Although shouldn't the negative stocks be slightly thinner?

The cheaper Super 8 cameras with plastic gears will simply crack and break from age as soon as any pressure is placed upon them. I've had a couple old Kodak cameras break these gears in the middle of a shot.
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#8 andy oliver

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 11:14 AM

I'm having trouble's with 100d in canon 514xl camera's, they are slowing up and jamming. Removal of the cartridge and placing the same cartridge in a Beaulieu, the film transports with no problem. Recently had an elmo 240xl jam and break down during mid shot with 100d and my AF 514xl-s is not happy either with 100d. One can only assume the film base is thicker than k40, and the cameras are no spring chickens anymore. I have a canon 310xl which transports the 100d with ease.
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